Anya Wassenberg
July 16, 2013

10 Rockin’ Bands Who Played Themselves in Movies

Plenty of musicians, like Yasiin Bey (Mos Def) and David Bowie, have managed to break into acting and make legitimate names for themselves in the worlds of TV and film. For the most part, though, when a musician shows up in a film, it’s for one thing only: to play themselves in a cameo role.

Sometimes it comes off as gimmicky (see: Smash Mouth’s appearance in Rat Race), while other times it just works — Aerosmith’s cameo as themselves in 1993’s Wayne’s World is a classic example of that.

Here’s a look at some musicians and bands who appear as themselves on film. Which are your favorites? Did we miss anyone? Let us know in the comments!

Indigo Girls

Indigo Girls appear as a performing band in Boys on the Side, singing bits of their songs “Southland in the Springtime” and “Joking” along with “Feliz Cumpleaños” (Happy Birthday in Spanish) during the birthday party scene. The band also appeared in concert on an episode of Ellen (the sitcom, not the talk show) when Ellen goes to Womyn Fest.

Billy Idol

Billy Idol takes a break from his sneering on-stage persona to play a sympathetic fellow plane passenger to Adam Sandler (as Robbie) in The Wedding Singer. The leather-clad singer helps as Robbie sings to Julia (Drew Barrymore) over the loudspeaker, saving the day for romance.


It’s Pat: The Movie stars Julia Sweeney as her famously androgynous SNL character. In the story, Pat comes to the attention of the band Ween, who invite her to perform with them.

Blink 182

Photo credit: Universal

Photo credit: Universal

Sophomoric pop punkers Blink 182 seem like just the right band to appear in American Pie. They contributed the song “Mutt” from the album Enema of the State, and also appear in a scene in which they stop playing to watch Jim and Nadia during their infamous webcast. We’d provide a video but, well, you know.

Sugar Ray

Sugar Ray and its lead singer Mark McGrath play a pivotal role in the plot of Father’s Day. In it, Robin Williams and Billy Crystal are on the hunt for the kid both believe is their son – a kid who’s following  Sugar Ray on tour. Mark McGrath and the band play what you could call a concrete role in getting potential fathers and son together during a concert scene.

Smash Mouth

It’s a shame to see people like John Cleese, Cuba Gooding, Jr. and Seth Green dancing it up in the cheesy final scene of Rat Race, where the greedy contestants in a prize show are persuaded to give their winnings to charity at a concert hosted by Smash Mouth — with the credits running to an ‘uplifting’ version of “All Star.”

Morris Day and The Time

Sometimes the musician is a quirky addition to the story. Jay goes on and on about Morris Day and calls The Time the “greatest band in the world” in the 1991 flick Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back. It comes as the perfect surprise when Morris Day and the band show up to play at the film premiere at the very end of the film.

Jack and Meg White

In Coffee and Cigarettes, Jack and Meg White smoke cigarettes and drink coffee (naturally) and talk about Nikola Tesla.

Lou Reed

Lou Reed almost has a separate career appearing in films as himself, including: Permanent Record; Faraway, So Close!; Closure; Prozac Nation and Palermo Shooting (concert scene below).

Twisted Sister

Last but not least, in what you might call an unexpectedly inspired cameo, big hair metal monsters Twisted Sister play themselves making a video that’s derailed by the general mayhem of Pee Wee’s Big Adventure.