5 Fake Bands With Real Chart Hits

partridge family

Throughout music history, bands have been formed by members who were friends or perhaps created by ambitious producers looking for the next Big Sensation. On the other hand, there are also bands that were born out of cartoons, television programs, and movies. They generally only performed as musical acts on the screen yet achieved the success of a traditional group by releasing records and videos, blurring the lines between real and fiction. While they may not have received major awards or recognition, real people did lend their voices to these pieces of vinyl.

One such group is the fictional English heavy metal band Spinal Tap whose members were comedians and/or musicians Michael McKean, Christopher Guest, and Harry Shearer. Their hit mockumentary film This is Spinal Tap was released to critical acclaim in 1984.

Here’s a look at other groups whose humble beginnings did not start in a garage or recording studio.

The Archies

Based on the famed Archie Comics and CBS Saturday morning favorite The Archie Show, this fictional band of the same name was inspired by the popular 1966 TV series The Monkees. In 1968, music producer Don Kirshner assembled a set of studio musicians who scored six Hot 100 hits including the infectious bubblegum pop song “Sugar Sugar,” which sold over six million copies. Other Top 40 songs recorded by the Archies include “Who’s Your Baby,” “Bang-Shang-A-Lang” and “Jingle Jangle.” Vocals for the band were originally provided by Ron Dante and Tonie Wine.

The Banana Splits

The Banana Splits was a fictional rock band composed of four costumed animal characters and featured on Hanna-Barbera’s variety show of the same name. The Saturday morning show ran from 1968 to 1970. Their single peaked at #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 the San Diego Comic-Con.

The Blues Brothers

Saturday Night Live alums Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi took their popular musical sketch and turned it into an iconic contribution to pop culture with a smash hit film and touring act. Jake Blues (Belushi) and Elwood Blues (Akroyd) reached No. 1 on the Billboard 200 with their debut album and the movie featured an all-star cast.

The Monkees

Another band conceived from a sitcom with a connection to Don Kirshner is the Monkees. Although their series was a success, reportedly, Kirshner was not happy with the quartets’ musical abilities, so he initially relied upon professional songwriters and studio musicians. However, this did not sit well with the Monkees themselves (Micky Dolenz, Davy Jones, Michael Nesmith, and Peter Tork). Eventually, the band members gained control over the recording process. Among their international hits are “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. His poster sales were off the charts; he performed to sold-out arenas worldwide. And it all began with a TV show in which he starred alongside his real-life stepmom, Shirley Jones. The singer led his cast of fictional siblings in songs like “C’mon Get Happy” and “I Think I Love You” with the latter spending three weeks at the number one spot on Billboard’s Hot 100 in 1970.

-Sharon Oliver

Photo: The Partridge Family (ABC TV via Wikimedia Commons)

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25 comments on “5 Fake Bands With Real Chart Hits

  1. John Hansard

    The Blues Brothers was a real group. Yes, it began from a SNL skit, but later became a real touring group.

    • Tom Palazzi

      They Had Some of the best musicians in their Band!! Cropper,Dunn,Murphy,Rubin,Malone,Jordan,Hall,Marini.Great Horns!!!

  2. MR P C Denmark

    The Monkees may have started out as a “Made for television band” but very quickly became a real band. Nesmith was writing songs (even before The Monkees show) and the others would follow. Nesmith and Tork were real musicians. Dolenz could also play guitar but for the show and subsequent live performances, played drums. Davy could play a mean tambourine or the maracas.

    • Barbara Matter

      I am 💯 percent with you on this The Monkees ARE A REAL BAND!!!!!

    • Mike Lovaglio

      Even though The Monkees started as a TV show, they were indeed a “Real” band.
      They wrote music, played instruments, sang and toured extensively.
      They had 4 number one albums in 1967 alone! They also deserve to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
      57 years since they began and still relevant. That says a lot!

      • Peter Denmark

        Indeed Mike. I agree about deserving an induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. What would be good is if Micky could be there to accept the award, then refuse it and tell the committee what to do with it. Did you purchase the “Headquarters Super Deluxe” box set ? If not and you can find one anywhere, I urge you to buy it.

        • Mike Lovaglio

          If Micky could do that, it would truly be worth the wait.
          The Headquarters box set is incredible. Waiting for the PAC&J Box!

  3. Les Fender

    Should have mentioned that The Partridge Family was inspired by the very-real-life Cowsills. Speaking of which, recently released a new album, Rhythm of the World. It’s pretty good, definitely worth a listen.

    • Good point on bringing up the Cowsills. It’s my understanding they were actually approached to do the TV show, but turned it down.

      Only David Cassidy actually performed on the Partridge Family records. The rest were studio artists. It seems unclear whether Shirley Jones preformed on the albums also. I was just a young lad when the show was on TV, but I still have a couple of their albums!

      Their songs were simple and innocent, but very catchy. Way more talent than today’s pop ‘singers’.

      • Essanay Paul

        When The Partridge Family received a music award on TV, both David Cassidy and Shirley Jones went up to receive the award. So I assumed Shirley supplied the female vocals.

  4. Why not Gorillaz, Alvin and the Chipmunks or Josie and the Pussycats?

    • Essanay Paul

      I agree, this article is sadly written, omitting many “fake” groups and lacking details as to who the real artists are.

    • Essanay Paul

      Alvin and the Chipmunks brings another angle to this “Fake Groups” article. They were not created for any TV show but rather a Christmas record. Ross Bagdasarian was a singer, songwriter, and record producer who got the idea to sing slowly then speed up the tape and sound like chipmunks singing. His record was so popular that it let to the cartoon TV show. So here we got a fake group (Ross) making a record then jumping to television and later movies.

  5. I was looking for Daisy Jones and the Six in here.

  6. Thanks for the comments! We of course understand that bands like The Monkees ultimately became real bands — and good ones — but it didn’t start out that way.

  7. You left out The Heights from the early 90’s. They topped the charts with, “How Do You Talk To An Angel”. Their lead singer, Jamie Walters, was a songwriter on top of being an actor and had a solo album or two after the show ended.

  8. Janet Aldrich

    What about the Oneders in “That Thing You Do”?

  9. Milli Vanilli ?

  10. Essanay Paul

    Don’t forget “The Hardy Boys” cartoon show of 1969, based on the children’s books. When not solving mysteries they were a garage band with two albums released (Vinyl, 8-Track & Cassette) using real faces pictured on the covers. Filmation followed the success if The Archies with other fake bands based on their cartoons in the 1970’s.

    In 1969 Syd & Marty Kroft created “The Boyds” with Sharon Baird who sang during the End Credits of H.R. Puf’n’stuf. They performed the backing music for Jack Wild, Billie Hayes and the cast for the H.R. Puf’n’stuf records.

    During the second season of “Scooby Doo, Where are You?” in 1970. Hanna Barbera created a Scooby Squad to sing during the chase scenes. This lasted only one year.

  11. Don’t forget Lancelot Link and the Evolution Revolution. The hard-to-find album is full of some really nice 60’s bubblegum pop, especially “Sha-La Love You” which was apparently first written for the Grass Roots (same songwriters wrote “Temptation Eyes” among others).

  12. Philip Clark

    It’s also worth commenting that David Cassidy emerged from The Partridge Family as a legitimate solo artist in his own right. While his early success in the USA was largely tied to The Partridge Family, by the time David Cassidy caught on internationally, by far the main focus was on him and his solo work. He enjoyed imense international success and his solo record sales internationally completely eclipsed the already phenomenal sales of The Partridge Family records. Cassidy recorded and released many albums over the decades right up until his untimely death in 2017.

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