10 Wonderful Musician Cameos on TV Shows


Sometimes you wake up on a weekend morning (or, um, afternoon) and all you can bear to do is watch Beverly Hills, 90210 re-runs on SoapNet. Or, at least, that’s all we could manage this Sunday, when one of the episodes we caught featured a live performance at the hip Peach Pit After Dark nightclub. And that got us thinking about our favorite band cameos, from cheesy to unironically awesome, on TV shows. After the jump, we count down 10 of the best we could find video evidence of (sadly, The Flaming Lips on 90210 and Devo on Square Pegs were both impossible to track down), from Punky Brewster to Ab Fab.

Motörhead on The Young Ones (1984) As long as you can understand the characters’ heavy British accents, The Young Ones is one of the funniest shows about young adults on their own in the history of television. Best of all, each episode featured a musical guest that the writers didn’t bother to work into the story line. Our favorite, of course, is Motörhead performing “The Ace of Spades.”

DeBarge on Punky Brewster (1987) All lovable former orphan Punky wants to do is go see her favorite band, ’80s R&B ensemble DeBarge, when their concert tour comes to town. But her terminally uncool foster dad, Henry, won’t let her go because she’s got homework to do. After he makes an embarrassing appearance backstage at the band’s performance, DeBarge agree to give a private performance at the family’s apartment and talk to Punky about why reading is cool.

Boyz II Men on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air (1994) What better way for the Fresh Prince and family to celebrate Christmas than with a performance by Boyz II Men? We have to assume they’re the only band Will and Carlton could agree on.

Julianna Hatfield on My So-Called Life (1994) The Fresh Prince wasn’t the only show to beef up its Christmas special with a celebrity musical guest in 1994. Not only did Hatfield perform on My So-Called Life, she got in on the teen angst with a role as a homeless high schooler.

Chrissie Hynde on Friends (1995) Remember when Chrissie Hynde (portraying a character named Stephanie) showed up to play “Angel of the Morning” in the Friends coffee shop? Pretty unlikely! Later, Phoebe taught her how to play “Smelly Cat.”

Cibo Matto on Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1997) We love Buffy, but we admit we’ve always been confused at how many Lilith Fair-esque singer/songwriters showed up to perform on the series. If only all their musical guests could be as wonderful as Cibo Matto.

Bob Dylan on Dharma and Greg (1999) Almost as random as the notoriously media-wary Dylan’s bizarre Victoria’s Secret commercial was his unexpected appearance on fluffy sitcom Dharma and Greg, in which Dharma auditions for a spot in his band. He doesn’t say much, but he sure does appear to be enjoying himself.

Marianne Faithful on Absolutely Fabulous (2001) Who but Marianne Faithful could play God on Ab Fab, crooning “Ballad of Lucy Jordan” to a hallucinating Eddie? And who but Anita Pallenberg could match her as the devil?

Death Cab for Cutie on The O.C. (2005) Death Cab was famously the favorite band of sensitive O.C. dude Seth Cohen — so, of course, their name came up almost constantly. When they actually performed on the show, at a venue called The Bait Shop, which often showcased some of creator Josh Schwartz and music supervisor Alexandra Patsavas’ favorite bands, it delighted some longtime fans of the group but pissed off others worried that teenyboppers would flood Death Cab’s shows. And what do you know? History proved them right.

Sonic Youth on Gossip Girl (2009) Another Schwartz-Patsavas collaboration, Gossip Girl features classic cool-dad Rufus Humphrey, who was a grunge rocker back in the early ’90s. So it’s not totally ridiculous that the lovely and talented Kim Gordon married Rufus and Lily in a ceremony where the band also played an acoustic version of “Starpower.”