Johnny Depp's Music Career: From Oasis & Aerosmith Features To The Hollywood Vampires

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Alexandra Lozovschi

One of Hollywood's most versatile actors, Johnny Depp had a passion for music long before he became a movie star. Few people know that the famed artist actually dropped out of high school in the early 1980s to become a musician, with his first band, the Kids, opening up for the likes of Iggy Pop, the Ramones, the Pretenders, and the Talking Heads.

Although he ended up pursuing an acting career at the advice of his first wife, Lori Anne Allison, and her friend Nicholas Cage, Depp never gave up on music, playing in various groups and collaborating with some of the greatest rock stars of all time.

The 58-year-old Oscar-nominated actor, who is a guitar virtuoso, occasionally shares clips of himself strumming away for his 11.4 million Instagram followers to enjoy.

Scroll for the highlights of Depp's music career.

Oasis & Iggy Pop Collaboration

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Between the mid-'80s and the early '90s, Depp played in two bands as his movie career was taking off. His first collaboration was with the Rock City Angels, whom he left when he started working on 21 Jump Street. Next came the band P, which Depp formed together with Butthole Surfers' Gibby Haynes and Bill Carter. P released a self-titled album in 1995, occasionally featuring Red Hot Chili Peppers' Flea and Sex Pistols' Steve Jones, per Slate.

In the mid-'90s, Depp was moving up on the music scene, playing guitar for Oasis for their “Fade Away” and “Fade In-Out” tracks. In 1999, he was playing with Iggy Pop two decades after opening for him as a member of the Kids.

Watch Depp and Pop play "Hollywood Affair" from the album Avenue B on YouTube.

Soundtracks For His Movies

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Aside from making guest appearances in his famous friends' bands, Depp provided music for several of his movies. The first one was 2000's Chocolat, with Depp contributing three European jazz songs to its soundtrack. Next came Once Upon a Time in Mexico, followed by The Rum Diary, The Lone Ranger, and Into the Woods.

Around the same time, he played guitar on Babybird's 2010 single “Unloveable,” to which he also directed the music video, rejoining the band in 2011 to record “The Jesus Stag Night Club.”

Also of note was his musical collaboration with his ex-girlfriend Vanessa Paradis, with whom Depp shares his two children, Lily-Rose, 22, and Jack, 19. He co-wrote two songs from her 2000 Bliss album and played guitar on a third one, with the duo covering Serge Gainsbourg’s “Ballade de Melody Nelson” for a tribute album in 2011.

Marilyn Manson & Aerosmith

In 2012, Depp played guitar and drums for Marilyn Manson’s cover of Carly Simon’s hit, "You're So Vain." Later that year, they performed “The Beautiful People” and “Sweet Dreams” on the Revolver Golden Gods Awards' stage.

The same year marked Depp's first collaboration with Aerosmith -- one of several to follow -- with the Hollywood star doing backing vocals for "Freedom Fighter" off of the Music From Another Dimension! album. The actor and talented musician also joined Joe Perry, Steven Tyler, and Alice Cooper for a set of covers at the Dark Shadows premiere party, notes Slate.

The Hollywood Vampires

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In 2015, Depp, Cooper, and Perry started their own band, called the Hollywood Vampires. The group released its self-titled debut studio album in September that year, featuring two original songs co-written by Depp.

Also on the album were a number of covers, guesting a starry cast that included Paul McCartney, Dave Grohl, Slash, AC/DC’s Brian Johnson, Jane’s Addiction’s Perry Farrell, and actor Christopher Lee. The Hollywood Vampires released their second studio album, Rise, in June 2019.

Jeff Beck Collaboration

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Last April, Depp sent fans into a frenzy as he joined Instagram for the first time, revealing a new feature with Jeff Beck. The duo recorded a cover of John Lennon’s “Isolation,” with Depp sharing the audio on the social media platform the following day.

“The song’s about isolation, fear, and the existential risk to our world, so we wanted to give the song to you,” Depp said in an eight-minute video announcing the collaboration, given below. “We truly both hope in our own little way, it helps you get through these unusual times that we’re experiencing, even if it just helps to pass the time as we endure isolation together.”

A month later, Depp and Beck released an accompanying music video, in which they could be seen performing "Isolation" onstage during one of their few concerts from September 2019.

According to Depp, the song was one of the few tracks for an upcoming, joint studio album, which has been recorded “over the last couple of years.” Listen to it on Instagram.