UNIVERSAL CITY, California — The Black Keys brought Johnny Depp’s inner rock star front and center on the stage at Sunday’s (June 3) MTV Movie Awards, trading licks with the guitar-wielding (and increasingly tattooed) actor through a steady, polished and rollicking performance of “Gold on the Ceiling.”
Depp called the band “up-and-coming legends” as he accepted the Generation Award before joining the band again for “Lonely Boy.”
The Black Keys joked that their collaboration with Johnny Depp was forced on them by MTV, but the Generation Award honoree had already impressed the duo with his guitar-slinging skills during rehearsals for their surprise jam session at the Gibson Amphitheatre.
Backstage after Saturday’s rehearsals, Keys guitarist and vocalist Dan Auerbach and drummer Patrick Carney told MTV News that the man behind Edward Scissorhands, Captain Jack Sparrow and the Mad Hatter (among many iconic roles) is no slouch with a six-string.
“It was painless,” Auerbach said of pre-show rehearsals. “He’s a really good guitar player.”
“He was prepared,” Carney added. “He’s got the chops.”
There’s no doubt that Depp is one of the coolest men on planet Earth (“You think he’s sick of being told he’s cool?” Auerbach wondered. “He came out of the womb cool!”), but the high praise from the Akron, Ohio, duo was well-earned. With the addition of a bassist, a keyboard player and Depp, Carney noted that “we felt like the Rolling Stones up there, you know?”
The Black Keys said they wouldn’t rule out a recorded collaboration with Depp down the road, perhaps a single for Record Store Day. It wouldn’t be the first time Depp has shown up on a rock record. Earlier this year, he appeared on Marilyn Manson’s Born Villain album and turned up at the Revolver magazine Golden Gods Awards in downtown Los Angeles to add some extra guitar to “The Beautiful People” and a cover of “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This).” Depp has also joined shock-rock forefather Alice Cooper onstage and contributed a bit of slide guitar to Be Here Now, the 1997 album from Britpop icons Oasis. That little performance was captured on cassette and blended with the band’s studio performance.
Back when he was still a part owner in Hollywood’s legendary Viper Room, Depp would often perform as part of the band P alongside Flea of Red Hot Chili Peppers, Gibby Haynes of Butthole Surfers and Steve Jones of punk pioneers the Sex Pistols.
Depp, of course, famously modeled part of Captain Jack Sparrow in the “Pirates of the Caribbean” movies on Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones and provided the narration for the audiobook version of Richards’ exhaustive memoir, “My Life.”
In the 1990 musical “Cry-Baby,” Depp played a ’60s teen rebel rocker (though his singing voice was supplied by rootsy Americana singer James Intveld).
Is Depp a fan of the Black Keys? The guys weren’t so sure. “I think he probably hates us,” Auerbach joked.
“MTV just kind of forces people to do stuff with each other,” Carney said. “For us, it’s fine. To be forced to do something with Johnny Depp? It’s fine. Johnny Depp is probably the best to be forced to do something with.”
A couple of old-school TV stars came to mind as well. “Bronson Pinchot would be pretty good, though,” Carney said, without cracking a smile. “Or Wilford Brimley. He’s got a great voice. He’s been eating his oatmeal. He keeps his cholesterol low.”
“What about Gerard Depardieu?” Auerbach offered. “That’d be a good one.”
Jaw-dropping, heart-pounding, gut-busting moments galore. See what just happened at the 21st annual MTV Movie Awards!