Rock 'n' roll and Madison Avenue have always made for odd bedfellows. From Kiss' sell-anything-anytime-to-anyone aesthetic to Neil Young's staunch anti-shilling policy, it's always a heated debate as to what constitutes "selling out" and what can be chalked up to a band just trying to make a living. It's become commonplace over the past several years for companies to just refurbish classic songs to pull baby boomers' purse strings via their heartstrings. But there was a time when artists actually recorded new songs or jingles for products. Here are 10 rock star commercial jingles that might surprise you.
In this ad from 1964, the Rolling Stones blast out a raw raver in tribute to Rice Krispies. Mick Jagger's snotty vocal, Keith Richards' jagged guitar and Brian Jones' wailing harmonica certainly make this a case for being the real breakfast of champions. It's pure raunchy '64 Stones that stays crisp even in milk!
Though primarily known in the U.S. for hits like 'Radar Love' and 'Twilight Zone,' Golden Earring's history actually dates back to the early 1960s, when they were known as the Golden Earrings. The band moved from pure beat-group sounds to more psychedelic terrain before finally arriving at their signature hard-rock style. In this 1966 ad, the Golden Earrings deliver the 'Things Go Better With Coca-Cola' jingle, incorporating it in their killer single 'That Day.' The song was issued with the fitting flip 'Rum and Coca-Cola.'
The Turtles are one of rock 'n' roll's most unsung combos and were, in many ways, the epitome of the Beatles' influence on American bands. Their music ran the gamut from folk rock to pure pop to out-and-out psychedelic madness. In this 1967 jingle, we get them in full-on Pop mode, complete with irresistible vocals by Howard Kaylan. The ad also shows the band in the studio laying down their magical song.
'The Who Sell Out' was pop-art rock 'n' roll at its finest. The fact that the band performed mock ads between songs only added to the Warhol-meets-pop notion of anything and everything is art. In fact, the band even recorded ads for Great Shakes and Coca-Cola. Never before, or since, has the prospect of drinking a Coke sounded as menacing as it does in this super-charged bit of rock history, delivered only as the Who could.
Pontiac GTOPaul Revere & the Raiders
In 1969, Paul Revere & the Raiders delivered this fuzzed-out monster rocker to promote the Pontiac GTO. The song was based on 'Time After Time' from the band's 1969 LP 'Hard and Heavy (With Marshmallow).' They also appeared in the colorful TV commercial for the car. This was not the Raiders' first time in the auto-ad game: In 1965, they issued a top-flight single, 'SS 396' / 'Corvair Baby,' which was used to promote the SS396 Chevelle.
Many bands have recorded commercials for Coca-Cola. And most times the artists tried to fit their jingle to their style -- often basing the song on one of their hits. In the Moody Blues' cosmic jingle for the popular cola, the essence of the band's identifiable sound is in full color. Pity that they missed their chance to record 'Nights In Coca-Cola' or 'In Search of the Lost Coke.'
Wait a minute: Kiss doing something for cash? Say it ain't so! Who are we kidding? Kiss were born to rock ... and to cash in whenever possible. They've sold everything from condoms and coffins to comics and coffee. Well, only Paul Stanley is featured in this ad. But he's very passionate about his love for a certain brand of coffee: "Folgers stirs inside of me, and I know what I can be / The limit is the sky, hey, world watch me fly."
Cream were so enthralled with the taste of Falstaff Beer that they just had to sing about it. Just like in your typical Cream song, Jack Bruce croons smoothly, but this time it's about thirsting for ale rather than wandering white rooms. We can assume that any monetary gain collected from the song helped grease the Disraeli Gears of the Cream machine.
You want heavy protection? Call on Iron Butterfly! They'll bring the Ban Roll-On as well as some heavy riffs to save the day. The mere concept of using Iron Butterfly's thudding, heavy psych rhythms to sell deodorant certainly ranks up there as one of Madison Avenue's greatest WTF? moments. We doubt Don Draper would have approved.
How does a band go from singing about feeding your head to singing about white Levi's jeans? Jefferson Airplane, one of rock's most revolutionary bands, indeed recorded a song about pants during their greatest era. Still, the band oozes as Grace Slick throbs, belting out a raga-like ode to the joys of Levi's ... white Levi's, to be specific. Who knew denim could be so psychedelic?