Putting rock musicians in movies has been a catchpenny ploy since about fifteen minutes after rock music began to hit nationwide in the mid-1950s. The crusty-nosed brats buying all the records were, after all, the very same unruly vermin clogging American drive-ins every weekend. At first, acts were rung on to do numbers in the manner of swing or jazz combos in innumerable 1940s B-programmers, but soon the temptation to cast rockers in lead and supporting roles became too great. Here are a few of the more puzzling examples:
5) Meat Loaf in Roadie (1980)
Critical reappraisal is past due for this comic chronicle of one Travis W. Redfish (Loaf), preeminent load-out man of '70s festival rock and freakishly durable pratfall victim. There's just too much intelligence and menace in the star's pudgy, foot-wide face to quite pull off a lead role as an idiot-savant, but his comic timing is better than most SNL alums, and the story has a few minor-key charms among the major-level noise supplied by Blondie, Alice Cooper, Pat Benatar, and the B-52s. Director Alan Rudolph went on to carriage-trade success with Choose Me (1984) and The Moderns (1988).
4. Bob Dylan in Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid (1973)
Besides contributing the magnificent "Knocking on Heaven's Door" to the soundtrack, Bobby D. also gets a few minutes' screen time, his twitchy mug fitting admirably among Sam Peckinpah's usual retinue of Western varmints and sidewinders. Reportedly, Sam wasn't all that impressed with Dylan's formidable songwriting legend, telling Bob, "I'm more of a Roger Miller fan myself."
3. Tina Turner in Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome (1985)
Despite a promisingly skimpy wardrobe, the bodaciously sexy Lady T. is given little to do in George Miller's dull windup to his Mel Gibson roadkill series. Notable is an almost-final appearance by "Master Blaster" Angelo Rossitto, the dwarf actor you remember running across the wedding table cackling "One of us! Gobble-gobble!" in Tod Browning's 1932 cult masterpiece Freaks.