10 completely bonkers guest spots from metal legends on non-metal songs

Ozzy Osbourne, Rob Zombie, Dani Filth and Kerry King
(Image credit: Getty)

It’s always nice to whack on a new album from one of your favourite bands and find out that they’ve collaborated with another artist you love. It happens all the time in metal: Mike Patton and Sepultura, Jonathan Davis working with Suicide Silence, Babymetal and Bring Me The Horizon...we could go on. Sometimes, though, metal musicians turn up in some of the most unexpected places, working with dance, pop and rap artists and beyond, lending their voice to genres that we’d never heard them in before. It doesn’t always work out, but here are 10 of the most unexpected guest appearances from metal heavyweights.

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Ozzy Osbourne – Shake Your Head (Let’s Go To Bed) by Was (Not Was) (1983)

The Prince of Darkness working with the cartoonish Michigan post-disco troupe does not seem like a recipe that should work. Ozzy was in fine form in the early 80s; his output was universally exceptional, and he had transitioned from Sabbath frontman to solo star easily. So, on the surface, it seemed like quite the risk for him to turn up on a poppy funk tune. The initial version of the song also featured backing vocals from a pre-fame Madonna and would be re-recorded in 1992 with Oscar winning actress Kim Basinger in her place. That would be the most bizarre fact about this song in normal circumstances, but Ozzy rapping (yeah, rapping) about teaching Shakespeare to a monkey is way weirder. Ozzy would go on to far greater things as we know and Was (Not Was) would release the massive, and massively silly, hit Walk The Dinosaur in 1988. So, it worked out for everyone. 

Ronnie James Dio – Games by Dog Eat Dog (1996)

Dog Eat Dog came from the world of underground New York hardcore, but their brand of uber positive, self-proclaimed “Fun-core” was far brighter and more sunshiny than the scene that birthed them. It won them an MTV Award in 1995 as Best Breakthrough Artist, and when they came to follow up that success, they surprisingly decided to rope in a heavy metal legend. The track Games, from their 1996 album Play Games, featured a guest turn from none other than Ronnie James Dio, who adds a, frankly, much needed touch of class to a boisterous pop-punk song. In fact, Dio fully steals the show, both with his rendition of the American national anthem at the start and his wailing pipes giving the song its soaring chorus. 

Rob Zombie and Dave Grohl – All About the Benjamins by Puff Daddy and the Family (1996)

Sean Combs (AKA Puff Daddy, AKA P. Diddy, AKA Diddy, we can’t keep up these days) was one of the most commercially successful rap artists of the 90s. His 1997 debut album No Way Out was released at the peak of his powers, and All About The Benjamins was one of the biggest hits on it. When the song was released as the record's third single, Diddy decided to include a rap-rock crossover version of the song and roped in ex-Replacements and future Guns N' Roses bassist Tommy Stinson, Foo Fighters' Dave Grohl to play drums and, most amazingly of all, Rob Zombie to add some backing vocals. Where else can you hear Bobby Z barking in his own inimitable style over some top-class rhymes from Missy Elliot and The Notorious B.I.G.? Only here, and it’s awesome. 

Jason Newsted – The Knock (Drums of Death Part 2) by UNKLE (1997)

James Lavelle and DJ Shadow’s 1997 masterpiece Psyence Fiction, the first release under the UNKLE banner, is peppered by some incredible guest appearances, with Thom Yorke, Ian Brown, Kool G Rap, Richard Ashcroft and Mark Hollis amongst the big names to contribute. But the most surprising addition to the personnel would have to be then-Metallica bassist Jason Newsted on The Knock (Drums of Death Part 2). Newsted’s instantly recognisable bass rumble sounds glorious alongside the duo’s clattering breakbeats and Beastie Boys man Mike D’s flow, but it’s when Newsted gets freaky with his theremin toward the end of the song that The Knock... really kicks it up a gear. We now know that the other members of Metallica weren’t keen on Newsted’s extra-curricular activity, but we’re very glad this one slipped through the net.

Alice Cooper/Slash - Intro/Halls of Illusions by Insane Clown Posse (1997)

Fair play to Insane Clown Posse: they’ve managed to stretch a rather thin concept of being rapping clowns from a dark carnival into a thirty-year career. Pretty sure none of us would have seen that coming back in 1997 when the pair released their breakthrough album The Great Milenko. That’s what made the inclusion of two hard rock legends on the record such a surprise, with godfather of shock Alice Cooper setting the ICP lore with a spoken word intro and Guns N' Roses guitarist Slash adding some big power chords to lead single Halls of Illusions. If that all wasn’t weird enough, Sex Pistols guitarist Steve Jones is also on the album! Back then we were all scratching our heads trying to work out what dirt Violent J and Shaggy 2 Dope had on all these rock stars to make them appear on a comedy gimmick rap album. 25 years later, we’ll maybe concede they knew better than us.

Kerry King – What We’re All About by Sum 41 (2002)

We all know that Sum 41 are true heavy metal fans, but when they emerged at the beginning of the millennium, the battle lines between “real” rock music and the more commercial bent of nu metal, pop punk and emo were drawn very clearly. You’d imagine that a band such as Sum 41 would struggle for acceptance from any iconic metal stars from previous generations, then. Not so: back in 2002 they were roped in to create a song for the forthcoming Spider-man film, and decided to write a Beastie Boys-style rap rock banger called What We’re All About. They needed someone to peel out a killer solo - much like Slayer guitarist Kerry King did with the Beastie themselves on their classic No Sleep Till Brooklyn. So, why not go back to the well and ask the man himself? Kerry rather surprisingly said yes and served the song with a trademark ripper. Nice one.

M. Shadows and Synester Gates – Save Me by Machine Gun Kelly (2012)

Rapper, actor and world's finest petulant teenager impersonator MGK has managed to worm his way into the rock scene in recent years. In some ways, it hasn’t worked out so well for him, embarrassingly trying to beef with Slipknot and butchering a System Of A Down classic basically being the sum total of his contribution to metal. We should have seen his transition into rock coming, mind, as on his debut album Lace Up he invited Avenged Sevenfold pair M. Shadows and Synester Gates to appear on the record's opening song, Save Me. Gates adds a few instantly recognisable wails to Kelly’s verses, before Shadow’s equally identifiable rasps comes along in the chorus. It is, if we’re being honest, actually pretty good. Stop running your mouth and do more of this please, Mr. Kelly.

Serj Tankian – Shooting Helicopters by Benny Benassi (2016)

Italian DJ Benny Benassi is best known for helping to popularise the rise of euphoric electro-house in the mid-2000s. Serj Tankian is best known as the singer in the politically minded, American-Armenian crossover, metal oddities System of a Down. That sounds closer to “ill-advised sitcom” rather than “successful musical collaboration”, but Serj’s appearance on the song Shooting Helicopters from Benassi’s 2016 album Danceaholic is actually a cracker. Tankian sounds amazing, letting his swooping and soaring vocals give gravitas to Benassi’s throbbing, pounding electro beats. Who saw that coming?

Fred Durst – Seamless by Corey Feldman (2016)

Hollywood child star of classic 80s movies such as The Lost Boys and The Goonies, we’ve got a lot of love for Corey Feldman. However, his musical career is...er...let’s be nice and just say rather unusual. Feldman’s 2016 album Angelic 2 The Core is an absolute mess of ill-advised, Michael Jackson-aping funky soul, mawkish acoustic power ballads, rap-metal and, good lord, pervy between-song skits where Feldman flirts with his “Angels”. It’s yucky. Now, while it's true that Limp Bizkit frontman Fred Durst isn’t exactly shy with who he’s willing to work with, surely even he is above this car crash? Apparently not. Fred rocks up on the anemic funk of Seamless, coming in after Corey has sonically crotch thrusted the air for a couple of minutes and giving us a verse that features the immortal line: “Mr. Bojangles, talking ‘bout the sweet poontangle, rocking me a white fur Kangol, hanging out with Corey’s angels.” Results May Vary suddenly doesn’t seem like such a bad album.

Dani Filth – Neon Vamp by Twiztid (2021)

Hip-hop duo Twiztid certainly look the part when it comes to heavy metal, all corpse paint and black threads, but their music has always been far more traditionally rap. But in 2021 they decided to make their 15th studio effort a rap-metal crossover album, with the likes of Spencer Charnas from Ice Nine Kills and Rich Ward from Fozzy getting involved. It’s the inclusion of Cradle Of Filth frontman Dani Filth on the song Neon Vamp that’s the real eyebrow-raiser here, though, the Suffolk black metal legend lending his signature croaks and screeches to an aggro, hip-hop banger. It’s definitely something new to hear Dani in this context, belching about “this shit” being “hard” alongside Jamie Madrox and Monoxide Child. It’s probably just getting us all warmed up for that forthcoming Ed Sheeran duet

Stephen Hill

Since blagging his way onto the Hammer team a decade ago, Stephen has written countless features and reviews for the magazine, usually specialising in punk, hardcore and 90s metal, and still holds out the faint hope of one day getting his beloved U2 into the pages of the mag. He also regularly spouts his opinions on the Metal Hammer Podcast.