Bands often come together through friendships, ambitions, or the vision of determined producers. But there’s a unique category of bands that were born from cartoons, TV shows, or movies. These fictional musical acts existed only on screen but achieved real-world success by releasing records and videos, blurring the line between fiction and reality. While they may not have received major awards or recognition, the real voices behind these imaginary bands created memorable hits.
Inspired by the beloved Archie Comics and the CBS Saturday morning show “The Archie Show,” this fictional band, also called The Archies, made waves in 1968. Music producer Don Kirshner assembled a group of studio musicians, and they produced six Hot 100 hits, including the infectious bubblegum pop song “Sugar Sugar,” which sold over six million copies. Other Top 40 songs by The Archies include “Who’s Your Baby,” “Bang-Shang-A-Lang,” and “Jingle Jangle.” Ron Dante and Tonie Wine originally provided vocals for the band.
The Banana Splits
The Banana Splits were a fictional rock band featuring four costumed animal characters, showcased on Hanna-Barbera’s variety show of the same name. Their single even reached #96 on Billboard’s Top 100 in February 1969. In 2019, a feature-length comedy horror film adaptation called “The Banana Splits Movie” premiered at San Diego Comic-Con.
The Blues Brothers
Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi turned their popular “Saturday Night Live” musical sketch into an iconic pop culture contribution. Jake Blues (Belushi) and Elwood Blues (Akroyd) topped the Billboard 200 with their debut album, and the movie featured an all-star cast.
Created from a sitcom and with a connection to Don Kirshner, The Monkees initially relied on professional songwriters and studio musicians, as Kirshner was reportedly not satisfied with the band’s musical abilities. However, the Monkees (Micky Dolenz, Davy Jones, Michael Nesmith, and Peter Tork) eventually gained control over the recording process. Their international hits include “I’m a Believer,” “Last Train to Clarksville,” “Daydream Believer,” “A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You,” and “Pleasant Valley Sunday.”
The Partridge Family
David Cassidy became a massive teen idol thanks to the 1970s sitcom “The Partridge Family,” in which he starred alongside his real-life stepmom, Shirley Jones. The show catapulted him to stardom, with sold-out arena performances worldwide. It all began with a TV show, and the cast, led by David Cassidy, sang catchy tunes like “C’mon Get Happy” and “I Think I Love You.” The latter spent three weeks at the number-one spot on Billboard’s Hot 100 in 1970.