Throughout it’s storied 26-season history, The Simpsons has had its fair share of rock star cameos, with everyone from Paul McCartney to Elton John to U2 making a surprise visit to Springfield. But what about those artists specifically from the Hard Rock/Metal community who came to rock out with Homer and the family?
With the entire Simpsons library now available at your fingertips via the FXNOW app (Editor’s Note: I would like to take a moment to thank my cousin for letting me leach off of her Direct TV account), I went back and revisited these episodes featuring some of your favorite hard rock/metal gods.
Aerosmith in “Flaming Moe’s” Season 3, Episode 10 (First aired on November 21st, 1991)
When Moe steals the recipe to Homer’s homemade alcoholic concoction (shhh, the secret ingredient is Krusty’s Non-Narkotic Kough Syrup) and redubs it the “Flaming Moe”, his dingy little tavern becomes quite the local hotspot for fellow Springfieldians. Naturally, it also becomes a favorite hangout for the Bad Boys from Boston, who perform a rendition of “Walk This Way” (but only when Moe baits them with free pickled eggs). Aerosmith was actually the first band to ever make a guest appearance on the show, making this a landmark moment in Simpson’s history. (Sidenote: Drummer Joey Kramer may or may not have been defiled in the back of the band’s tour bus by Mrs. Krabappel.)
Spinal Tap in “The Otto Show” Season 3, Episode 22 (First aired on April 23rd, 1992)
Bart and Millhouse attend their first rock concert when the legendary Spinal Tap (voiced by Michael McKean, Christopher Guest, and the Simpsons’ own Harry Shearer) visits Springfield. In typical Tap fashion, the concert quickly turns into a parody of itself, escalading into a full blow riot (while a clueless Homer waits in the car, singing along to “Spanish Flea” by Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass). Later on, Otto inadvertently runs the Tap’s tour bus off the side of the road where it explodes like one of their many ill-fated drummers. (Oh, and how about that sweet rendition of “Free Bird” that Otto serenades the children with on the bus?)
Van Halen in “Behind the Laughter” Season 11, Episode 22 (First aired on May 21st, 2000)
This Emmy Award winning episode takes a “Behind the Music” style look at the rise and fall (and rise again) of America’s favorite cartoon family. When Willie Nelson cooks up the bogus “New Awareness Awards” (sorry, Woody Allen) in an attempt to reunite the estranged Simpson family, he reveals that he is also there to try and patch things up between Sammy Hagar and Van Halen, who are pictured in the front row (but say nothing). Ironically, the Red Rocker would rejoin Van Halen four years later for their disastrous 2004 reunion tour. (Thanks, Willie?)
The Who in “A Tale of Two Springfields” Season 12, Episode 2 (First aired on November 5th, 2000)
When Springfield’s split area codes cause him to miss out on winning tickets to see The Who (originally known as The Hillybilly Bugger Boys, for all you hardcore Who fans), an irate Homer leads a rebellion of the town’s middle class to form “New Springfield”. When the citizens of “Olde Springfield” discover that Homer has tricked The Who into switching venues to his now vacant ghost town, the only thing that can take down the garbage-strewn wall that divides them is a Pete Townshend power chord cranked up to “whuh-oh!” (Note: Pete Townshend was actually voiced by his brother, Paul. Apparently, Pete didn’t know that he would be providing his own voice to the show.)
Metallica in “The Mook, the chef, the wife, and Her Homer” Season 18, Episode 1 (First aired on September 10th, 2006)
“Taxes?! Isn’t this the line for Metallica?” Poor Otto. After waiting all that time, he finally gets the opportunity to rock out with the pioneers of thrash when their tour bus breaks down. Unfortunately, Bart hijacks the school bus and Metallica hitches a ride with none other than Hans Moleman (who used to sleep with Lars’ grandmother). Maybe next time, Otto Mann…
Ted Nugent in “Politically Inept, With Homer Simpson” Season 23, Episode 10 (First Aired on January 8th 2012)
After a video of Homer’s rant about airlines’ treatment of passengers goes viral, he is given his own right-wing talk show on TV and is asked to help pick the next Republican nominee for president. Who does Homer choose? Why, Ted Nugent of course! (This was actually Uncle Ted’s second appearance on The Simpsons, as he first appeared in the episode “I Don’t Want to Know Why the Caged Bird Sings”, Episode 4 of Season 19.)
Judas Priest in “Steal This Episode” Season 25, Episode 9 (First Aired on January 5th, 2014)
Judas Priest’s debut appearance on The Simpsons raised the ire of metalheads everywhere as the band was erroneously referred to as “death metal”. The show’s writers apologized in a later episode by having Bart write “Judas Priest is not Death Metal’” during the opening chalkboard gag. However, they did get one thing right during that episode: Swedes do love death metal.
Sammy Hagar in “Covercraft” Season 26, Episode 8 (First aired on November 23rd, 2014)
In what was technically the Red Rocker’s second appearance on The Simpsons, Sammy appears in the sky next to the likes of Jimi Hendrix, John Lennon, and Jim Morrison after almost choking to death on an overly breaded jalapeño popper. (Notice the trademark salt-rimmed margarita that Sammy is enjoying on the beach.) He later hatches a scheme to break Homer and the gang out of jail using only a harmonica and guitar picks with pictures of his face on them. If only he would put his ingenuity towards having a proper Van Halen reunion instead of the abomination we received in 2004…
Bret Hart in “The Old Man and the Lisa” Season 8, Episode 21 (First aired on April 20th, 1997)
Ok, so he isn’t a musician, but this is Metal Head Wrestling, dammit! So, it is only fitting that I include Bret Hart’s appearance on the show. After Mr. Burns goes belly-up and is forced to vacate his beloved mansion, who moves in but none other than Calgary’s favorite son, the Hitman! (And he wasn’t the only wrestler in the neighborhood, as The Shrieking Sheik lived just three doors away.)