The history of both cinema and television have churned out some killer fake bands, some growing to be more iconic than actual bands on the touring circuit today *cough* Spın̈al Tap *cough* that would put on one hell of a live show.
In saying that, we decided to put together a list of our favourite fictional musicians that we’d love to see live. From the comical, stupid performers to ’70s classic rock legends to grunge cartoon acts, there’s plenty of fake bands we wish were a real thing – even for just one night.
Together Bill S. Preston, Esquire and Ted Logan form the ridiculously misspelt hair metal rock duo, as first seen in 1989 sci-fi flick Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure and later Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey, which served as a cross promotional marketing vehicle for KISS comeback song ‘God Gave Rock n’ Roll To You’.
The Be Sharps
Homer Simpson’s barbershop quartet had quite the career. They managed to score a Grammy, only to bust up after Barney meets a Yoko Ono like figure. As they play their farewell gig on the roof of Moe’s Tavern, Beatle George Harrison makes a cameo appearance to tell them ‘It’s been done’.
The highly-controversial creation of Australian comedian Chris Lilley was not only one of the stars of ABC series Angry Boys, but even played a free concert at St Kilda’s Prince of Wales to 900 fans back in 2012.
Altogether now, ‘Hold me closer tiny dancer/Count the headlights on the highway…’ Yep, the iconic scene of fictional ’70s rockers Stillwater singing Elton John is the centrepiece of Almost Famous. The band were actually named after a group of the same name but conflated writer Cameron Crowe’s experiences on the road with Led Zeppelin, the Eagles, and Lynyrd Skynyrd amongst others.
The Venus In Furs
One of two fictional bands in the 1998 film Velvet Goldmine; named after a Velvet Underground song they were loosely based on Roxy Music and Ziggy Stardust-era David Bowie, busting out Brian Eno covers and the like, while their frontman Maxwell Demon (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) falls into a curious relationship with Iggy Pop stand-in, Curt Wild (played by Ewan McGregor).
Remember adolescent series Saved By The Bell? No childhood of the ’90s was complete with the dulcet tones of ‘Friends Forever’, as seen in the bizarre meta-episode ‘Rockumentary’ which imagines Zack Attack as a world famous rock band – of course, it all turns out to be a dream.
Scott Pilgrim is the typical slacker, he’s also the bass player in Sex Bob-Bomb – a neither particularly good nor successful outfit. In the film adaption of the comic book series, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, the band’s music was appropriately provided by ‘Loser’ hit-maker Beck.
The Weird Sisters
An eight-piece, all-male band who are very popular in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, performing at Hogwarts’ 1994 Yule Ball. Their songs in the film Harry Potter & The Goblet of Fire were written by Pulp’s Jarvis Cocker, with the filmed lineup including Cocker, Pulp’s Steve Mackey and Radiohead’s Jonny Greenwood and Phil Selway. Magical.
Dr Teeth & The Electric Mayhem
The Muppets house band are almost as iconic as the rock acts of the 1960s and 1970s they were loosely based on. The most famous of which, being The Who’s skins basher Keith Moon, who served as the inspiration for the unchained Animal.
The Blues Brothers
The best fictional music outfit ever? (Okay, maybe not entirely fictional, they did perform a couple of live tours.) Jake & Elwood Blues (John Belushi and Dan Akroyd), paired with together with the cream of American blues and soul talent – the likes of James Brown, Aretha Franklin, Cab Calloway and Ray Charles – you really can’t go wrong! Besides, they’re on a mission from God.
Australians of a certain age will probably remember the kids TV series Pugwall’s Last Summer and the titular character’s cringeworthy attempts to form a successful rock band. As it turned out, in a case of life imitating
art children’s entertainment, the actor who played Peter Unwin George Wall – Jason Torrens – went on to form the real-life band, The Reefers, and drum for Melbourne rockers, Bugdust.
It might be dated as all hell, but Eddie Murphy and Arsenio Hall hamming it up in 1988 comedy Coming To America is still quite funny. Especially the duo’s piss-take on lounge cabaret singers, Sexual Chocolate.
Barry Jive and the Uptown 5/Sonic Death Monkey
Jack Black’s objectionable record store clerk in High Fidelity transforms his group, the unlistenable Sonic Death Monkey, into Barry Jive and the Uptown Five (via a crooning cover of Marvin Gaye) for the film’s feel-good finale. It also doubled as a major springboard for Black’s career, and in turn that of Tenacious D and their now globally recognised comedy rock shtick.
Marvin Berry and The Starlighters
The band who play at the 1955 Enchantment Under The Sea Dance held in Back To The Future, in which Michael J Fox’s Marty McFly joins them for an historic rendition of ‘Johnny B. Goode’ at the end of their set – inventing rock ‘n roll in the process.
Soggy Bottom Boys
Men Of Constant Sorrow? Hardly. The chain-gang fugitives turned unlikely bluegrass radio stars in the Coen Brothers’ cult classic, O Brother, Where Art Thou? may have been movie-bound, but the success of their renditions of Appalachian folk music proved so popular that the performers whose music was dubbed into the film (Gillian Welch, Emmylou Harris, Alison Krauss, etc.) got together to perform for a concert tour which was filmed for a TV and DVD release.
Another nostalgia hit for you. The fictional grunge band that Trent Lane from MTV animated series Daria plays in, the running joke is that the band are always thinking of changing their name but they never do.
The return of the creative team that gave the world the fictional band masterpiece This Is Spinal Tap, for the folk music lampooning A Mighty Wind. In the 2003 mockumentary, Mark Shubb (Harry Shearer), Alan Barrows (Christopher Guest), and Jerry Palter (Michael McKean) reunite their folk band The Folksmen for a memorial concert dedicated to their influential producer Irving Steinbloom. Hilarity ensues.
Josie And The Pussycats
One of the ultimate cartoon bands – comprised of guitarist and singer Josie, drummer Melody, and tambourine player Valerie – the Pussycats also found life as a comic book bank and a film adaption of the TV series. Considering the show originally started in the early 70s, the makers were remarkably prescient in anticipating the wave of raw, garage-sounding bass-player-less band boom of the ’00s, such as The Black Keys, The Kills and The White Stripes.
Dr. Fünke’s 100 Per Cent Natural Good-Time Family Band Solution
In Arrested Development, Tobias Funke’s mid 90s folk group, “Dr. Funke’s 100 Percent Natural Good Time Family Band Solution”, was underwritten by the Natural Food Life Company, a division of Chem-Grow, an Allen Crayne acquisition, which was part of the Squimm Group. Their motto was simple: “We keep you alive.” They have only one true fan.
Given the countless amount of social parodying The Simpsons manages, it would be remiss to not feature them a second time. Enter Sadgasm, Homer’s 90s-era grunge band. Daddy Simpson reforms them with a new purpose and style later in life, entitled Guitar Rock Utilizing Nihilist Grunge Energy or GRUNGE.
The ultimate fictional band, embodying every cliché about bands while exposing all the flaws and foibles of rock stars and wannabe rock stars. It’s 30 years old but This Is Spın̈al Tap is still as pertinent as ever. Of course, like The Blues Brothers, we did see some actual Spın̈al Tap shows eventually, but we would pay handsomely to see some more full-scale touring.