Entertainment

The Best Musicians Who Performed on SNL In The '80s  

Best of SNL
269 votes 16 voters 184 items

List Rules Vote up the bands and musicians who did the best job as musical guests on SNL from 1980 through 1989.

Saturday Night Live started the 1980s rough, but rode the decade through and celebrated its 15th anniversary in before the '80s ended.  Even with over a dozen bands appearing multiple times, there were over 180 musical guests in the '80s. If you can't remember everybody who played on the show, then refresh your memory with this list of the bands who played on SNL from 1980 through 1989, ranked from best SNL '80s musical guests to worst SNL '80s musical guests.

Some of the people who took on the role of musical guest the most often in the '80s were Randy Newman, Linda Ronstadt, and John Mellencamp, who each played three times on SNL. No less memorable for only playing on the show once were Queen and Prince, some of the greatest musical artists of all time.

Just like the seasons and episodes themselves, the Saturday Night Live musical guests of the 1980s range from great to grueling. Vote up the bands and musicians who did the best job as musical guests on SNL in the '80s.

list ordered by
1
Queen is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Musicians Who Performed on SNL In The '80s
Pop music, Rock music, Heavy metal
Queen are a British rock band formed in London in 1970, originally consisting of Freddie Mercury, Brian May, John Deacon, and Roger Taylor. Queen's earliest works were influenced by progressive ...more
2
Aretha Franklin is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Musicians Who Performed on SNL In The '80s
Pop music, Rock music, Rhythm and blues
Aretha Louise Franklin was an American singer and songwriter. She began her career as a child singing gospel at New Bethel Baptist Church in Detroit, where her father, C. L. Franklin, was ...more
3
David Byrne is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Musicians Who Performed on SNL In The '80s
New Wave, Worldbeat, Experimental music
David Byrne is a Scottish musician and a founding member and principal songwriter of the American new wave band Talking Heads, active between 1975 and 1991. Since then, Byrne has released his ...more
4
Gary Numan is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Musicians Who Performed on SNL In The '80s
Synthpop, New Wave, Rock music
Gary Anthony James Webb, better known by his stage name Gary Numan, is an English singer, songwriter, musician and record producer. Born in Hammersmith, London, he first entered the music ...more
5
Mr. Mister is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Musicians Who Performed on SNL In The '80s
Adult contemporary music, New Wave, Synth rock
Mr. Mister was an American pop rock band most popular in the 1980s. The band's name came from an inside joke about a Weather Report album called Mr. Gone where they referred to each other as ...more
6
Prince is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Musicians Who Performed on SNL In The '80s
Hip hop music, Synthpop, New Wave
Prince Roger Nelson, known by his mononym Prince, is an American singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and actor. A major figure in popular music for over three decades, Prince is renowned ...more
7
Sting is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Musicians Who Performed on SNL In The '80s
Medieval music, Classic rock, New Wave
Gordon Matthew Thomas Sumner CBE, known on stage as Sting, is an English musician, singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, activist, actor and philanthropist. He was principal songwriter, lead ...more
8
Willie Nelson is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Musicians Who Performed on SNL In The '80s
Outlaw country, Americana, Traditional pop music
Willie Hugh Nelson is an American singer-songwriter, musician, guitarist, author, poet, actor, and activist. The critical success of the album Shotgun Willie, combined with the critical and ...more
9
Cher is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Musicians Who Performed on SNL In The '80s
Hip hop music, Rock music, Dance-pop
Cher is an American singer, songwriter, actress, model, fashion designer, television host, comedian, dancer, businesswoman, philanthropist, author, film producer, director, and record producer. ...more
10
Dolly Parton is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Musicians Who Performed on SNL In The '80s
Ballad, Country pop, Pop music
Dolly Rebecca Parton is an American singer-songwriter, instrumentalist, actress, author, and philanthropist, known primarily for her work in country music. Her career began as a child performer ...more
11
Elvis Costello is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Musicians Who Performed on SNL In The '80s
New Wave, Rock music, Pub rock
Elvis Costello is an English singer-songwriter. He began his career as part of London's pub rock scene in the early 1970s and later became associated with the first wave of the British punk and ...more
12
Eurythmics is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Musicians Who Performed on SNL In The '80s
Synthpop, New Wave, Pop music
Eurythmics are a British music duo consisting of members Annie Lennox and David A. Stewart. Stewart and Lennox were both previously in the band The Tourists, who split up in 1980; Eurythmics ...more
13
Huey Lewis & the News is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Musicians Who Performed on SNL In The '80s
Doo-wop, Blues-rock, Blue-eyed soul
Huey Lewis and the News is an American pop rock band based in San Francisco, California. They had a run of hit singles during the 1980s and early 1990s, eventually scoring a total of 19 top ten ...more
14
Neil Young is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Musicians Who Performed on SNL In The '80s
Rock music, Experimental rock, Grunge
Neil Young is a singer-songwriter, Musician,film score composer, film producer, film director, actor and screenwriter.
15
Parliament-Funkadelic is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Musicians Who Performed on SNL In The '80s
Psychedelic soul, P-Funk, Soul music
Parliament-Funkadelic is a funk, soul and rock music collective headed by George Clinton. Their style has been dubbed P-Funk. Collectively the group has existed under various names since the ...more
16
Run–DMC is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Musicians Who Performed on SNL In The '80s
Hip hop music, Alternative hip hop, Hardcore hip hop
Run-DMC was an American hip hop group from Hollis, Queens, New York, founded in 1981 by Joseph Simmons, Darryl McDaniels, and Jason Mizell. Run-DMC is widely acknowledged as one of the most ...more
17
Stevie Nicks is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Musicians Who Performed on SNL In The '80s
Classic rock, Pop music, Rock music
Stephanie Lynn "Stevie" Nicks is an American singer-songwriter, best known for her work with Fleetwood Mac and an extensive solo career, which collectively have produced over forty Top ...more
18
Todd Rundgren is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Musicians Who Performed on SNL In The '80s
Blue-eyed soul, Pop music, Rock music
Todd Harry Rundgren is an American multi-instrumentalist, songwriter, and record producer. Hailed in the early stage of his career as a new pop star, supported by the certified gold solo double ...more
19
Billy Idol is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Musicians Who Performed on SNL In The '80s
New Wave, Rock music, Dance-rock
William Michael Albert Broad, known professionally as Billy Idol, is an English rock musician, songwriter and actor. Born in Stanmore, Middlesex, Idol first achieved fame in the punk rock era as ...more
20
Bruce Cockburn is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Musicians Who Performed on SNL In The '80s
Rock music, Folk music, Jazz
Bruce Douglas Cockburn OC is a Canadian guitarist and singer-songwriter whose career spans over 40 years. His song styles range from folk to jazz-influenced rock and his lyrics cover a broad ...more
21
Bryan Ferry is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Musicians Who Performed on SNL In The '80s
New Wave, Pop music, Rock music
Bryan Ferry, CBE is an English singer-songwriter and musician. Ferry came to prominence in the early 1970s as the lead vocalist and principal songwriter with the art rock band Roxy Music, which ...more
22
Duran Duran is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Musicians Who Performed on SNL In The '80s
Synthpop, New Wave, Pop music
Duran Duran are an English rock band formed in Birmingham in 1978. They were a successful band of the 1980s and a leading band in the MTV-driven "Second British Invasion" of the United ...more
23
Fine Young Cannibals is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Musicians Who Performed on SNL In The '80s
New Wave, Rock music, Pop rock
Fine Young Cannibals were a British band formed in Birmingham, England in 1984, by bassist David Steele, guitarist Andy Cox, and singer Roland Gift. Their self-titled 1985 debut album contained ...more
24
k.d. lang is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Musicians Who Performed on SNL In The '80s
Adult contemporary music, Pop music, Folk music
Kathryn Dawn Lang, OC, known by her stage name k.d. lang, is a Canadian pop and country singer-songwriter and occasional actress. Lang has won both Juno Awards and Grammy Awards for her musical ...more
25
Linda McCartney is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Musicians Who Performed on SNL In The '80s
Linda Louise, Lady McCartney was an American musician, photographer and animal rights activist, and was married to Paul McCartney, of the Beatles. In 1969, Paul McCartney married Linda Eastman, ...more