Many rock bands have appeared on the big screen: KISS rocked in Detroit Rock City and even saved the day in the awesome KISS Meets The Phantom Of The Park. Aerosmith actually showed up to Waynestock in Wayne’s World 2 and Tenacious D put aside their pizzas, successfully completed a cock push-up, and power-slided into cinemas in Pick of Destiny. More bands still have been given the rock biopic treatment, like The Doors, Def Leppard, and the Rolling Stones, while others are featured in rockumentaries, like Metallica embarrassing themselves in Some Kind Of Monster, the Sex Pistols swearing their way through The Filth and the Fury, and Anvil in one of the most heartfelt, completing documentaries of all time, Anvil: The Story of Anvil.
But their plenty of big rock stars who make it onto the big screen who aren’t real rock stars at all. Because the world can never get enough of the excesses and legend of rock bands, there are many that have been created just for the cinema. Some are immediately forgetful, like…um…you know, the band in that thing. There are, thankfully, many more fictional rock bands in film that are unforgettable, who look and sound believable, and, sometimes, their influence is even felt in pop culture.
This weekend sees the release Bandslam, a music comedy about the ultimate battle of the bands. Will any of the fictional bands in Bandslam leave a mark on pop culture? We’ll see, but for now, we’re going all the way to 11 with this list of some of the best fictional rock bands ever seen — and heard — in the film.
Hedwig and the Angry Inch
From the movie Hedwig and the Angry Inch
The most glamorous bar band (or salad cart band) America has ever seen led by a phallically-challenged (hence the movie title) transgendered singer whose huge blonde wig suddenly transforms him into Miss Farrah Fawcett [from TV]. These European rockers have arguably the most diverse collection of rock songs — heart-wrenching ballads, energetic punk tracks, and anthemic stadium hard rock. Imagine Poison, but with more facial hair.
Rock out to: “Angry Inch”
From the movie Still Crazy
Strange Fruit may be a bunch of aged Englishmen who have lost some of their energy thanks to the ravages of time but they still have the desire (and, thankfully, the ability) to rock your socks off. If they can stop arguing for five minutes.
Rock out to: “Black Moon”
From the movie Rock Star
Any band — fictional or not — that can boast Zakk Wylde on lead guitar is going to be awesome. Steel Dragon is no exception. This hard rocking band from the movie Rock Star began life with a lead singer called Bobby Beers (if that isn’t a rock star’s name then I don’t know what is) and continued on with Marky Mark Walberg in full leather regalia. They might be a fiction Judas Priest wannabe group, but their members were real musicians who can rock. (Walberg was lipsyncing through the songs).
Rock out to: “Blood Pollution”
From the Wayne’s World movies
Ok, so Crucial Taunt from the Wayne’s World movies is mainly a cover band. But when the bass player is also the lead singer and happens to be an Asian babe with a killer voice, who cares? Jimi Hendrix’s “Fire” and “Ballroom Blitz” by The Sweet are two great rock songs and require Cassandra (Tia Carrere) to scream a lot but “Why You Wanna Break My Heart” shows she can sing a power ballad too. Sha-wing!
Rock out to: “Fire”
The Bang Bang
From the movie Brothers of the Head
A British band featuring a lead guitarist and lead singer who are also conjoined twins? No, this is not a Spın̈al Tap live show, this is The Bang Bang. They’re an energetic punk band from the 70s who sound like the Sex Pistols doing the nasty with The Stooges.
Rock out to: “Doola and Dawla”
From the movie The Rocker
Forget the whiny kids with the old drummer, the real rock stars of The Rocker are the guys in Vesuvius. Sure they’re pretentious, stupid and they mime but these guys write rock songs that make you want to raise the devil horns in salute and rock out in the arena. Bloated, unsightly hair and a strange colour, but who cares what Rainn Wilson looks like in his underpants, we’re here to see Vesuvius rock!
Rock out to: “Pompeii Nights”
From the Bill and Ted movies
Wyld Stallyns fills a gap in the market with their live shows: you get to rock out and learn stuff! No one plays air guitar quite like Ted Theodore Logan and Bill S. Preston Esq. Thanks to their time-travelling phone box they can master any guitar lick before you can blink. Excellent!
Rock out to: “God Gave Rock n Roll To You”
The School Of Rock
From the movie School of Rock
The youngsters in this band wear school uniforms — partly because of the band name and their ages, but also as a salute to AC/DC’s Angus Young (Jack Black’s Dewey even plays a Gibson SG guitar like Angus). They even close the movie by playing AC/DC’s “It’s A Long Way To The Top (If You Wanna Rock ‘n’ Roll)” over the end credits. Their battle of the bands-winning song may have been written by a 10-year-old, but these kids can rock.
Rock out to: “School of Rock”
The Lone Rangers
From the movie Airheads
What better way for a struggling band to get their music heard than to hijack a radio station and keep the host hostage? Sadly, the cops don’t agree and The Lone Rangers are forced to play to crowds of fellow inmates while they serve time.
Rock out to: “Degenerated”
From the movie Prey For Rock n Roll
This hard-drinking, hard-smoking all-girl band seamlessly fuse hard rock and punk, making for unforgettable live shows. There is no need to prey; with Clam Dandy on the scene, rock and roll is here to stay.
Rock out to: “Ms Tweak”
From the movie This Is Spınal Tap
Fictional rock bands will always be compared to the seminal (obligatory rock word) Spınal Tap. The movie spawned two albums, live appearances, and many videos. Its stage shows are infamous and the line up changes would put Deep Purple to shame. With song titles like “Hell Hole,” “Heavy Duty,” and “Sex Farm” you know they mean business and their business is rock.
Rock out to: “Tonight I’m Gonna Rock You Tonight”
These are my favorites. What are yours? Let us know below.