Why music will always be Johnny Depp's first love

From being a supporting act for the Ramones to planning an album with Jeff Beck, the actor has had quite a varied on-stage career

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After the highly publicised court case against ex-wife Amber Heard, it is no wonder Johnny Depp retreated to a stage where he feels most comfortable.

While waiting for the verdict of the trial, the actor travelled to the UK and joined British guitarist Jeff Beck for a series of shows.

This was not purely an impulsive decision, as the duo have history together. They have been collaborating on material for the past two years and are set to launch a joint album called 18 in July.

The record has been previewed with the lead single This Is A Song For Miss Hedy Lamarr, written by Depp.

While this may appear like another dubious example of a Hollywood actor trying their luck in a music career, Depp actually returns to his first love with his latest move. Way before the box-office and critical success of his movie career, the actor aspired to become a full-time musician.

While increasing star power as an actor allowed him to record with big artists such as Oasis, Alice Cooper and Aerosmith over the years, Depp continues to take his music career seriously.

Here is what you need to know about Johnny Depp, the musician.

1. He warmed up the stage for the Ramones as a teenager

Depp's first relative brush with fame came as a guitarist for the punk group The Kids, when he was only 17.

The band built a sufficient buzz in their home state of Florida and were chosen as the supporting act for concerts by Iggy Pop, Ramones, Talking Heads and The Pretenders.

It was only through the encouragement of ex-wife Lori Anne Allison and her good friend, then a fledgling actor called Nicolas Cage, that Depp decided his creative potential is best reached on the screen rather than on the stage.

That said, even when moving to Hollywood, his guitar was never far away.

2. He is a low-key collaborator

Despite his name on billboards and topping movie posters, Depp is happy being a sideman on the music stage and recording studio. His music catalogue is full of guest appearances on other artists' works.

Credits include playing the guitar on Oasis tracks Fade Away and Fade In-Out, singing backing vocals for Aerosmith on Freedom Fighter and playing the drums on Marilyn Manson's fun cover of Carly Simon's You're So Vain.

Even when it comes to being a founding member and touring with the supergroup Hollywood Vampires, alongside Alice Cooper and Joe Perry, you can often find Depp on the side of the stage, playing the guitar and looking relatively inconspicuous.

3. He wrote songs for his films

While Depp has yet to take on an acting role fully utilising his musicianship, he has contributed to the soundtracks for a number of his films.

The first of which was part of the Oscar-nominated soundtrack to the 2000 film Chocolat, where, according to IMDb, he played the guitar on the jazzy track Minor Swing/They're Red Hot/Caravan.

For the 2003 action film Once Upon a Time in Mexico, he composed the atmospheric piece Sands Theme.

In the 2011 film The Rum Diary, he co-wrote the track Kemp In the Village as well as played the guitar on The Mermaid Song (Instrumental) written by singer-songwriter Patti Smith.

4. He is finally stepping into the music limelight

Now that his film career is in limbo, Depp is taking his biggest stride yet as a musician. 18 is the first album released under his name and features some original songs.

The album's youthful title is also apt. Not only is it a reference to the passing of time, but to Depp’s career coming full circle. With no reported film work on the horizon, music appears to be all he's got for now.

Whether the fan base remains for the ride has yet to be seen and heard.

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Updated: June 13, 2022, 11:02 AM
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