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The 10 worst rock star cameos in movies

If you’re a rock music icon considering making a cameo appearance in a movie, and your name isn’t Nick Cave, please don’t. And if you’re a rock star looking to showcase a new side of your trajectory, please take up golf. Because there are enough awful cameos in this world, and we don’t need another one.

In fact, there are enough to write an article about, which might explain why we at Far Out are interested in writing a piece about the awful cameos in the realm of cinema. Nobody comes out of this list with any dignity, except for the writer who put this piece together.

Out of the films that made this list, only Baby Driver is worthy of your attention, as the rest flit from the mediocre (Zoolander) to the frustratingly underdeveloped (Hook / Yesterday), by way of the stomach-churningly awful (Chemical Wedding, Pirates fo The Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales).

And so it comes to pass that we must now delve into the realm of the pointless cameo, creating a new body of article that aims to examine why these performances are so pointless to watch.

The 10 worst rock star cameos in movies:

10. David Bowie, Zoolander

In one of the most pointless and self-aggrandising pop-ups, David Bowie pops up to judge a fashion competition, and although his performance is spirited, it serves the film no purpose other than to show what pals Ben Stiller can ring up when he has a film to produce. And yet the cameo smacks of impulse, indecision and irritation, as the writer of ‘Let’s Dance’ swans in and out with little interest in the grand picture. This is a pity, because The Last Temptation was ample proof that the guy really could act when he put his mind to it.

Bowie’s appearance is fleeting, fixating upon the tiny details that bring a household together under one changeable roof. Indeed, the whole thing is a clever ruse to cloak the lacerating critique of the fashion industry in one fell swoop. What it boasts is dynamism and character, but Zoolander is all the poorer for wasting Bowie’s talents unnecessarily and with little regard for his acting abilities.

9. Ed Sheeran, Yesterday

Ed Sheeran could very well be at the top of this list, except for the fact that Sheeran seems happy to set himself up as the charlatan the trendy music mags know him to be. Considering his derivative nature – I can’t think of one original note Sheeran has committed to tape – Sheeran acquits himself nicely in a film about a fraud masquerading as the best songwriter since John Lennon, in a world where The Beatles never actually existed. Doubtless, some readers pity the world that teams Sheeran up with James Corden – it’s a bit too close to our reality – but there’s no denying that Sheeran is a bigger joke than the central lead.

As it happens, Sheeran shows himself up to be an even worse actor than he is a songwriter (and judging by that wretched ‘Galway Girl’ single, that’s a pretty low bar to hit), so he undoubtedly belongs on this list. But because of the knowing nature of the film itself, he can’t go up any higher than ninth place. Take this victory and smile, Sheeran: it will be your last.

8. John Bonham, Son of Dracula

In a film swimming with rock stars, John Bonham had the decency to sit this one out and drum. The Zeppelin sticksman can be seen bashing and whacking from the back of a stage, creating an eruption of noise that grows louder, louder and louder with every passing drum beat and pattern. Ultimately, the drums grow more urgent to the sound of the rock sounds, although there’s little for the drummer to do than what he has done a dozen or so times before. We could be rude and say the film as a whole has the subtlety and poise of a Zeppelin record, but we’ll be polite, and say the cameo is servicable, if a little on the nose.

If you’re wondering whether or not you should watch the film, don’t. It’s a movie that’s so bad it makes Give My Regards To Broadstreet look like the musical opus Paul McCartney always intended it to be. And that’s no reflection on Ringo Starr’s acting – the drummer knew how to act with the right material – but a reflection on the dreary, depraved, half-baked effort that attempts to insult audiences as a “film”.

7. Ozzy Osbourne, Trick or Treat

Ozzy Osbourne tends to make his presence known on a lot of “awful” lists- that’s because his work tends to be poorly put together, sloppily recorded and shoved down the eyes of the unassuming viewers. And that’s just his music, post-Randy Rhoads, which doesn’t account for the risible Osbourne series (which made Keeping Up With The Kardashians seem Shakespearian in comparison), or the sludge that emanated from his mouth in a last-ditch effort to reinvent himself as a “serious actor”. OK, he wasn’t serious about his craft, which is probably why it was so god damn awful to sit through.

He’s credited as making a “special” appearance, although abhorrent would be the more apt descriptor because we find the former Black Sabbath frontman mumbling, murmuring and muttering in an incoherent fashion that is supposed to come across as Brandoesque. But the end result is less of an Apocalypse Now style performance and more of a “when will this Apocalypse end?” style of workout. Skip it.

6. Bruce Dickinson, Chemical Wedding

Many of these musicians have admirable music careers to fall back on, but Bruce Dickinson is a curio, by earmarking a body of musical cues based on disembodied yelps and howls done to compensate for his lack of melody, making Iron Maiden’s decision to stand beside this frontman questionable, when the more level-headed Paul Di’Anno to front them for their excellent debut. Wonders never cease. Lucky for Dickinson, he knows how to fly a plane, so I suspect this was his way of bargaining his way into the band, because it sure wasn’t for his musical acumen.

Then there’s the small case of Chemical Wedding, a performance that is so bafflingly incoherent, that it gives logic to Steve Harris’ decision to keep him in the band. The film is about Aleister Crowley, the occultist who inspired so many rockers in the 1970s to purge the essence of their souls for the enrichment of pleasure. It’s every bit as ridiculous as it sounds, lacking the foresight to play up the camp frivolity.

5. Adam Lambert, Bohemian Rhapsody

First things first, if there was ever a man who could replace Freddie Mercury, then Adam Lambert is the one. Nobody wanted Queen to continue without Mercury (lest we forget John Deacon, writer of ‘You’re My Best Friend’, who retired in 1997), but ultimately Brian May and Roger Taylor felt the need to fly the banner a bit longer. And although their stint with Paul Rodgers was unsuccessful, Lambert suited the role like a velvet glove, giving the band the shot they so desperately needed to perform their songs to a new generation of fans. Good thing that they did, and blessings be on Lambert for it.

But that’s not to say that the man can act, and his walk-on cameo in Bohemian Rhapsody is, to put it politely, silly. Bohemian Rhapsody was a very poor effort from a band who could easily have set the benchmark for rock dramas (instead, Elton John took the mantle with Rocketman), and the finished result is sloppy, silly and insincere. Lambert looks lost amidst the palabre, which given the band he fronts, really is quite ironic.

4. Flea, Baby Driver

Whether you like their music or not, there’s no denying the fact that Red Hot Chili Peppers really can play. And they play very well together too, particularly Flea and Chad Smith, who form an incredible alliance, bustling in the backdrop, showcasing a style that is rarely heard in rock music by its rhythm section. Flea is an innovative bass player, but he can’t act for toffee, which is why it’s strange that so many directors have elected to work with him. Flea appeared in The Big Lebowski, before making a genuinely pointless appearance in Baby Driver.

Baby Driver‘s cachet has dropped in recent years, largely because it stars two leads with questionable personal lives. But in 2017, it really did stand out from the action roster, largely because it was so slick, and beautifully well choreographed. And yet Flea still couldn’t make an impression as a robber, which begs the question of why Edgar Wright hired him in the first place.

3. Phil Collins, Hook

OK, first things first: We love Phil Collins here at Far Out. His drumming is spectacular, harnessing an ability that could outplay Keith Moon and John Bonham (and with the help of his Genesis pals, he could have taken both on in a fight too). Even more incredibly, he harbours a voice that was even finer than Peter Gabriel’s, which is why he was the perfect person to replace him in 1975. And then there’s the small matter of Face Value, which could be seen as a more commercial flavoured sequel to John Lennon’s Plastic Ono Band. Collins is very, very talented.

What he isn’t good at, however, is acting, and in a film that stars stalwarts Maggie Smith and Dustin Hoffman, every performance counts, and Collins doesn’t match up. To his credit, though, he doesn’t give the worst performance in the movie; Robin Williams does. He turns up as a London police officer, playing up the “Landan” accent in the hope it might come across as whimsically charming. It doesn’t.

2. Mick Jagger, Bent

No, your eyes are not deceiving you: Mick Jagger actually appeared in a film called Bent, detailing the struggles of gay men in the concentration camps. It’s a film that showcases his talent for singing, creating a vignette that’s supposed to be charming, but ultimately comes across as the disingenuous dreck that Keith Richards would never countenance on a Rolling Stones record. It’s not that’s an embarrassing performance, but that it’s an unbecoming one for a rocker of the first rank. It’s hard to find sympathy for this devilish character when the song is so trite.

If you do want to watch Jagger doing some genuine acting, then let me suggest the lilting The Burnt Orange Heresy, where the singer embraces his age, creating a performance bolstered by pathos, passion and poise. Ultimately, Jagger belongs on the stage, he still knows how to move a crowd, but he probably should keep the big screen appearances to a minimum.

1. Paul McCartney, Pirates of The Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales

When Richard Lester was asked to critique The Beatles as actors during the making of A Hard Day’s Night, the director felt George Harrison was a natural, John Lennon had presence, and Ringo Starr was the one best suited to playing the lead. Paul? Well, “Paul tried too hard,” Lester said sweetly. Sadly, the bassist didn’t pick up on the coded language, or the fact that some of his scenes were cut from A Hard Day’s Night and Help!, and he starred in the awful Give My Regards To Broadstreet, which he wrote, composed and co-directed. It bombed, and it looked like he finally took the hint.

And then he appeared in the fourth sequel to Pirates of The Caribbean: The Curse of The Black Pearl, a pointless, plodding sequel to the ploddingly pointless franchise that produced no good films (not even the first one), but a series of headaches, heartaches and pirate puns. Mercifully, it seems the franchise is finally dead, and hopefully, we won’t ever see the bassist mugging toward the camera in silly pirate gear again.