Music

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

Best of SNL
926 votes 83 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
Stevie Ray Vaughan is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Musicians Who Performed on SNL In The '80s
Blues-rock, Rock music, Instrumental rock
Stephen Ray Vaughan (October 3, 1954 – August 27, 1990) was an American musician, singer, songwriter, and record producer, and one of the most influential guitarists in the revival of blues in ...more
2
Paul McCartney is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Musicians Who Performed on SNL In The '80s
Pop music, Rock music, Experimental rock
Sir James Paul McCartney (born 18 June 1942) is an English singer, songwriter, musician, composer, and record and film producer who gained worldwide fame as bass player for the Beatles. His ...more
3
Cheap Trick is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Musicians Who Performed on SNL In The '80s
Pop punk, Glam metal, New Wave
Cheap Trick is an American rock band from Rockford, Illinois, formed in 1973. The band's classic lineup consisted of vocalist Robin Zander, guitarist Rick Nielsen, bassist Tom Petersson, and ...more
4
Robert Cray is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Musicians Who Performed on SNL In The '80s
Blues-rock, Soul blues, Electric blues
Robert William Cray (born August 1, 1953) is an American blues guitarist and singer. He has led his own band and won five Grammy Awards.
5
The Cars is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Musicians Who Performed on SNL In The '80s
Bubblegum pop, Synthpop, New Wave
The Cars were an American rock band that emerged from the new wave scene in the late 1970s. The band originated in Boston in 1976, with singer, rhythm guitarist, and songwriter Ric Ocasek; ...more
6
Bruce Hornsby & The ... is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Musicians Who Performed on SNL In The '80s
Bruce Hornsby & The Range was a music band.
7
Debbie Harry is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Musicians Who Performed on SNL In The '80s
Hip hop music, Alternative hip hop, New Wave
Deborah Ann Harry (born July 1, 1945), born Angela Tremble, is an American singer, songwriter, model and actress, known as the lead singer of the new wave band Blondie. Her recordings with the ...more
8
Stray Cats is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Musicians Who Performed on SNL In The '80s
New Wave, Psychobilly, Rock music
Stray Cats are an American rockabilly band formed in 1979 by guitarist and vocalist Brian Setzer, double bassist Lee Rocker, and drummer Slim Jim Phantom in the Long Island town of Massapequa, ...more
9
David Gilmour is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Musicians Who Performed on SNL In The '80s
Blues-rock, Rock music, Experimental rock
David Jon Gilmour ( GHIL-mor; born 6 March 1946) is an English multi-instrumentalist, singer and songwriter who was a member of the progressive rock band Pink Floyd. He joined the group as ...more
10
Michael McDonald is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Musicians Who Performed on SNL In The '80s
Adult contemporary music, Blue-eyed soul, Pop music
Michael McDonald (born February 12, 1952) is an American singer-songwriter, keyboardist, and record producer known for his distinctive, soulful voice and as a member of the bands The Doobie ...more
11
Jack Bruce is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Musicians Who Performed on SNL In The '80s
Blues-rock, Jazz fusion, Acid rock
John Symon Asher Bruce (14 May 1943 – 25 October 2014) was a Scottish musician, singer and songwriter known primarily for his contributions to the British supergroup Cream, which also included ...more
12
Tom Scott is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Musicians Who Performed on SNL In The '80s
Smooth jazz, Jazz fusion, West Coast jazz
Thomas Wright Scott (born May 19, 1948) is an American saxophonist, composer, and arranger. He was a member of The Blues Brothers and led the jazz fusion group L.A. Express.
13
Delbert McClinton is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Musicians Who Performed on SNL In The '80s
Americana, Blues-rock, Rock music
Delbert McClinton (born November 4, 1940) is an American blues rock and electric blues singer-songwriter, guitarist, harmonica player, and pianist.From his first professional stage appearance in ...more
14
Miles Davis is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Musicians Who Performed on SNL In The '80s
Jazz rap, Avant-garde jazz, Jazz-funk
Miles Dewey Davis III (May 26, 1926 – September 28, 1991) was an American jazz trumpeter, bandleader, and composer. He is among the most influential and acclaimed figures in the history of jazz ...more
15
Philip Glass is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Musicians Who Performed on SNL In The '80s
Opera, Classical music, Contemporary classical music
Philip Glass (born January 31, 1937) is an American composer. He is widely regarded as one of the most influential musicians of the late 20th century. Glass's work has been described as minimal ...more
16
Ric Ocasek is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Musicians Who Performed on SNL In The '80s
Bubblegum pop, New Wave, Rock music
Richard Theodore Otcasek (born 1943 or 1944) known as Ric Ocasek (), is an American singer, songwriter, musician and record producer. He is best known as the lead vocalist, rhythm guitarist and ...more
17
The Honeydrippers is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Musicians Who Performed on SNL In The '80s
Blues-rock, Rock music, Rockabilly
The Honeydrippers were a rock and roll band of the 1980s, deriving their name from Roosevelt Sykes, an American blues singer also known as "Honeydripper". Former Led Zeppelin lead ...more
18
Huey Lewis & the New... is listed (or ranked) 18 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 rock band based in San Francisco, California. They had a run of hit singles during the 1980s and early 1990s, eventually achieving 19 top ten singles ...more
19
Al Green is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Musicians Who Performed on SNL In The '80s
Smooth soul, Rhythm and blues, Soul music
Albert Leornes Greene (born April 13, 1946), often known as The Reverend Al Green, is an American singer, songwriter and record producer, best known for recording a series of soul hit singles in ...more
20
Anne Murray is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Musicians Who Performed on SNL In The '80s
Adult contemporary music, Country pop, Pop music
Morna Anne Murray (born June 20, 1945), known professionally as Anne Murray, is a Canadian singer in pop, country, and adult contemporary music whose albums have sold over 55 million copies ...more
21
Billy Squier is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Musicians Who Performed on SNL In The '80s
Rock music, Hard rock
William Haislip Squier (, born May 12, 1950) is an American rock musician and singer. Squier had a string of arena rock hits in the 1980s. He is best known for the song "The Stroke", ...more
22
Bruce Cockburn is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Musicians Who Performed on SNL In The '80s
Rock music, Folk music, Jazz
Bruce Douglas Cockburn (; born May 27, 1945) is a Canadian singer-songwriter and guitarist. His song styles range from folk to jazz-influenced rock and his lyrics cover a broad range of topics ...more
23
Captain Beefheart & ... is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Musicians Who Performed on SNL In The '80s
Blues-rock, Spoken word, Garage rock
Don Van Vliet (, born Don Glen Vliet; January 15, 1941 – December 17, 2010) was an American singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and visual artist best known by the stage name Captain ...more
24
David Sanborn is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Musicians Who Performed on SNL In The '80s
Pop music, Rock music, Smooth jazz
David William Sanborn (born July 30, 1945) is an American alto saxophonist. Though Sanborn has worked in many genres, his solo recordings typically blend jazz with instrumental pop and R&B. ...more
25
Junior Walker is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Musicians Who Performed on SNL In The '80s
Junior Walker is a musical artist.