Duets have held a special place in music, often featuring members of opposite genders. These have often been the songs of choice when an artist wishes to feature another artist in their work.
Learning a few duets on the guitar is always a good idea, especially if you play in a band. The following songs are some of the greatest duets to be found in the history of recorded music.
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“Stop Draggin' My Heart Around” by Stevie Nicks ft. Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers
Most people know of Stevie Nicks from her role in the band, Fleetwood Mac. In the1980s, Nicks ventured out to start a solo career, with some duets playing a role in her success.
One of these duets was with Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, which can still be heard on radio stations today. This one has some simple, yet signature guitar parts throughout the track.
“Close My Eyes Forever” by Lita Ford & Ozzy Osbourne
Ozzy Osbourne has always held a seat in the royalty of rock, often being cited as the “Prince of Darkness”. When the Runaways broke up, Lita Ford embarked on a solo career, teaming up with Ozzy for a special duet.
This song ultimately helped to launch Lita’s solo career with an air of respect. It has also been one of Ozzy’s biggest hits, towering over some of his more famous songs.
“Don’t Mess Up A Good Thing” by Ry Cooder ft. Chaka Kahn
Ry Cooder’s 1979 album featured Chaka Khan (from Rufus) on the song, Don’t Mess Up A Good Thing. This recording is actually a cover of the classic original done by Fontella Bass and Bobby McClure.
What’s so great about this track is, aside from the vocal performances, the musicality within. Ry Cooder utilizes the guitar in complex simplicity, which many fans of John Mayer might recognize in his own work.
“Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” by Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell
By far one of the biggest duets of all time is the track, Ain’t No Mountain High Enough. The combination of Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell was exceptionally potent, as the duo released multiple hits.
In many ways, Ain’t No Mountain High Enough is a staple within pop culture. It has been featured in countless films, TV shows, and commercials.
“A Whole New World” by Peabo Bryson and Regina Belle
If you were asked to name the most famous Disney song ever, what would your answer be? For many, it would have to be the hit song from Aladdin, A Whole New World.
Out of all of the famous Disney tracks, this one has found a wide appeal far outside the film. It’s a common choice for people who wish to sing a duet.
“If I Could” by Phish ft. Alison Krauss
If you want to beef up your guitar chops, it’s always wise to study some Phish. Trey Anastasio’s guitar lines are almost like mini guitar exercises in themselves.
The song, If I Could, from the album, Hoist, features famed singer and violinist, Alison Krauss. She happened to be recording in the studio next door while Phish was tracking their album.
“Under Pressure” by Queen ft. David Bowie
Queen was a band that was certainly not a stranger to fame and success. However, when they added David Bowie into the mix for Under Pressure, the results were off the chart.
This song has one of the most iconic bass lines in all of recorded music. Plus, a certain Vanilla Ice used it for the basis for his own hit song.
“Leather And Lace” by Stevie Nicks ft. Don Henley
Another smash hit for Stevie Nicks in her solo career was the song, Leather And Lace. This duet featured Don Henley, a singer-songwriter known best for his role in the band, Eagles.
Leather And Lace has that iconic sound that became associated with Stevie’s sound in Fleetwood Mac. In some ways, it has qualities that are very reminiscent of the song, Landslide.
“Somewhere Out There” by Linda Ronstadt & James Ingram
The 1980s just seemed like the most fertile period for duets of all shapes and sizes. Films, in particular, utilized duets to great success.
The animated Steven Spielberg flick, An American Tail, features a duet by Linda Ronstadt and James Ingram. This is a fairly soft ballad duet that features a fairly epic guitar solo in the middle, elevating the energy.
“Put A Little Love In Your Heart” by Annie Lennox & Al Green
Hollywood truly does have a certain power in being able to facilitate some unique combinations for musical artists. In many instances, it’s not certain whether particular artists would collaborate on music otherwise.
If you’ve seen the famous Christmas movie, Scrooged, you’ve heard this duet by Annie Lennox and Al Green. It’s a modernized, yet fun, version of the original that was released by Jackie DeShannon in 1969.
“A Rockin’ Good Way” by Dinah Washington & Brook Benton
Do you know how to play traditional blues progressions on the guitar? If so, A Rockin’ Good Way makes for low-hanging fruit to add to your repertoire.
This utilizes a standard blues progression, with the guitar playing in single notes, rather than chords. A Rockin’ Good Way can serve as a great exercise in maintaining consistency within the musical pocket.
“I Got You Babe” by Sonny & Cher
Some people might find the song, I Got You Babe, to be incredibly annoying. However, it can’t be denied that the song’s chorus is indeed, quite infectious.
I Got You Babe has all of the musical stylings straight out of Laurel Canyon in the 1960s. This was definitely one of the best love songs to come out of its particular time period.
“All I Have To Do Is Dream” by Bobby Gentry & Glen Campbell
The Everly Brothers released some of the most potent harmonized vocal lines ever recorded. One of their biggest hits was the song, All I Have To Do Is Dream.
Many artists have covered this song as it’s quite fun to play and it does have a unique dreamy quality. Country stars Bobby Gentry and Glen Campbell even covered the song as a beautiful duet.
“Cosas de la Vida (Can't Stop Thinking of You)” by Eros Ramazzotti ft. Tina Turner
If you live in the United States of America, you probably aren’t familiar with Eros Ramazzotti. However, he’s one of the biggest pop sensations to have come from Italy.
Throughout his career, he’s collaborated with some of the biggest names in pop music. His song, Cosas de la Vida, is especially notable for featuring Tina Turner.
“Dancing In The Street” by David Bowie & Mick Jagger
The song Dancing In The Street has been an anthem of free-spiritedness ever since it was released. In fact, the Grateful Dead frequently included the song in their setlist over the many years of their existence.
Even David Bowie and Mick Jagger took a stab at this classic. Admittedly, it doesn’t hold up very well to today’s standards due to having dated qualities pinpointing it to the 1980s.
“Dead Ringer For Love” by Meatloaf ft. Cher
While Cher was successful with Sonny, it didn’t quite measure up to her success as a solo artist. She’s had plenty of hit songs, including many which have been duets and features with other artists.
Meatloaf’s Dead Ringer For Love features Cher along with some musicality reminiscent of the song Summertime Blues. Learning this one is a definite must if you’re in a rock band similar to Meatloaf’s style.
“Don’t Go Breaking My Heart” by Elton John & Kiki Dee
If you’re looking for a duet that topped the charts worldwide, look no further. Elton John and Kiki Dee’s Don’t Go Breaking My Heart is one of the most successful duets of all time.
This duet has everything, including conversational composition, lush orchestration, and tasteful lyrics. Playing this song on guitar is a safe bet, as just about everybody is familiar with its chorus.
“Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me” by George Michael & Elton John
Elton John’s track, Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me was originally released in 1974. It managed to reach the top of the charts, even gaining some award nominations along the way.
Almost 20 years later, Elton had George Michael join him on stage for a performance of this song. Elton found his song topping the charts yet again.
“Easy Lover” by Phil Collins & Philip Bailey
Another smash hit duet featuring members of the same gender is the song, Easy Lover. This song was a collaboration between Phil Collins (of Genesis) and Philip Bailey (of Earth, Wind & Fire).
The result was a pop song that is steeped in dance elements, with a very memorable hook. It managed to top the charts worldwide, even winning MTV’s Best Music Video award.
“Ebony And Ivory” by Paul McCartney ft. Stevie Wonder
The issue of racial equality has seemingly always been an aspect of the history of humanity. Even today, things are not quite where they should be in this regard.
In the 1980s, many artists felt the same way. It’s what prompted pop giants Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder to collaborate on Ebony And Ivory.
“Guilty” by Barbra Streisand ft. Barry Gibb
Barbra Streisand is a rare instance of somebody who has been massively successful in both music and film. The late 1980s saw Streisand’s solo music career hit a new stride.
Part of her success was the infectious dance elements within her songs. For instance, the track, Guilty, has a disco vibe, aided by the addition of Barry Gibb (of Bee Gees fame).
“It Takes Two” by Marvin Gaye & Kim Weston
Remember how we mentioned that the combination of Marvin Gaye and Kim Weston was unstoppable? This duo is definitely responsible for some of the greatest duets of all time.
Another popular duet of this particular combination is the song, It Takes Two. It’s a classic love song straight from the soul-pop era, and just about everybody under the sun knows it.
“It’s Only Love” by Bryan Adams & Tina Turner
The middle of the 1980s saw Tina Turner reaching new heights in her career. This era of her career spawned many hits, including a duet with Bryan Adams.
In fact, Bryan was only in his younger 20s at the time that these two collaborated together. It definitely helped put Bryan Adams into the mainstream spotlight.
“It’s Your Love” by Tim McGraw & Faith Hill
The late 1990s saw country music becoming increasingly popular within the scope of mainstream audiences. Tim McGraw’s relationship with Faith Hill was a highly publicized matter of life in that particular time period.
It was during this time that Tim McGraw released the song, It’s Your Love, with Faith. As one would expect, it topped the charts, eventually becoming the wedding song of the decade.
“Jackson” by Johnny Cash & June Carter
Johnny Cash and June Carter are definitely one of country music’s finest examples of a musical couple. Each musician is highly acclaimed in their own right, but the combination is even better.
The song, Jackson, is a classic that this couple enjoyed playing together. Interestingly enough, the song is all about how there is no love to be found within a relationship.
“Kids” by Robbie Williams & Kylie Minogue
Robbie Williams was one of the largest pop stars of the early 1990s. When he linked up with Kylie Minogue, he found a collaborative partner and a depth of chemistry.
The result of these two working together includes the hit song, Kids. This ultimately helped Kylie Minogue to gain mainstream attention at the start of her career.
“Mockingbird” by Carly Simon & James Taylor
Most people are probably familiar with the iconic song, Mockingbird. The film, Dumb And Dumber has a scene built primarily around the singing of this song.
This track was actually released in the mid-1960s, however, most know the Carly Simon and James Taylor version. In many ways, this song has become a sort of traditional folk song lullaby.
“Out In The Fields” by Gary Moore & Phil Lynott
Ever wonder what happened to the powerhouse Irish band, Thin Lizzy? Well, in the 1980s, the band sort of fizzled out, with members embarking on solo careers.
Out In The Fields is a track featuring Gary Moore and Phil Lynott, and touches on some Thin Lizzy sounds. It must be said that this particular track is quite dated, despite ranking high on the charts upon its release.
“Reunited” by Peaches & Herb
It’s not an uncommon thing for lovers to be apart for long periods of time. In these instances, the Peaches & Herb song, Reunited, is perhaps the most appropriate.
This track definitely provided a smooth ending to the golden era of the 1970s. It’s also one of the most iconic duets ever recorded.
“Somethin’ Stupid” by Frank & Nancy Sinatra
The Sinatra family were no strangers to hit songs and could recognize one a mile away. That was certainly the case with the song, Somethin’ Stupid, which features both Frank and his daughter, Nancy.
In fact, Somethin’ Stupid reigned at the top of the charts for nearly a month upon its release in 1967. Since then, it’s been featured countless times in visual media, including an episode of The Simpsons.
“Stumblin’ In” by Chris Norman & Suzy Quatro
Suzy Quatro is perhaps one of the greatest female musicians of all time. Yet, it’s quite astonishing how today’s generations don’t particularly know that much about her.
At one time, she held prominence in the pop charts with Chris Norman on the song, Stumblin’ In. Audiences all around the world could not get enough of this track in the late 1970s.
“Summer Nights” by Olivia Newton-John & John Travolta
If you’re looking to learn a duet that just about everyone knows, look no further than Summer Nights. This hit song from Grease remains a timeless classic that people of all ages love to sing.
“(I’ve Had) The Time Of My Life” by Bill Medley & Jennifer Warnes
The late 1980s were notable for the hit film, Dirty Dancing, which became a bit of a cultural phenomenon. Bill Medley and Jennifer Warnes had a duet in this film that was ultimately propelled to astonishing success.
In many ways, (I’ve Had) The Time Of My Life is the epitome of a soft power ballad.
“Then Came You” by Dionne Warwick & The Spinners
One of the biggest hits of the early 1970s was the track, Then Came You. This song featured the soul music lineup of The Spinners, with Dionne Warwick’s velvety voice.
Part of what makes this song so great is the lush and polished sound textures used throughout the composition.
“Up Where We Belong” by Joe Cocker & Jennifer Warnes
Another soft power ballad of the early 1980s was Up Where We Belong, by Joe Cocker and Jennifer Warnes. This track went to the top of the charts, despite being recorded for the film, An Officer And A Gentleman.
“Walk This Way” by Aerosmith & Run DMC
Sure, Walk This Way might not be considered a duet by classic standards. However, it is a collaboration that was truly one of the first of its kind.
Even today, Walk This Way is an incredibly potent statement, particularly because of the collaboration alone. It was one of the first instances that rap music was given respect as a music genre.
“When You’re Gone” by Bryan Adams & Melanie C
By the late 1990s, Bryan Adams had become an established success within the music industry. His 1998 collaboration with Melanie C on When You’re Gone managed to rank high amongst audiences around the world.
“Wild Night” by John Mellencamp ft. Me'Shell Ndegeocello
John Mellencamp was still quite active in the 1990s, as is evident with his cover of Van Morrison’s Wild Night. This particular recording featured Me’Shell Ndegeocello, who rose to prominence in the mid-1990s.
“Your Precious Love” by Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell
Yet another classic duet from Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell is the song, Your Precious Love. This song is especially ideal for showing a grateful attitude for the love that someone may have for you.
Best Duet Guitar Songs, Final Thoughts
As you can see, duets of all types have been written. Many duets have become some of the biggest musical hits in the history of all recorded music.
Consider learning a few of these, as chances are likely that you can find somebody to sing with you. These songs can also provide inspiration for other songs that could possibly be turned into a unique duet.