This Saturday, Sept. 24, marks the start of 'Saturday Night Live''s 36th season, and with Radiohead named the show's musical guest, we figured there'd be no better time to pay homage to 'SNL''s most memorable music performances.
Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers (Ft. Dave Grohl)
November 19, 1994
Imagine if Dave Grohl joined Tom Petty? Well, you don't have to if you were treated to the band's 1994 performance that featured the former Nirvana member on drums. Emerging from the all-encompassing darkness that defined the post-Cobain landscape, Grohl actually considered joining the Heartbreakers before pursuing Foo Fighers full-time. Consider this clip your "what if?" finally answered.
November 18, 1995
Riding the wave of the mid-'90s punk rock revival, Rancid used their punchy live set to proclaim the genre's triumphant return, scoring points with listeners for their unique brand of intensity and attesting to 'SNL''s (former) penchant for acts that rejected Top 40 agendas. And people wonder why everyone over-romanticizes the '90s.
Beastie Boys and Elvis Costello
September 28, 1999
Nothing rings in a quarter century like a Beastie Boys-Elvis Costello collaboration, so imagine the party that ensued following the bespectacled icon lovingly hijacking the Brooklyn trio's 'Sabotage' anthem. But sabotage it he did not -- viewers were privy to an original mash-up that proved silver anniversaries can be celebrated with cameos of songwriting legends rather than jewelry.
April 11, 1992
Helping jump-start the Pearl Jam bandwagon, grunge leapt to the forefront after 'SNL' showcased the rockers before buzz became craze, making their mainstream debut the genre's cotillion equivalent. Having just come off club tours throughout Europe and the motherland, the Seattle rockers used their performance to attest to the strength of their scene, officially raising the stock of rock, roll and plaid flannel.
October 23, 2004
While lip-syncing arguably does not a live performance make, a defeated shoulder shrug, awkward jig and stage walk-off made Ms. Simpson's snafu memorable indeed. Bringing attention to harrowing effects of "acid reflux," the singer became cultural fodder for the masses, ushering in an ironic Irish dance revival and what we can only assume was a payday for TUMS.
April 17, 1976
History tells us that the '70s were a hell of a decade, and few performances reflected 'SNL''s behind-the-scenes turbulence better than punk rock's leading lady. Offering a guttural, urgent rendition of 1975's 'Gloria,' Patti Smith was yet another testimony to the show's groundbreaking first five years, representing a genre that came to define the decade, the era and the mindset of North Americans ready to challenge the status quo.
October 31, 1981
Hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage, legitimate fear of riots and a favour called in by John Belushi have cemented this Halloween episode of 'SNL' as better than any other holiday plans, ever. After this shiny moment, the band was barred from certain clubs, uh, fear...ful of their abrasive tendencies. The Los Angeles punk outfit also proved that while the '70s were over, the genre's biliousness would never burn out. Just don't dare refer to Manhattan as New Jersey.
February 24, 2007
Before the Grammys and that "who the f--- are Arcade Fire? Tumblr blog, AF were just a big-little indie band from Montreal with the guts to make concept albums. But on the journey to cementing Win Butler as a bona fide rock star, he had to indulge some industry clichés. So after a warm welcome from host Rainn Wilson, the group closed their 'SNL' debut by channeling the Clash
November 18, 1978
You can't argue with greatness, and while the Blues Brothers franchise has attempted to maintain the legacy honed by and Belushi, it's moments like these that remind us why we keep looking backwards. Debuted through a sketch, and later a pop culture phenomenon, the Blues Brothers' position as a comedic and musical force to be reckoned with helps remind us that despite its importance, music is allowed to laugh, too.
Simon and Garfunkel
October 18, 1975
Reunions are precious, so imagine the joy upon seeing Simon and Garfunkel back together five years after breaking up -- and on the second episode of 'SNL' ever, no less. Needless to say, standards for the show's musical guests were set, and while not every episode delivered the splendor of a duo making their second post-breakup appearance (they played a benefit concert in 1972 first), the series subsequently became a backdrop for musical milestones.
January 11, 1992
Pearl Jam may have blown up in April, but after Nirvana rang in the New Year with Kool-Aid-dyed hair and their "F--- You" mentality, grunge rock's thrashing urgency became more than just a fleeting youth movement -- and not only because regular kids can't afford to trash their drum kits. Helping brand the '90s as 'Saturday Night Live''s second golden age, the Seattle trio helped re-establish the show's musical relevance -- which was especially necessary after the comedic atrocities committed throughout the previous decade.
October 1, 2010
And then there was this. 35 years after Billy Preston and Janis Ian musically kicked off the series, 'Saturday Night Live' became an outlet for Kanye and his artistic temperament, bringing new meaning to the title, "brilliant narcissist," and proving just how much a man can do with just his voice, white sheets, a sampler and a boatload of ballerinas. (And you wonder why none of us can stay angry with him.)
October 3, 1992
Likely the most infamous act of defiance caught on network TV, Ms. O'Connor ended her a cappella rendition of Bob Marley's 'War' by staring directly into the camera, tearing up a photo of Pope John Paul II and declaring, "Fight the real enemy!" Producers were ordered not to light up the show's "applause" sign, and the performance ended in awkward silence -- the exact opposite of O'Connor's online persona today.