These days, it's rare to see a big musical act on a scripted television show. But before the rise of reality TV, some memorable musical guest cameos helped make sitcom history. Here are some of our favorites:
Menudo on “Silver Spoons”
Menudo rode the model train into Ricky Schroeder’s birthday party in this classic 1983 episode. Can you spot Ricky Martin? (Answer: No. Ricky Martin did not join Menudo until 1984.)
Anthrax on “Married with Children”
On 1992’s “My Dinner with Anthrax,” Bud wins a TV station contest for a private Anthrax concert at his home. But when the big night arrives, a freak snowstorm interferes and Bud and Kelly are forced to entertain the band.
Stevie Wonder on “The Cosby Show”
Stevie Wonder just called to say ‘I’m awesome’ in this 1986 “Cosby Show” episode. After Theo and Denise get into a fender bender with Stevie’s limo, he invites the family to his recording studio. Stevie was nominated for an “Outstanding Guest Performer in a Comedy Series” Emmy.
The Beach Boys on “Full House”
In 1988’s “Beach Boy Bingo”, D.J. wins a radio contest to see the Beach Boys in concert. After some drama about who she will take as her guest, the whole clan enjoys a serenade. (Way down in Kokomo.)
Turns out, John Stamos’ birthday fell on the day of taping. Here’s an impromptu performance of “Barbara Ann” with Stamos on vocals and guitar.
The Doobie Brothers on “What’s Happening”
In 1978, The Doobie Brothers appeared on a “What’s Happening” episode that dealt with bootlegging. The Doobie Brothers did not phone it in -- the episode revolved around a concert at Raj, Rerun, & Dwayne’s school, and they put on a real show. By parsing together a number of YouTube clips, you can watch the episode – “Too Doobie or Not to Doobie” – in its entirety.
Christ Martin/Coldplay on “Extras”
Chris Martin is pretty flipping hilarious in his cameo as a more arrogant version of himself on “Extras.” He performs at the end of this clip:
Chris Isaak on Friends
In “The One After the Superbowl,” Chris Isaak romances Phoebe, and the two perform a duet of “Smelly Cat after the credits. (Julia Roberts also makes a cameo as Susie Underpants Moss in the most-viewed episode of Friends.)
Phil Spector(!) on “Bewitched”
You’ve probably never heard of Boyce & Hart, but the real treat in this band’s cameo on “Bewitched” is a young, pre-homicidal Phil Spector playing himself. Extra bonus: Elizabeth Montgomery on percussion! From 1967.
“South Park” featured too many musical guests to list (even though most didn’t actually perform music) – our favorite is Radiohead’s cameo in “Scott Tenorman Must Die.” Watch the full episode here.
Same goes for “The Simpsons” – Metallica, The Ramones, and The White Stripes are among the musical acts who appeared on the show in one form or another. Here’s a clip of an Aerosmith performance at Flaming Moe’s:
Did we miss any? Let us know...