The Best Bands Come From Outer Space

Art by Lee Eschliman

Sun Ra and his Arkestra 

Years of Invasion: 1934-1993

A founder of Afrofuturism,  Herman Blount named himself after the Egyptian Sun God Rah. 

Sun-rah was based in the Germantown section of Philadelphia, and his Arkestra perform to this day.

One day, aliens with little antennas over each ear and each eye abducted Sun Ra. They took him to planet Jupiter where they could have some privacy, made him an honorary Jovian, then told him to drop out of school and spread the truth about them through his music. To be fair, many musicians have reported this similar situation since the 1960’s, but this was before LSD was a big thing.

Lee “Scratch” Perry- 

Years of Invasion: 1958 to 2021

Hailing from the planet Sirius, Famous Dub Reggae producer, Lee “Scratch”  Perry  was between 85 and 78,000 years old when he died, depending on the source. He took the art of mixing and flipped it on its head, making the engineer part of the band while recording some of the greatest drum tracks in history. During his stay on our water planet, he produced everyone from Bob Marley to the Beastie Boys in the studio.  He’s also credited with the first sample in his Song “People Funny Boy” a diss track about another producer where he flew in the sound of a baby crying.

The Spotnicks

Years of Invasion: 1958 to 2019

The Spotniks landed in Sweden and may be the first band to wear astronaut outfits on stage. They wrote a song called Rocketman years before Elton John. Check out their killer version of the Johnny Cash classic “Orange County Special.” It will blow your blues away. If you like twangy guitars, this is for you.

Parliament Funkadelic

Years of Invasion: 1968 top present

Parliament Funkadelic, under the leadership of Sir George Clinton, was the first band to land a spaceship on stage. If only Elon musk was old enough to be there, it would have saved him a bunch of trouble. I’m not sure what Dr. Funkenstein was searching for on this planet, but he sure found a lot of cocaine. 

The Space Lady 

Years of Invasion: 1970’s to Present

Wearing a silver plastic helmet with white wings and a flashing red light on top, this street musician did super creepy versions of popular hits on a Casio keyboard. She’s who David Lynch would hire to play a chidren’s party at Kristin Wiig’s house. Just goes to show, it’s better to busk on earth than to wait tables on Uranus. She still performs in costume to this day.

David Bowie

Years of Invasion: 1962-2016

If I have to tell you who David Bowie is, you better have just landed your spaceship. Lock yourself in a room and don’t come out until you’ve listened to his complete discography. But who is that weirdo in the background? Could it be . . .

Klaus Nomi 

Years of Invasion: 1978 to 1983

This guy has warned earthlings about global warming since the 80’s. When Klaud Nomi first performed on earth, people thought he was lip syncing. Dying right before Freddy Mercury, He was considered the first celebrity AIDS fatality. He passed away alone in a hospital bed because no one knew how AIDS was transmitted yet, so he didn’t have any visitors. Saint Vincent designed her Musicman signature guitar after his look. There is a great documentary called Nomi Song that explains every morbid detail. 

Zolar X 

Years of Invasion: 1973-Present

Zolar X brought Glam Rock from outer space to LA, speaking their own language called Zolarian. Of course, it was the 70’s so nobody reported them to the FBI, they just asked them to stay off their porches and away from their daughters. Jello Biafra, a huge fan, released their album “timeless.” on Alternative Tentacles, showcasing their proto punk influence. They remind  me of Cheap Trick but with Vince Neil’s Trecky cousin singing and no Rick Nielson on five necked guitar. 

Kiss

Years of Invasion: 1973 – Present

KISS is a rock band from the planet of KISSteria in the galaxy Copyrightia. Their mission: capture as much human money as possible by shelling everything from comic books to coffins in order to buy more makeup and bigger platform shoes. Unfortunately they aren’t going back until they drain every last resource on Earth, using farewell tour show after farewell tour.  

Les Rockets

Years of Invasion: 1976-Present

Les Rockets were France’s answer to Devo. They are like if the Tinman from Wizard of Ozz and the Blue Man group had a baby in a disco. They also did a kickass as cover of the Spotniks song “Last Space Train.”  These guys took their silver makeup very seriously, and never traveled far without a greenscreen. 

Newcleus

Years of Invasion: 1977-2019

There is some nice production on these tracks, with tricky panning and fat drum sounds that were really ahead of its time. The first rap group from outer space, Newcleus were innovators of electronic music, which went perfectly with scientific sound effects. They did some really cool stuff with vocoders light years before Cher. 

Joe Meek and the Blue Men

Years of Invasion: 1960-1967

A rival of Les Paul, Joe Meek was the mad scientist of sound engineers, who invented a lot of techniques that we take for granted, including spot micing drums and abusing audio compressors to make crazy effects. Unfortunately, like Kanye, this genius came with untreated mental illness. He had violent outbursts, throwing studio musicians down the stairs with their gear tumbling behind them. He also pointed a gun at Mitch Mitchell, the drummer from the Jimi Hendrix Experience. Meek’s sad tale ended when he shot his landlady. Check out the 2008 documentary A Life in the Death of Joe Meek or the book Joe Meek’s Bold Techniques for more info.

Max Rebo Band 

Years of Invasion: 1983- Present

From Star Wars.com 

“Max Rebo was the heart (or at least the fluid sac) of the band that bore his name, and could be found onstage behind the pedals of his red ball organ. From there he kept an ear on his 

bandmates’ playing and an eye on the sleazy clients who hired his ensemble for their entertainment.” 

Phenomenauts- 

Years of Invasion: 1984-Present

Earliest sighting in Oakland California, where the Phenomenaunts became notorious when they brought their own portable state to the Warped tour, setting up and playing in between bands. It wasn’t long before the prompters noticed the Phenomenauts’ stick-to-it-iveness and asked them to join the tour as official members. They went on to release a whole album dedicated to Neil Degrass Tyson, quite possibly their favorite human being. 

Gwar 

Years of Invasion: 1984 to present

Everytime I hear the song “Maggots” it brings me back to happier, simpler days. These Aliens, who took up residence in an old milk factory in Richmond VA, came to destroy the human race for obvious reasons, and people lined up to be thrown in a giant chipper shredder. Some genius wrote all about his trip to Gwarbar.

Original lead singer Odious Maximus may be dead, but his cuttlefish lives on in some evidence locker at a police station in Charlotte South Carolina. Hopefully, someone has to dust it. 

Zodiac Mindwarp

Years of Invasion:1985-2022

Hailing from Planet Buttrock from the galaxy of Spandexia, the drums were permanently infected with gated reverb after they entered our solar system in their hairspray powered rocket. They may have caused the hole in the ozone, but their lyrics are pretty funny.  

Man or Astro Man? 

Years of Invasion: 1992 to Present

These guys bring their own sparking Tesla coils and like to mic a dot matrix printer on stage. 

They also wrote the theme song for Space Ghost, Coast to Coast, one of the most brilliant shows to ever appear on celestial television. Man or Astroman is a real treat live, sometimes dressing up like they parachuted into the building before mowing everyone down with verbed out guitars and wildman drums. 

Spacehog 

Years of Invasion: 1994-2014

  Four Aliens met at a restaurant in New York City where one had a job killing rats and decided to form a band. No word if they got the inspiration for their name from the Muppet Show’s mocku-drama “Pigs in Space,” but this is the theory I’m working under. You can bet there is some Bowie and Marc Bolan in these guys’ record collections. During his stay, Space Hog’s Royston Langdon impregnated an elf named Liv Tyler, a close friend of Frodo Baggins.

Dr. Octagon

Years of Invasion: 1996-2008

Taking over the body of rapper Kool Keith, Dr. Octagon was an intergalactic gynecologist from Jupter, whose surgeries could go either way. Alas he was murdered by Dr. Dooom with three “o’s”, way before his time. In 2011, someone remixed one album, cutting in bits of a Sandra Bernheart stand up routine.  I wouldn’t be shocked if she was an alien too, sent here to enhance the Richard Pryor Show and keep Madonna company. 

 First Band from Outer Space

Years of Invasion: 2001-Present

What is it about Aliens landing in Sweden? Are they searching for the infamous Swedish fish? These stoner rockers come from Planet Weed, and got so high that they really think they were the first band from outer space, when they are clearly near the end of my chronological list. If you like Hawkwind you’ll dig these guys.

Janelle Monae 

Years of Invasion: 2003-Present

Janelle follows in the footsteps of LGBQ artists like David Bowie and Klaus Nomi,using their space schtick as a metaphor for the alienation they feel on earth. Her music sounds like a cross between Michael and Janet Jackson, if it was produced by Pharrel. She’s not too good at matching her boots, though.

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