Rock ‘n’ Role! 50 Rock Star Cameos

In no particular order, here are 50 of the most notable star turns – if your favourite’s not here, hit the comments.

Frank Zappa, Miami Vice (1986) The famously clean-and-serene star plays a drug dealer in this none-more-pastel 80s crime staple. For an actor, he’s a genius composer…

Josh Homme, Toast Of London (2014) If Matt Berry’s excellent Toast hasn’t popped up on your radar yet, do check it out. The QOTSA star plays brilliantly against type in the last episode.

Ozzy Osbourne, Trick Or Treat (1986) And talking about playing against type, looks who crops up in this schlock-horror as the evangelist waging war against the sickness that is rock…

Chris Cornell, Singles (1992) This grunge-era period piece is a treasure trove of cameos, including this from the Soundgarden star.

Wilko Johnson, Game Of Thrones (2011) Menacing demeanour? Check. Handy with an axe? Not ‘alf. Not a talker? Nope. Wilko’s typecast as the Lannister’s brilliantly-named executioner, Ser Ilyn Payne, swinging into action here [spoiler alert!]

Status Quo, Coronation Street (2005) Two British institutions collide, as Les Battersby’s favourite band play his wedding and wind up in neck braces. Worth it alone for Parfitt’s “Hello Weatherfield!”

Eddie Van Halen, Two And A Half Men (2009) Eddie’s toilet gag raised the intellectual bar for Charlie Sheen’s star vehicle ‘comedy’. (If you want to learn to play Two Burritos And A Root Beer Float, there are lessons online…)

Alex Lifeson, Trailer Park Boys (2003) In which the Rush guitarist is kidnapped mid-shave and bound with duct tape, before making up with his kidnappers and performing a version of Closer To The Heart. Lifeson would later appear on two Trailer Park Boys movies, in 2006 as a traffic cop, and in 2009 as an undercover vice officer. In drag.

Anthony Kiedis, Point Break (1991) The RHCP singer cuts up rough in this 90s classic. Day job fortunately retained…

Flea, Back To The Future III (1989) Kiedis’s bandmate crops up in BTTF II as Needles, Marty McFly’s evil boss. In part III it turns out he’s the one who put an end to McFly’s musical career in the first film.

Alice Cooper, Wayne’s World (1992) The rock ledge lands in Milly Waw Kay for his eloquent turn in Michael Myers’ hit rock-com. We are, indeed, not worthy…

The Ramones, The Simpsons (1993) Just one of the reasons this cartoons had more birthdays than any other – its ability to pull in big, big names…

George Harrison, Monty Python’s Life Of Brian (1979) Cameos work best when the star’s size is inversely proportional to their screen time. (George’s Handmade Pictures did fund the film, so it’s the very least Python could do…)

Kiss, Family Guy (2002) “Why don’t you just sit in the corner, huh?”

Keith Richards, Pirates Of The Caribbean: At World’s End (2007) Had to happen, really. Wardrobe and make-up probably took the day off…

Henry Rollins, Heat (1995) As grass Hugh Benny, Rollins is put through a plate glass window by Al Pacino and doesn’t get a word in. Hard to tell which part of that would be less likely in real life.

David Bowie, Extras (2006) Bowie proves his comedy chops, producing the highlight of Ricky Gervais’ celeb-studded sitcom. “Pathetic little fatman, no-one’s bloody laughing…”

Bruce Springsteen, High Fidelity (2000) When John Cusack needs advice on matters of the heart, The Boss is top of his list…

Tom Petty, The Postman (1997) “I know you. You’re… famous…” Tom’s one of the few things in this Kevin Costner flop that actually delivers.

Guns N’ Roses, The Dead Pool (1988) In the fourth Dirty Harry movie rock star Johnny Squares (Jim Carrey) is strutting to Welcome To The Jungle one moment, and murdered the next. Slash, Axl and band attend his funeral (1min 38secs in).

Cannibal Corpse, Ace Ventura, Pet Detective (1994) Carrey again, this time in his own star vehicle and nicking the limelight from the Buffalo death metallers. The song? Hammer Smashed Face, of course.

Dave Grohl, Tenacious D In The Pick Of Destiny (2006) It’s a rock-off! Grohl gives it plenty as Satan, or Beelzeboss, at the climax of Jack Black and Kyle Gass’ foul-mouthed, NSFW rock odyssey.

Steve Vai, Crossroads (1986) And when Old Nick needs a shredder to ‘cut heads’ and steal souls for him, he could do a lot worse than this star guitarist. Even if he is finally outplayed by The Karate Kid…

Tom Waits, The Fisher King (1991) Waits lends himself well to marginal figures both on record and on screen. As a crippled war vet he brings weight to this monologue from Terry Gilliam’s 80s classic. “We’re headed for social anarchy when people start pissing on bookstores.”

Iggy Pop, Coffee & Cigarettes (2003) Here’s Waits again, this time shooting the breeze about java and fags with one Iggy Pop. Only Jim Jarmusch can make laid-back mumble-core this interesting, and much of the magic’s in the casting.

Zakk Wylde, Californication (2011) One day, all guitar shop guys will be built this way. “This is one hell of a fiddle.” Whatever you say, sir. (Also, spot the J Geils reference…)

Kate Bush, The Comic Strip: Les Dogs (1990) In this latter-day film from the cult comic collective, Bush – in a hen’s-teeth rare appearance – plays a bride and an object of fantasy. More type-casting, then…

Aimee Mann, The Big Lebowski (1998) The enduring singer plays one of the nihilists, taking one for the team and losing a toe for the sake of their kidnap scam in the Coen Brothers classic. Sometimes, there’s a Mann…

J Mascis, Portlandia (2013) Mann’s also been one of the many guest stars on this hip sketch TV show (available on Netflix). In the episode Off The Grid, Dinosaur Jr’s Mascis leads Bless The Barn in their bid to win the Battle Of The Gentle Bands. Our money’s on Franny Wisp…

Dave Grohl, The X Files (1996) The Foos man again, in a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it again appearance in Pusher, a classic episode from the sci-fi hit. The lady accompanying him is Jennifer Youngblood, Grohl’s wife at the time.

Alanis Morissette, Dogma (1999) The Canadian star joined the likes of George Burns and Morgan Freeman in portraying The Almighty on screen. She only opens her mouth once, to blow off Ben Affleck’s head. Favourite line, “What the fuck is this, The Piano?”

Myles Kennedy, Rock Star (2001) “Dreams come true!” This charmingly prescient clip shows that, just sometimes, they do.

Dave Mustaine, Duck Dodgers (2005) Pretty surreal one, this. The episode’s called In Space, No One Can Hear You Rock – how could the Megadeth man have refused? (And yes, that’s Tom Jones singing the theme tune…)

Kim Gordon, Gossip Girl (2009) Sonic Youth have cropped up on _The Simpsons and The Gilmore Girls_, and back in 2009 they played on an episode of this hit US show, with Kim – as herself – in this speaking role.

L7, Serial Mom (1994) John Waters’ gloriously nasty movie cast Kathleen Turner as a psychotic housewife, with her misdeeds soundtracked here by the all-girl LA punk band, rechristened Camel Lips for the film.

Lars Ulrich, Who Wants To Be A Millionaire (2001) The Metallica drummer beat the likes of Chaka Khan, Gladys Knight and Gene Simmons to earn some dollars for his charity.

Freddie Mercury, The Kenny Everett Show (1980) Freddie’s good friend Kenny worked hard to promote Queen in the early days. By way of thanks, he flew from the US to London just to film this sketch.

Brian May, Smith & Jones (1998) Griff Rhys Jones and the much-missed Mel Smith introduced Queen on Live Aid back in ’85. Here’s Brian on their show, playing along while getting a good plug in for his ’98 album Another World.

Bruce Dickinson, The Paradise Club (1989) Dicko gave a decent performance as an up and coming rock star in this otherwise-forgettable BBC drama.

Nancy Wilson, Fast Times At Ridgemont High (1982) In Cameron Crowe’s classic teen comedy the Heart star and multi-faceted human in her own right is billed simply as ‘Beautiful Girl In Car’. (True, though.)

Jon Bon Jovi, 30 Rock (2010) He’s got a track record in movies, but his self-effacing turn in Tina Fey’s razor-sharp sitcom is unusually charming and ‘an appropriate use of his time and talent’.

The Who, The Simpsons (2000) No video for this sadly, but Roger Daltrey and John Entwhistle rocked up to Springfield for the show’s 250th episode. Pete Townshend didn’t, so his brother Paul provided his voice. Warning: NSFW language from Daltrey.

Steven Tyler, Lizzie McGuire (2002) The Aerosmith star added some rock star power to Xtreme Xmas, the hit kid-com’s festive episode in ’02.

Steven Tyler, The Polar Express (2004) He does seem to like a Christmas cameo. Here’s Tyler again in the Tom Hanks/Robert Zemeckis animation as hims-elf (sorry), surrounded by an Aerosmith-esque band.

Chrissie Hynde, Friends (1995) Though released 20 years ago, the Pretender’s cameo – as the coffee shop singer who steals Phoebe’s regular gig – still crops up on TV regularly.

Peter Gabriel, Brian Pern: A Life In Rock (2014) Rhys Thomas and Simon Day’s affectionate parody has featured everyone from Rick Wakeman to Rick Parfitt to Roy Wood. But of course the main inspiration is Gabriel, whose occasional Segway into the show is a treat.

Tom Morello, Star Trek: Voyager (2000) The RATM/Audioslave star’s an avid Trekkie. A year after a silent cameo in the ’99 movie Star Trek: Insurrection, he finally got his 20 seconds with Commander Janeway.

Mick Fleetwood, Star Trek: The Next Generation (1989) Another Trekkie, Mick asked for a part on the show, and got one, as an ‘Antederian Dignitary’ (the irony). That’s him on the right, eating god knows what.

Marilyn Manson, Eastbound & Down (2013) An unrecognisable Brian Warner appears as a ‘Roller Rink Server’ in the Will Ferrel-produced HBO comedy.

Mark Knopfler, Lemmy, David Gilmour, Gary Moore, Mark King, French & Saunders (1990) Ending with total a cameo clusterfrig! Witness the star’s testimony against defendant Ralph McTell, up for crimes against budding musicians.

Grant Moon

A music journalist for over 20 years, Grant writes regularly for titles including Prog, Classic Rock and Total Guitar, and his CV also includes stints as a radio producer/presenter and podcast host. His first book, 'Big Big Train - Between The Lines', is out now through Kingmaker Publishing.