Since its original run began on December 17, 1989, The Simpsons have amassed 516 episodes (and counting!) over 24 seasons. During that time over 60 different people have appeared as guest stars on the show, from Phil Hartman’s record of 52 appearances to Dustin Hoffman, Magic Johnson, Bob Hope, Elizabeth Taylor, Michelle Pfeiffer and Meryl Streep.
But some of the best appearances can be attributed to some of our favorite musicians. Some performed while others completely altered character development for the seasons that followed. Here are our favorites. You’ll love them so much they’ll make you dance.
U2 in “Trash of the Titans”
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees, U2 took to the stage for their PopMart tour. While performing on stage for the Springfield community, Homer interrupts the band to promote his run for sanitation commissioner. The band is also featured in an ad during a later episode, “In the name of the Grandfather” as a fictitious moving company.
James Taylor in “Deep Space Homer”
Folk music performer James Taylor made a cameo appearance on the 96th episode of the 5th season, where he sings for Homer and the astronauts while on a space shuttle mission.
The Who in “A Tale of Two Springfields”
The English rock band, The Who performs in Springfield and literally brings down the house. The band destroys the wall between Olde Springield and New Springfield. Lead singer Roger Daltrey and bass guitarist John Entwistle both voiced themselves. Although guitarist Pete Townshend refused to guest star, his brother voiced for him. Keith Moon, the band’s original drummer, was also included in the episode.
Aerosmith in “Flaming Moes”
Bestselling American hard rock band of all time, Aerosmith grabbed a drink or two at Moe’s tavern during this episode. After being served a “Flaming Moe” drink the band is asked to perform. Initially resistant to do so, Moe finally manages to get the band to play by promising them free pickled eggs. Aerosmith performed “Walk This Way” while Moe sang along.
Peter Frampton in “Homerpalooza”
English musician Peter Frampton was set to perform at the Hullabalooza music festival when everything that could go wrong did. Homer, who was hired to be in the freak show, ruined Peter’s giant inflatable pig, his orchestra was stolen by Cypress Hill and Sonic Youth and Marge took his food.
The Rolling Stones in “How I Spent My Strummer Vacation”
Homer is secretly video taped for a reality show in a taxi, where he says unpleasant things about his family. After being upset with him, the family takes Homer to a Rock n’Roll Fantasy Camp. The camp is run by the legendary Rolling Stones. At the camp, Homer learns about rock music with Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, Elvis Costello, Lenny Kravitz, Tom Petty and Brian Setzer as his instructors. Homer stars as the lead guitarist and singer at the camp’s mock rock concert.
The Ramones in “Rosebud”
The punk rock band, The Ramones made a cameo appearance on the 4th episode on the 5th season. The fathers of punk play themselves as they sing “Happy Birthday” to Mr. Burns.
Paul McCartney in “Lisa The Vegetarian”
Paul McCartney didn’t perform during the episode, but he did leave a lasting impact on one of the shows main characters. A stipulation for Macca to appear on The Simpsons was for Lisa to become a vegetarian, a storyline that has been used during every season since.
McCartney’s “Maybe I’m Amazed” was played during the closing credits while a stuck pig flew through the skies of Springfield.
Michael Jackson in “Stark Raving Dad”
Definitely one of the most popular episodes of The Simpsons in its 24 seasons. Jackson, using the pseudonym John Jay Smith, voiced (but didn’t sing) Leon Kompowsky, a man committed for believing he is Michael Jackson.
Kompowsky pens “Happy Birthday Lisa” with Bart and eventually comes to his senses, returning to the use of his regular speaking voice (recorded by Hank Azaria).
-E.J. Judge & Maria Bonello, WCBS-FM/NYC
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