8 great rock star guest appearances on 1970s television
Remember when Don Rickles met punk rock and Rerun bootlegged the Doobies?
The 1970s were a golden era for musicians on television. For starters, networks were handing acts variety shows left and right. Tony Orlando and Dawn, Captain & Tennille, Tom Jones, the Hudson Brothers, Donny & Marie — even one-hit wonder Starland Vocal Band — all had their own showcases. Elsewhere, Soul Train was chugging along and the upstart Saturday Night Light gave fresh acts airtime. Of course, shows like The Love Boat were entirely built around cameos.
We wanted to focus on musical acts who made cameos on primetime series, largely sitcoms. With the rise of punk and metal, some of these appearances were warning tales. Here are some of the most memorable cameos from the decade.
Johnny Cash on 'The Partridge Family'
Though he doesn't perform, the Man in Black does have the honor of introducing the family band in the pilot episode, "What? And Get Out of Show Business?" He dubs them "America's latest success story." And then the Partridges rip into "Together (Havin' A Ball)."
Image: Sony Pictures Television
Don Ho on 'The Brady Bunch'
The Hawaiian pop icon pops up in "Hawaii Bound," early in the epic three-part adventure that sees the Bradys being cursed by a tiki idol. Ho partners with Sam Kapu to serenade Bobby and Cindy with the gentle strains of "Sweet Someone." Ho asks Kapu, "Lend me your tonsils." To which Kapu replies, "Sure, I'll lend you four." Cindy remarks, "You're a lot better than Bobby!" Well, duh! He has two extra tonsils!
Alice Cooper on 'The Snoop Sisters'
While Alice Cooper (the band) kicked off in the 1960s, Alice Cooper (the frontman) would not blow up until the 1970s. The theatrical shock rocker offers a fantastically bizarre performance of "Sick Things" on a series that was essentially the Murder, She Wrote of its time. He crawls atop dinner club tables in the episode "The Devil Made Me Do It!"
Image: NBC Universal Television
Flash Cadillac And The Continental Kids on 'Happy Days'
These retro rockers are best known for their screen appearances. Most famously, they portrayed Herbie and the Heartbeats, shakin', rattlin' and rollin' the high school dance scenes in American Graffiti. On this early Happy Days episode — back when the series was shot cinematically with one camera — they play as Fish and the Fins, who draw a surprisingly wide demographic to their concert in Milwaukee. Everyone from Joanie to Fonzie to Mrs. C is there.
Detective on 'WKRP in Cincinnati'
After the punk rock explosion of 1977, the mainstream media stoked fears of mosh pit and mohawks. Many shows would warn of the dangers of uptempo rock, if not outright poke fun at the new genre. CHiPs and Quincy, M.E. dreamt up fake punk bands Pain and Mayhem. A few brave series cast actual musicians. Considering its radio station premise, WKRP had to address the trend. In the early episode "Hoodlum Rock," a punk band from England called Scum of the Earth is coming to town. Turns out, they're posh. Michael Des Barres of the band Detective, who were on Led Zeppelin's label, plays the lead singer.
Image: 20th Century Fox Television
The Dickies on 'C.P.O. Sharkey'
In what is arguably the greatest punk performance in scripted TV history, the Dickies make an appearance on a Don Rickles sitcom. In “Punk Rock Sharkey,” the Los Angeles pioneers tear through "Hideous" from their debut album The Incredible Shrinking Dickies. The show and characters may be laughing at the ruckus, but C.P.O. Sharkey does allow them to perform as is — and offer American living rooms a very early introduction to punk rock.
The Doobie Brothers on 'What's Happening!!'
Oh, Rerun. What fool believes he can illegally bootleg the Doobies! The two-part moral tale "Doobie or Not Doobie" gives a shocking amount of screen time to the rock band, who shred through lengthy guitar solos and smash gongs with flaming mallets. It's practically a concert film. Meanwhile, Raj and Rerun groove in their seats.
Image: Sony Pictures Television
Suzi Quatro on 'Happy Days'
Few musicians received a better public showcase in the decade than this glam-rock trailblazer. The Detroit native played Leather Tuscadero in seven episodes of Happy Days. She might have looked far more 1970s than 1950s, but she stuck to the throwback era in her performances, hammering her bass in tunes like "All Shook Up," "Heartbreak Hotel" and "Johnny B. Goode."
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