It’s pretty cool when a rock band appears in a movie, even cooler when a rock band appears in a movie about that rock band and even cooler still when a band from a movie becomes a rock band. This isn’t always true, of course. The girls from Satisfaction taking their show on the road is not a good idea. However, Matt Dillon’s Citizen Dick from Singles would rock. Maybe if Justine Bateman’s band was Eddie Vedder, Stone Gossard and Jeff Ament…
The few bands that did make the leap from motion pictures to trashed hotel rooms were as musically sound as any group out there. Maybe even better.
This Is Spinal Tap (1985)
“Big bottom. Big bottom. Talk about mudflaps, my girl’s got ‘em. Big Bottom drive me out of my mind. I can’t leave this behind.”
Rob Reiner’s mockumentary centers on an aging heavy metal band attempting a comeback with the release of their latest album, Smell The Glove. The band consists of lead guitarist Nigel Tufnel (Christopher Guest), vocalist Derek St. Hubbins (Michael McKean), bassist Derek Smalls (Harry Shearer) and a series of revolving drummers who all seem to meet untimely deaths. Spinal Tap was so good -- at least so good at being bad -- with songs like “Tonight I’m Gonna Rock Tonight,” “Hell Hole” and “Sex Farm,” that they were able to release an album of songs from the movie, shoot videos, tour and release a follow up LP (1992’s Break Like The Wind) as well as a TV special. They also appeared on the heavy metal benefit Hear N’Aid and issued a limited edition picture disc for their holiday classic “Christmas With The Devil.”
All You Need Is Cash (1978)
“I have always thought in the back of my mind. Cheese and onions. I have always thought that the world was unkind. Cheese and onions.”
Monty Pythoner, Eric Idle and Saturday Night Live short film director, Gary Weis put together this hilarious satirical parody of Beatlemania and the legend of the Fab Four. The Rutles are Dirk (Eric Idle), Nasty (Neil Innes), Barry (John Halsey) and Stig (Ricky Fataar), the pre-Fab Four, who’ve risen to the top of the pops with songs like “Please Please Let Me Hold Your Hand” and “Goose Step Mama” and films “Yellow Submarine Sandwich” and “Let It Rot.” After the TV special, which featured the Rutles, several SNL actors including John Belushi, and rock stars like Mick Jagger and even George Harrison himself, The Rutles released a self-titled album. In 1996, lampooning The Beatles Anthology, the Rutles Archeology was compiled, featuring “archival” tracks of “rare and unreleased recordings” including “Major Happy’s Up And Coming Once Upon A Good Time Band,” “We’ve Arrived (And To Prove It, We’re Here)” and “Lonely-Phobia.”
The Blues Brothers (1980)
“We had a band powerful enough to turn goat piss into gasoline.”
John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd’s love of blues music compelled them to congregate a supergroup of the greatest session players from the Stax and Muscle Shoals to be the backing band for Belushi and Aykroyd’s incarnation as Jake and Elwood Blues. The reception for their spirited performances of R&B standards like “Flip, Flop & Fly” on Saturday Night Live motivated them to adapt the concept into a feature film with director John Landis at the helm. The Blues Brothers became The Blues Brothers, the cult classic film that finds Jake and Elwood on a mission from God to put the band back together. The brothers themselves released three albums and played the Hollywood Bowl, before Belushi died like a rock star in an LA hotel room.
The Commitments (1991)
“The Irish are the blacks of Europe. Dubliners are the blacks of Ireland. North Dubliners are the blacks of Dublin. So, say it loud…I’m black and I’m proud.”
Rhythm & Blues music is again at the heart of this funny film from Alan Parker about working class Dubliners who assemble a soul band with hopes of making it to the big time, or at least meeting Jackie Wilson. After auditioning half of Dublin, Jimmy Rabbitte (Robert Arkins), a would-be promoter and manager, finally discovers Deco (Andrew Strong), a belligerent, drunken streetcar conductor with Otis Redding’s pipes and Joey "The Lips" Fagan (Johnny Murphy), a saxman who claims to have played with anyone and everyone who ever recorded. Although their attempts with the fledging musicians who make up the rest of the band are rocky at first, soon they are gelling and actually wowing audiences at all the local clubs. The band re-assembled for a concert tour in support of the film and released two albums of cover songs, including their hit versions of “Mustang Sally” and “Try A Little Tenderness.”
Eddie & The Cruisers (1983)
“I want something great; I want something that nobody's ever done before.”
Okay, Eddie & the Cruisers wasn’t really a band. The band was John Cafferty and the Beaver Brown Band, but without Eddie & The Cruisers, do you think anyone would really have ever given a crap about John Cafferty and The Beaver Brown Band and their working class anthems of Springsteen-esque growling. Cafferty as the voice of Eddie--Michael Pare played him in the movies--released at least five albums including the Eddie & The Cruisers: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack, Eddie & The Cruisers 2: Eddie Lives!, Eddie & The Cruisers: Live In Concert, Eddie & The Cruisers: The Unreleased Tapes, and John Cafferty: Voice Of Eddie & The Cruisers.