Music

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

Best of SNL
666 votes 61 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
Robert Plant is listed (or ranked) 2 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
3
George Thorogood & The Destroy... is listed (or ranked) 3 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
4
Bruce Hornsby & The Range is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Musicians Who Performed on SNL In The '80s
Bruce Hornsby & The Range was a music band.
5
Jack Bruce is listed (or ranked) 5 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
6
The Charlie Daniels Band is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Musicians Who Performed on SNL In The '80s
The Charlie Daniels Band is a musical group founded by Charlie Daniels.
7
Tom Scott is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Musicians Who Performed on SNL In The '80s
Smooth jazz, Jazz fusion, West Coast jazz
Thomas Wright "Tom" Scott is an American saxophonist, composer, arranger, conductor and bandleader of the west coast jazz/jazz fusion ensemble the L.A. Express.
8
Anne Murray is listed (or ranked) 8 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
9
Captain Beefheart & His Magic ... is listed (or ranked) 9 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
10
Debbie Harry is listed (or ranked) 10 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
11
Delbert McClinton is listed (or ranked) 11 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
12
Hall & Oates is listed (or ranked) 12 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
13
Mark Knopfler is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Musicians Who Performed on SNL In The '80s
Celtic rock, Blues-rock, Rock music
Mark Freuder Knopfler, OBE is a British songwriter, film score composer, guitarist, and record producer. He is best known as the lead guitarist, lead singer, and songwriter for the rock band ...more
14
Philip Glass is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Musicians Who Performed on SNL In The '80s
Opera, Classical music, Contemporary classical music
Philip Morris Glass is an American composer. He is considered one of the most influential music makers of the late 20th century. His music is also often controversially described as minimal ...more
15
The Neville Brothers is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Musicians Who Performed on SNL In The '80s
New Orleans rhythm and blues, Rhythm and blues, Soul music
The Neville Brothers, an American R&B/soul/funk group, was formed in 1977 in New Orleans, Louisiana.
16
David Gilmour is listed (or ranked) 16 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
17
Paul McCartney is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Musicians Who Performed on SNL In The '80s
Pop music, Rock music, Experimental rock
Sir James Paul McCartney MBE is an English singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and composer. With John Lennon, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr, he gained worldwide fame as a member of the ...more
18
The Cars is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Musicians Who Performed on SNL In The '80s
Bubblegum pop, Synthpop, New Wave
The Cars are an American rock band that emerged from the new wave scene in the late 1970s. The band originated in Boston, Massachusetts, with lead singer, rhythm guitarist and songwriter Ric ...more
19
Aaron Neville is listed (or ranked) 19 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
20
Al Green is listed (or ranked) 20 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
21
Andrew Gold is listed (or ranked) 21 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
22
Billy Joel is listed (or ranked) 22 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
23
Billy Squier is listed (or ranked) 23 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
24
Bruce Cockburn is listed (or ranked) 24 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
25
David Sanborn is listed (or ranked) 25 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