Earlier this week we looked back at Omikron: The Nomad Soul, a videogame best remembered today because David Bowie played a character and contributed music to the soundtrack. Bowie isn’t the only musician to pop up in a videogame—rappers, rock stars and pop bands have been making guest appearances in games for decades. Sometimes the game reflects the particular artistic temperament of the musicians in question, such as the Residents’ curiosity Bad Day on the Midway, and sometimes they’re paramilitary shooters starring 50 Cent. Many famous musicians appeared in a plethora of Guitar Hero and Rock Band games before that craze died down, and various rappers have shed blood across a variety of fighting games. Once Phil Collins played “In the Air Tonight” in a Grand Theft Auto game. Michael Jackson has been in so many videogames that he’s actually going to get his very own personal gallery here at Paste in the next few weeks. Basically musicians just pop up in games whether they need to be there or not, always looking for another payday, and more than willing to do business with game publishers struggling to make their product palatable to an audience outside the insular swarm of gaming diehards.
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Journey's first game came out for the Atari 2600 in 1982. The guy in the green shirt is a band member, fleeing a pack of "shifty eyed promoters."
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Journey followed that up with an arcade game featuring black and white photos of the band members. Here Neal Schon carefully navigates a jejunum.
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Quest for Fame was an early version of Guitar Hero-type rhythm games starring Aerosmith.
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Aerosmith also starred in a number of games, most notoriously the arcade shooter Revolution X.
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2008's Guitar Hero: Aerosmith is the last we've seen of virtual Steven Tyler and Joe Perry...so far.
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During its lifespan the Guitar Hero series featured many real musicians, from Guns N' Roses' Slash...
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...to Hayley Williams of Paramore...
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...to Sting of the Police and putting you to sleep with his solo work fame.
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Here's Billy Corgan in a Guitar Hero game, looking like the offspring of Moby and Mr. Spock.
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Like Aerosmith, Metallica had their own entire Guitar Hero game.