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11 Rock Star Cameos in TV Shows

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From Davy Jones on The Brady Bunch to (Cow)Boy George on The A-Team, here are some of the more memorable musician TV cameos.

1. Davy Jones on The Brady Bunch

Marcia's all-out campaign to get the Monkees singer to perform at her prom yields a kiss on the cheek, a date, and a specially dedicated song. "Thank you girl, for making the morning brighter..."

2. Phil Collins on Miami Vice

In an episode called "Phil the Shill," the Genesis singer appears as the slippery host of a game show called The Rat Race. (He even sings the theme.) Crockett and Tubbs take an interest when they learn he has ties to a cocaine dealer. How '80s can you get?

3. Tom Waits on Fernwood 2 Night

When Wait's van breaks down in the fictional Ohio town, he ends up as a guest on the low-budget talk show. After befuddling the audience and host Barth Gimble with his gravel-voiced song, Waits cracks wise in an interview. Q: "Tom, where do you hail from?" A: "I come from Bedlam and Squalor."

4. Stevie Wonder on The Cosby Show

After Denise and Theo get into a fender bender with Stevie Wonder's limo, the singer invites the whole Huxtable family to visit him in the recording studio. Stevie ends up sampling the kids' voices for a new song, then sings a duet of "I Just Called to Say I Love You" with Clair. One of the best cameos ever.

5. Michael Stipe on The Adventures of Pete & Pete

The REM singer did a quick turn on the Nickelodeon kids' show as an eccentric ice cream vendor called Captain Scrummy. He pushed an item with the unappetizing name of "sludgecicle."

6. Roy Orbison on The Dukes of Hazzard

Boss Hog's Celebrity Speed Trap snared country stars like Buck Owens, Tammy Wynette, and Mel Tillis. But its biggest catch was Roy Orbison, who worked off his citation by singing "Oh Pretty Woman" at the Boar's Nest.

7. Bob Dylan on Dharma and Greg

In an episode called "Play Lady Play," Dharma auditions as a drummer for a band, not knowing who they are. The singer turns out to be Bob Dylan. After demonstrating her shaky chops, Dharma asks, "Do you want me to play some more?" Dylan replies, "Noooo."

8. Snoop Dogg on Just Shoot Me

After Finch (David Spade) is fired for canoodling with Jack's wife, he takes a job as an assistant to rapper Snoop Dogg. Eventually, Jack rehires him, prompting a misty-eyed Snoop to say, "I'm gonna miss that little blond fool."

9. Boy George on The A-Team

Faceman books country act Cowboy George into the Floor 'Em honky tonk. But a mix-up brings Boy George and Culture Club instead. Not exactly a match made in redneck heaven. But the fey singer catches the team's manly spirit and, in one memorable scene, kicks down a door.

10. Barry White on Ally McBeal

Nelle gets John the ultimate birthday present – a private performance from his favorite soul crooner, Barry White. "We got it together, didn't we, baby?" White says, as he shakes hands with the awestruck John.

11. David Bowie on Extras

The best rock star cameo ever. Andy (Ricky Gervais) has an awkward exchange with David Bowie in a bar, confessing that he has sold out to be in a sitcom. Bowie goes to the piano and writes a song with a verse that goes: "Pathetic little fat man / No one's bloody laughing / The clown that no one laughs at / They all just wish he'd die." Soon the entire bar is singing along.
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What other famous musicians do you remember dropping by popular shows?

For 11-11-11, we'll be posting twenty-four '11 lists' throughout the day. Check back 11 minutes after every hour for the latest installment, or see them all here.

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Big Questions
What's the Difference Between an Opera and a Musical?
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They both have narrative arcs set to song, so how are musicals different from operas?

For non-theater types, the word “musical” conjures up images of stylized Broadway performances—replete with high-kicks and punchy songs interspersed with dialogue—while operas are viewed as a musical's more melodramatic, highbrow cousin. That said, The New York Times chief classical music critic Anthony Tommasini argues that these loose categorizations don't get to the heart of the matter. For example, for every Kinky Boots, there’s a work like Les Misérables—a somber, sung-through show that elicits more audience tears than laughs. Meanwhile, operas can contain dancing and/or conversation, too, and they range in quality from lowbrow to highbrow to straight-up middlebrow.

According to Tommasini, the real distinguishing detail between a musical and an opera is that “in opera, music is the driving force; in musical theater, words come first.” While listening to an opera, it typically doesn’t matter what language it’s sung in, so long as you know the basic plot—but in musical theater, the nuance comes from the lyrics.

When it comes down to it, Tommasini’s explanation clarifies why opera stars often sing in a different style than Broadway performers do, why operas and musicals tend to have their trademark subject matters, and why musical composition and orchestration differ between the two disciplines.

That said, we live in a hybrid-crazy world in which we can order Chinese-Indian food, purchase combination jeans/leggings, and, yes, watch a Broadway musical—like 2010's Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark—that’s billed as “rock opera.” At the end of the day, the lack of hard, fast lines between opera and musical theater can lead composers from both camps to borrow from the other, thus blurring the line even further.

Have you got a Big Question you'd like us to answer? If so, let us know by emailing us at bigquestions@mentalfloss.com.

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History
Lost Gustav Holst Music Found in a New Zealand Symphony Archive
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English composer Gustav Holst became famous for his epic seven-piece suite "The Planets," but not all of his works were larger-than-life. Take "Folk Songs from Somerset," a collection of folk tunes composed by Holst in 1906 and largely forgotten in the decades since. Now, more than a century later, the music is finally attracting attention. As Atlas Obscura reports, manuscripts of the songs were rediscovered among a lost collection of sheet music handwritten by the musician.

The Holst originals were uncovered from the archives of a New Zealand symphony during a routine cleaning a few years ago. While throwing away old photocopies and other junk, the music director and the librarian of the Bay of Plenty (BOP) Symphonia came across two pieces of music by Holst. The scores were penned in the composer’s handwriting and labeled with his former address. Realizing the potential importance of their discovery, they stored the documents in a safe place, but it wasn't until recently that they were able to verify that the manuscripts were authentic.

For more than a century, the Holst works were thought to be lost for good. "These manuscripts are a remarkable find, particularly the ‘Folk Songs from Somerset’ which don’t exist elsewhere in this form," Colin Matthews of London's Holst Foundation said in a statement from the symphony.

How, exactly, the documents ended up in New Zealand remains a mystery. The BOP Symphonia suspects that the sheets were brought there by Stanley Farnsworth, a flutist who performed with an early version of the symphony in the 1960s. “We have clues that suggest the scores were used by Farnsworth,” orchestra member Bronya Dean said, “but we have no idea how Farnsworth came to have them, or what his connection was with Holst.”

The symphony plans to mark the discovery with a live show, including what will likely be the first performance of "Folk Songs from Somerset" in 100 years. Beyond that, BOP is considering finding a place for the artifacts in Holst’s home in England.

[h/t Atlas Obscura]

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