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Area Resident’s Stylus Counsel | Don’t Quit Your Day Job, Quit Your Other One

Track 103 | More Hollywood stars who tried to get in on the pop-music act.


The perennial best chuckle in a used record store’s discount bin is always the “I can’t believe they made an album!” records. These are those albums made by TV and movie stars to capitalize on their fame.

I’ve covered this to a certain degree, focusing on the various Happy Days albums which appeared in the late ’70s, boasting a bevy of ’50s hits and show-clip mashups. Speaking of Happy Days, while Fonzie was the star subject of these albums, several of his co-stars actually made records with themselves as the main artist. No surprise Anson Williams was one of those, as his Potsie Weber character was the singer in the show’s band. The actor portraying his bandmate and pal Ralph MalphDon Most — also has made a few albums. Again, no shock as Most was a singer before he was an actor.

But I must admit I was surprised to see a Scott Baio album in the dollar bin recently. Yep, Chachi cut an album. Two, actually. It happened when ABC decided to see if they could capitalize on Fonzie‘s younger cousin’s appeal with Happy Days fans. In 1982 Baio and co-star Erin Moran (Joanie Cunningham) left the show to star in the spinoff Joanie Loves Chachi. It was cancelled after a dozen episodes, so the pair went back to the main show. But during this time RCA signed Baio to a record deal because he was a singer on the show. His music career never took off. Because, well, it was awful. He might be one of the worst singers ever in terms of phrasing, ever. He also seems terrified. Not exactly Charles In Charge.

If Baio is bad, then Corey Feldman is foul. The former child star’s music is so awful, it’s actually uncomfortably hilarious. A desperate attempt to stay relevant is cringey, but a desperate attempt at a comeback (doing something you have no business doing) is mortifying. Sometimes I wonder if it was all a prank.

Dukes Of Hazzard co-star Jon Schneider made a couple of albums. John Travolta made a few as well. Comedian/actor Eddie Murphy seemingly destroyed his career by making that album with Party All The Time on it. Same with Don Johnson and his Heartbeat album.

Star Trek‘s William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy are godfathers of the ill-advised musical career genre. Shatner made the legendary album The Transformed Man in 1967 and Nimoy made Mr. Spock’s Music From Outer Space the same year before beginning a prolific four-albums-in-two-years folk crooner explosion. Shatner actually made a genuinely great album with Ben Folds in 2004 called Has Been, but it will take a lot of great music to make me forget about this incredible 1978 moment:

Knight Rider/Baywatch star David Hasselhoff made albums — some of them quite popular in Europe. Don’t be fooled. They are garbage. Right up there with Steven Seagal‘s music. And while more contemporary actors like Keifer Sutherland (country), Brian Austin Green (rap) and Kevin Costner (country rock) have all made crummy records, the best of the best will always be from the golden era.

I’d have no temptation to pick up a Costner record, but I’m sure as hell bringing home one by Wonder Woman herself, Lynda Carter. Her 1978 debut Portrait, in particular — not her four albums of the 2010s. I’d be thrilled to find an album by Telly Savalas (Kojak, Kelly’s Heroes) album. Seriously, though — what in the name of Dano is going on here? It’s like some combination of an airport smoker’s lounge and a 16th-century harem.

Everyone may have had that Farrah Fawcett red swimsuit poster, but when she left Charlie’s Angels and was replaced by Cheryl Ladd, they could get a copy of Ladd’s self-titled 1978 album. Maybe they didn’t realize they may have already had her on a Josie & the Pussycats record. Ladd (Cheryl Jean Stoppelmoor) was then known as Cherie Moor and was Melody Valentine — the “drummer” and backup vocalist.

They made a proper pop album in 1970 on Capitol Records, to uhh, capitalize on the popularity of The Archies and The Monkees. Although Ladd doesn’t actually play drums on the recordings, she does sing. She and her fellow Pussycats were chosen from around 500 who auditioned.

Burt Reynolds sang in Best Little Whorehouse In Texas and Smokey & The Bandit II but he actually made one studio album years earlier, The atrocious 1973 easy listening/country album Ask Me What I Am — the year following his big breakthrough in Deliverance, oh and that nude photo in Cosmopolitan.

There are heaps and heaps more stars who put out albums — but not all of them are subjects of derision. Quite a few of them have done cool albums with their spare time or as legitimate musical side-projects. Of course Clint Eastwood has made albums — what hasn’t the award-winning actor, director, producer and former mayor Carmel-by-the-Sea done? The jazz aficionado made a boogie-woogie piano album in 1959 called Cowboy Favorites and in more recent years he composed the film scores of Mystic River, Million Dollar Baby, Flags of Our Fathers, Changeling, J. Edgar and he wrote and performed the song heard over the credits of Gran Torino.

Luther and The Wire actor Idris Elba is a popular DJ. Kevin Bacon has a band with his brother called Bacon Brothers. Together they’ve made seven albums. Anthony Hopkins has always composed music for fun. He made a classical album in 2012. Robert Downey Jr. made a record. Keanu Reeves plays in a band. Jeff Bridges has a band. Bruce Willis put out an album as his alter-ego Bruno. Sissy Spacek cut a lovely album in the ’70s. So did Goldie Hawn. Damian Lewis (Billion, Homeland, Band Of Brothers) has an album called Mission Creep coming out next week.

Ryan Gosling does music. So have Joe Pesci, Scarlett Johansen, Brie Larson, Alyssa Milano, Michael Cera, Jeff Daniels, the late Richard Harris, Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs and Macaulay Culkin — who may have the best-ever musical project: Pizza Underground. It’s a Velvet Underground cover band with the words changed so the songs are about pizza.

In a tier above these are the actors who are actually part of something brilliant. Everything John Lithgow touches is gold — he does poetry, kids books and kids’ music.

Of course, The Blues Brothers (Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi) did some great covers of R&B classics — giving birth to open-mic nights all across rural North America. Spinal Tap might be my favourite band ever (Michael McKean, Christopher Guest and Harry Shearer). Steve Martin’s comedy albums are meh, but his bluegrass banjo music is incredible. Managed to catch him live and it was so great. He’s so good.

Jamie Foxx has talent and so do Hugh Laurie, Zooey Deschannel and Billy Bob Thornton, who famously got snippy with CBC Radio when they dared ask him about his movie career when he was booked as a musical guest. Johnny Depp was in a band called Rock City Angels, and one called P with Gibby Haynes of The Butthole Surfers — oh, and he played and co-wrote with Alice Cooper and the rest of the Hollywood Vampires. Jackie Chan is a legit music superstar in Hong Kong, where he’s put out 20 albums since the ’80s in Cantonese, Mandarin, Japanese, Taiwanese and English. But his first is still my favourite:

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Area Resident is an Ottawa-based journalist, recording artist, music collector and re-seller. Hear (and buy) his music on Bandcamp, email him HERE, follow him on Instagram and check him out on Discogs.

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