Is there a databse of musicians that toured with major bands?
I am looking for a reference or database that lists all the musicians that toured with Led Zeppelin. I'm not looking for the band members themselves, but the backup musicians.
I once knew a man who played guitar in church. But much earlier, he had been a touring musician with Led Zeppelin and I think ZZ Top, among others I can't remember. I was trying to find him, but can only remember his first name.
All my online searches have been fruitless. So I wondered if there might be some database, even if informal, that lists musicians or singers that traveled with major bands on their various tours. The Internet Movie Database lists pretty much everyone involved in making a film, but I haven't been able to find anything similar for bands and their concert tours.
Does any searchable record of contributing artists exist?
Led Zeppelin never toured with any musicians in the band other than John Bonham, John Paul Jones, Jimmy Page and Robert Plant, up until Bonham's death in 1980.
In their reunion concerts in the most recent decade, they performed with John Bonham's son Jason Bonham on drums.
Led Zeppelin only made two public appearances, officially under the name Led Zeppelin, that were not part of tours. The first was a single appearance at the Live Aid festival in London in 1985, where Jimmy Page, Robert Plant and John Paul Jones were joined by Phil Collins and Tony Thompson on drums and Paul Martinez on bass guitar.
The second public appearance under the name of Led Zeppelin was the 2007 concert to honor the death of Ahmet Ertegun, and the lineup for that concert was Jason Bonham, John Paul Jones, Jimmy Page and Robert Plant.
In short, this person you met in church must have been lying to you. He never performed with Led Zeppelin.
However, since 1980, the three surviving members of Led Zeppelin have performed as solo artists and as members of various different bands, never under the name of Led Zeppelin, but at various times they would perform certain Led Zeppelin songs as part of their concerts. So it may be possible that this person you met has performed with a former member of Led Zeppelin on a tour at some point in time. Yet I am certain that this could not have happened under the name "Led Zeppelin". This is just too well-documented.
Similarly, ZZ Top has never performed with any guitarist other than or in addition to Billy Gibbons, their founder. ZZ Top in live performance and tours has only ever consisted of the trio of Billy Gibbons, Dusty Hill and Frank Beard. They have never made use of any other musicians within that band in live performance. If this person told you that he had performed as a touring band member in ZZ Top, he was lying.
Occasionally in the world of rock and roll you find people who tell tall tales and lies about their experiences as a musician. Maybe this person played in a little-known band at a festival where there were 16 bands and one of the headliners was ZZ Top. In later years this person would claim, "Yeah, I played with ZZ Top" when all he meant was that his forgotten band was on some different stage in the festival on a day when ZZ Top were not even there.
But for him to claim that he performed as a member of Led Zeppelin or ZZ Top is particularly egregious; everybody knows that Led Zeppelin only ever toured as a four-piece, and ZZ Top only ever toured as a trio, and we know who each of those members was.
I appreciate the information, and it appears likely I was mislead. But the guy I once knew was only the impetus. I've moved on to the bigger picture of whether a reference or database exists where you can search for contributing musicians. You've made a strong case for Led Zep and ZZ Top, but in many cases bands hire extra guitarists or singers for tours. Those extras are never members of the band. Session musicians are easier to find,because there is a finite, specific performance that was recorded. But your info on the two named bands was insightful.
Here in the USA, the various local city chapters of the American Federation of Musicians (AFM), the Musicians' Union, keep records of all hired activity. Any nationally touring band of any prominence would file paperwork with the AFM for each temporary employee. But those records are not necessarily available to the public.
Aside from that, I do not know how their could be such a database, other than something like Wikipedia, which already exists, where anybody can contribute any information for which they can find a published source that can be verified by the editors.
Other than that, there are myriad discussion forums for fans of various bands where you could post a question about who was touring with whom, when, and ask if anybody has any documented information, such as printed tour programs. But every time a musical group tours, they may well hire different people for different dates. There isn't any consistency and nobody is going to record any of this information other than with the AFM, as mentioned above, or with the IRS (the Internal Revenue Service, the taxation arm of the government of the USA) for income tax reporting.