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Pick a Day

Music History Events: Unusual Performances

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February 5, 2017 Lady Gaga opens the Super Bowl halftime show with a verse from "God Bless America," followed by the song Woody Guthrie wrote as a parody, "This Land Is Your Land."More

November 19, 2016 At the Sacramento stop on his Saint Pablo Tour, Kanye West does three songs, delivers a 17-minute monologue, and leaves the stage.More

August 5, 2016 There are spectacular fireworks, awe-inspiring acrobats, and sensational dancers at the opening ceremony of the Summer Olympics in Rio, but supermodel Gisele Bundchen gets the biggest reaction when she takes a long walk across the stage to "The Girl From Ipanema," performed by the composer's grandson, Daniel Jobim.

May 12, 2013 After the Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield records the David Bowie song "Space Oddity" on board the International Space Station, his sublime rendition is posted to YouTube, quickly garnering millions of views.More

October 30, 2010 Yusuf Islam (Cat Stevens) makes a rare public appearance, performing "Peace Train" at the Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear, which is organized and hosted by Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert. Midway through the song, Colbert interrupts him and introduces Ozzy Osbourne, who starts performing "Crazy Train." Stevens and Osbourne go back and forth, resulting in a strange and hilarious train wreck.More

August 24, 2008 Leona Lewis and Jimmy Page perform during the closing ceremony of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games at the National Stadium (also known as the Bird's Nest). The duo perform the Led Zeppelin classic "Whole Lotta Love."More

November 18, 2006 With the aid of a private jet, Jay-Z plays seven 30-minute sets across the US in one day to promote his comeback album, Kingdom Come.

August 13, 2004 At the opening ceremonies of the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, Björk wears a dress that unfurls about 10,000 feet of fabric, which is stretched to cover the viewing area where a world map is then projected. All of this takes place while she sings "Oceania."More

September 27, 2000 U2, whose video for "Where The Streets Have No Name" comes from a rooftop concert, play another roofie, this time atop the Clarence Hotel in Dublin to play their new songs "Beautiful Day" and "Elevation" for air on Top Of The Pops.

August 22, 1998 With Hugh Grant and Elizabeth Hurley in the audience, Jim Carrey joins Elton John on stage at a show in Anaheim, California, where the pair duet on "Rocket Man." After a reasonably straight rendition, Carrey sits at the piano and smashes his head into the keys.

September 27, 1997 Bob Dylan plays "Knocking On Heaven's Door" and "A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall" for Pope John Paul II and an audience of 300,000 at the World Eucharist Congress in Bologna, Italy. For the 77-year-old Pope, it's a chance to connect with young people, and the pontiff does so by invoking Dylan's song "Blowin' In The Wind" during his sermon. Dylan's invite is not without controversy, as the future Pope Benedict fears the "rock prophet" and his music are at odds with the Roman Catholic faith.More

August 30, 1992 Nirvana headline the Reading Festival in England. On the bill is L7, whose frontwoman Donita Sparks throws a (used) tampon into the crowd.More

January 11, 1992 Nirvana make their first appearance on Saturday Night Live. They leave a mark: after performing their hit "Smells Like Teen Spirit," they play "Territorial Pissings" for their second song, then trash their instruments and anything else they can find on stage.

June 23, 1987 15-year-old Tiffany starts her Mall Tour at the Bergen Mall in Paramus, New Jersey, performing what in November will be her #1 hit, "I Think We're Alone Now."More

May 25, 1986 It's Hands Across America, as millions of Americans form a human chain from New York to Santa Monica to raise money for hunger relief. The project is organized by the same guy who put together "We Are The World," but the theme song is far less ambitious.More

February 1, 1982 Bill Murray is the first guest on Late Night with David Letterman, hosted by an irreverent comedian with funny teeth. He sings the hit song "Physical," doing an aerobic routine along with his performance.More

November 30, 1977 Bing Crosby's last Christmas special airs. The program was recorded in September, and Crosby died that October. The show is remembered for Crosby's unusual duet with David Bowie, where they sing a modified version of "Little Drummer Boy," with Bowie singing the new "Peace On Earth" lyrics composed by the show's writers.

November 20, 1976 Paul Simon opens Saturday Night Live dressed as a turkey (in honor of Thanksgiving).More

October 15, 1971 Rick Nelson (formerly Ricky) plays the "Rock & Roll Spectacular" concert at Madison Square Garden. When he plays some newer songs, the hit-hungry audience boos. Nelson writes the song "Garden Party" about the experience, and it becomes a hit, reviving his career.More

June 1, 1969 John Lennon and Yoko Ono record "Give Peace A Chance" to close out their "bed-in" in Montreal.More

October 7, 1968 Long before the US National Anthem becomes a performance piece, the Puerto Rican singer Jose Feliciano makes waves when he does a slow, jazzy version of the song before Game 5 of the World Series between the Tigers and Cardinals. Among those joining the uproar are Tigers starting pitcher Mickey Lolich, who complains that the overly long rendition screwed up his pregame routine.More

April 5, 1968 With tensions high the night after Martin Luther King Jr. is assassinated, James Brown goes ahead with his concert at the Boston Garden, agreeing to televise the show to help keep calm in the city.More

June 16, 1967 The first Monterey International Pop festival begins at the County Fairgrounds in Monterey, California. It's the first of many big Rock festivals, with The Who, Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix and The Animals among those performing. Many consider it the beginning of the "Summer of Love."More

March 31, 1967 At the Astoria Theatre in London, Jimi Hendrix sets fire to his guitar for the first time, and goes to the hospital after the show with minor burns. During the rest of the tour, Hendrix makes a habit of playing his guitar with his teeth, and he ignites his axe a few more times.More

August 10, 1963 Stevie Wonder's "Fingertips (Part 2)" becomes the first live recording to hit #1 in the US. It holds the position for three weeks.More

May 19, 1962 Less than three months before her death, Marilyn Monroe makes one of her last public appearances at President John F. Kennedy's 45th birthday celebration, where she famously sings "Happy Birthday, Mr. President" in his honor.More

July 1, 1956 The family-friendly Steve Allen Show doesn't want Elvis Presley shaking his legendary pelvis, so he sings "Hound Dog" to a basset hound. Both Elvis and the pooch are dressed in formal wear.More

April 30, 2005 Bauhaus reunite to play the Coachella Festival, opening their set with "Bela Lugosi's Dead," which lead singer Peter Murphy performs hanging upside down.

August 24, 2003 Dick Peterson from The Kingsmen joins 753 other guitarists to perform "Louie Louie" for a charity fundraiser in Tacoma, Washington.

April 4, 2003 The Rolling Stones make their stage debut in India, performing at Bangalore Palace in the middle of a monsoon!

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