Johnny Depp Sheffield: Hollywood star's history with city's music scene as longtime friend of Babybird

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Johnny Depp’s surprise appearance on stage at Sheffield City Hall this week is not the star’s first brush with the local music scene.

The Hollywood A-lister dropped jaws on Sunday night (May 29) when, fresh from his headline-making libel trial against ex-partner Amber Heard in Virginia, he stepped on stage in Sheffield to play with musician Jeff Beck.

But music buffs will know the Pirates of the Carribean actor has more ties to the city than meets the eye.

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Jeff Beck and Johnny Depp on stage at Sheffield City Hall. Picture: Terence TurnbullJeff Beck and Johnny Depp on stage at Sheffield City Hall. Picture: Terence Turnbull
Jeff Beck and Johnny Depp on stage at Sheffield City Hall. Picture: Terence Turnbull

Depp is a longtime fan, friend and collaborator with Sheffield-based group Babybird.

In fact, in their 20 year history together, Depp has played guitar on a number of their tracks, won an award for directing one of their music videos, and bankrolled one of their 2010 albums.

In 2010, Depp even turned down a $5 million offer to appear in a Japanese soft drink advert so he could play a live gig with the band.

Babybird, best known for their 1996 hit ‘You’re Gorgeous’, have released 24 albums, 12 of which are self-released.

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In an interview with The Star in 2010, when Depp bankrolled the release of their album Ex-Maniac, frontman Stephen Jones said: “Music was Johnny's first love.”

A ‘Depp insider’ was also widely quoted at the time saying: “When you’re earning the amount he does, more money isn’t important. It’s doing what you love that counts – and he’s not missing out on this opportunity.”

Depp and Babybird began collaborating in 2002 after the Hollywood actor reached out and professed he was a longtime fan, in turn introducing them to Grammy nominated Bruce Watkin, who went on to produce several of the group’s albums.

Johnny Depp has been well known as a musician for some time now, playing in supergroup Hollywood Vampires with Alice Cooper and Joe Perry of Aerosmith.

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Depp played guitar on and directed the video for Unlovable, in which the singer-songwriter tells the tale of a break-up in which no party is particularly lovable.

Babybird were formed in Sheffield in the 1990s and became part of the Britpop phenomenon.

Depp’s appearance at Sheffield City Hall made headlines across the country. He sang a cover of John Lennon’s ‘Isolation’ together with Jeff Beck before joining him to play at the Royal Albert Hall on Monday.

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