7 Things Seen and Heard Backstage at Bonnaroo

The Manchester, Tenn., music festival hosted some 80,000 attendees and featured headlining sets by Paul McCartney and Tom Petty.
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Jack Johnson

Manchester, Tenn., was host to some 80,000 attendees at this year's Bonnaroo music festival, where headliners included Paul McCartney, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers and Mumford & Sons (the latter who had to cancel their June 15 appearance while bassist Ted Dwane recovers from brain surgery).

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Also on the diverse bill for the three-day gathering were Bjork, Wilco, Pretty Lights, R. Kelly, Wu-Tang Clan, the Lumineers, Kendrick Lamar, ZZ Top and Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, among dozens more.

Much of the action was on the stage, but there was plenty to take in behind the scenes as well:

  1. John Stamos and his entourage were spotted backstage in the artist catering area on Sunday afternoon. The actor was on site for a surprise appearance during a comedy set by his Full House castmate Bob Saget later that evening. Stamos snapped photos with fans and later tweeted “at bonnaroo saving @bobsaget’s set once again!”
  2. Red Light Management and its guests gathered for an invite-only barbecue in the management company’s backstage compound on Saturday evening. The company, which has a part stake in the festival, invited artists like Martina McBride, as well as executives from Porsche and Logitech.
  3. With Mumford & Sons forced to cancel a headlining appearance on Saturday night, Jack Johnson stepped in to fill the band's shoes. The Hawaiian singer dedicated a cover of Mumford’s “The Cave” to the absent headliners, saying, “We want to dedicate this whole set to Ted Dwane and all of Mumford & Sons.” Johnson reportedly pulled his set together in only a few days and rehearsed with his band in Nashville up until the set.
  4. Friday’s musicians may have had a secret pact before writing their setlists: Both Paul McCartney and ZZ Top offered a rendition of Jimi Hendrix’s “Foxy Lady.” During his headlining set on the festival’s main stage, McCartney recounted a story of watching Hendrix perform Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band at a show shortly after its release in 1967 and asking Eric Clapton to come onstage and tune his guitar. Clapton apparently refused. McCartney added, “Anyway, a great memory for me.”
  5. Saturday night’s annual Bonnaroo Superjam featured a few surprise appearances, including Alabama Shakes’ Brittany Howard, Billy Idol and R. Kelly. The set, heralded by Jim James and John Oates, boasted covers of T. Rex’s “Bang a Gong (Get It On)” and Sam Cooke’s “A Change Is Gonna Come.” A second Superjam took place earlier in the weekend, featuring Solange, RZA, Chad Hugo, Schoolboy Q and DJ Jazzy Jeff.
  6. Warren Haynes was seen near the press area telling Portugal. The Man's John Gourley that he's planning to release a new album with Gov't Mule this fall. Haynes later joined Gourley and several other performers, including Scott Aukerman, for a press conference to discuss the influence of Bonnaroo.
  7. Various celebrities milled around the expansive artist area backstage. Everyone from Alexa Chung to Amy Schumer and Ed Helms, who hosted a special VIP bluegrass show on Saturday late night, were spotted congratulating musicians on their sets. Best sighting: The National’s frontman Matt Berninger helping his young daughter pick out food from catering after the band’s inspired performance on the main stage on Sunday afternoon.

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