The Best Fictional Rock Bands Of All Time

People love rock so much that it's not enough that the genre dominated radio for the last 60 years — we're constantly making movies featuring fictional groups. Maybe it's because everyone secretly wants to be a rock star, and watching fake bands drown in groupies, parties, and disposable cash is the closest we'll ever come to living the life.

Whatever the case may be, there are plenty of great fictional bands to check out in the movies. So many, in fact, that several — including Sing Street from the movie of the same name, the Wyld Stallyns from the "Bill and Ted" movies, the Rutles from "All You Need Is Cash," and Autobahn from "The Big Lebowski" — simply couldn't fit on this list.

But the ones that did make it here are the ones we'd most like to see fill out a festival lineup. These are the best fictional rock bands of all time.

Citizen Dick

In "Singles," a group of 20-somethings in a Grunge-era Seattle apartment block try to navigate life and love. But the love story — though excellently told (according to Rotten Tomatoes) — almost takes a back seat to the '90s alt-rock content, complete with all the flannel shirts, unwashed long hair, Rasta beanies, and yarling, angsty vocals played over distortion-heavy riffs you could possibly ask for.

The movie came out in 1992 when Nirvana had only just become a household name. But this movie was no cash grabby attempt to capitalize on an emerging trend. It was lovingly made by people who clearly understood and appreciated the "Seattle sound" and its associated worldview. A big part of that might be due to the fact that the members of Citizen Dick — the fictional Grunge rock band protagonist Steve Dunne (Campbell Scott) plays in — are portrayed by Pearl Jam members Stone Gossard, Jeff Ament, and Eddie Vedder (per IMDb), all still riding high off the previous year's landmark, hit-packed Grunge record, "Ten." And of course, the whole movie is filled to bursting with Grunge classics, always playing on a loop in the background, as well as cameos from the dudes in Alice In Chains. 

But Citizen Dick is the real (fake) deal. Say what you will about the name of their main featured song, "Touch Me I'm D***," but we bet money you'd mistake it for a genuine alt-rock tune if you just happened to stumble across it on the radio.

Marvin Berry and the Starlighters

One of the most memorable moments in "Back to the Future," a movie filled with memorable moments, is when Marty McFly plays Chuck Berry's "Johnny B. Goode" at his own parents' 1955 high school prom. The crowd doesn't get it, staring dumbfounded at this kid "shredding" on that electric guitar thingy. This prompts him to note that the style is a little ahead of their time, but their kids would love it.

The larger joke here is that Marvin Berry, who leads the Starlighters (the band playing alongside him), is Chuck Berry's cousin, which is how Chuck gets ahold of the song that makes him famous. You could argue that the movie still preserves Chuck's ownership of the song since he still writes it in Marty's timeline, and Marty only introduces it to the new one. But it also changes history because from that point forward, the true story is that Chuck Berry stole the song from some random kid named Marty McFly. But on the other hand — actually, you know what? Screw it. We'll go crazy making heads and tails of this.

At the end of the day, it's a great scene if you can get past the inherent racism, as pointed out by Den of Geek. And any band that can just pick up sheet music for a genre they've never heard of and absolutely crush it on the first try, all while making world-changing history, deserves a mention on this list.

Hedwig and the Angry Inch

The band, the movie, the play it was adapted from, and the book that accompanied it all share the same name here. It's the story of a transgender East German woman, Hedwig (John Cameron Mitchell, who wrote and directed the movie and penned the book), who funnels her rage at being marginalized as queer in Communist, late Cold War East Germany into some heavy punk riffs and appropriately angry lyrics. The fact that her former student, Tommy Gnosis, steals her songs and makes it big while she's still toiling away in clubs only adds to her understandable frustration.

The movie wasn't the biggest hit ever, but critics were fans. Rotten Tomatoes gave the movie a stratospheric approval rating and suggested the film might go on to become the next "Rocky Horror Picture Show" due to its "emotional poignancy." But we're here for the music. Understandably, the 2001 movie wouldn't have been nearly as well received if the band at the center of the story was the creative product of people who didn't understand the punk lifestyle and attitude.

Check out "Angry Inch" if you don't believe us. Then head to the comments. "John Cameron Mitchell just pours sooooo much energy into charisma into portraying Hedwig," one commenter noted. "Also so many bangers in this beast!" Meanwhile, another viewer wrote, "I wanna make a band like this for reals."

Sex Bob-Omb

Most fictional bands are seasoned touring pros with hits penned by professional songwriters the studio hired because they want to sell a killer soundtrack. But Sex Bob-Omb, the titular character's garage band in Edgar Wright's "Scott Pilgrim vs. the World" (based on the graphic novel of the same name), is a local indie group trying to win a battle of the bands competition. There's a whole bunch of supernatural comic book madness that happens as Scott tries to win over Ramona Flowers by fighting her seven evil exes. But we're here for the music.

And it's ... good! Not great, but definitely good. Kind of. We think. One viewer commented that they're the "best fake terrible band of all time," which sums it up rather nicely. They probably won't get a record deal. But some of the best memories you make in your early 20s are of drinking cheap craft beer with your pals at the type of grimy backyard gigs that bands like this typically play. So that sloppy charm has got to count for something. Plus, Knives Chau, Scott's young almost-girlfriend at the beginning of the movie, seems to think they're really something. And getting kids into rock is half the battle.

Oh, and how about that stage banter? "We are Sex Bob-omb," Scott says before a gig. "And we're here to make you think about death and get sad and stuff!" So extra points for nailing the whole hipster-skinny-jeans-alternative-emo-indie-we-know-we're-bad-but-that's-ironically-the-point thing. It's just peak 2010.


First, the bad parts. Box Office Mojo says that "The Rocker," the 2008 musical comedy in which this fictional '80s hair metal band can be found, was a major box office bomb despite boasting a seriously impressive ensemble cast that would make "The Departed" jealous (Rainn Wilson, Emma Stone, Josh Gad, Jason Sudeikis, Will Arnett, Jane Lynch, Christina Applegate, Bradley Cooper, and Fred Armisen all perform). Critics didn't love it either, hitting it with a disappointing 41% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

Inside the world of the movie, these dudes are hard to root for. The whole story happens because Vesuvius kicks out Rainn Wilson's character, Fish, their original drummer, in order to secure a record deal and the opening slot on an upcoming tour with Whitesnake in 1986. At the end of the movie, after Fish's new band, A.D.D. (which might've made this list if it weren't for their lousy name), opens for Vesuvius, the glam rock superstars get caught lip-syncing and are promptly booed off the stage. For shame, guys. For shame.

That all being said, box office success, critical approval, and likable characters who rock with integrity are not requirements to land on this list. Writing great tunes, though, is. Luckily for Vesuvius, who lived up to their name by imploding spectacularly, they knew a thing or two about writing some certified '80s rock bangers. Look no further than "Promised Land." Hard to argue these guys conquered the world of rock with dumb luck.

Crucial Taunt

You'd expect Wayne Campbell (Mike Myers) of "Wayne's World" fame to be the type of dude to get lovey-dovey googley eyes at every girl who strolls past. But we kind of get it when it comes to Cassandra Wong (Tia Carrere), who fronts and plays bass for Crucial Taunt. Wayne and best buddy and lovable, bespectacled doofus Garth Algar (Dana Carvey) first spot the rock band at a bar, and it's game over. Much of what Wayne does for the rest of the movie is driven by his infatuation with her. What we don't understand is what Wong, who could honestly land any guy she wanted, sees in Wayne, who runs a local access cable show about rock music from his mom's basement. But it's a movie, so whatever.

The big challenge in the film comes when Rob Lowe's character, sleazy TV producer Benjamin Kane, approaches Wayne and Garth about taking their show to the next level with corporate sponsorship. Kane could also get any girl he wanted, at least in movie world, but chooses to chase after Cassandra. She's not particularly successful just yet, but the pieces are all there, and the fact that Kane sets his sights on her says quite a bit.

Don't believe us? Here's the band performing "Touch Me," a Private Life cover." "It kills me that this version of the song was never released," one user wrote in the comments. "I like the Private Life version, but Tia Carrere's version is such a treat."


Interestingly, a group of the same name did indeed exist at the same time, and Rolling Stone magazine says they had a minor hit and were labelmates with the Allman Brothers Band. But the Stillwater we see in 2000's "Almost Famous" bore little resemblance beyond the name, so they qualify for placement here.

In the movie, 15-year-old prodigy William Miller lands a sick gig interviewing '70s rock bands for Rolling Stone magazine. The main one he — and by extension, we — get to spend time with is Stillwater. Young William gets into all the predictable hijinks you associate with the kinds of early '70s, long hair and mustache bands — groupies, psychedelics, long stretches on a tour bus. Roger Ebert gave the coming of age film top marks, said it was a wonderful movie that had him hugging himself, and listed it as one of the best films of the entire decade. But the band itself is great independent of the movie.

Just listen to "Fever Dog," an original song written for the movie that perfectly captures the hard rock sound that made groups like Led Zeppelin famous in that period. "Fever Dog is such a killer tune," one viewer wrote. "I wish Stillwater were a real band." Another commenter said they were "the best-imagined band ever." We guess that's what you get when a rock legend like Heart's Nancy Wilson gets to write the songs (as detailed by Loudersound).


Brendon Small's fictional melodic death metal band isn't for everyone. But in the world of Adult Swim's beloved "Metalocalypse," Dethklok is far and away the most successful metal band in the world. Which is hardly surprising because they live in Mordhaus, a massive floating castle that doubles as a recording studio for the group's five members. Plus, Eat Sleep Drink Music says they're the seventh-largest economy on earth by the end of Season 2. We doubt even the Beatles could crack the top 20, so that's gotta count for something.

Thing is, these guys almost don't even qualify for this list. Drummer Pickles, lead guitarist Skwisgaar Skwigelf, lead singer Nathan Explosion (all voiced by series creator Brendon Small of "Home Movies" fame, per IMDB), bassist William Murderface, and rhythm guitarist Toki Wartooth (both voiced by Tommy Blacha) are obviously fictional. But Dethklok isn't. Small himself fronts the band's real-life iteration, and if you're into melodic death metal, you've probably heard of these guys already. They're worth checking out, even if the real band is still trying to crack into the world's top 100 economies and the show was canceled too soon. 

Maybe Season 5 is on the horizon? "I was at this show, and it was absolutely amazing seeing Dethklok live," wrote one fan beneath a YouTube video of a live Dethklok performance video. "One thing this video didn't capture was at the end of the set [sic] the entire crowd chanting 'Season 5!' I hope the Adult Swim exec [sic] were listening."

School of Rock

Yeah, they're middle schoolers. But they're not just any 8th graders — they're prep school kids with the best musical education their filthy rich parents could buy. Which means that there is plenty for destitute non-rock star Dewey Finn (Jack Black) to work with once he faked his way into a substitute teaching gig in order to pay rent and decides to turn them into a rock band instead.

Thing is, he doesn't just see technical prowess in them. He sees anger. Anger at their demanding parents and all the rules and expectations forced on them. Anger at being forced onto life paths that don't interest them. Anger that can be channeled into riffs and beats and lyrics that stick it to the man. All the ingredients you need to rock a crowd. With his experience and an unhealthy level of rock history knowledge and their talent, the battle of the bands competition is theirs for the winning.

Well, they come in second, at least. But they win over the crowd and their stuck-up parents in the process, which seemed impossible earlier that same day. The School of Rock has all the youthful, rebellious energy you could want in a band (what's the word? Stickittothemaniosis?). What's more rock 'n' roll than that?

Steel Dragon

In 2001's "Rock Star," Mark Wahlberg plays Chris "Izzy" Cole, who sings in a tribute band for fictional heavy metal superstars Steel Dragon. When that group's lead singer parts ways with the band, Chris gets an unexpected phone call: Steel Dragon's founder and rhythm guitarist, Kirk Cuddy ("The Wire's" Dominic West), has seen footage of Cole's past performances with their tunes and wants him to man the mic. Before he knows it, Cole's living the life of his dreams as the frontman for globe-trotting heavy metal behemoths.

It's no wonder he was such a fan. Most of the band's members are played not by actors (West aside) but by hard rock veterans who can bring a lot of authenticity (not to mention serious heavy metal chops) to their respective roles. Lead axeman Ghode is played by Zakk Wylde of Ozzy Osbourne and Black Label Society fame. Drummer A.C. is played by Jason Bonham — son of legendary Led Zeppelin drummer John Bonham — and bass player Jorgen is portrayed by Jeff Pilson of Dokken and Foreigner fame.

Even cooler? The story is loosely based on Tim "Ripper" Owens, who helmed Judas Priest when Rob Halford was off doing his own thing (via Rolling Stone). Neither his nor Izzy Cole's stints lasted very long. But you only need a few weeks in a famous metal band to get a lifetime's worth of stories, so we're sure both dudes regret nothing.

Also, we're sorry, but "We All Die Young" absolutely slaps.

Spinal Tap

They might be buffoons, but they're lovable buffoons, and they can play some mean riffs. The namesake of 1984's comedy classic "This Is Spinal Tap" had been superstars for years leading up to the events of the film for a reason. According to the movie, they'd not just survived but thrived since the '60s, first as a skiffle band, then as a psychedelic flower power pop band in the later years of the decade. In the '70s, they experimented with everything from reggae to jazz fusion to progressive rock before settling into the genre that made them legends: heavy metal. Could unskilled musicians tackle so many genres? We think not.

In the movie, the band is a stand-in for all the big-haired, small-brained heavy metal acts that were tearing up L.A.'s Sunset Strip and the Billboard charts at the time. Every silly stereotype you associate with the genre manifests in "This Is Spinal Tap" — a movie that remains the essential parody of metal music and the associated lifestyle. But the songs the band played, from "Big Bottom" to "Hell Hole," are certified early-'80s heavy metal bangers.

It's also worth noting that the band didn't stop with the movie. No, lead singer David St. Hubbins (Michael McKean), Nigel Tufnel (Christopher Guest), Derek Smalls (Harry Shearer), and whichever doomed soul was dumb enough to man the drum kit have played on and off, in real life, for decades.