The AWESOME! page has random music stuff that I think is cool. You never know what you will find here!
With music so popular among billions of people, it’s no surprise that media like films and television have created bands as part of their stories. Sometimes, even musicians/bands have created fictional bands (familiar with Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band? How about Bennie and the Jets?). Thousands of fictional bands have been created over the years. Here’s a few that I remember…..
The Archies – The first comic book that featured The Archies as a musical group was issued in April 1967 (the first Archie comic dates to 1942), and the animated television show The Archie Show began the following year, running until 1973. The band members were Archie Andrews on vocals/guitar, Reggie Mantle on bass, Jughead Jones on drums, Veronica Lodge on vocals/keyboards and Betty Cooper on vocals/percussion. Studio musicians were used to perform original songs, with several released as singles, including their famous #1 hit, Sugar, Sugar. The song was Billboard’s #1 song of the year in 1969. Ron Dante provided the vocals for Archie, while several women were used for female vocals. Six albums were released, including a Greatest Hits compilation.
Josie and the Pussycats – While closely associated with The Archies, Josie and the Pussycats started their run in the comics before The Archies – the first issue with the band was in 1963. It was published by the same company that published Archie Comics. The animated television show ran in 1970 and 1971. Members of the band were Josie McCoy on vocals and guitar, Valerie Brown on vocals, bass and tambourine, and Melody Valentine on drums and vocals. A film of the same name was released in 2001.
The Partridge Family – Shirley Jones played the widowed mother Shirley Partridge who launches her family into a musical career. The show ran from 1970 until 1974. The band consisted of Shirley on vocals/keyboards/tambourine, David Cassidy as Keith on lead vocals/guitar, Susan Dey as Laurie on vocals/keyboards, Danny Bonaduce as Danny on vocals/bass guitar and Suzanne Crough as Tracy on tambourine. The drummer was named Chris – Jeremy Gelbwaks portrayed him in season 1, and Brian Forster portrayed him in the other three seasons. The show was popular, leading to eight studio albums released between 1970 and 1973. Three singles reached the top 10 of the Hot 100, with I Think I Love You topping the chart. The session musicians used for the group were members of The Wrecking Crew, while vocals were handled by David Cassidy and Shirley Jones. Believe it or not – the group received a Grammy nomination for Best New Artist – pretty good for a fictional band!
Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem – The Muppet musical group was featured featured on The Muppet Show beginning in 1975 – they were the house band for the show. The members were Dr. Teeth on vocals/keyboards, Animal on drums, Floyd Pepper on vocals/bass, Janice on vocals/lead guitar and Zoot on saxophone. They’ve also been part of the various Muppet movies over the years.
Lenny and the Squigtones – Lenny and Squiggy were characters on the television series Laverne and Shirley, which ran for eight seasons from 1976 to 1983 (a spin-off of Happy Days). They performed in a band on the show. They released one album in 1979 – members of the group were Michael McKean as Lenny on guitar/harmonica/vocals, David Lander as Squiggy on squigophone/vocals, Christopher Guest as Nigel Tufnel on guitar/clarinet/vocals, Don Poncher as Ming the Merciless on drums, Murphy Dunne as Lars Svenki on keyboards/vocals and Steve Benderoth as Dwight Knight on bass/vocals.
The California Raisins – These characters were claymation raisins used in television commercials that promoted the raisin industry, starting in 1986. Playing off the song I Heard It Through the Grapevine, the ads were hugely popular, spawning a huge merchandising market – lunch boxes, action figures, bedsheets, and hundreds of other items. Over the years, four albums were released featuring the California Raisins (their version of I Heard It Through the Grapevine made it to #84 on the Hot 100), as well as a primetime television special, a Saturday morning cartoon series, and a computer game. Alas, the campaign ended when the production cost of the campaign cost more than double the earnings of raisin growers.
Spinal Tap – Michael McKean (Lenny from Lenny and the Squigtones), and Christopher Guest (the guitarist Nigel Tufnel from Lenny and the Squigtones) were the co-writers and stars of the mockumentary film This Is Spinal Tap. The film was Rob Reiner’s directorial debut. It follows the fictional heavy metal band Spinal Tap during their U.S. tour to promote their album Smell the Glove. It satirized the stereotype of the hair band on tour. If you haven’t watched the film, you should – it is hilarious.
The Blues Brothers – The Blues Brothers film was released in 1980, with John Belushi as Joliet Jake Blues and Dan Aykroyd as his brother Elwood Blues. While the brothers were not technically a musical act, the film was so popular that The Blues Brothers along with The Blues Brothers Band became a real act. The original soundtrack to the film was certified platinum, with Belushi and Aykroyd performing on all songs. Guest artists included James Brown, Ray Charles and Aretha Franklin, as they all had cameos in the film.
Otis Day and the Knights – This fictional band was made famous in two scenes from the 1978 film National Lampoon’s Animal House. The band performed a cover of the Isley Brothers’ Shout and an original song written for the film, Shama Lama Ding Dong. The film, along with both songs, became iconic.
The Soggy Bottom Boys – From the Coen Brothers film O Brother, Where Art Thou?, three escaped convicts and a fourth man they stumble upon were in need of money, so they record a song, Man of Constant Sorrow, going by the name The Soggy Bottom Boys (in homage to the bluegrass group The Foggy Mountain Boys). For more on the music, see my post from March 21, 2021.
Figrin D’an and the Modal Nodes – In the 1977 Star Wars film (the first film released – Episode IV, A New Hope), there was a famous scene of a band of aliens performing at the Chalmun’s Spaceport Cantina. The band was named Figrin D’an and the Modal Nodes. They performed the song Mad About Me.
These fictional bands produced two songs that reached #1 on the Hot 100. Watch the performances of The Archies’ Sugar, Sugar and The Partridge Family’s I Think I Love You. Bubblegum rock rules!