I realize that this list is going to be controversial. After all, there are hundreds of bands that could be picked for this list. Me, I’m only picking ten. Yes, I could have picked your favorite. It wasn’t with any bad intent. It may have even been ignorance on my part. Actually, make your own list. Send it to me. I’d be happy to feature it here on the site.
1. The Hong Kong Cavaliers from The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension: Few movies have made as big an impact on me as this one. There’s such a great scene in this movie where the band is playing and Buckaroo halts their raucous rock and roll to ask, “Is there somebody crying?” That’s a rock star. It’s even better that Perfect Tommy, Rawhide, Reno Nevada, Pecos and New Jersey (he doesn’t perform in the movie, but claims to “play a mean piano”) all double as adventurers.
2. Eddie & The Cruisers from Eddie & The Cruisers and Eddie & The Cruisers II: Eddie Lives!: The movie of Eddie Wilson’s band flopped on release, but found new life on cable and thanks to the success of John Cafferty & The Beaver Brown Band’s song “On the Dark Side.” It’s a tribute to what director Martin Davidson feelings on the last thirty years of rock and roll. Let’s forget that this late 50’s band sounds like Bruce Springsteen and concentrate on how great this movie — and their music within it — is.
3. Dragon Sound from Miami Connection: Has there ever been a better brand of multiethnic orphans who all do martial arts and then play synth rock? No. There has not.
Friends through eternity, loyalty, honesty.
We’ll stay together, through thick or thin.
Friends forever, we’ll be together.
We’re on top ’cause we play to win.
4. Sing Street from Sing Street: I haven’t seen a movie — nor a band within — that best expresses the 1980’s longing for love and music video fame so perfectly as Sing Street. Of course, Conor starts a band to impress a girl. But he also grows closer to his brother, learns about music beyond just what is on Top of the Pops and finds his own confidence and rebellion. And yeah — he gets the girl.
5. Steel Dragon in Rock Star: Yeah, this retelling of Tim “Ripper” Owens joining Judas Priest is only so-so. But the band — made up of Jeff Pilson from Dokken, Jason Bonham and Zakk Wylde can’t be beat. Oh yeah — McNulty from The Wire is in it too!
6. The Carrie Nations from Beyond the Valley of the Dolls: Quite literally the very first band I put on this list, the band that Russ Meyer and Roger Ebert batshit insane not-a-legal-sequel revolves around is my favorite movie band of all time. “The oft-times nightmarish world of Show Business” is tough. But it ain’t as tough as The Carrie Nations.
7. The Blues Brothers from The Blues Brothers: Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi went from blues rock dilettantes before they debuted this act on Saturday Night Live. By the time their album, Briefcase Full of Blues, and John Landis directed comedy hit the big screen, they’d formed a legit supergroup with members of Booker T and the MGs, the Bar-Kays and Blood, Sweat and Tears, with guest appearances by Aretha Franklin and Ray Charles.
8. The Fabulous Stains from Ladies and Gentlemen, The Fabulous Stains: There are movie punks. And then there are The Fabulous Stains, rising up against the bitter nothingness of their Pennsylvania steel town only to learn that it’s really no fun to be a rock band on the road. Sure the ending is way too bright, but this movie is everything.
9. DEATHGASM from Deathgasm: Much like Sammi Curr in Trick or Treat, for the members of DETHGASM, Rikki Daggers is the key to the dark powers of Hell. As a metalhead who repeatedly endured torture in grade and middle school, this movie speaks to me on a level that I can’t even convey. This is why you really start a band — to get eldritch abilities.
10. The Juicy Fruits/The Beach Bums/The Undeads in Phantom of the Paradise: Crossing through each decade of pop music, this same band keeps appearing in DePalma’s masterstroke. Their song “Goodbye, Eddie, Goodbye” is a savage indictment of the music industry and its stars, like little Eddie Mitty who killed himself to not only save his sister’s life, but to become an angel in the eyes of the record buying public. It’s also catchy as hell.
Also, we couldn’t just keep this to ten bands.
11. Spinal Tap from This Is Spinal Tap: Spinal Tap achieved the impossible. For a movie that so willingly slaughters the reputation of metal bands, it was wholeheartedly embraced by the very bands — and their audiences — that it took the piss on. I’ve watched this movie literally hundreds of times — and listened to their albums many times more — and always discover new joys within.
So many people jumped in on an initial Facebook post about this topic — 136 comments — that I decided to let them help out. Thanks to everyone for pitching in and I’ve given you credit below. Here are just a few of the bands that they mentioned.
“Asian” Dan Hooven: The Lone Rangers from Airheads (also mentioned by Bill Comer). Allan Stallard also brought up The Sons of Thunder in this same movie, who were played by the band The Galactic Cowboys.
Brian Lengyel: CB4 from CB4
Rob Brown: Uptown Girl from Stepbrothers.
And DuJour from Josie & The Pussycats (and yes, Adam Cicco, they count as a band too).
And Rob was on a big roll, we so mentioned Dewey Cox from Walk Hard.
Ken Cellupica: Wyld Stallyns from Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure and Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey (also mentioned by Adam Cicco and Dave Sutkowski)
Remy LaVey: Cassandra from One Crazy Summer
Emily Fear: The Sleez Sisters from Times Square
She also mentioned Loveburger from Can’t Hardly Wait
Darryl Grandy: The Oneders from That Thing That You Do!
He also mentioned NWH from Fear of a Black Hat
Ted Williams (who is a legit rock star and was in Pittsburgh metal legends Eviction): The Mystery from Satisfaction
He also brought up the band in Fast Times at Ridgemont High, which is Reeves Nevo & The Cinch. That’s David Brandt, the ex-husband of director Amy Heckerling as the frontman.
PS – Ted kind of goes above and beyond just writing in — he’s also an actor and has appeared on numerous TV shows like Gotham. Here he is, on the left, on the show The Outsiders as part of the Shay Mountain Band.
Jesse Forney: Stillwater from Almost Famous (also mentioned by Anthony Ruttgaizer)
Anthony Urias: Another band from Stepbrothers, Boats ‘n’ Hoes.
Anthony Ruttgaizer: The Soggy Bottom Boys from O Brother, Where Art Thou?
The Ruttles from All You Need Is Cash (also mentioned by Jesse Forney)
Sex Bob-omb from Scott Pilgrim vs The World
Crucial Taunt from Wayne’s World
And he also brought up Citizen Dick from Singles.
Dave Sutkowski: Sonic Death Monkey from High Fidelity
Bill DeJoseph: Jimmie Moore from The Wedding Singer
Paul Andolina: Easy Action playing Solid Gold in Blood Tracks
Mike McBeth: Figrin D’an and the Modal Nodes from Star Wars
Patty Panico (Sam’s mom!): The Commitments from The Commitments
The Sorels in Streets of Fire (you can also mention Ellen Aim and the Attackers)
Finally, hey — I almost forgot Jesus and the Brides of Dracula from Under the Silver Lake.
And, we can’t forget the lost Third Dimension from the lost, 1983 rock flick, Rock ‘N’ Roll Hotel featuring Judd Nelson and Rachel Sweet.
Then, in the mother of all lists of fake bands from movies, I turned to my friend R.D Francis, who has written all manner of articles on metal bands in movies and 70’s soft-mainstream rock. His lists kick some major ass and are presented in their entirety:
Films and TV Series
- Rocktober Blood — Billy Eye Harper and Head Mistress
- Trick or Treat — Sammi Curr
- Black Roses — Black Roses (really Lizzy Borden and King Kobra)
- Terror on Tour — The Clowns (really The Names)
- Hard Rock Zombies — Holy Moses (really Silent Rage)
- Still Crazy — Strange Fruit
- Prey for Rock & Roll — Clam Dandy (with Gina Gershon!)
- Get Crazy — Reggie Wankers (Malcolm McDowell does Elton John!)
- Danny Collins — Danny Collins (Pacino does Neil Diamond? Yes, please!)
- Not Fade Away — The Twylight Zones
- Velvet Goldmine — The Wylde Rattz
- Breaking Glass — Hazel O’Connor and Breaking Glass
- Tapeheads –– The Swanky Modes
- The Surburbans — The Surburbans (The Romantics in blue leather)
- Hard Core Logo — Hard Core Logo (Actor Hugh Dillon fronting Swamp Baby)
- The Rocker – Vesuvius
- The Dead Pool – Johnny Squares
6 Films That Are Going Deep:
- Linda, Linda, Linda — Paranmaum (actually Jap-punk band The Blue Hearts)
- Bandwagon — Circus Monkey (indie rock comedy)
- I’ll Be There — The Love Rats (Craig Ferguson lip-syncs The Only Ones)
- Concrete Angels — Concrete Angels (Beatles fantasy flick)
- Coming to America — Randy Watson and Sexual Chocolate
- Ghost World — Blues Hammer
16 TV Bands:
- WKPR in Cincinnati — Scum of the Earth
- Happy Days — Leather and the Suedes (Suzi Quatro!)
- The Incredible Hulk — Lisa Swan (MacKenzie Phillips)
- Wonder Woman — Hamlin Rule (Martin Mull)
- Wonder Woman — AntiMatter (Rick Springfield)
- Happy Days — Johnny Fish and the Fins (Flash Cadillac and the Continental Kids)
- Lavern and Shirley — Lenny and the Squigtones (Nigel Tuffnel from Spinal Tap and Peter Criss from Kiss!!)
- CHIPS — Moloch (Donny “Ralph” Malph from Happy Days goes “Kiss”)
- Song of the Succubus and Rock-a-Die Baby — Moon (Kim Milford from the Jeff Beck Group!)
- Cotton Candy — Cotton Candy (TV movie; Ron Howard)
- This is Bad News — Bad News (British “Spinal Tap”)
- The Monkees (obviously)
- The Jolly Green Giants from The Monkees
- Gilligan’s Island — The Mosquitos
- I Dream of Jeannie — Jeannie, Boyce and Hart (who wrote Monkees’ tunes)
- Pop Rocks — Gary Cole from The Brady Bunch movies as “Dagger” fronting the Kiss-esque Rock Toxin
11 Cartoon Bands:
- Josie and the Pussycats
- The Archies
- The Groovie Ghoulies
- Captain Caveman and the Teen Angels
- Rock Roll from The Flintstones
- Jet Screamer from The Jetsons
- The Banana Splits
- The Bugaloos
- The Simpsons — B-Sharps
- The Simpsons — Sadgasm
- The Muppet Show — Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem
P.S: Sam’s Notes: Here are still more . . .
All of the bands from A Mighty Wind
Autobahn from The Big Lebowski
Hangman’s Joke from The Crow
Big Fun from Heathers
The Tim Capello Band from The Lost Boys
Conner4Real and The Stylez Boyz from Popstar
Gown in Hot Rod
The Outlaw Boys in Neon Maniacs
The Vicious Lips from Vicious Lips
Tony Coca Cola and the Roosters from Driller Killer
The Horndogs and The Sapphire Sisters in Summer Camp Nightmare
Ivan and the Terribles in Motel Hell
Whew! Thanks everybody for your help! Want more bands in movies? Then check out our list of ten band cameos in movies. For tons of info on bands such as all of the above, we always use Rocklopedia Fakebandica.