Singers on Sitcoms

Remembering some popular female singers' appearances on then-popular sitcoms

It hasn’t been uncommon for famous singers and musicians to appear on popular sitcoms over the years. Sometimes they appear as themselves, while other times they play characters who are usually struggling to make it in the music industry. One such example is the appearance by the Three Degrees on a 1973 episode of Sanford and Son. The ladies are (left to right) Fayette Pinkney, Valerie Holiday, and Sheila Ferguson. Although the trio had many personnel changes throughout their existence and this was not the original lineup, many fans would consider this the classic lineup.

Suzi Quatro appeared on Happy Days as recurring character Leather Tuscadero from 1977-1979. Her first appearance was shortly after the (in)famous episode Fonzie jumped the shark, thus giving birth to the phrase “jumped the shark” as a way of referring to a TV show when it completely lost touch about what it was originally about. However, in this writer’s opinion, Happy Days started losing touch with the essence of 1950’s America after its first season. Above is Suzie performing her song “Cat Size” with her backup singers Bertie and Gertie (played by Donna Fein and Kathy Richards, respectively, the latter who later married Richard Hilton and became mother to Paris) as “Leather and the Suedes,” on a 1977 episode.

Sister Sledge appeared as “The Satins” on a 1984 episode of The Jeffersons. Best known for their 1979 hit “We Are Family,” the ladies played an unknown group of sisters hoping Mr. Jefferson can help them get their big break into show biz. In this scene, the ladies are doing an impromptu audition for Mr. Jefferson with the Motown classic “My Guy.” They sang their signature song in the closing scene.

Rock legend Chrissie Hynde made an appearance on a 1995 episode of Friends. The closing scene in which Phoebe (played by Lisa Kudrow), who can barely form chords on her guitar, is teaching Chrissie her song “Smelly Cat” is a classic.

Unlike the other ladies listed, Bonnie Bramlett was a regular cast member of the sitcom she showcased her vocal talents on. She played Bonnie Watkins, a coworker of Rosanne’s, during the 1991-1992 season of Rosanne. This scene where she belts out “You Really Got a Hold On Me” during an impromptu backyard barbecue sing-along is one of the most memorable of the show’s entire run.

About the author

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Originally from the San Francisco Bay Area, Chris flirted with the music business there and in Nashville before joining the U.S. Army and serving in South Korea. He remained in Asia for several years afterwards, teaching English, traveling, and covering the regional entertainment scenes. Currently in a mindset between Seoul and San Francisco, besides Idol Features, you can also catch his writings in the print edition of the monthly magazine, Effective.

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