What happens when you bring a fan on stage?

Sometimes a performer at a concert will bring a fan up on stage to sing or play along with the band. Most of the time this does not go very well.  As American Idol has shown, the Dunning-Kruger effect seems to apply most frequently to budding musicians. It is quite likely that the fan that was just brought on stage may think that they are ready to perform in front of thousands, but in reality  they don’t deserve to be there.  When you ask a fan to sing your are most likely to get these results:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a_QqfEYNRlc&feature=youtube_gdata_player]

Still, sometimes, a fan has talent or a special spark, and those moments are magical. It is why bands like Green Day will often bring audience members up on stage to take part in the show. Law of averages apply.  Sooner or later Billie Joe finds a  winner.  My favorite Green Day fan performance is this German guitar player playing Basket Case:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V7fal-gFOIo&feature=youtube_gdata_player]

Another band that brings fans on stage is Avenged Sevenfold. In this clip a kid gets on the drums and rocks the house. Drumming starts about 2 minutes in:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6pKqK2WtsA4&feature=youtube_gdata_player]

At this Montreal show, Josh Groban comes into the audience to sing a duet with a 17 year old, french speaking young lady. Singing starts at 2:45 or so. It gets a little misty for me watching this.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RXAak-NamNE&feature=fvwrel]

In this clip, Johnny Reid, (Canadian Country musician) invites a very young fan to be one of his backup singers.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xFCB4opoEyw&feature=youtube_gdata_player]

It is fun to watch Michael Buble’s surprise when  he realizes the boy on stage can actually sing (‘holy shitballs mom!’). The boy, Sam Hollyman, has an album out now on iTunes:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o6TKpkY4WcM&feature=youtube_gdata_player]

At a U2 show, Bono invited a blind man up on stage who had a sign asking to play a song for his wife. It is a touching moment:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uURKYk06Q7c&feature=youtube_gdata_player]

A very clean cut 13 year old plays with Machine Head. Surfer meets Metal

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LoWjFOTGgbM&feature=youtube_gdata_player]

Another kid gets up to play with Linkin Park. He takes control of the stage. (his ten second audition starts at 4:00, and then into Faint):

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YNkTQSLL9U4&feature=youtube_gdata_player]

A sixteen year old young lady is put on the spot by P!nk and pulls it off:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=HB4E9XVt5Kc]

My Chemical Romance with a chair bound fan. Enthusiasm trumps all here:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=as4afIlV2rk&feature=youtube_gdata_player]

Hutzpah award goes to this young man who jumped on stage *after* a Decemberists concert, and started playing the song that Colin and company had just finished playing:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oYMCnFgGFCA&feature=youtube_gdata_player]

Update: One of the commenters on this post pointed me to this clip from a concert in Sydney when The Hives bring a bass player on stage. They give him a wardrobe upgrade before they let him play. Skip ahead to 50 seconds in.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DcX52rbm-xw]

The most famous fan appearance is probably The Horse Tranquilizer Incident where after an unfortunate run-in with some rather strong drugs Keith Moon was unable to finish a show, and so Pete Townsend asked the audience “can anybody play the drums? I mean somebody good.” Scott Haplin, who hadn’t played drums in a year volunteered. Video Timeline :

  • At 1:10 Pete tells the crowd that Keith’s passed out.
  • At 3:50 Moon passes out a 2nd time
  • At 5:30 Pete asks the audience, “can anybody play the drums? I mean somebody good.”
  • At 6:30  Audience member Scott Halpin replaces keith moon
  • At 8:19 Scot Halpin and the band take a bow…
[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=3O-N8MZ9ilk]

That year,  Scott Haplin was awarded Rolling Stone magazine’s “Pick-Up Player of the Year Award” for his historic performance during this show.  As far as I know, Scott remains the only fan called on stage to win an award for his performance.

  1. #1 by Jose S on June 11, 2012 - 12:19 am

    Excellent. Thanks for posting this.

  2. #2 by Chris Barrus on July 4, 2012 - 5:49 pm

    I always liked the time a young Hives fan held up a sign asking to play bass on “Hate To Say I Told You So” and the band obliged… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DcX52rbm-xw

    • #3 by Paul on July 4, 2012 - 6:23 pm

      Ah that’s a nice one. I think I’ll add it to the list. Wardrobe upgrade and everything!

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