When we heard 'The Simpsons' was on the verge of cancellation, we started reminiscing about all the rockers and rappers that have appeared on the show throughout its 23-season existence. With that in mind, we decided to compile this list of our favorite musician cameos, and here's hoping to many more now that the show has been renewed.
The Rolling Stones, Elvis Costello, Lenny Kravitz, Tom Petty, Brian Setzer
'How I Spent My Strummer Vacation'
Homer Simpson is one of the cartoon world's greatest wannabe rockers, so when he lands himself in the Rolling Stones' Rock 'n' Roll Fantasy camp, he's naturally over the moon. Homer is put under the tutelage of Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Elvis Costello, Lenny Kravitz, Tom Petty and Brian Setzer. His summer camp sessions pay off in the end, when he winds up setting Principal Skinner on fire. Rock 'n' roll, indeed
Cypress Hill, Peter Frampton, Smashing Pumpkins, Sonic Youth
Homer's rock 'n' roll dreams continue when he joins the Hullabalooza festival's freak show after getting shot in the stomach with Peter Frampton's inflatable cannon pig. During Homer's 15 minutes of fame, he reconnects with youth culture, travels the country and mingles with Smashing Pumpkins, Sonic Youth and Cypress Hill, who may or may not have ordered the services of the London Philharmonic after a few hits from the bong.
'Brush With Greatness
Ringo Starr makes a brief appearance in this episode as the object of Marge's high school affections. As a teenager, Marge sent the Beatles stickman a portrait she painted of him only to receive a response from him several decades later, just as she reembarks on her artistic career. Despite keeping good time, Ringo was never timely
'Lisa the Vegetarian'
When Lisa decides to become a vegetarian, she gets run out of the Simpson household for her activist behavior. Luckily, she finds refuge with Apu the grocer and his unlikely friends, Paul and Linda McCartney. After getting over his surprise that "she's leaving home," Paul gives Lisa some advice on navigating the various hurdles of vegetarianism. McCartney was the last living Beatle to appear on the show.
'Homer's Barbershop Quartet'
Homer was not only once in a barbershop quartet but he was in a barbershop that bore a striking resemblance to the Beatles. The Be Sharps (maybe in contrast to the Be Dulls?) boasted a hit first album titled 'Meet the Be Sharps,' a second album titled 'Bigger Than Jesus' and broke up after a member started dating a Japanese conceptual artist. Their reunion show was attended by none other than George Harrison, who seems just as unimpressed with Homer as Homer is with him. George remarks that the Be Sharps' music has "been done" and Homer is (obviously) more enthralled with the brownie that Harrison is holding than the man himself.
'Trash of the Titans'
Most of the time, 'Simpsons' writers request stars for guest appearances and not the other way around. This was not the case with U2, who contacted the show about doing a cameo. The writers probably bellowed a Bono-style "Yeah! Yeah! Yeah! Yeah!" and immediately put pen to paper. The episode was also dedicated to the memory of Linda McCartney after her death from breast cancer.
Red Hot Chili Peppers
'Krusty Gets Kancelled'
When Krusty the Clown's show gets cancelled, the Simpson children get up in arms, organizing a benefit concert to get everybody's favorite curmudgeonly clown back on the air. They recruit an all-star lineup that features Bette Midler, Johnny Carson, Hugh Hefner, Luke Perry and the Red Hot Chili Peppers who perform 'Give It Away' in their skivvies. As a nod to the Doors getting told to change the lyrics to 'Light My Fire' for Ed Sullivan, Krusty suggests that the Chilis change "What I got you gotta get and put it in ya" to "What I'd like is I'd like to hug and kiss ya," an edit that Flea agrees is "much better." And Kudos to Arik Marshall for parlaying his short-lived RHCP stint into an appearance on the show.
For Mr. Burns' birthday, the Ramones turn in what has to be one of the most offensive birthday tributes in Springfield history. After the New York punk godfathers wish him "Go to hell you old bastard," Mr. Burns decides he dislikes them just as much as his other presents, which include gold, rings and a unicorn.
The White Stripes
'Jazzy and the Pussycats'
After more of his misdeeds, Bart is sent to a therapist who recommends he take up drum lessons to get out his aggression. As he drums through town in a parody of the White Stripes' 'Hardest Button to Button' video, Bart crashes into the now-defunct duo, leading the usually reserved Meg White to scream "Let's kick his ass!" Unfortunately for Jack and Meg, the conflict ends with them falling off a bridge.
'Homer the Moe'
The Simpson family has a talent for swindling high profile rockers into low-profile springfield hangouts, and Homer is certainly no exception. When he opens up a bar in his garage after Moe's becomes a bourgeois schmaltz-fest, he gets R.E.M. to play as the house band simply by telling them it is a charity to help save the rainforest. Some musicians are so gullible!
'Bart's Inner Child'
James Brown is called the hardest working man in show business for many reasons, folks. Most importantly to this episode is his unrelenting diligence and attention to detail. Who knew that spotting a poorly constructed stage could be so funny?
'Stark Raving Dad'
There's something simultaneously creepy and hilarious about full-grown men impersonating Michael Jackson, and it's certainly not something many people can pull off. Homer finds this out the hard way when he is committed to a mental hospital with a cellmate who is convinced he is the King of Pop. While Jackson himself provided the character's speaking voice, he was contractually prevented from singing, so the show hired a sound-alike. He did, however, write the song 'Happy Birthday Lisa,' which appeared in the episode.
Aerosmith has the distinct honor of being the first band to appear on 'The Simpsons.' In the episode, they become regulars at Moe's Tavern after the grumpy bartender steals Homer's recipe for a cocktail and dubs it "The Flaming Moe." While visiting the watering hole, Steven Tyler and company are coaxed on stage by the offer of "free pickled eggs" and the rest is history.
In this episode, Bart uses a walkie-talkie set to stage a "boy falls down a well" hoax, but the ends up down in the hole himself. Eventually, the town organizes a charity event to help extricate him from said well that features none other than Sting himself. Even though the police -- and not the Police -- can't do anything to save Bart because they're too fat to fit down the well, Sting uses his honeyed voice to scratch up some support via a charity single. Hey, it beats a message in a bottle.
'The Mook, the Chef, the Wife, and Her Homer'
It's every metalhead bus driver's dream to find Metallica stranded on the side of the road and offer them a ride. On the other hand, it's every metalhead bus driver's worst nightmare to have Bart Simpson foil your plan just when the dream is within reach. Unfortunately for Otto, Springfield's resident bus man, fate deals him the latter hand.
'The Mysterious Voyage of Homer'
If you ingest enough Guatemalan insanity peppers, you are bound to go on some sort of mystical vision quest, a fact Homer found out the hard way. After having eaten several of the aforementioned peppers at a chili cook-off, Homer trips 10 ways 'til Tuesday and meets his spirit animal: A space coyote, voiced by Johnny Cash. We all wish we could have spirit animals even half as cool as the Man in Black.
Elton John and Lady Gaga
'I'm With Cupid'
When the chandelier on Elton John's private plane malfunctions, he's forced to make a stopover in Springfield, where he gives away Grammys like loose change, gets forced into a dog cage and saves a marriage all in a day's work. Sometimes champagne problems can really benefit the commoners.
'The Mansion Family'
Britney Spears has quite a track record with award shows. She's appeared with pythons and made out with both Madonna and Christina Aguilera, but her turn hosting Springfield's Pride Awards might outdo any moment in her pantheon of real-life award-show appearances. While delivering the award for Oldest Person in Springfield, she gives the recipient a fatal heart attack. Then again, that might have happened to some conservative viewer when she slipped Madge some tongue ...
'A Tale of Two Springfields'
When Springfield is divided in two parts, olde and new, the residents get in a major tiff about where the Who will perform. Pete Townshend eventually solves the problem with his mega-watt riffage and tears the wall down using just his axe and the power of rock. Townsheend's character was voiced by his brother Paul because Pete assumed someone else would be providing his voice a la 'Yellow Submarine' and didn't bother to show up.
'Dude, Where's My Ranch?'
David Byrne is a man of many talents: "singer, artist, composer, director, Talking Head" and even a one-time wrestler under the name El Diablo. When he joins forces with Homer to record his blockbuster hit 'Everybody Hates Ned Flanders,' he successfully adds professional neighbor hater to his resume.
'Million Dollar Maybe'
What band would Homer pay an exorbitant amount of money to have play a free show for him and Bart, but wouldn't ever accept a free invitation to play onstage with them? Yes, the answer is Coldplay.
50 Cent has given us countless pearls of wisdom over the course of his career (Who can forget "I melt in your mouth girl, not in your hands"?). However, nothing compares to the advice he offers Bart Simpson: "The more you know, the further you go!" Too bad Fiddy was only being kind as part of a court-mandated community-service sentence.
'Marge Gets a Job'
It's not unusual to be loved by anyone, so the saying goes, and there are certain things one can count on to make a seduction extra cheesy. Some wine, some cheese (obviously) and, in certain cases, some Tom Jones. Unfortunately for Mr. Burns, not even Jones can turn the tide in his favor during his quest for Marge's love.
When Bart gains emancipation from his family he finds that life outside the nest can be pretty rad, especially when Tony Hawk lives in the loft next door. To make things sweeter, Bart gets to bust some kickflips with live music provided by none other than Blink-182.