10 bands that have acted in movies
6 July 2022, 12:00
Radio X looks at those occasions that rock bands turn up in films... and they're not necessarily performing.
We all love a biopic, we god mad for a music documentary. But what about the times that genuine rock stars become part of the fictional story you're watching on screen? Here are the most notable times that musicians have played themselves - or even someone else - in films.
Foo Fighters in Studio 666
Foo Fighters have never done things by halves. Dave Grohl and the band made their own feature-length horror movie based on the making of their tenth studio album Medicine At Midnight. The story sees the band move into a haunted mansion that's steeped in grisly rock and roll history. Inevitably, events take a turn for the worse. The resulting film is surprisingly gruesome and now has a poignant feel to it, being one of the final official Foos projects to feature the late, great Taylor Hawkins.
The Beatles in A Hard Day's Night
In 1964, The Fab Four were the biggest pop band in the world, so film producers wanted to get a quick cash-in movie before the kids went off them. Like every Beatle project, A Hard Day's Night is a million times better than it has any right to be, thanks to director Richard Lester and screenwriter Alun Owen, plus the natural humour of The Beatles themselves as the group are depicted rehearsing and performing for a fictional TV show. The film gave the four musicians their public characters for the rest of time: John was the sarcastic one, Paul the handsome, charming one, George was The Quiet One and Ringo was just Ringo. It also gave us the word "grotty".
Aerosmith in Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
Widely regarded as one of the worst films ever made, this 1978 fantasy took a stack of classic Beatles songs and used them as a vehicle for the then-massive Bee Gees and Peter Frampton. The storyline is absolutely rubbish, but you get to see Steve Martin sing Maxwell's Silver Hammer and Frankie Howerd do When I'm Sixty-Four. Aerosmith play the evil Future Villain Band, but Steven Tyler and Joe Perry have trouble remembering their participation in this disaster, as it was at the height of their "Toxic Twins" years of over-indulgence.
The Clash in Rude Boy
Joe Strummer and co starred as themselves in this tale of a guy who quits his job to become a roadie for The Clash. When the band saw a rough cut, they were dismayed at the depiction of all the black characters as criminals, so withdrew their support for the film. The movie includes footage of The Clash performing at the Rock Against Racism show in 1978.
Kiss Meets The Phantom Of The Park
The American rock band were marketing like cartoon characters, so it was entirely appropriate that they wind up in a 1978 TV special made by the Hanna Barbera Studios - the people who brought you Top Cat and Wacky Races. The story sees Kiss - who all have super-powers like eyes that shoot lasers and the ability to breathe fire - battle an evil inventor who thinks that their upcoming show at a theme park is going to overshadow the robots he's built for the event. It inevitably ends up with Kiss fighting robot versions of themselves.
Tenacious D in The Pick Of Destiny
Jack Black and Kyle Gass play themselves in this 2006 comedy directed by Liam "United States Of Whatever" Lynch. The duo search for the guitar pick that all the greatest rock musicians have used to acquire legendary status, but end up in a "rock-off" with Satan himself. Played by Dave Grohl, of course.
Ramones in Rock 'N' Roll High School
Riff Randall loves the Ramones so much, she's written a song for them and hopes to meet Joey at their forthcoming show. When Riff's teachers crack down on the music-obsessed kids, the Joey, Johnny, Dee-Dee and Marky help overthrow the haters and take over the school. It's all bit of daft fun in the style of Grease.
The Offspring in Idle Hands
The US rockers play themselves in this horror comedy about a possessed hand, voiced by Robert "Freddy Kreuger" Englund. Singer Dexter Holland comes a cropper when the hand invades the high school party the band are playing.
Blink-182 in American Pie
They only appear for a micro-second as a cameo during a rude scene in this bad-taste US comedy, but they're technically playing themselves, so here they are! Plus, there's a monkey. For no real reason.
Pet Shop Boys in It Couldn't Happen Here
Only in the fabulous 1980s could Britain's top synth duo get away with making a plotless, surreal stream of consciousness film that features a host of their songs and the finest TV actors such as Barbara Windsor and Gareth Hunt. It all looks fabulous, and it finally received a DVD and blu-ray release in 2020, but you can get a taste of the best bits from the video to Always On My Mind.
Slade In Flame
This gloomy 1974 film sees the glam rock superstars play a fictional band called Flame and the story depicts their rise and fall. The group - Noddy Holder, Dave Hill, Jim Lea and Don Powell - actually deliver decent performances as the band get mucked around by management and the music business in general.