HOLLYWOOD LAND — We lost the Queen of Soul last week when Aretha Franklin died at the age of 76.
Franklin had a phenomenal career and blessed all of us with her incredible voice and talents. Something else she left us was a wonderfully surprising cameo in the 1980 comedy classic “The Blues Brothers.”
Franklin played a waitress named Mrs. Murphy, who had a set of golden pipes. The cameo came as a surprise to many in the audience and, according to Vanity Fair, helped revitalize her career as popular music made the transition from soul to disco.
Franklin’s passing and her wonderful appearance as Mrs. Murphy got us thinking about other great musician cameos in movies that we love.
Before we get started, know we are only focusing on cameos and not actual roles. So Justin Timberlake in “The Social Network” won’t show up on this list and neither will pretty much anything Mark Wahlberg’s ever done. Instead, we’re focusing on parts where the musician shows up unexpectedly for a scene or two and then says goodbye.
Here are our five favorite musician cameos from movies:
Green Day: “The Simpsons Movie” (2007)
In 2007 hardcore "Simpsons" fans finally got their long-awaited movie. Even though the show had fallen into a bit of a slump, the movie actually hearkened back to the heyday of the long-running show.
To start off the whole thing, we got a Simpsonized version of the band Green Day sinking into a toxic lake in Springfield.
You’ve got to hand it to the writers for having the guts to start a Simpsons movie off with Green Day instead of the principal characters and then promptly killing them off without any real consequences.
Huey Lewis: “Back to the Future” (1985)
The 1985 classic “Back to the Future” still stands as the greatest time travel movie of all time. The film is so much fun and has crossed generations and will continue to do so. The movie is also a bit of a love letter to music in general. Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) is an aspiring musician and ends up influencing Chuck Berry back in 1955.
The movie is also packed with Huey Lewis songs like “Back in Time” and “The Power of Love,” as well as Lewis himself.
The Huey Lewis and the News frontman makes a brief appearance as the judge for the band auditions, and when his song starts playing through the amp he picks up a megaphone and tells Marty, “I’m afraid you’re just too darn loud.”
Billy Idol: “The Wedding Singer” (1998)
By the time “The Wedding Singer” hit theaters in 1998, Billy Idol’s day in the sun had come and gone. Sure, “White Wedding” was playing on the radio here and there, as was “Rebel Yell,” but he wasn’t the fixture he was back in the 80s. Thanks to Adam Sandler’s musical ode to the 80s, we got Idol back along with his crazy eyes and words of wisdom.
Idol plays himself in the film as a first-class passenger on a flight headed to Las Vegas. He gives Sandler’s character sage advice on how to win back his love and even helps run interference when Sandler makes his move.
This is one of the funniest musician cameos and probably the best thing Sandler has done for us since 1998.
David Bowie: “Zoolander” (2001)
In the film, Ben Stiller’s Derek Zoolander and Owen Wilson’s Hansel decide to settle their differences in the most logical way possible, a runway showdown. The two will walk the catwalk in a contest to determine who is the superior male model. But who could possibly judge such a fierce competition?
David Bowie, of course.
The entire set up is tailor-made for Bowie and he plays it with such a dry and even demeanor that it’s absolutely hilarious. While he was fantastic as Tesla in “The Prestige” this is Bowie’s best role.
Alice Cooper: “Wayne’s World” (1992)
You all knew this one was coming and let’s just say we saved the best for last. 1992s “Wayne’s World” is chock-full of rock music and cameos, but it’s Alice Cooper who stands head and shoulders above the rest.
Mike Meyers’ Wayne and Dana Carvey’s Garth score backstage passes to Alice Cooper’s show. When they make their way to see the rock legend they fall at his feet and confess they aren’t worthy. What comes next is one of the greatest surprises in musician cameo history.
The man known for black makeup and slithering snakes tells the duo they’re worthy and goes onto explain the origins of Milwaukee while showing off his superior intelligence and sophistication. The juxtaposition of the scene is comedy gold and will forever go down in history as one of the greatest musician cameos in cinema history.
What are your favorite musician cameos? Let us know in the comments.