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Sidemen (also: guest musicians ) are instrumentalists or vocalists known to the public who are obliged by other performers or music producers for a fee to take part in studio or live productions as a named musician in formations of which they are neither an official band or project member are still in the foreground in such engagements ( Featuring ). Since 2000, these musicians can be inducted into the Rock'n Roll Hall of Fame in the 'Sidemen' category .

History of origin

Sidemen are not anonymous, as is often the case with session musicians , but are well known to the music public as independent performers with an individual career. The expression arose around the mid-1930s through the use of guest musicians in jazz, where a more or less formal jazz band was supplemented by sidemen. There the sideman is neither the leader of the jazz band nor a soloist, but rather, for example, composer. The sidemen complemented the jazz band musically and improved their performance. Later, sidemen were also used in blues music , when blues legends like Muddy Waters or Howlin 'Wolf were accompanied by sidemen like Otis Spann , Willie Dixon or Hubert Sumlin .

If session musicians lose their anonymity and perform themselves, they become sidemen, provided they continue to accompany other artists. Quite a few sidemen managed to step out of the shadows of their function and organize independent careers. Conversely, even stars and celebrities in the industry take on the role of the sideman to work as guest musicians for colleagues. An example of this is the British guitarist Jimmy Page , who was known as a member of the Yardbirds and also accompanied numerous British pop musicians on sound recordings. Graphic designer Klaus Voormann , sideman of the Beatles' members after their separation, had also made such a career.

Musician's Musician

While his popularity with the audience is usually important for the role of the 'sideman', the focus of the Musician's Musician is on the high level of collegial recognition and special appreciation of the producing and performing musicians, regardless of level of awareness or phonogram sales. He can also be called the “favorite musician” or “preferred musician” of another musician. In principle, he has special musical abilities, whereby the term should generally express his extraordinary musical and artistic competence and expertise. Well-known examples that are considered Musician's Musician include Art Tatum , Harry Nilsson , Klaus Voormann , Sonny Landreth , Albert Lee , Ry Cooder , Nicky Hopkins and Claudio Abbado .


The first commercially used electronic rhythm machine by Wurlitzer was named after the sideman and was manufactured in 1957 as an accessory to the Wurlitzer organ until 1965.

In a 1968 interview, when asked about his favorite band , John Lennon replied : "Nilsson." - And meant the musician Harry Nilsson.

Well-known guest musicians

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Jürgen Wölfer: Lexicon of Jazz. 1993, p. 464.
  2. ^ The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language. 4th edition. 2009, via Sideman
  3. ^ Wieland Ziegenrücker, Peter Wicke: Sachlexikon Popmusik. 1985, p. 357.
  4. Musician's Musician - definition on
  5. Don Stiernberg: Jazz Mandolin Appetizers. Mel Bay Publications, 2013, ISBN 978-1-61911-441-8 , p. 39.
  6. a b Sebastian von Haugwitz: The unknown Mr. Nilsson . WDR5 from September 27, 2013  ( page no longer available , search in web archivesInfo: The link was automatically marked as defective. Please check the link according to the instructions and then remove this notice.@1@ 2Template: Toter Link /  
  7. ^ Nancy Phelan: Charles Mackerras: A Musician's Musician . Victor Gollancz Publishing House, London 1987, ISBN 0-575-03620-6 .