Think you know everything about the Stones, Madonna, and other rock legends? After taking Peter Lauria’s fiendish quiz on the surprising connections between famous bands, you may be surprised.
Musicians are a fairly promiscuous lot. Sex, as you might recall, ranks first in the musician’s holy trinity, ahead of drugs and even rock ‘n’ roll itself. If it wasn’t for George Harrison’s wife Pattie Boyd, for instance, Eric Clapton never would have penned “Layla.” But the connections between musicians extend beyond just the carnal. Rock Connections, a new book that traces the history of rock ‘n’ roll through the degrees of separation between musicians and bands from its origins in the 1950s right up to Kings of Leon’s commercial breakthrough last year. Want to know how The Killers are connected to David Bowie? Well, as the book notes, Bowie produced Lou Reed’s debut solo album, Transformer, in 1973, and Reed, 34 years later, sang on The Killers’ “Tranquilize” (Bowie’s song “Queen Bitch,” which makes reference to Reed and Bob Dylan, also inspired The Killers’ first hit single, “Mr. Brightside"). It’s this kind of minutiae—knowing who produced what album for whom, who discovered what band and where, and who provided a guest turn on what song—that separates the hard-core music fan from the mere listener. So, which category do you fall into? Take our quiz, which includes questions ranging from the obvious to the obscure, and test your knowledge of the relationships between rockers (answers are presented in the slideshow gallery).
1.) In an unlikely pairing, this minister of funk co-starred alongside Marilyn Manson in the 2002 short film Beat the Devil.
A.) George Clinton
B.) James Brown
D.) Rick James
2.) The Beastie Boys puzzlingly served as the opening act to which female artist's 1985 tour?
A.) Cyndi Lauper
B.) Tina Turner
D.) Pat Benatar
3.) In his last live performance, John Lennon joined this performer at Madison Square Garden for three songs, including "I Saw Her Standing There."
A.) Elton John
B.) David Bowie
C.) Stevie Wonder
D.) Cat Stevens
4.) Van Halen was discovered in a Los Angeles bar by this bassist.
A.) Tom Hamilton of Aerosmith
B.) Gene Simmons of Kiss
C.) Tom Petersson of Cheap Trick
D.) John Paul Jones of Led Zeppelin
5.) This controlling R&B diva surprisingly covered the Joni Mitchell song, “The Beat of Black Wings,” for an unreleased tribute album called A Case of Joni.
B.) Chaka Khan
C.) Mary J. Blige
D.) Janet Jackson
6.) Which '80s era rock guitarist was an uncredited extra on Sid & Nancy, the biopic of Sex Pistols bassist Sid Vicious?
A.) Mick Mars
B.) Kirk Hammett
D.) Dave Mustaine
7.) The Beatles were joined by which fellow Englishman during a live performance of “All You Need Is Love” on television’s first worldwide live broadcast, Our World, in 1967?
A.) Robert Plant
B.) Eric Clapton
C.) Mick Jagger
D.) Roger Daltrey
8.) Stevie Nicks’ 1983 hit single “Stand Back” features this uncredited performer on keyboard.
B.) Sly Stone
C.) Eddie Van Halen
D.) Elton John
9.) Which female performer(s) has NOT worked with Jack White?
A.) Alicia Keys
B.) Loretta Lynn
C.) Secret Sister
D.) Kelly Clarkson
10.) The name Led Zeppelin was inadvertently conceived by members of this band after their limo driver took the idea to Jimmy Page.
A.) Keith Moon and John Entwistle of The Who
B.) John Lennon and Paul McCartney of The Beatles
C.) Mick Jagger and Keith Richards of The Rolling Stones
D.) Jimi Hendrix and Mitch Mitchell of The Jimi Hendrix Experience
11.) In 1966, superfreak Rick James, then known as James Ambrose Johnson, Jr., was the frontman for a band called The Mynah Birds that bizarrely also included this future rock legend.
A.) David Gilmour
B.) Lindsey Buckingham
C.) Joe Perry
D.) Neil Young
12.) Madonna’s 1986 hit single, “La Isla Bonita,” from the album True Blue was originally written for this singer.
B.) Phil Collins
C.) Michael Jackson
D.) Simon Le Bon of Duran Duran
13.) In 2006, Blondie were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame by which female performer?
A.) Gwen Stefani
B.) Annie Lennox
C.) Shirley Manson
D.) Britney Spears
14.) After Kurt Cobain’s death, Nirvana drummer Dave Grohl declined an offer to join this band to instead form the Foo Fighters.
A.) Pearl Jam
B.) Smashing Pumpkins
C.) Meat Puppets
D.) Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
15.) This controversial performer once described N.W.A.’s breakthrough first album, Straight Outta Compton, as “the best rap record I’ve ever heard.”
B.) Sinead O’Connor
16.) Bruce Springsteen originally wrote "Hungry Heart" for which band?
B.) The Ramones
D.) Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
17.) Nirvana leader Kurt Cobain referenced which flamboyant singer in his suicide note?
A.) Jim Morrison
B.) David Bowie
C.) Freddie Mercury
D.) Lou Reed
18.) Buddy Holly swapped country music for rock 'n' roll after seeing which singer perform?
A.) Chuck Berry
B.) Elvis Presley
C.) Little Richard
D.) Roy Orbison
19.) Eyebrows were raised when which pop princess teamed up with gothic punk rocker Nick Cave on the murder ballad, "Where the Wild Roses Grow"?
A.) Kylie Minogue
C.) Gwen Stefani
D.) Alanis Morissette
20.) Which two grunge rock leaders slow-danced to Eric Clapton's "Tears in Heaven" at the 1992 MTV Video Music Awards?
A.) Cris Cornell and Layne Staley
B.) Kurt Cobain and Eddie Vedder
C.) Thurston Moore and Neil Young
D.) Billy Corgan and Scott Weiland
Peter Lauria is senior correspondent covering business, media, and entertainment for The Daily Beast. He previously covered music, movies, television, cable, radio, and corporate media as a business reporter for The New York Post. His work has also appeared in Avenue, Blender, and Media Magazine, and he's appeared on CNBC, Bloomberg, BBC Radio, and Reuters TV.