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The five best rock star cameos in music videos

Music videos have been the mode of expression for rock artists trying to showcase their latest single to the world at large, using the newest and trendiest forms of pyrotechnics that seep into the promotional video. And one way of bringing attention to the video when it features another familiar face.

Cameos can have artistic, as well as functionary, purposes, padding out the video with a walk-on part that may or may not add to the video at large. Videos have their way of expressing themselves to the world at large, and this is merely one way of doing it.

True, some of the videos have other cameos in the video, but for this instance, we are looking at the rockers who walked onto the video, bringing an added level of commitment to the world at large. Such is the power, it comes from a place of stature over sincerity, bravura over braggadocio.

Such as it is, the videos feature the rock stars in a place of tremendous fun, frolic and general good feeling. And such is the way of the world, the videos helped propel their stature to the realm of superstars. Let’s look at the walk-on cameos.

Five best rock star cameos in music videos:

5. Ringo Starr in ‘I Won’t Back Down’

Commonly mistaken as a Heartbreakers number, the track is actually a Tom Petty solo effort, although the track nonetheless features contributions from members of The Heartbreakers. The song was produced by Jeff Lynne and featured the former ELO frontman on harmony vocals. George Harrison contributed acoustic guitar to the track, so it made sense that he was featured in the video, but Ringo Starr’s presence was more curious.

But there’s no denying that the drummer – complete with those puppy dog eyes that made him seem so vulnerable to millions of American fans – is an enjoyable presence, bringing a sense of levity to the proceedings, He’s seen throughout the video holding up a variety of different objects. I mean, you can’t expect grumpy George to do that, can you?

4. Jerry Cantrell in ‘Rockstar’

Yes, we hear you from here, and yes, Nickelback are one of the worst bands that have ever walked the face of this earth. Indeed, I would even wager that they are as bad as Muse, although they don’t seem as haughty as Matt Bellamy, who seems determined to make the world wince at every proverb, pronoun and pronouncement that has to come from the interior of his mouth. Muse may have the upper hand as musicians, but Nickelback are at least good enough to let the audience have a laugh at their expense.

‘Rockstar’ is littered with a series of cameos, but Jerry Cantrell is the most noteworthy, precisely because it’s the presence of a master of grunge allowing himself to get set up by the junior bands that followed in the wake of Alice in Chains. The video also features Ted Nugent, but we’d rather focus on the progressive musican, as opposed to the sexist cowboy who cuts into Joan Jett.

3. Gary Barlow in ‘Queenie Eye’

Does anyone know any Gary Barlow jokes? I don’t need to make one: the last Take That album was a parody in itself. Or we could make a joke about his friendship with James Corden, but we could talk about Barlow’s friendship with Beatle, bassist and knight Sir Paul McCartney. Barlow recently interviewed the Beatle about his songwriting process and makes a brief appearance in the promo to ‘Queenie Eye’, which also features Johnny Depp and Meryl Streep. The Take That frontman can be found enjoying the presence of The Beatle, who taught him a thing or two about writing.

“The one thing you get from it is just that it takes a lot of hard work,” Barlow confirmed. “There’s no one on Earth who [delivers] platinum records every time they sit and write – I just don’t believe that. It’s about a continuous slog, and somewhere along that route, some little diamond might arrive. And I think the more you do it, the harder you try at it, the more likely those diamonds are to arrive along the journey than just going in a studio for 12 days every three years to try and make an album. It just doesn’t work like that.”

2. Steve Strange in ‘Ashes to Ashes’

Mr. “fade to grey” appeared in a David Bowie video, and can be spotted bringing the artist – then attoning for the bad decisions he made in his life – to a higher plain that concentrates on the presence of the body and the mind. The video is one of the most expensive in history, accruing an impressive £250,000 on its budget. The film was directed by David Mallet, who went on to direct Queen’s ‘Radio Gaga’, perhaps the most impressive video in British pop. Mallet can also boast the fact that he directed ‘Ashes to Ashes’, which was the most inventive of Bowie’s.

Welsh singer Steve Strange went on to work with fomer 10cc members Kevin Godley and Lol Creme on the video to ‘Fade To Grey’, giving the duo the chance to direct many of the more impressive videos of the 1980s. They directed the promotional clips for The Police’s ‘Every Breath You Take’, George Harrison’s ‘When We Was Fab‘ and Duran Duran’s ‘Girls On Film’. What comes around, goes around, eh?

1. John Deacon in ‘Stutter Rap (No Sleep til Bedtime)’

The ‘Stutter Rap’ is complete crap, and I’m not even the first person to make that joke, but it did make the impossible happen – it got John Deacon to play a guitar solo in public. The Queen bassist can be seen in a stuffy, ill-fitting wig, channelling his inner Brian May by miming to an explosive guitar solo. Deacon was certainly more than capable of playing the guitar solo himself, as he regularly played the guitar hooks – particularly the funky ones a la ‘Back Chat’ – on Queen records.

The bassist and guitarist was the most silent member of the group – odd considering he was a Leo, the most ferocious of the twelve-star signs – and rarely appeared in the public eye, if it wasn’t to discuss a Queen single or album. But his appearance in the video to ‘Stutter Rap (No Sleep til Bedtime)’ is one of the few saving graces the song has.