The Offstage Touring Musicians We Never See

If you’ve seen any of the shows on Muse’s Drones tour, you probably marvelled at all the noise Matt Bellamy and crew can make whilst onstage. That’s a lot of music coming from just three guys, isn’t it? Or is it just three guys?

Actually, if you had the right vantage point, you’ll have noticed a keyboardist discretely set up behind the drums. Not a big deal, really, since many bands tour with extra musicians who are most often heard but not seen. They’re there to fill in the sound in a live setting .

But then there are stories like the one about the off-stage singer who helped a renown metal singer whose name may or may not rhyme with Fozzy Fozbourne hit the high notes in some songs. Reader Brad points us to this article in LA Weekly about the man who offered assistance to the aforementioned Mr. Fozbourne.

It looked like a big black tent. Offstage right and behind the bass bin speakers in a Stockholm arena, Ozzy Osbourne’s crew had set up a portable vocal booth. Inside the booth’s black curtained exterior was a microphone and stand, floor wedge monitor, and an intercom to communicate directly with the sound engineer. The booth also contained a video monitor scrolling lyrics — to Osbourne’s metallic solo hits like “Crazy Train” and Black Sabbath classics like “War Pigs” — from the bottom of the screen to the top.

Two weeks earlier, Robert Mason came home to his Tempe, Arizona apartment to find a message on his answering machine from Osbourne’s wife and hard-nosed manager, Sharon Osbourne. Sharon’s message went something like, “We want to know if you’d be interested in doing live vocals on tour — backgrounds, harmonies and that kind of stuff. Call me back.”

Uh-oh. The secret’s out. Keep reading.


Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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