26 fictional pop bands that rocked on classic TV shows

Who says the Gories, Mosquitoes and Mayhem can't be your favorite bands?

Top Image: Sony Pictures Television

Pop music and television have a long, fruitful relationship. Performance shows like Hullabaloo brought the concert into our living room. Dance parties like Soul Train turned your den into a disco. Every one-hit wonder from Starland Vocal Band to Pink Lady seemingly had variety shows in the 1970s. The entire What's Happening!! gang went to a Doobie Brothers concert. Paul Revere & The Raiders rocked on Batman. And so on.

The small screen has also dreamt up some fantastic fake bands of its own. Some of them featured real musicians as actors. A few of them, like the Monkees, blurred the lines between fantasy and reality, as they turned into actual chart successes. Let's take a look at some of the great make-believe rock & rollers from the golden years of TV.

1. AntiMatter


Wonder Woman

Real rock sensation Rick Springfield was a busy man on 1970s television, playing glamorous singers on series like The Rockford Files. We are particularly fond of this white-faced incarnation, which turns up in the amazingly titled music-biz spectacular "Amazon Hot Wax." We imagine AntiMatter to sound something like a cross of KISS and Kraftwerk. KISS-ish makeup turns out to be quite popular on this list.

2. The Bedbugs


F Troop

While every fake act on late-'70s TV seemed to be a riff on KISS or the Sex Pistols, all the phoney garage rockers on the '60s small screen were Beatles parodies. Of course. We'll get to more insect-themed groups, but this anachronistic band, which plays a beat version of "Camptown Races," is of note for featuring Lowell George of Little Feat.

3. Benny & The Beefeaters


Laverne & Shirley

Eric Idle is no stranger to sort-fake, sort-real bands, having fronted the Rutles for years. In the episode "I Do, I Do," however, the Monty Python man leads Benny & The Beefeaters, a British act looking to tie the knot with Laverne and Shirley for a tax break. 

4. Floyd Burney


The Twilight Zone

Rod Serling presented some eerie alternate realities, but how strange was a world in which a rockabilly star wanders America's backroads, looking to purchase truly authentic folk songs? Floyd Burney has competition, too, the Harlan Trio, in one of the final episodes of the series.

5. Johnny Fish & The Fins


Happy Days

Real-life retro rockers Flash Cadillac & The Kids are best known for their screen appearances. Most famously, they portrayed Herbie and the Heartbeats, shakin', rattlin' and rollin' the high school dance scenes in American Graffiti. On this early Happy Days episode — back when the series was shot cinematically with one camera — they perform as Fish and the Fins, who draw a surprisingly wide demographic to their concert in Milwaukee. Everyone from Joanie to Fonzie to Mrs. C is there.

6. Bobby Fleet and His Band With a Beat


The Andy Griffith Show

Way, way back in the third episode, Mayberry guitar hero Jim Lindsey joins this touring band of wiseguys, after Andy locks the musicians up in jail together.

7. The Foreign Agents


The Monkees

Of course The Monkees would offer up an entire scene of funny, fake bands. The guys needed competition. In "Find the Monkees," every act is looking for a gimmick. These guys sport black trenchcoats. Which is not so weird as the other dudes in that episode…

Image: Sony Pictures Television

8. The Four Martians


The Monkees

We would imagine that wearing panty hose over your head would effect your singing ability.

9. The Gories



Sally Field as a teenage goth? It happened. "We've gone spooky!" Gidget explains to her parents about her band's new look, which was Addams Family meets the Misfits. On drums: Ringo Feinberg.

Image: Sony Pictures Television

10. The Greefs


My Three Sons

Robbie Douglas (Don Grady) puts together a combo and swings through original song "Good Man To Have Around The House." The sitcom almost name drops a band called the Esteemed Onions, though we never see them. Alas.

11. The Honeybees


Gilligan's Island

Not to be outdone by the Mosquitoes (see below), Mary Ann, Ginger and Lovie form a girl group. Their single "You Need Us" no doubt soared to No. 1 on the deserted island's chart.

12. The Jolly Green Giants


The Monkees

Talk about sell-outs! These fellows went all in with the corporate look, dressing up as a canned produce mascot.

Image: Sony Pictures Television

13. The Ladybugs


Petticoat Junction

In 1964, Beatlemania knew no borders. The Bradley daughters caught a case of Mop Top Fever and formed their own band, a tribute of sorts called the Ladybugs. Ed Sullivan was so enamored with the idea, he had the fake act play for real on his television show. They covered "I Saw Her Standing There"—well, "I saw Him Standing There." The group also released a 45 single, "Sooner or Later."

Image: The Everett Collection

14. Leather and the Suedes


Happy Days

Tough glam rocker Suzi Quattro was wonderful as Leather Tuscadero on Happy Days. It's too band she couldn't have been on the sitcom more often, but her real career was blowing up in the '70s. The guitarist-actress' fictional trio performed one of her real tunes, "Devil Gate Drive," which was not exactly period appropriate.

15. Lenny & The Squigtones


Laverne & Shirley

Michael McKean was no stranger to blurring the lines between fake band and real band. He later became the singer of Spinal Tap. And there's a fascinating connection between his two kind-of-real groups — Christopher Guest played guitar as Nigel Tufnel on the Lenny & The Squigtones album. Oh, and Peter Criss of KISS wiped off the makeup to be the drummer, "Ming the Merciless." Lenny and Squiggy were not the only characters from the show to drop real albums. Laverne and Shirley themselves released a record, too.

16. Mayhem


Quincy, M.E.

Ah, the infamous "dangers of punk rock" episode! Quincy bravely enters the world of mosh pits to lecture kids in "Next Stop, Nowhere." Opting for aft and rear pigtail puffs instead of a standard mohawk, the singer bleats, "So cut your wrists and watch your lives go down the drain!"

17. Moloch



Believe it or not, that is Donny "Ralph Malph" Most of Happy Days under that Gene Simmons–like pancake. He portrays a convincing KISS clone in "Rock Devil Rock."

18. The Mosquitoes


Gilligan's Island

One of the more memorable fake TV band of the 1960s, this garage combo was portrayed by the Wellingtons, who had performed the show's theme song.

19. Pain



More comically phony punk! This Fear-like combo goes head to head with Snow Pink in "Battle of the Bands." No worries: Ponch knows how to deal with punks!

20. Hamlin Rule


Wonder Woman

Martin Mull as Jethro Tull? Sure, why not. The actor played a flute-tooting glam rocker in "The Pied Piper." Did they really need the quotes around "gig"?

21. The Sacred Cows


Get Smart

Larry Storch is the titular "Groovy Guru" who introduces Max and 99 to the fictional bovine band. The trio plays "Thrill! Thrill! Thrill!" — or is that "Kill! Kill! Kill!"?

22. Scum of the Earth


WKRP in Cincinnati

As we have seen, after the punk rock explosion of 1977, the mainstream media stoked fears of the mosh pit and mohawks. Many shows warned of the dangers of uptempo rock, if not outright poke fun at the new genre. Considering its radio station premise, WKRP had to address the trend. In the early episode "Hoodlum Rock," a punk band from England called Scum of the Earth is coming to town. Turns out, they're posh. Michael Des Barres of the band Detective, who were on Led Zeppelin's label, plays the lead singer.

Image: 20th Century Fox Television

23. Snow Pink



At the other end of the 1970s guitar-rock spectrum from Pain sat this melodic combo. Jon seems pretty into them.

24. The Sound Committee


The Andy Griffith Show

In the final season, Opie proves just how much he's grown up. He joins a garage (barn?) band with high school boys! Supposedly, Ron Howard had an actual band with these buddies. Sheriff Taylor suggested they call themselve the Young Swingers, which was just too dated, daddy-o. This charming sitcom had also already given us the Darlings, the fictional jug band of the Darling clan.

25. Lisa Swan


The Incredible Hulk

More KISS-alikes! Although, this one, played by Mackenzie Phillips, veered more into Bowie territory, making her a sort of forerunner to Lady Gaga. In the episode, "Metamorphosis," the Hulk grabs a hold of her giant van de Graaff generator stage prop and shoots lightning into the drum set. Now that is a live show!

26. The Warts


The Mothers-in-Law

Real-life garage act the Seeds performed their actual hit "Pushin' Too Hard" under the moniker the Warts on the Eve Arden sitcom. "We think it's gassy," a character says of the song. Gosh, how we miss 1960s slang.

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JohnJBauer 29 months ago
"Keevy Hazelton" sang "My Home Town" Andy Griffith.
JohnJBauer 29 months ago
Bobby Bigelo and the Haystacks Gang on the Waltons. That's the band Jason played with on occasion.
ScarlettKaiju 29 months ago
The outfits that The Four Martians wore got lots of play. Stuart Margolin and Nina Talbot wore them as alien invaders in the episode "The Monkees Watch Their Feet" and The Monkees themselves wore them as faux acrobats in "The Monkees at the Circus."
BrianSkii 29 months ago
4. Floyd Burney
" a world in which a rockabilly star wanders America's backroads, looking to purchase truly authentic folk songs?"
-Seems based on the Silver John/John the Balladeer stories of Manly Wade Wellman.
I recommend reading them.
EricFuller 29 months ago
What about The Short Circus from The Electric Company?
BobZayas 43 months ago
I was hoping to see '60s folk rockers Chad & Jeremy appearing as "The Redcoats" on The Dick Van Dyke Show (or were they too legit?).
Kahuna BobZayas 43 months ago
Chad and Jeremy were a REAL BAND and besides, they also did "BATMAN"
EricFuller Kahuna 29 months ago
And an episode of Laredo.
Bob 43 months ago
What about The Way Outs from The Flintstones?
VBartilucci 43 months ago
1) Michael McKean has ENDLESSLY disproven the Peter Criss story. It's patently untrue, and he oughta know. He debunked it to me, personally. It's Don Poncher, of Blue Mountain Eagle.


2) I am personally offended that you did not include Sonny Bono performing as The Despicable Deacon Dark from The Love Boat.
Woowoo 65 months ago
Liking the TV groups .. it would be great to see the Partridge family here! They belong on METV!!! Cheers🍻🍾
JohnJBauer Woowoo 29 months ago
Gray area? I remember having Partridge Family records when I was a kid. I'm not sure who actually played on them, as most of the cast were not musicians, but I do know David Cassidy sang.
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