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In The ‘80s Bruce Willis Tried To Be A Rockstar, And The Results Were Uniquely Humiliating

Updated February 13, 2019 6.7k views12 items

It's not unusual for actors, musicians, and other artists to explore new creative mediums - actors try their hands at music all the time and musicians do their best to conquer acting on a regular basis. Some forays into new art forms are more successful than others and many are forgotten almost before they begin. However, a few are so noteworthy that they fall into a category all their own. Enter Bruce Willis.

In 1987, famed actor and former small-town investor Bruce Willis released an album called The Return of Bruno under the name Bruno Randolini. The 10-track creation featured famous musicians like the Pointer Sisters and the Temptations and coincided with a mockumentary of the same name. The whole endeavor garnered several accolades for Willis - alongside some raised eyebrows and confused glaces.

By the time Willis released his second album, he was using his own name in pursuit of musical fame. While his music career proved unsuccessful - much like his Planet Hollywood venture - Willis didn't stop singing, and even managed to bring Bruno back for an encore in the mid-1990s. 

  • Willis Started Singing In Commercials Right Before Bruno Appeared On The Scene

    Video: YouTube

    In 1986, Willis became a celebrity spokesperson for Seagram's Golden Wine Coolers. The Moonlighting star parlayed his rising notoriety into a lucrative $5 million contract. In a series of commercials, Willis showcased his many talents. In one, he sang the theme song for Seagram's using a wine cooler bottle as a mock microphone. In another ad, he convinced Sharon Stone to try a wine cooler while chatting her up at a bar. In yet another, he danced and skipped before grabbing a harmonica and jamming out on stage. 

    While working as the spokesperson for Seagram's, Willis was battling his own problems with alcohol. When he decided to get sober in 1988, he gave up the job.

  • He Showed Off His Singing Voice On 'Moonlighting'

    Video: YouTube

    Willis and Cybill Shepherd starred in Moonlighting from 1985 to 1989. The show was wildly successful thanks to the compelling storylines and the stars' chemistry. Willis played David Addison, a snarky, fledgling private investigator who headed the Blue Moon Detective Agency. As former model Madelyn (Maddie) Hayes, Shepherd's character found herself in his office after losing her fortune. The actors butted heads on and off screen, but their chemistry was well received by viewers and critics

    Music was a common element on Moonlighting and Willis took advantage of the forum as an opportunity to sing. In the first season, Willis sings "Do Wah  Ditty" while Shepherd struts down a dirty alley. He also serenades his colleagues in a limbo scene from the second season and breaks into a version of "Good Lovin'" during the third. Willis's rendition of "Good Lovin'" actually appears on the Moonlighting soundtrack

    David Addison's inclination to break into song is a recurring theme and is routinely played for laughs - and his performances annoy Maddie Hayes to no end. 

  • Willis's Debut Album Came Out In 1987

    While filming Moonlighting and Seagram's commercials, Willis also found time to record his 1987 album The Return of Bruno. The album features 10 songs that range from bluesy tunes like "Respect Yourself" and "Young Bloods" to softer ballads like "Under the Boardwalk."

    Willis released Bruno under the pseudonym Bruno Randolini. However, the character proved to be more than just a passing gag, and Willis fully embraced the New Jersey rocker's persona. 

  • 'The Return Of Bruno' Mockumentary Revealed Bruno's 'True' Identity

    Video: YouTube

    In addition to releasing an album, Willis also played Bruno in an hour-long special that aired on HBO on February 7, 1987. The movie features music superstars like Elton John, Ringo Starr, and Brian Wilson, all of whom talk about the influence Bruno had on music.  

    According to Starr, The Beatles wouldn't have existed without Bruno. In the words of Clive Davis - then head of Arista Records - Bruno was the only artist who truly got away from him. KISS star Paul Stanley credits Bruno with giving the band the idea to wear makeup. And apparently, it was Bruno who made Woodstock free for the masses. 

    The Return of Bruno features footage of Bruno (Willis) playing various concerts throughout the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s. It also includes interviews with former bandmates and people who were lucky enough to see Bruno perform. From bowl haircuts to long hippy locks to disco-style jumpsuits, Bruno's appearance changes as much as his musical stylings, and all his looks are praised by the interviewees.