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21 Most Unexpected Rockers to Go Country

From Steven Tyler’s new Nashville obsession to Tina Turner’s 1973 curveball

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Steven Tyler is the latest rock god intoxicated by Nashville, releasing his country-flavored We're All Somebody From Somewhere solo album today — a project that stunned Aerosmith fans (and even bandmates). But jumping on the country bandwagon is nothing new. Just like Tyler, Tina Turner's very first solo album was country. Before her, Conway Twitty transitioned from hugely successful pop star to country music royalty. And some of Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Bob Dylan's most memorable work was largely country-flavored. Here are our picks for the 21 rock, pop, R&B and rap acts with the most shocking (and, for the most part, successful) leaps to country.

Van Morrison in Concert at Chester Racecourse - August 18, 2006 at Chester Race Course in Chester, Cheshire, Great Britain

Van Morrison during Van Morrison in Concert at Chester Racecourse - August 18, 2006 at Chester Race Course in Chester, Cheshire, Great Britain. (Photo by David Munn/WireImage)

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Van Morrison

Soulful Irishman Morrison has built his career around exploring the different aspects of American music in its myriad forms — jazz, soul, garage rock and everything in between. But in 2006, he went full country (or at least a bygone representation of it) with Pay the Devil, issued by venerable roots label Lost Highway. In addition to covers of the chestnut "There Stands the Glass" (recorded by Webb Pierce) and Rodney Crowell's "'Til I Can Gain Control Again" (recorded by Emmylou Harris), Pay the Devil features a handful of Morrison's original compositions styled to fit with the classic material. — J.F.

Listen: "Your Cheatin' Heart"

Singer-songwriter Steven Tyler performs onstage during 2016 CMA Festival - Day 3 at Nissan Stadium on June 11, 2016 in Nashville, Tennessee

NASHVILLE, TN - JUNE 11: Singer-songwriter Steven Tyler performs onstage during 2016 CMA Festival - Day 3 at Nissan Stadium on June 11, 2016 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by John Shearer/Getty Images)

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Steven Tyler

When the promo cycle for Aerosmith's Music From Another Dimension began to die down in 2013, Steven Tyler took a semi-permanent vacation to Nashville, making surprise appearances at Keith Urban gigs and country music awards shows along the way. Two years later, he launched his country solo career with "Love Is Your Name," a song that pitched its tent halfway between Aerosmith's Get a Grip-era arena-rock and Mumford & Sons' Americana. A full-length album, We're All Somebody from Somewhere, followed in July 2016, but Tyler's kickoff single still packs the biggest punch. — A.L.

Listen: "Love Is Your Name"

Elvis Costello performs on stage, New York, 1982

Elvis Costello performs on stage, New York, 1982. (Photo by Michael Putland/Getty Images)

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Elvis Costello

In 1981, English singer-songwriter Elvis Costello took a pretty surprising detour from the caffeinated new wave he'd perfected with albums like This Year's Model and My Aim Is True. He headed to Nashville and recorded Almost Blue, a collection of classic country tunes that saw him working with country heavyweight producer Billy Sherrill instead of Nick Lowe (who had produced all of Costello's albums to that point). Comprised of songs like Merle Haggard's "Tonight the Bottle Let Me Down" and Hank Williams' "Why Don’t You Love Me Like You Used To," Almost Blue still twitches with Costello's trademark nervy energy but his sincere love of the form is evident as is his skill for singing it. — J.F.

Listen: "Almost Blue"

Jennifer Nettles of Sugarland and Jon Bon Jovi of Bon Jovi perform "Who Says You Can't Go Home"

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Bon Jovi

Bon Jovi rode their steel horse to Nashville for 2007's Lost Highway album, one of the rock icons' most successful projects to date. Produced by Nashville treasure (and former rocker himself) Dann Huff (Faith Hill, Keith Urban), the LP was nowhere near a 180-degree turn for the New Jersey group. It simply saw them putting a little more pedal steel to their arena-rousing sound. Duets with LeAnn Rimes, Big & Rich and Jennifer Nettles helped boost the album's country cred, with the infectious, anthemic Nettles collab, "Who Says You Can't Go Home," as its chart-topping standout. — B.D.

Listen: "Who Says You Can't Go Home"

NEW YORK - 1961: Bob Dylan performs at The Bitter End folk club in Greenwich Village

NEW YORK - 1961: Bob Dylan performs at The Bitter End folk club in Greenwich Village in 1961 in New York City, New York. (Photo by Sigmund Goode/Michael Ochs Archive/Getty Images)

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Bob Dylan

Bob Dylan's early records always hinted at an appreciation for country music, but never as potently as John Wesley Harding and Nashville Skyline, two albums that doubled down on Tennessee twang and crisp, story-based songwriting. Dylan even adopted a new singing style for the occasion, filling Nashville Skyline with a gentle croon more suitable for a back-porch picking session than a rock & roll show. "Lay Lady Lay" remains timeless, but it's "Girl From the North Country" — his loose duet with Johnny Cash — that stands as Dylan's most countryfied moment to date. — A.L.

Listen: "Girl From the North Country"

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