- The Washington Times - Friday, September 28, 2007

For the most part, opening acts are struggling for exposure and battling for the crowd’s attention. Once in a while, though, they make for a tough act to follow.

Led Zeppelin — You have to feel a bit sorry for Vanilla Fudge, who agreed in late 1968 to take on the relatively unknown Led Zeppelin as a warm-up act, only to watch the opener’s debut album skyrocket into the U.S. Top 10 just months later. Vanilla who?

Kanye West — Many crowds and critics noted rapper Kanye West’s electricity as Usher’s 2004 opener. At a New York City-area gig, Mr. West literally stole the show, arriving late (due to travel issues) and interrupting Usher’s set with a few hits of his own.

John Cougar (Mellencamp) — Heart’s weight as a headliner was challenged by its 1982 opener, John Cougar (especially in the Indiana native’s home state), after two singles from his “American Fool” struck Top 10 gold.

Stevie Ray Vaughan — The legendary blues guitarist’s final performance at Michigan’s Alpine Valley Music Theatre in late August of 1990 left headliner Eric Clapton questioning the merits of his own set.

Britney Spears — So maybe the press wasn’t positive, but the 2007 MTV Video Music Awards opener might be one of the most talked-about show-starters of all time.

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