EW's Best of 2015: The story behind Taylor Swift's 1989 tour guests
This was the year of #SQUADENVY and it was all because of Taylor Swift and her delightfully deep roster of BFFs. As she launched her massive (85 date!) 1989 World Tour, she brought out 101 surprise guests for her fans. And that’s why, as part of our year-end coverage, we’re revisiting our piece from October, which revealed just how those appearances came together.
Taylor Swift’s 1989 tour was the toast of the summer, and the production — which has grossed $152.6 million since May, according to Billboard — will continue into December. But it wasn’t just the beloved songs and countless crop tops that kept us talking all season: It was the endless stream of high-profile guests, including such heavyweights as Alanis Morissette, Mick Jagger, and Ellen DeGeneres. “Everyone who has walked the catwalk at one of the shows was already there just to see the show,” Swift recently told the AP. But we know the Grammy winner has a knack for making the impossible seem effortless. Here’s how the squad assembled.
Artists including OMI, Fetty Wap, and Walk the Moon were approached by Swift’s management. Those asks were sometimes made months in advance, according to a source. In OMI’s case, it was requested that he sing “Cheerleader.” (“It’s natural because it’s my first single,” he says.) Swift is focused on the show, but she never neglects her guests. “She was very sweet and very aware of [‘Fight Song’],” says Rachel Platten, who sang with the star after playing a preshow concert outside of the tour’s Pittsburgh stop. Even for pros, the experience is surreal: “Sixty thousand is my biggest crowd,” says Andy Grammer. “I’ll remember sold-out Soldier Field forever.” Count Nelly, who has performed with Swift on her last three tours, among her squad. “Taylor’s like a little sister, I’ve known her almost her whole career,” he says. “It was my pleasure. Her and the Nell-ettes — Haim — came up with this whole routine for ‘Hot In Herre’ on their own.”
It’s as simple as getting invited to Tay’s star-studded Fourth of July bash at her home in Rhode Island. “She looked at me and was like, ‘Hey, I’m playing at your hometown stadium in a couple of days, wanna come sing with me?'” Nick Jonas says of his invitation to perform his hit “Jealous.” “I was like, ‘Um, yeah!'” Other OG squad appearances include supermodel pals Gigi Hadid, Karlie Kloss, and Lily Aldridge; longtime bestie Selena Gomez; and Dierks Bentley, who got a sweet Swift Instagram shout-out after joining her in Kansas City: “You’ve always been so nice to me, and I’ve always wanted to share a stage with you.”
Sometimes, famous Swift enthusiasts rub shoulders and end up on stage with the star, which is how Julia Roberts and Joan Baez walked the catwalk together and how Matt LeBlanc found himself in the spotlight. When Swift learned that LeBlanc and his 11-year-old daughter — a huge fan — were in attendance at her Aug. 22 Staples Center performance in Los Angeles, she invited him on stage, according to his rep. Count it a huge win for Friends fans and LeBlanc’s daughter.
Model Andreja Pejíc made history this year as the first transgender model to be profiled in Vogue — and Swift is among her many admirers. “We have a mutual friend, and Taylor found out I was coming to the show with him in Chicago,” Pejíc says. “She called him, and her team also contacted my agency, publicist, and my mother to see if I would be down to walk the runway for ‘Style.’ I was in the shower when I got the news and almost slipped and broke my neck!”
Additional reporting by Jessica Goodman, Kevin O’Donnell, Marc Snetiker, and Tim Stack.