10 Saturday Morning Cartoons based on rock musicians

Yes, Saturday morning cartoons used to rot your brain cells out. But they also – believe it or not – were a functioning medium for the promotion of popular music.

Let me explain.

There were several instances where popular singers or rock groups would find their stories retold as wacky animated adventures. From the most famous to the most obscure, these groups existed on the pop charts – and among the Frosted Flakes fanatics.

So, in no particular order, here are several examples of Saturday morning cartoons that had rock and roll music backgrounds. I’ve also taken the time to include opening credits of the cartoons, when available.

THE ARCHIES

You’ve heard this song on the oldies station for ages, but have you ever seen the music video – featuring lead guitarist Archie Andrews, backup guitarist Reggie Mantle, drummer Jughead Jones, keyboards by Veronica Lodge and tambourine by Betty Cooper? Well, now you have.

THE BEATLES

ABC aired this animated series about the Fab Four during the 1960’s, when it was the most popular show of its Saturday morning lineup. This isn’t the animated Beatles “Yellow Submarine” cartoon, this was an honest-to-God cartoon series with episodes drawn from the lyrics of popular Beatles songs. This episode, called “Nowhere Man,” finds the Beatles meeting up with a hermit. No sign of Jeremy Hilary Boob, Ph.D. anywhere…

THE JACKSON 5IVE

This little Rankin-Bass creation helped promote the Jackson Five (listed as “5ive” for the cartoon) into Saturday morning pop stars. In this iteration, the Jackson 5ive still tour the country and have massive pop hits, but they also have two mice and a snake joining them. And after the popularity of this cartoon, of course we had to have…

THE OSMONDS

Taking nothing away from the fact that the Osmonds had pop hits by using the legendary Muscle Shoals sound system, which puts a lot of credibility into their music – you can’t look at that video clip without saying, “Those are the gooniest dance steps I’ve ever seen in my ever-loving life!!” That, and Jimmy Osmond gets into the series… but no sign of Marie?

MISSION: MAGIC!
Okay, it’s a cartoon about a magical schoolteacher and her class, as they go on adventures in the animated world… oh wait… is that who I think it is? Hokey smokes it IS who I think it is… That’s right, kiddiwinks, this was the cartoon series that brought Rick Springfield into American television screens for the first time!
NEW KIDS ON THE BLOCK
You think the rock-star-as-cartoon concept was limited to the 1960’s? Feast your baby blues on this footage, as part of a preview of Saturday morning’s lineup as hosted by the cast of Family Matters. T
THE ADVENTURES OF SUPER MARIO 3

The world of Super Mario 3 must be a magical place. Where else in this world can we have legendary vocalists Milli Vanilli treated as if they were the second coming of the Beatles? Watch and cringe…

THE HARDY BOYS
This may have been based on the original Franklin W. Dixon juvenile fiction novels, but at some point Frank and Joe Hardy joined a band and traveled the world in search of adventure and rock music.
HAMMERMANI thought I had blacked this cartoon about MC Hammer and his magic shoes out of my mind forever. I guess I WAS WRONG about that…
KIDD VIDEOI’m not sure which rock star this was based on… probably some disposable 80’s band that I never want to hear again… but again, it’s another “rock band trapped in entirely different universe” that seems to populate throughout most of the Saturday morning TV shows of the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s.

Well, it’s Saturday morning. Go have some Frosted Flakes and some Pop Tarts, you know they’re all part of a balanced breakfast.