Music and movies are two of the biggest facets of the entertainment industry: Get famous in either, and you may just get an early retirement. For some actors, however, it’s not enough to be famous on the screen; they want to drop an album.
Some happen to be natural musicians. Some need a few guitar lessons here and there. All want in on the recording studio action. This list is by no means complete, but here are 35 of these crackerjacks.
In 2009, Alan released I Bought a Blue Car Today, the companion album to his eponymous cabaret show. It features a cover of the Cyndi Lauper song “Shine.”
Billy Bob Thornton
Angelina Jolie’s ex is the voice behind two obscure country albums in the early Naughties, Private Radio and The Edge of the World. The former gained some notoriety for featuring a song called “Angelina.”
Lo and behold, Bruce Willis is a skilled harmonica player. He put this talent to use in his debut album, 1987’s The Return of Bruno, which seemed like a natural progression of his character singing in an episode of Moonlighting. He has since made it a point to revisit the studio every now and then.
Before turning up as The Joker on the 60s Batman series, Cesar played up his typecast roles by calling his 1958 album Songs by a Latin Lover.
With his rich baritone, the legendary Christopher Lee had always been a shoo-in for a metal rock album. His Charlemagne series of metal records was inevitable. But the most amazing thing about it all is not that Christopher decided to record such albums. It’s the fact that he started releasing them at the ripe old age of 88.
This fabled onscreen cowboy is also a cowboy on vinyl. Rawhide’s Clint Eastwood Sings Cowboy Favorites is a must-own for fans of his spaghetti Westerns.
Bitter much? Corey titled his second album Former Child Actor, in which he, as expected, sing-rants about the misery of peaking in his career at an early age.
Crispin Glover gained nationwide infamy after nearly kicking David Letterman in the face on national TV. But he was in character at that time. He may also be in character while recording his quirkily titled album The Big Problem ≠ The Solution. The Solution = Let It Be.
David may be the star of Baywatch to Americans, but to germanophones he is a certified musical idol. He has released 18 albums and counting, the first of which, Night Rocker, topped the Austrian charts. His star was so huge in Europe that he was invited to perform at the Berlin Wall in 1989.
With Miami Vice, Don Johnson became synonymous with the 1980s. He had some success immortalising this era on wax too. In 1986, he hit the top 10 with “Heartbeat,” a single from his album of the same name. He also gained another hit song in “Till I Loved You,” a duet with Barbra Streisand, who contributed vocals to his second album Let it Roll.
After releasing homophobic comedy albums, Eddie debuted as a musician in 1985’s How Could It Be, which boasted the hit single “Party All the Time.” His third and last studio set, Love’s Alright, features cameos by Michael Jackson and BB King.
As you may glean from his Guinness record-breaking role on House, Hugh Laurie is a gifted musician. Let Them Talk, his debut, showcases his mastery of the blues. He vicariously earned his music stripes decades earlier though, having starred in Annie Lennox’s lush period video for “Walking on Broken Glass.”
Jack certainly has rock ‘n’ roll cred. As one-half of the mock-rock duo Tenacious D, he has recorded multiple albums, which were finally recognised in 2015 with their Grammy win for Best Metal Performance.
If you don’t know already, Jared Leto has been releasing albums through his band, 30 Seconds to Mars, which he called “the greatest adventure” in his Oscars acceptance speech. The band has sold 15 million records to date. Not bad.
Jeff released an album in 2000, Be Here Now, a joint effort with Michael McDonald, but it was his self-titled 2011 album that struck a chord with listeners, no doubt hung over from his Oscar-winning turn in Crazy Heart.
Jeff wasn’t shy about namedropping fellow actors William Shatner and Jennifer Love Hewitt in justifying his 2004 album, Live and Unplugged, which benefited his theatre company Purple Rose.
Joey was a huge radio star in his teens. “Nothin’ My Love Can’t Fix,” the lead single off his self-titled debut disc, was a worldwide smash, hitting number six on the Billboard Hot 100 Airplay chart. His second album, Soulmates, didn’t fare as well, but that hasn’t deterred him from releasing singles here and there.
‘Prolific’ is a word that can be used not only to describe John Schneider’s acting career but also his foray into the music business. As a country singer, the Dukes of Hazzard actor has released nine studio albums, many of whose singles charted on Billboard’s country charts.
John Wesley Shipp
John is best known for playing The Flash and various soap opera roles, least known for being a singer. In 1981, concurrent with his popularity on the soap Guiding Light, John cut an album of sad pop songs, Images.
Keanu has been jamming with his band, Dogstar, since 1991, the same year he rose to fame on Paula Abdul’s music video “Rush Rush.” Dogstar has since released four albums until their disbandment in 2002.
Everybody’s favourite six-degree man is one-half of The Bacon Brothers, a band which dabbles in bluegrass. They’re already on their sixth album, 36 Cents, released in 2014.
Juno’s impregnator surprised everyone in 2014 with the release of an album, True That.
You may not know that ‘Dumbledore’ moonlit as a musician. His 1968 album, A Tramp Shining, features songs written by no less than Jimmy Webb.
Robert Downey Jr.
Before coming back big-time with the Iron Man films, Robert tried to wade into music. The result is 2004’s The Futurist, which sadly never took off commercially. However, you can’t accuse Robert of testing the waters first; he had starred in an Elton John music video a few years earlier.
One of the greatest screen legends of all time had an album under his belt. The 1967 album That Man, Robert Mitchum, Sings says it all.
In 1980, a then-unknown Russell cut a song called “I Want to Be Like Marlon Brando.” He probably had no idea how swiftly this wish would come to pass. After working the Australian TV and movie circuit, he found fame stateside in the 1990s, which culminated with his Oscar for Gladiator. He never gave up on music, however. In between acting gigs, he released four albums with his band Thirty Odd Foot of Grunt.
All those years of being compared to fellow Mickey Mouse Club alumni Justin Timberlake, Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera must have finally gotten to Ryan. In 2009, Ryan and Rachel McAdams’ sister’s boyfriend Zach Shields released Dead Man’s Bones, a Halloween-themed concept album backed by an L.A. children’s choir.
Stephen, the proselytising pastor on 7th Heaven, has a 13-track album of standard covers.
A seasoned bluegrass musician, Steve has been toting the banjo since his days as a stand-up comedian. In 2010, he finally won vindication: a bluegrass Grammy for his album The Crow.
Like fellow action hero Bruce Willis, Steven is a musician on the side. Unlike Bruce, however, he actually took the effort to tour his albums, which he described as “outsider country meets world music meets aikido.”
Terrence’s musical credentials predate Empire and his guest stint on a Madonna music video. In 2008, he released his debut, the folksy-jazzy album called Shine Through It.
Yes, the same Anthony Perkins of Psycho fame was also a crooner, with not just one but three pop albums to his name. He even had a top 40 hit, “Moon-Light Swim.”
For a moment in the 1990s, it seemed like there was nothing on earth Will couldn’t do. His movies made bank, and so did his studio albums. Even the songs he recorded for his movies, e.g. “Men in Black” and “Wild Wild West,’ struck gold, or platinum, for that matter.
William had nothing left to prove after the charting the cosmos in Star Trek. Except making music, that was. It all started with 1968’s The Transformed Man, where he introduced listeners to his now trademark spoken-word singing. He shows no signs of stopping, having released an album as recently as 2013.