Entertainment

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

Best of SNL
592 votes 55 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, known as Stevie Ray Vaughan, was an American musician, singer, songwriter, and record producer. In spite of a short-lived mainstream career spanning seven years, he is ...more
2
David Gilmour is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Musicians Who Performed on SNL In The '80s
Blues-rock, Rock music, Experimental rock
David Jon Gilmour, CBE, is an English musician, singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist. He is best known for his work as the guitarist and co-lead vocalist of the progressive rock band ...more
3
Stray Cats is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Musicians Who Performed on SNL In The '80s
New Wave, Psychobilly, Rock music
The 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 ...more
4
Robert Plant is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Musicians Who Performed on SNL In The '80s
Blues-rock, Rock music, Folk rock
Robert Anthony Plant, CBE is an English musician, singer, and songwriter best known as the lead vocalist and lyricist of the rock band Led Zeppelin. Possessing a powerful and wide vocal range he ...more
5
George Thorogood & The Destroy... is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Musicians Who Performed on SNL In The '80s
Blues-rock, Boogie rock, Heartland rock
George Thorogood & The Destroyers is an American blues rock band comprised of Thorogood and his band, The Delaware Destroyers. With his band, Thorogood has released over 20 albums, of which ...more
6
Bruce Hornsby & The Range 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
Aaron Neville is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Musicians Who Performed on SNL In The '80s
Rhythm and blues, Soul music
Aaron Neville is an American R&B singer and musician. He has had four Platinum-certified albums and four Top 10 hits in the United States, including three that went to #1 on Billboard's ...more
8
Al Green is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Musicians Who Performed on SNL In The '80s
Smooth soul, Rhythm and blues, Soul music
Albert "Al" Greene, often known as The Reverend Al Green, is an American singer best known for recording a series of soul hit singles in the early 1970s, including "Tired of Being ...more
9
Andrew Gold is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Musicians Who Performed on SNL In The '80s
Pop music, Pop rock, Soft rock
Andrew Maurice Gold was an American singer, songwriter, musician and arranger. His works include the Top 10 single "Lonely Boy", as well as "Thank You for Being a Friend" and ...more
10
Anne Murray is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Musicians Who Performed on SNL In The '80s
Adult contemporary music, Country pop, Pop music
Morna Anne Murray CC ONS, known professionally as Anne Murray, is a Canadian singer in pop, country, and adult contemporary music whose albums have sold over 54 million copies worldwide as of ...more
11
Billy Joel is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Musicians Who Performed on SNL In The '80s
Blue-eyed soul, Pop music, Rock music
William Martin "Billy" Joel is an American pianist, singer-songwriter, and composer. Since releasing his first hit song, "Piano Man", in 1973, Joel has become the sixth ...more
12
Billy Squier is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Musicians Who Performed on SNL In The '80s
Rock music, Hard rock
William Haislip "Billy" Squier is an American rock musician. Squier had a string of arena rock hits in the 1980s. He is best known for the song "The Stroke", from his 1981 ...more
13
Bruce Cockburn is listed (or ranked) 13 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
14
Captain Beefheart & His Magic ... is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Musicians Who Performed on SNL In The '80s
Blues-rock, Spoken word, Garage rock
Don Van Vliet (/væn ˈvliːt/, 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 ...more
15
David Sanborn is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Musicians Who Performed on SNL In The '80s
Pop music, Rock music, Smooth jazz
David Sanborn is an American alto saxophonist. Though Sanborn has worked in many genres, his solo recordings typically blend jazz with instrumental pop and R&B. He released his first solo ...more
16
Debbie Harry is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Musicians Who Performed on SNL In The '80s
Hip hop music, Alternative hip hop, New Wave
Deborah Ann "Debbie" Harry is an American singer-songwriter and actress, best known as the lead singer of the new wave and punk rock band Blondie. She recorded several number one ...more
17
Delbert McClinton is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Musicians Who Performed on SNL In The '80s
Delbert McClinton Americana, Blues-rock, Rock music
Delbert McClinton is an American blues rock and electric blues singer-songwriter, guitarist, harmonica player, and pianist. Active as a side-man since 1962 and as a band leader since 1972, he ...more
18
Edie Brickell is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Musicians Who Performed on SNL In The '80s
Jangle pop, New Wave, Folk rock
Edie Arlisa Brickell is an American singer-songwriter widely known for 1988's Shooting Rubberbands at the Stars, the debut album by Edie Brickell & New Bohemians, which went to No. 4 on the ...more
19
Funky 4 + 1 is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Musicians Who Performed on SNL In The '80s
Hip hop music, Rap music, Funk
Funky Four Plus One was the first hip hop group from The Bronx, New York, United States to receive a recording deal. They were notable for having a female MC, and were the first rap group to ...more
20
George Clinton is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Musicians Who Performed on SNL In The '80s
Psychedelic soul, Rock music, Rhythm and blues
George Clinton is an American singer, songwriter, bandleader, and music producer. He was the principal architect of P-Funk, the mastermind of the bands Parliament and Funkadelic during the 1970s ...more
21
Grateful Dead is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Musicians Who Performed on SNL In The '80s
Blues-rock, Rock music, Folk rock
The Grateful Dead is an American rock band formed in 1965 in Palo Alto, California. The band was known for its unique and eclectic style, which fused elements of rock, folk, bluegrass, blues, ...more
22
Hall & Oates is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Musicians Who Performed on SNL In The '80s
Blue-eyed soul, New Wave, Rock music
Daryl Hall and John Oates, known more commonly as Hall & Oates, are an American musical duo from Philadelphia. Daryl Hall is generally the lead vocalist of the pairing, and also plays a wide ...more
23
Jack Bruce is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Musicians Who Performed on SNL In The '80s
Blues-rock, Jazz fusion, Acid rock
John Symon Asher "Jack" Bruce was a Scottish musician, composer and vocalist, known primarily for his multi-faceted contributions to the legendary British supergroup Cream, which ...more
24
James Brown is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Musicians Who Performed on SNL In The '80s
Hip hop music, Doo-wop, Pop music
James Joseph Brown (May 3, 1933 – December 25, 2006) was an American singer-songwriter, dancer, musician, record producer and bandleader. A progenitor of funk music and a major figure of ...more
25
James Taylor is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Musicians Who Performed on SNL In The '80s
Blues-rock, Disco, Pop music
James Vernon Taylor is an American singer-songwriter and guitarist. A five-time Grammy Award winner, Taylor was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2000. Taylor achieved his ...more