10 Famous Musical Duos and How They First Met
1. John Lennon and Paul McCartney
On July 6, 1957, The Quarrymen were playing an afternoon show in a field near St. Peter's Church in Woolton, Liverpool. It was there through a mutual friend that The Quarrymen's singer—some guy named John Lennon—would meet some guy named Paul McCartney. Little did they know all those years ago, as Paul taught John how to tune a guitar, that they'd someday be the world's foremost songwriting team and, you know, The Beatles. Remarkably, someone recorded The Quarrymen's set that day; the tape was sold at Sotheby's for £78,500—the highest price ever paid for a recording at the time.
2. Mick Jagger & Keith Richards
Richards and Jagger were childhood friends and classmates in Dartford, Kent, in the early 1950s. Their families moved apart and the two lost touch... until a chance meeting in 1960, as both waited at the Dartford station for the trains back to their respective schools. Jagger had some Chuck Berry and Muddy Waters recordings with him, and the pair found themselves friends again with a mutual interest in music. By 1962, Richards and Jagger had a band, along with Dick Taylor, Brian Jones, Ian Stewart and Charlie Watts. What they didn't have was a name. During a call to Jazz News, Jones was asked what the group was called; he spotted a Muddy Waters LP lying on the floor and chose a track on the fly. The Rolling Stones was as good a name as any.
3. Sonny & Cher
In November of 1962, Salvatore Bono spotted Cherilyn Sarkisian in a Los Angeles coffee shop. He was 27; she was 16. Sonny was working for Phil Specter at the time, and since he and Cher hit it off pretty quickly, got her work as a session singer. By 1964 they were performing together as Caesar and Cleo, but soon dropped the gimmicky pseudonyms and released "I Got You Babe" as Sonny & Cher in 1965. Bono wrote their songs, and Cher did most of the heavy lifting vocally, a fact that the duo highlighted in their final studio album, Mama Was a Rock and Roll Singer Papa Used To Write All Her Songs.
4. The Blues Brothers
The Blues Brothers began publicly as a skit on Saturday Night Live, of course, but the seeds for the collaboration were planted in 1975, when John Belushi met Dan Aykroyd. At the time, Aykroyd was the host of a children's show and owner of a Chicago speakeasy called the 505 Club. That's where they met to talk about bringing Aykroyd into SNL; during their visit, he played a few blues songs and was surprised to discover that Belushi, despite being born and raised in Chicago, wasn't very familiar with the blues. Howard Shore also happened to be there, and the three kicked around the idea of starting a blues band. On January 17, 1976, the pair debuted The Blues Brothers with a performance of "King Bee" on SNL... while dressed as bees, of course.
5. Mick Jones & Joe Strummer
Mick Jones and Joe Strummer were introduced to one another during a party—at a "dirty squat in Shepherd's Bush"—by none other than the "father of punk rock," Bernie Rhodes (self-declared). Immediately afterward, Strummer left the 101ers to form The Clash with Jones, whose London SS was already defunct, and the only band that matters had Paul Simonon, Keith Levene and Terry Chimes to round out the initial lineup. Their first gig was opening for the Sex Pistols, and 5 weeks later they would open again for the Pistols, sealing punk rock's status as an official movement. The band's songs were written primarily by Jones and Strummer, including all but three tracks on London Calling, their third album, which is widely considered one of the greatest rock albums ever recorded. In 2003, the band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
6. Prince & Sheila E
Prince and Sheila Escovedo met in 1978 at a concert, where she was performing with her percussionist father, Pete Escovedo. After the show, Prince approached Sheila, saying that he and a bandmate were just "fighting over which one of [them] would be the first to be [her] husband." (Neither of them ever were, though she did have a brief relationship with Prince in the mid-80s, while he was seeing the twin sister of The Revolution's Wendy Melvoin.) In 1984, they joined forces for Purple Rain, which (among a slew of other impressive rankings) was labeled "the best soundtrack of all time" by Vanity Fair in 2007.
7. DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince
Jeff Townes and Will Smith met by chance at a house party in 1985. Townes was performing a few doors down from Will's house, and it just happened that his hype man was late. So Smith filled in, and the two soon decided to team up. They enlisted Clarence Holmes (Ready Rock C) as their beatboxer, and by late 1985 (or early 86), Word Up Records had released the trio's first single, "Girls Ain't Nothin but Trouble." Shortly after, Russell Simmons took notice and the group signed with Jive Records and started touring with Run DMC. In 1989, they received the first ever Grammy for Best Rap Performance, for "Parents Just Don't Understand," and earned themselves a show you may have heard of called The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, which ran from 1990-1996. Ready Rock C defected in 1990, then sued in 1999 for one-third of the group's profits. Who knows how it might have turned out, had he thought to file a lawsuit before the statute of limitations had expired.
8. Daft Punk
Thomas Bangalter and Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo of Daft Punk met in secondary school in 1987. Their early collaborations involved a guitar-based group called Darlin', which covered Beach Boys songs (notably, "Darlin'"). Somewhat remarkably, the group saw some success with this formula. They were invited to open for several groups in the UK, and their Beach Boy cover and one original track were released as part of a multi-artist EP by Stereolab. A negative review called Darlin' "a bunch of daft punk." And there you have it. Bangalter and Homem-Christo started experimenting with their sound and released Homework in 1997, followed up by the improbably even-more-successful Discovery in 2001.
9. André 3000 & Big Boi
In 1992, when they were both just 16, André "3000" Lauren Benjamin and Antwan "Big Boi" André Patton met at Lenox Square mall in Atlanta. Benjamin and Patton both attended Tri-Cities High School, and eventually they teamed up in a duo they called "2 Shades Deep." The name was already taken, though, so they chose "The Misfits." Which, predictably, was also already taken. Resorting to the thesaurus, they chose a synonym for misfit and became OutKast. They signed to LaFace Records the same year, and appeared on TLC's "What About Your Friends." OutKast's first single, "Player's Ball," was released in 1993, and by 2011 about 25 million copies of their eight albums had been sold worldwide. An interesting trivia point: OutKast were sued by Rosa Parks in 1999; the case was based on a perceived misappropriation of Parks' name, and the song also contained a few obscenities that she didn't really appreciate. The case was dismissed, then appealed by Johnnie Cochran, then dismissed for appeal by the Supreme Court in 2003.
10. Jack & Meg White
"The White Stripes? They're brother and sister," you say. Well, so do they. But not everyone is aware that Jack and Meg White are not siblings; they met in 1994, when Meg White was a bartender and Jack Gillis was a band-hopping musician-slash-upholsterer. He owned his own upholstery business, called Third Man Upholstery. The pair married in 1996, and Jack took Meg's surname. Meg had never played the drums before she picked up the sticks during one of Jack's rehearsals. She was a natural, and they started rehearsing together, eventually playing their first live show in 1997. They divorced in 2000, before reaching any national level of fame. By the time most people were aware of the White Stripes, the two were presenting themselves as siblings.
This post originally appeared in 2012.