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Ask Billboard: Featuring More Un-Featured Artists

Chart Beat continues spotlighting artists, including Stevie Wonder, who have contributed uncredited performances to memorable songs.

Recently, Chart Beat and Ask Billboard have spotlighted songs that were successful as covers, but not as well-known in their original versions, as well as songs that sported high-profile guests that were not officially credited as featured artists on single releases.

Below are two more follow-up e-mails from Billboard readers on the topics.

As always, submit your questions about Billboard charts, sales and airplay, as well as general music musings, to askbb@billboard.com. Please include your first and last name, as well as your city, state and country, if outside the U.S.


Ask Billboard is updated every Friday.


Hello Gary!

I enjoyed your feature on “Un-Featured Featured Artists,” and when you mentioned Elton John‘s 1984 hit “I Guess That’s Why They Call It the Blues,” featuring an un-credited Stevie Wonder, it reminded me of some other memorable ’80s songs which featured – and yet un-featured – him (not counting “We Are the World,” credited to the supergroup USA for Africa):

Jermaine Jackson, “Let’s Get Serious” (1980)

Wonder’s fun vocal addition to the song may have gone uncredited, but he was recognized as producer on the No. 1 R&B/Hip-Hop Songs and No. 9 Billboard Hot 100 hit.

Chaka Khan, “I Feel for You” (1984)

Stevie’s unmistakable harmonica stylings on this No. 3-peaking Prince cover were also complimented with an uncredited guest rap performance by Grandmaster Melle Mel.

Eurythmics, “There Must Be an Angel (Playing With My Heart),” (1985)

Wonder’s harmonica solo helped this lovely hit reach No. 22 on the Hot 100.

Other ’80s hits with uncredited help include:

“I Know There’s Something Going On,” Frida (1983)

Phil Collins contributed his trademark drumming on the No. 13-peaking Hot 100 single by the ABBA member, which he also produced). Collins also provided uncredited drumwork and vocals to Howard Jones‘ No. 4 Hot 100 hit from 1986, “No One Is to Blame.”

“Party All the Time,” Eddie Murphy (1985)

Rick James‘ most notable hit was “Super Freak” (No. 16, 1981), but he never reached the top 10 on his own on the Hot 100. However, in addition to “Super Freak” being sampled on MC Hammer‘s “U Can’t Touch This” (No. 8, 1990), in 1985, he rose to No. 2 as the writer and producer of Murphy’s “Party” anthem, for which he provided uncredited guitar work and backing vocals.

“Change of Heart,” Cyndi Lauper (1987)

This song, which peaked at No. 3 on the Hot 100, shows off great backing harmony from the Bangles.

“U Got the Look,” Prince (1987)

From the same year, Prince received uncredited help from Sheena Easton on this No. 2 Hot 100 smash.

“The End of the Innocence,” Don Henley (1989)

Bruce Hornsby‘s memorable piano-playing backed the 1989 No. 8 hit, which he also co-wrote and co-produced.

“My Brave Face,” Paul McCartney (1989)

Also from 1989, McCartney garnered his final U.S. top 40 hit to-date on the Hot 100 (No. 25) with this track co-written with Elvis Costello. Costello did not appear on the song, but, a few months before, on his own hit, “Veronica,” also co-written by the pair, McCartney played bass on what stands as Costello’s biggest U.S. hit (No. 19).

As always, Gary, thanks for all you do. Keep up the great work!

Ron Raymond, Jr.
Music Director, WMPG-FM
Portland, Maine

Hi Ron,

Thanks for adding to the list. Some random ’80s-related thoughts, based on your e-mail:

– The Bangles also sang back-up on Tom Petty‘s “Waiting for Tonight,” a No. 6 hit on Mainstream Rock in 1996.

Green Day‘s Billie Joe Armstrong co-wrote the Go-Go’s‘ 2001 comeback single “Unforgiven.” The song reached No. 22 on Adult Pop Songs.

– While still lead singer of ’til tuesday, Aimee Mann contributed backing vocals to Rush‘s 1987 No. 3 Mainstream Rock track “Time Stand Still.”

– Now a VP/pop promotion for Reprise Records, Tommy Page, who first reached the Hot 100 with “A Shoulder to Cry On” (No. 29) in 1989, not only received uncredited vocal assistance from New Kids on the Block on his 1990 album “Paintings in My Mind,” but he also recruited Michael Bolton at the height of the latter singer’s popularity. Bolton prominently sang backup on a single that he co-wrote with Diane Warren, “Whenever You Close Your Eyes,” from Page’s 1991 album “From the Heart” (No. 192 on the Billboard 200.

Richard Marx has featured several notable backup vocalists on his albums, including Chicago’s Bill Champlin, REO Speedwagon’s Kevin Cronin, Larry Gatlin, Vince Gill, Allison Krauss, Cheryl Lynn, Randy Meisner, Lionel Richie, Timothy B. Schmit, Keith Urban, Luther Vandross, the Tubes’ Fee Waybill, Joe Walsh, Karyn White … and, his wife, Cynthia Rhodes, former lead singer of Animotion.


Hi Gary,

In case you have room for one more example of a song that became a hit after it had been recorded by a prior act:

“That’s What Friends Are For,” Dionne and Friends (1986)

Warwick’s four-week Hot 100 No. 1 in 1986, with Elton John, Gladys Knight and Stevie Wonder, was sung by Rod Stewart for the movie and its soundtrack, “Night Shift.” Stewart sings the song over the film’s end credits.


Pat Thomas
Sparks, Nevada

Hi Pat,

Thanks. I’ll add another song that became a bigger hit when given a second chance.

Since Enrique Iglesias this week ties Michael Jackson and Prince for most No. 1s among male artists in the 34-year history of Dance/Club Play Songs, one of his singles was written and first released by Bruce Springsteen. As recorded by Iglesias, “Sad Eyes” subsequently peaked at No. 8 on Dance/Club Play Songs and No. 34 on Pop Songs in 2000.

(Despite one of its scenes taking place in a bathtub, the song’s video was deemed not quite clean enough for MTV, which refused to play the clip).