Pop Culture Characters & Their Fictional Backup Bands

by Jason Gross @SockofFleagulls on September 24, 2012

in Music, Nerd Culture

Whatever happened to backup bands?


Linking a musician with a great backup band name used to be the formula for producing a sure-fire hit single. It sounded so much better than just a person’s name, unless you were one of those one-name artists like Prince, Madonna, or Cher.

A good backup band name seemed to roll off the tongue and magnified the music. I mean, where would Joan Jett be without the Blackhearts? Hootie without the Blowfish? Marky Mark without the…okay, guess the Funky Bunch is the exception to the rule (Nice moves, Wahlberg).

There were so many great backup band names in the 80s and 90s. It was almost like the bands said, “Yeah, we know if we didn’t have this guy, we’d probably be playing at the local Holiday Inn.” (see Murph and the Magic Tones) But the superstar lead singer probably wanted to give some credit to the band, as long as they could come up with a cool name that would compliment his own. Stevie Ray Vaughn and DOUBLE TROUBLE, George Thorogood and THE DESTROYERS, Echo and THE BUNNYMEN, Tom Petty and THE HEARTBREAKERS…they just sound right.

I was on a long road trip this past week and heard Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers on the radio. It had been awhile since I last heard “Mary Jane’s Last Dance” so I cranked it. When the song was over the deejay says “that was Tom Petty and before that you heard…” I was like “what happened to the Heartbreakers???!!!” I suppose backup bands have felt the same in the past, receiving no cred for pushing the lead singer to the top.

After I was done bad-mouthing the deejay, I thought “well, at least they got their name on the album.” There are probably many band members out there that never even got that much.

Then my thoughts moved on to “what if pop culture characters of that era had backup bands?” (This is just how my mind works, people.) Would adding a cool backup band name, make them more popular? I think it would have. I decided to make up a list and to me, these just sound right.


Dark Helmet and the Ballzappers

I would recommend following his musical direction, otherwise you can say goodbye to your two best friends- and I don’t mean the backup singers.


Gozer and the Streaming Beams

Gozer the Gozerian would’ve had an awesome laser light show courtesy the Ghostbusters.


Marty McFly and the DeLoreans

Maybe if he would’ve used this name instead of “the Pinheads,” Huey Lewis wouldn’t have noticed they were too darn loud at the band tryouts.


Gizmo and the Aqua Plungers

Never get them wet. But if you do, an awesome party will ensue at the local bar.


Bernie and the Buoy Ringers

I hate it when my dead boss decides to go water skiing, but man, he plays a mean cowbell!


Frank Drebin and the Beavers

Cover songs include “Good Stuff” by the B52s, “The Right Stuff” by NKOTB, and Don Summer’s “Hot Stuff.”


Eugene Tackleberry and the Grenade Launchers

An explosive band, guaranteed to make your ears ring.

Check out a ‘Best of’ clip here.


Carl Spackler and the Turd Floaters

No relation to the band Cinderella that came outta nowhere.


“Hi” McDunnough and the Huggies

If you bring your kids to the show, you might wanna have them on a leash.


Chubby Checker and the Fat Boys

Oh wait…that happened!! It’s a shame that Chubby and Fat will never be a popular combination again in this Subway world.


Johnny Castle and the Lifters

After hearing these guys play, you might want to see one of those lift moves end in a Scott Hall “Outsider’s Edge.”


Alex Murphy and the Creeps

“Your move, creep”…on the dance floor, that is.


Tony Montana and the Cacaroaches

…with their hit single “Hello? Is it My Little Friend You’re Looking For?”


Jason Vorhees and the Psycho Goalies

The lead singer also plays a mean musical saw.


Cousin Eddie and the S**tters

Just pray you get to see their set at an outside concert.


Daniel LaRusso and the Cranekickers

I wouldn’t make fun of them too much or you might experience some “sweet chin music.”


Sonny Crockett and the Sockless Wonders

“I’m Looking for a Heartbeat”… and a match to my three-striped knee-high gym sock.


Sam Beckett and the Oh-Boys

Their set consists of two cover songs, Buddy Holly’s 1957 hit “Oh, Boy!” with the occasional switch to Paul Young’s “Oh Girl.” (Please Al, leap me outta here!)


Axel Foley and the Tailpipe Bananas

That Axel…he sure does like to “party all the time.”


MacGyver and the Duct Tape Warriors

You’ve never seen anyone play guitar until you’ve seen the lead singer play one made out of a coat rack, clothes line rope, 12 bobby pins, and a Lucky Charms box.


Bill Cosby and the Puddin’ Pops

They do a killer rendition of “I’ll Stop the World and Melt With You” at their outdoor concerts.


Clubber Lang and Dead Meat

I pity the fool that doesn’t buy their music.


Steven Segal and the Ponytails

Soon to be called “The Skullets.”


Jerry Seinfeld and the Soup Nazis

You’ll need to pay your money and sit quietly in order to receive your song.


Thornton Melon and the Triple Lindies

The lead singer came out of retirement for this triple encore set.


Al Bundy and the Greasy Hooters

Where did the inspiration for the band name come from you ask? Answer: The best 8 ½ minutes you’ll spend today.



I could keep going, but I know there are some people reading this right now with their own awesome backup band names. Would love to hear some in the comments or maybe we can start a trend on Twitter! #BackupBandNames


Jason Gross (@SockOfFleagulls) is the creator of Rediscover the 80s and loves to subject his two sons to cartoons, TV, movies, and music from the decade. Currently promoting a M.A.S.K. live-action movie script (co-writer), he is a freelance 80s music & pop culture writer.


ShezCrafti September 25, 2012 at 3:18 pm

Now you’ve done it.
– Roseanne and the Loose Meat Sandwiches
– Vicky Lawson and the Robotronics
– Mr. Rogers and The Neighborhood
– Zack and the Lego Maniacs
– He-Man and the Masters of the Universe—oh wait, that’s cheating.
– Jason Gross and the BEST ARTICLE EVER!

Jason aka SockofFleagulls September 25, 2012 at 4:27 pm

Brownie points to you!
Glad someone else posted some! I could’ve easily made this 3 articles, so much fun coming up with these.

How bout some cartoon bad-guys…
Mumm-Ra and the Maniacal Mutants
Skeletor and the Boneheads
Cobra Commander and the Silver-face Snakes
Dr. Claw and the Cat Strokers

Howie Decker September 26, 2012 at 10:40 am

Mr. Rogers and the Neighborhood. So great.

Will September 26, 2012 at 11:51 am

Jack and the Trippers
Arnold Jackson and the Housekeeper Four
Punky and the Glomers

Jason aka SockofFleagulls September 26, 2012 at 12:15 pm

Love it!!! Nicely done, sir.

Howie Decker September 26, 2012 at 4:59 pm

all awesome.

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