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Johnny Depp: A Career in Music

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Marilyn Manson raised a few eyebrows amongst fans earlier this week, suggesting that actor Johnny Depp may be considering a position playing guitar for his band. For those not all that familiar with Depp’s background, the idea of the silver screen star stepping in for Manson is not as far-fetched as it may seem. The actor has steadily been building a solid music resume for over two decades now.

While many may remember Depp as “Eddie,” the fresh-off-the-bus musician enjoying a meteoric rise and equally devastating fall in Tom Petty’s “Into the Great Wide Open” video, that story is not far from how Depp really got started. As Marilyn Manson revealed in a past interview, he and Depp crossed paths in Fort Lauderdale in his youth, with Depp playing in a band called Kids, while Manson had Marilyn Manson and the Spooky Kids. Depp initially came to Hollywood not as an actor, the Kids; however, the group never took off. He moved on to the band Rock City Angels and had worked with them on a disc called Young Man’s Blues, but got cast in TV’s 21 Jump Street before the album arrived and suddenly he was a bona fide star.

Depp never gave up his love for music and by 1993 he started garnering a few notable music credits, collaborating with Ryan Adams on the song “No Shadow” and performing with Iggy Pop on the track “Hollywood Affair.” Later, Depp reunited with Pop to lend a (guitar) hand on the 1999 Avenue B album. Adams, meanwhile, called upon Depp for guitar and vocal assistance for his self-titled 2014 album and invited Depp to lay down a guitar solo for Butch Walker’s 2015 Afraid of Ghosts album, which Adams produced.

Another longstanding musical friendship is the one he has with Aerosmith guitar great Joe Perry. He stepped in to add backing vocals on a song for Aerosmith’s 2012 Music From Another Dimension album, but later reunited with Perry to play rhythm guitar on Perry’s Christmas season EP in 2014 as well as guesting with Perry on Steve Hunter’s “Brooklyn Shuffle” that same year. That guitar camaraderie led to Perry and Depp founding the band Hollywood Vampires, along with Alice Cooper. And Depp continued his partnership with Perry, sitting in behind the kit on drums for Perry’s Sweetzerland Manifesto disc (which is due out tomorrow, January 19), having just played with Perry at his release show this week (see video below).

Depp also credits also include playing drums and guitars alongside Patti Smith on her 2012 Banga album, appearing on a pair of cuts — “Fade In-Out” and “Fade Away” (War Child version) — for Oasis in 1997, playing guitar on “That Woman’s Got Me Drinking” for Shane McGowan of The Pogues for his 1995 disc The Snake and also playing with a supergroup of sorts called P back in the mid-90s. That band had him paired up with Gibby Haynes of Butthole Surfers and featured collaborations with Flea of Red Hot Chili Peppers and Steve Jones of the Sex Pistols. That group issued a self-titled album in 1995.

Depp also appeared on multiple releases from his longtime romantic partner Vanessa Paradis and has occasionally put his musical talents to work on the big screen in films like Chocolat and Once Upon a Time in Mexico. He’s also made a few notable guest turns onstage, turning up at shows featuring Billy Gibbons, the Black Keys and Keith Richards.

That brings us back to Marilyn Manson, and there’s even a history of the two collaborating. Depp famously joined Manson onstage at the 2012 Revolver Golden Gods Awards, but also lent his talents on drums and guitar to the Born Villain bonus cut cover of Carly Simon’s “You’re So Vain.” Manson joined Depp onstage at one of Hollywood Vampire’s first shows in Los Angeles and has utilized the actor in a pair of videos from his Heaven Upside Down album. With the two musicians bonding in their youth and reviving that friendship in Hollywood all these years later, it feels like Depp’s addition to Manson’s band would be a good fit.

Manson recently stated that his musical relationship with Twiggy Ramirez, who exited the band last fall, had not been good for several years, while his partnership with current guitarist Tyler Bates has only blossomed. “My relationship with Tyler Bates on [2015’s] The Pale Emperor made something open up in me and I didn’t want to let negative energy back in my life,” said Manson, who spoke about cutting people out of his life who had betrayed him. With a clean house and a new attitude, the addition of his longtime friend Johnny Depp to the lineup could be a welcome one… should Depp decide to accept the challenge.

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