When 21-year-old guitar whiz Usman Riaz was growing up in Pakistan, he often found himself entranced by videos of Preston Reed, one of the pioneers of fingerstyle guitar. As a longtime admirer of Reed’s unique rhythms and plucky sounds, Riaz calls the experience of actually sharing a stage with him at TEDGlobal 2012 “very surreal.”
“Throughout my guitar-playing career, I watched Preston Reed’s videos,” Riaz, a TEDGlobal Fellow, told the TED blog after the performance. “On stage, [Reed] was in the exact same pose as in the videos, with his hair hanging down from his right side, playing the guitar. It was funny to look over my shoulder and see him doing the same thing.”
In today’s TEDTalk, watch Riaz and Reed test the guitar’s full range of percussive abilities. And below, check out other musicians who’ve received that rare opportunity to play alongside the person whose poster was plastered on their bedroom wall as a teenager.
Eddie Vedder meets Neil Young
In 1993, Neil Young strolled onstage at the MTV Video Music Awards and joined Pearl Jam for a rowdy rendition of “Rockin’ in the Free World.” Apparently, Young had met Pearl Jam’s frontman, Eddie Vedder, at a Bob Dylan tribute concert a few months before and the two had struck up a friendship. The chance meeting led to a longtime collaboration. In 1995, Vedder inducted Young into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and, just last year, Young joined Vedder onstage again in Toronto for a reprise of “Free World.”
Taylor Swift meets Stevie Nicks
Taylor Swift got the chance to sing alongside her childhood hero, Stevie Nicks of Fleetwood Mac, at the 2010 Grammy Awards. However, many would say that the young songstress blew her chance. As the pair performed a duet of “Rhiannon,” their voices sounded “a tad less harmonious than one would have hoped,” as MTV News kindly put it.
Modest Mouse meets Johnny Marr
Modest Mouse didn’t just play a one-off song with their idol, guitarist Johnny Marr of The Smiths—Marr actually joined the indie rock outfit. When Modest Mouse’s guitarist quit at the height of their fame, frontman Isaac Brock cold-called Marr and asked if he would be interested. “I knew it was a demented notion,” Brock told The Guardian in 2007. “I figured that just because he’d filled a massive part of his life building The Smiths legacy didn’t mean he was busy at that precise minute.” Marr stayed with the band for three years.
Hahn-Bin meets Itzhak Perlman
Violinist Hahn-Bin may have made his Grammys debut at the age of the 12, but his real break came when legend Itzhak Perlman took the young player under his wing. The two men couldn’t look more different — Hahn-Bin has a mohawk and a penchant for dramatic eye makeup, while Perlman keeps a classic look — but have worked together for more than a decade. “That relationship has taught me so much about being a musician, about finding joy in everything I play,” Hahn-Bin said in a 2010 interview.
More TEDTalks featuring mentors and mentees:
A demo of SixthSense
Inventor Pranav Mistry and his mentor Pattie Maes of the MIT Media Lab give a fascinating demonstration of SixthSense, a wearable projector that allows for online engagement with the world.
On the simple life
John Maeda, president of the Rhode Island School of Design, explains why we all need mentors.
Science is play
Neuroscientist Beau Lotto believes that children have the right mindset to ask — and test — scientific questions. At TEDGlobal 2012, he brought 12-year-old student Amy O’Toole to explain her (published!) study on whether bees can solve problems.