3 Famous Bands With A “Silent Partner”

November 4, 2013

Sometimes the band includes more than just the guys on stage. Here’s a look at rock music’s most notable band members…who aren’t really part of the band.

Hugh McDonald, Invisible Bassist

Bon_Jovi_RunawayJon Bon Jovi assembled his hard rock band, Bon Jovi, in 1983, which included bassist Hugh McDonald, who played on the group’s first single “Runaway.” The song was a local hit, and when the group got a record deal, Bon Jovi replaced some of his band members, including McDonald, with a new bass player, Alec John Such. Except…he really didn’t. Such was credited as the bass player on five multi-million-selling Bon Jovi albums, but it was really McDonald who was playing. Why was Such, who was reportedly not as accomplished a musician as McDonald, presented as Bon Jovi’s bassist? McDonald was a decade older than Jon Bon Jovi, Such, and the other members of the band. When the band became teen idols in the 1980s, youth (and youthful looks) were important, and McDonald didn’t fit that profile. In 1994, McDonald “replaced” Such, both in concert and on record.

Don Airey, Invisible Keyboardist

Airey has played keyboards for the biggest acts in heavy metal, including Rainbow, Black Sabbath, and for Ozzy Osbourne’s solo career. Airey played on Osbourne’s 1981 album Blizzard of Ozz, and Osbourne asked him to be a part of the ensuing concert tour. But on one condition: Airey couldn’t be on stage. Although Airey’s keyboards featured prominently on Blizzard, Osbourne didn’t think keyboards were a very “metal” instrument. So he planned to keep Airey backstage, unseen to the audience and even the rest of the band. Airey refused that arrangement, so he and Osbourne compromised: Airey would play from inside a special area on the stage set where he and the band could see each other…but the audience couldn’t see Airey.

Darryl Jones, Ignored Bassist

In 1993, the Rolling Stones announced that longtime bassist and original member Bill Wyman was leaving the group after more than 30 years. Drummer Charlie Watts selected a new bass player for the band: Darryl Jones, who had toured with and played concerts with major acts, including Sting, Cher, Miles Davis, Eric Clapton, and Herbie Hancock. But Jones was never and has never been Wyman’s “official” replacement or even an official member of the band. He’s paid a hefty salary to tour with the band and play on their albums, but he’s listed as a collaborator, not band member. Even though he’s now been with the Rolling Stones for 20 years, Jones doesn’t share in the band’s royalties.