A while back, we shared this pretty sweet find from the MI vault: a performance by Michael Ruff, with a very young Sheryl Crow singing backup! Ruff is a multiple Grammy Award nominated songwriter and producer, who has released many solo albums. He has written, toured and musical directed for a long list of fellow musicians, including India Arie, Chaka, Lionel Ritchie, Bonnie Raitt, Rickie Lee Jones, David Sanborn, Kenny Loggins, Jose Feliciano, Right Said Fred, Nancy Wilson, John Lee Hooker,  Stevie Nicks, The Jacksons, and many more!

Ruff’s band during this performance included Michael Landau on guitar, Ralph Humphrey on drums, Jimmy Johnson on bass, Mark Lennon and Leslie Smith vocals, and a little known backup singer, Sheryl Crow, who would go on to become a huge star in her own right.

As some big fans might already know, Crow started her career as a backup singer but it was a surprise to see that she had made a visit to MI so early on in her career! Along with singer background for Michael Ruff, Crow had sang for Stevie Wonder, Belinda Carlisle, Don Henley and most notably, Michael Jackson! She was his backup vocalist during his Bad World Tour 1987–89 and often performed with Jackson on “I Just Can’t Stop Loving You.”

The clip from MI’s vault featured a few of Ruff’s hits and probably many of the students in the audience didn’t know they were also witnessing the beginnings of a future Grammy Award winning star, who would go on to sell more than 50 million albums of her own in the future!

Check out the video below:


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