Our 20 Best Musician Cameos and Roles In The Movies article is a fun look at 20 films in which famous rock and roll artists appear either as themselves or a character for just a scene or two in a major motion picture. While there are a handful of musicians who have actually had starring roles in motion pictures, such as David Bowie, Cher, and Madonna, most musicians who have participated just in cameos found that acting in a motion picture was not as easy as they thought it might have been. Some of them have done a fantastic job, while others seem to be a little out of place.
So, what defines the best cameo? We would have to say the ones that are obviously the most entertaining to view. Sometimes, the worst acting jobs in the world are actually the most enjoyable to watch. Like the old saying, “It was so bad, it was good.” Of course, some cameos are just excellent. Our best musicians’ cameos in the movies will include those who just appeared in one shot or one scene while also including some who had tiny roles in the motion picture. We ruled out the movies where musicians had starring roles, which calls for a separate article. This will be fun.
# 20 – Keith Richards – Pirates of the Caribbean
We start out our Best Musician Cameos In The Movies article with one of the most perfectly cast roles in movie history. Keith Richards as a pirate. The man looks like a pirate. He’s got the skin of a pirate and, of course, the attitude of a pirate. So, being cast as Jack Sparrow’s father was genius casting 101.
# 19 – Donnie Dacus – Hair (Role)
This one does not often get mentioned, but in 1979, the band Chicago’s guitarist Donnie Dacus had a semi-starring role in the motion picture Hair. Most people didn’t know who Donnie Dacus was because Chicago was based more on band image than as individual stars except Peter Cetera, so this one kind of got lost along the way. Additionally, Donnie Dacus had replaced Terry Kath in the band and had only worked with Chicago for a couple of years. However, Donnie Dacus does a great job as a hippie, which probably wasn’t too far from his real character as a musician.
# 18 – Bruce Springsteen – High Fidelity (Cameo)
When Bruce Springsteen appeared in the John Cusack film High Fidelity, much was made over the appearance because Bruce Springsteen had never before appeared in a motion picture. However, the cameo turned out to be a dream sequence and, in the end, was pretty disappointing, but it was still a big deal because it was Bruce Springsteen.
#17 – Tom Petty – The Postman (Cameo)
We pretty much love any Kevin Costner film and especially loved The Postman. Tom Petty plays the mayor of an apocalyptic city and looks perfectly scary enough to convince the rest of us that it would be cool to live in that City with Tom Petty as the mayor, or maybe not.
# 16 – Flea – Back To The Future (Cameo/Role)
The Red Hot Chili Peppers’ extraordinary bassist, we all know as Flea, has appeared in multiple movies. Still, our favorite character was Needles, who he played in the Back to the Future movie series. Our favorite scene was when he dared Michael J Fox’s character to stick his card in the machine. The stare-down dare that Flea’s character, Needles, gives Marty McFly in that scene is priceless.
# 15 – Lemmy – Airheads (Cameo)
AirHeads has always been one of our favorite movies. When Motorhead’s legendary Lemmy appears in the crowd and confesses he was the editor of the school magazine, we just can’t stop laughing.
# 14 – Gene Simmons – Runaway (Role)
Gene Simmons of Kiss was cast as the villain in this Tom Selleck Motion Picture Runaway in 1984. So many people were surprised at how good Gene Simmons actually was in this film. He had a stare to him that sent chills all the way down to your rock-and-roll boots.
# 13 – Mick Jagger and David Johansen – Freejack
Mick Jagger’s appeared in multiple films but our favorite was when he played the villain in the 1992 film futuristic motion picture entitled Freejack which also starred Emilio Estevez, Rene Russo, and Anthony Hopkins. The former New York Dolls frontman David Johansen also appeared in a great role.
# 12- Fergie – Planet Terror (role)
Fergie lights up the screen in a very dark scene in the great Grindhouse film by Robert Rodriguez entitled Planet Terror released in 2007.
# 11 – Alice Cooper – Wayne’s World
Everyone knows this one. Alice Cooper plays Alice Cooper and gives the boys a history lesson on Milwaukee in this classic scene. Mike Meyers’ reaction to Alice Cooper speaking like a college professor is hilarious.
#10 – Phil Collins – Hook
You probably don’t remember this one, but Phil Collins played a detective in the motion picture Hook, starring Dustin Hoffman in one concise scene questioning the family.
# 9 – Paul Simon – Annie Hall
Leave it to Woody Island to get one of the best performances from a musician in a cameo when he cast Paul Simon in Annie Hall. In the scene, Paul Simon is hitting on Diane Keaton’s character Annie Hall, in such a sleazy way.
# 8 – George Harrison, Monty Python’s Life Of Brian
An ex-Bastle and the cast of Monty Python sharing screen time is something we would watch over and over again.
# 7 – Henry Rollins – Heat
We are surprised Henry Rollin did not appear in more films than he did , We loved the scene in Heat where he gets thrown out of a window. The man could play an amazing villain.
# 6 – David Johansen – Scrooged (Role)
One more time, we turn to the great David Johansen for his role as a cab driver leading Bill Murray through his past in the excellent remake of the Christmas classic Scrooge.
# 5 – Heart’s Nancy Wilson – Fast Times At Ridgemont High – (Cameo)
The beautiful Nancy Wilson of Heart pulls up alongside Judge Reinhold and laughs at Judge Reinhold’s fast food pirate hat after he thought she was flirting with him.
# 4 – Gwen Stefani – The Aviator
Gwen Stefani’s cameo as Jean Harlow was casting perfection by Martin Scorsese. Gwen Stefani has always had vintage movie star looks and so this made perfect sense.
# 3 – Jack White – Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story (Cameo)
Jack White played Elvis Presley in one of our favorite rock and roll movies of all time, starring the great John C Reilly.
# 2 – Alanis Morissette – Dogma (cameo)
There’s no better role in motion picture history than to play a cameo as God. So when this film came out, there was no female rock and roll star bigger than Alanis Morissette, so it made perfect sense when this 1999 film directed by Kevin Smith was released that Alanis Morissette was cast as God.
# 1 -DebbieHarry -Videodrome (role)
Debbie Harry’s role in Videodrome was small, opposite James Woods’s, but it was so memorable. The scene in which she burns herself with a cigarette for pleasure is just one of the scenes that your memory will never be able to erase. And then again, maybe it’s one you don’t want to forget.
Updated November 8, 2023
20 Best Musician Cameos And Small Roles In The Movies article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2023
Classicrockhistory.com claims ownership of all its original content and Intellectual property under United States Copyright laws and those of all other foreign countries. No one person, business, or organization is allowed to re-publish any of our original content anywhere on the web or in print without our permission. All photos used are either public domain Creative Commons photos or licensed officially from Shutterstock under license with ClassicRockHistory.com. All photo credits have been placed at the end of the article. Album Cover Photos are affiliate links and the property of Amazon and are stored on the Amazon server. Any theft of our content will be met with swift legal action against the infringing websites.