Across its 17 years of airtime, Family Guy has lampooned and tortured the world of celebrity through an intense program of unflinching and often controversial irreverence. As such, the cartoon hasn’t always been able to attract fame’s great and good to guest star in the same way that The Simpsons has – but for those famous faces who have been brave enough to take the plunge into Quahog, there have been some more than memorable moments along the way. Join us, won’t you, as we take a look back across the show’s 14 seasons to see which musicians have entered into the wild and weird world of the Griffins…
Peter Frampton: The adopted American rocker and Talkbox enthusiast (ask your Dad) turned up in the 2001 episode ‘Death Lives’. Peter, proving his love to Lois after skipping their anniversary, asks Death to kidnap Frampton (who asks “aren’t you supposed to be at Keith Richards’ house?”) so he can serenade Lois with his 1975 song ‘Baby, I Love Your Way’.
KISS: The make-up loving quartet have enjoyed a number of guest appearances on the show – most notably in the 2002 episode ‘Road to Europe’ where Lois reveals that she used to date Gene Simmons, much to Peter’s amazement (KISS are, of course, his favourite band). The band provided their own voices each time, presumably because they know how to take a joke.
Frank Sinatra Jr: It’s no secret that show creator Seth MacFarlane is a bit of a die-hard Sinatra fan – he’s performed Ol’ Blue Eyes’ songs in Carnegie Hall and The Royal Albert Hall – so getting Sinatra’s son, who’s a big band singer in his own right, to guest-star in two Family Guy episodes was a bit of a no-brainer.
Barry Manilow: After initially playing it cool, Peter, Joe, Cleveland and Quagmire all admit to one another that they’re huge Manilow fans. They all go and see him in concert, and Quagmire ends up being serenaded by Barry with ‘Mandy’ – in true Family Guy style, this sequence has little to do with ‘Back To The Woods”s eventual plot, but it’s a great cameo nonetheless.
Gregg Allman: One of the eponymous siblings in the Allman Brothers Band (ask your dad, again), the Tennessee songwriter made a short cameo in ‘Let’s Go To The Hop’ to give Peter (who’s gone undercover at Meg’s school) some advice on how to handle “life getting you down.”
“Me?” Allman replies, “I did a lot of drugs, married a broad named Cher… I wouldn’t recommend either one.”
Jason Mraz: The dude who sang the irritatingly-soppy ‘I’m Yours’ is actually a really good sport. In the 2010 episode ‘April in Quahog’, Peter recalls “screwing up” when he met Mraz: going up to a man (voiced by Mraz) and exclaiming “Oh my god, you’re Jason Mraz!”, the man replies, “No, I’m not. I’m just some guy with a hat.” But Peter is adamant: “Yeah, that’s who Jason Mraz is!”
Simply Red: In one of those blink-and-you’ll-miss-it cameos, Manchester’s favourite fairground riders popped up very briefly in the first part of Family Guy‘s homage to Star Wars. Jumping off the point in Episode IV where the Red Squadron perform a roll call, various things with “red” in their name also report for duty – including Mick Hucknall and band.
Paula Abdul: The singer and former American Idol judge (more on that shortly) essentially appeared as herself in the 2005 episode ‘The Father, The Son, And The Holy Fonz’. The cutaway gag in question features Peter in Abdul’s very late-’80s ‘Opposites Attract’ video, “dressed like a cat” – a parody of the cartoon character MC Skat Kat, who appears in the original.
Simon Cowell, Randy Jackson and Paula Abdul: Two years later, Abdul appeared in Family Guy again – but this time in cartoon form, seated next to her fellow American Idol judges. Collectively pouring scorn on Stewie’s tortured rendition of ‘Lost In Your Eyes’, Cowell plays up to his nasty image rather well: “I hate you so much I want to shoot you in the face.”
Adam Levine: The Maroon 5 frontman is evidently quite happy to be the butt of a Family Guy joke, as he proved in 2013’s ‘Quagmire’s Quagmire’. As Stewie threatens Brian with an “Adam Levine dog whistle”, the screen cuts to Levine, who protests, “Hey, my voice isn’t that high.” Stewie then pops into the frame to quietly contradict him: “It is. It is though.”
Miley Cy… er, actually, maybe not: Unfortunately, the episode ‘Hannah Banana’ – which sees Stewie forming a friendship with Hannah Montana – didn’t actually star Miley, which is a bit of a surprise given the size of the self-parodying vortex that she’s fallen into. But Cyrus makes it onto our list as her voice was provided by Canadian singer Candace Marie – which counts, right?
Snoop Dogg: Another possibly-questionable inclusion on our list, Snoop hasn’t actually appeared in an episode of Family Guy (not yet, anyway) – but he is one of a number of unlockable musical characters (alongside the likes of Deadmau5, Alice Cooper and Weird Al Yankovic) that you can play as on the show’s mobile companion game, The Quest For Stuff.
a-ha: The Norwegian pop band got the Family Guy treatment in ‘Breaking Out is Hard to Do’ when Chris is pulled through a milk cabinet into ‘Take On Me”s iconic hand-drawn world. It’s a splendidly-recreated scene that sums up Family Guy‘s obsession with random cultural references, as Chris confirms when he escapes from those dastardly, wrench-wielding racers.
David Bowie & Mick Jagger: So, about those random cultural references? They arguably reached their peak in the 2011 episode ‘Foreign Affairs’, when Peter introduces “the gayest music video of all time”, which happens to be Bowie and Jagger’s cover version of ‘Dancing In The Street’. It then proceeds to play, uninterrupted, for nearly three minutes: a strange, strange moment.