The 12 best rock cameos in The Simpsons
We all know The Simpsons can predict the future better than any other TV show, but it turns out they’re also pretty good at bagging legendary cameos.
We’ve seen the likes of Mark Hamill, Ricky Gervais and Daniel Radcliffe turned yellow, but a host of stars from the world of rock have also paid a visit to Springfield. From Judas Priest to Green Day to three-quarters of The Beatles, the diverse musical interests of creator Matt Groening have been projected onto his characters for over 30 years. Listing them all would create a line-up that even makes Hullabalooza pale in comparison.
Here are 12 of our favourite rock cameos in The Simpsons.
Green Day Drowning In Lake Springfield
Now that we know The Simpsons Movie 2 will be happening ‘one of these days’, it’s time to start wondering which classic pop-punk band will dissolve in the polluted waters of Lake Springfield this time. Back in 2007 it was Green Day. The entire band appeared, credited under their real names (who knew Tré Cool is actually called Frank Edwin Wright III?) and provided us with two tracks: a punky adaptation of the show’s main theme, and a heartfelt string trio to accompany their demise.
The Ramones Sing Happy Birthday To Mr Burns
Following in the footsteps of Michael Jackson two years earlier, The Ramones came to Springfield with a birthday mission. Often cited as the first true punk band, singing Happy Birthday at a corporate gig for an elderly billionaire seems slightly off-brand, but the antiestablishmentarian one-liners each member delivered maintained a wobbly sense of anarchy. Either way, Burns’ decision to “have The Rolling Stones killed” left The Ramones alive long enough to drop their real-life final album two years later.
Red Hot Chili Peppers Perform At Krusty's Comeback Special
In 1993, Red Hot Chili Peppers were a mere ten years young. Californication, Stadium Arcadium and By The Way didn’t exist, and their success was still built on energetic funk-rock. After Bart picked them up from a doomed gig at Moe’s, the band delivered a half-naked version of Give It Away, perfectly complimented by the two performances either side: Krusty’s cannonballing of Luke Perry into a mid-demolition pillow factory, and Krusty’s Lil’ Stinker sketch, complete with giant baby outfit and ‘bigger lolly’.
Rob Halford Tries To Flush The Simpsons Out Of The Swedish Consulate
Sure, The Simpsons might not be as good as it was in the ’90s, but they haven’t dumbed down their cameos one iota. In 2014, Steal This Episode saw the enigmatic Judas Priest frontman Rob Halford smash through a Breaking The Law parody in order to lure the Simpsons out of the Consulate of Sweden. Referring to Priest as death metal ruffled the feathers of the genre police, but it gave us the ‘Judas Priest is not death metal’ chalkboard gag/apology the following week.
Paul McCartney Hangs Out On Apu's Roof
Considering the extent of Paul McCartney’s career, you’d imagine he was quite a busy bloke. But 1995 must have been a slow year of ol’ Macca, as he and his then-wife Linda spent time on the Kwik-E-Mart roof whenever possible, preaching the virtues of vegetarianism and giving Linda’s veggie food brand a not-so-subtle nod. Paul doesn’t perform in the episode, but luckily Apu treats us to the one thing better than a Beatles track – a solo tabla cover of a Beatles track.
Ringo Starr Hangs Marge's Painting On His Wall
While Lisa was off befriending Paul, Marge was painting Ringo. In the episode Brush With Greatness, Starr’s emphatic response to a decades-old portrait of himself gives Marge the confidence she needs to pursue an art career. This particular cameo came from the episode’s writer, Brian Roberts, wanting to meet one of The Beatles. The lesson here is that writing for an immensely successful TV series makes it much easier to meet your heroes.
The Smashing Pumpkins Make Homer Smile Politely
Alongside Peter Frampton, Cypress Hill and Sonic Youth, The Smashing Pumpkins were amongst the line-up of the 1996 Hullabalooza festival, which ended up hiring Homer as part of their freak show thanks to his unique ability to absorb the force of a cannonball. In response to Billy Corgan introducing himself, the episode also gave us one of the most iconic Simpsons lines: “Homer Simpson, smiling politely.”
Kid Rock Plays His Most Iconic Song At Spring Break
Kid Rock is a somewhat divisive figure out in the real world, and his signature blend of hip-hop, metal and country music splits rock fans across the board. However, performed alongside his prodigy Joe C, the rap-metal romp Bawitadaba unified Florida’s headbanging Spring Breakers – and gave Homer his first taste of the intoxicating life of a modern student. While he tried to cling on, his new lust for life was taken away the very next day.
Moe Sings Walk This Way With Aerosmith
Considering Moe’s is a tiny, dingy pub with about six regulars, it’s had quite the list of patrons. The Chili Peppers, U2 and REM have all spent time in the dank, but perhaps Aerosmith’s unplanned set at the upgraded Flamin’ Moe’s is the venue’s most impressive feat. As with most things in life, their set was based exclusively on the promise of free pickled eggs, and Moe even demonstrated his powerful, shrieking vocal ability as he took to the stage for Walk This Way. Steven Tyler must’ve been proud.
The Who Tear Down Springfield Wall
While The Who are still regularly packing out stadiums 55 years after their formation, the year 2000 saw them play arguably their most important gig ever: Springfield Wall. In a town divided by an area code dispute, the sheer force of Pete Townshend’s opening chord rattled the wall into rubble. Interestingly, it was Paul Townshend who voiced his brother Pete (which is a pretty unique way to land yourself a Simpsons role) and the late Keith Moon was animated in place of Zak Starkey in tribute to the legendary drummer.
Moleman Is A True Metallica Fan
Springfield’s most famous metal lover, Otto, finally received his opportunity to mingle with his heroes when Metallica came to town. Imagine how he felt when Hans Moleman, the leader of an underground fortress of moles, creator of the short film Man Getting Hit By Football and apparently “real fan” of Metallica, was given the opportunity to drive the band to their gig. Apparently Moleman has also slept with Lars’ grandmother, which is pretty metal in itself.
Spinal Tap Inspire Bart To Become A Rock Star
With Harry Shearer both playing fictional bassist Derek Smalls in Spinal Tap and voicing the likes of Mr Burns, Ned Flanders and Kent Brockman, it’s no surprise that the two cultural cornerstones would cross over at some point. To be honest, we’re surprised it only happened the once. Back in 1992, Spinal Tap delivered a (literally) riotous gig, with a half-inflated dark lord and a water-logged stage leading to the immortal call that “there will be no encore.”
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