In 1975, a late night show called NBC’s Saturday Night began its run on television. That show became better known as Saturday Night Live and is still airing 700+ episodes and 37 seasons later. The show has snagged 21 Emmys, a Peabody, and three Writers Guild of America awards. It also been inducted into the National Association of Broadcasters Hall of Fame and ranked by TV Guide as one of the top 50 shows of all time.
The show was built around sketch comedy featuring the show’s regular cast of “Not Ready for Prime Time Players” alongside weekly guest hosts. Some of the most popular sketches went on to become full-length feature movies such as The Blues Brothers and Wayne’s World. However, the show also became well known for its live musical guests.
Among the most frequent musical guests are Beck, Eminem, Foo Fighters, Dave Matthews, Randy Newman, Tom Petty, Paul Simon, and James Taylor, all of whom have appeared at least five times. Dave Grohl has appeared more than any other musical guest – ten in all. In addition to his six appearances with the Foo Fighers, he’s also appeared with Nirvana twice, Them Crooked Vultures once, and with Tomy Petty & the Heartbreakers once.
The shows first episode featured Billy Preston and Janis Ian as musical guests. The first season also featured Abba, Jimmy Cliff, Art Garfunkel, Al Jarreau, Anne Murray, Randy Newman, Martha Reeves, Leon Russell, Neil Sedaka, Carly Simon, Paul Simon, Patti Smith, and Bill Withers.
Among the more infamous musical moments on the show are appearances by guests who were banned for their antics. Perhaps the most infamous was Sinead O’Connor’s a cappela performance of Bob Marley’s “War” after which she tore up a picture of the Pope and asked the audience to fight the real enemy.
Early on in SNL’s history, Elvis Costello was banned after playing “Radio Radio” when he was supposed to play “Less Than Zero” on December 17, 1977. However, all was forgiven when he appeared on the 25th anniversary mocking his original appearance. He interrupted the Beastie Boys just as they were starting to play “Sabotage” and then they joined him for “Radio Radio”.
Resources and Related Links:
- Wikipedia: List of Saturday Night Live guests
- Wikipedia: List of Saturday Night Live episodes