The 12 Greatest Muppet Musical Guests

The 12 Greatest Muppet Musical Guests



Late puppeteer Jim Henson’s creations have brought education, wonder and hilarity to the small screen for more than 60(!) years. Whether it’s the zany drummer Animal, zealous foodie Cookie Monster or the stressed yet tenacious Kermit The Frog, everyone has a favourite muppet character from Sesame Street or The Muppet Show they’ve grown up with. With the announcement last week Kermit The Frog’s puppeteer is set to change for the first time since Jim Henson’s death in 1990, we look back at The Muppet Show and Sesame Street’s greatest musical guests.

  1. Elton John – Goodbye Yellow Brick Road

Colourful, creative and always memorable, Elton John’s ‘70s era was a match made in heaven for The Muppet Show. A serial offender when it came to Muppets appearances (check out his Bennie & The Jets performance here), Elton was always a trouper when it came to performing opposite the funky musical critters.

  1. Johnny Cash – Nasty Dan

Dressed in denim rather than his typical ‘Man In Black’ attire, this early ‘70s Sesame Street has Oscar The Grouch enthusiastically nodding along to Johnny’s ode to the “meanest man I ever knew”. Given Cash sings that Nasty Dan’s “only words he ever said were ‘I don’t like you at all’”, this gem would be unlikely to pass the PC censors in this modern age of wrapping kids in cotton wool. 

  1. Stevie Wonder – Scat Singing Lesson With Grover

Stevie Wonder visited Sesame Street in 1973, bringing a whole lot of black funk to the mix – and an impressive gold chain to boot! As well as performing Superstition, he scatted with Grover and had a bit of fun on his clavinet. He wasn’t the only blind legend to have a big impact on Sesame Street – Ray Charles also dropped by in the ‘70s, ‘80s and ‘90s, even explaining to Elmo how to read Braille.

  1. John Denver – Grandma’s Feather Bed

Cosying up to a dozen Muppets in a big old bed (and doing a cross-dressing turn as Grandma herself), John Denver had a whole lot of hokey fun in his 1979 appearance in The Muppets. In fact, Grandma’s Feather Bed was such a success that Denver later released the album Rocky Mountain Holiday with The Muppets featuring this quirky tune. The album was even nominated for a Grammy.

  1. R.E.M. – Furry Happy Monsters

For a song the band routinely distanced themselves from after its 1991, R.E.M. seem to be having the time of their lives performing this remix of "Shiny Happy People" with furry happy monsters during their Sesame Street appearance in 1998. “See them jump and run, laughing all the while,” Michael Stipe sings while pogoing along with his monstrous pals (and an impressive Muppet version of The B-52’s’ Kate Pierson!).

  1. Linda Ronstadt – Y Andale

After appearing in a Muppet Show episode in 1980, Linda Ronstadt made her Sesame Street debut in 1988 with the awesome Muppety Mariachi performance of Y Andale from her 1987 album Canciones de Mi Padre. Another musician in our list who has also proved a great hit when guesting on The Simpsons  (‘Mr Plow is a loser and I think he’s a boozer…’), Ronstadt’s performance brought the Spanish language to thousands of kids around the globe a decade before Dora The Explorer. Vibrant musical fun - and what a voice!


  1. Paul Simon – Me & Julio Down By The Schoolyard

Rocking a comb-over that wasn’t fooling anyone as to his follicular foibles, Paul Simon’s acoustic performance of "Me & Julio Down By The Schoolyard" in 1977 was a popular segment. Sitting like a busker on the Sesame Street steps with a bunch of kids, Simon’s appearance was charming in its laidback approach – his young offsider even takes on one of America’s great lyricists by making up her own verse!

  1. Debbie Harry – The Rainbow Connection

Away from the grit and grime of CBGB’s, pop punk goddess Debbie Harry made a 1981 appearance on The Muppet Show to sing "The Rainbow Connection" with Kermit The Frog. The Blondie lead singer provided a sweet vocal quite removed from the sardonic delivery of "One Way Or Another", which she also performed on the episode.

  1. Ed Sheeran – Two Different Worlds

Joining Deborah Harry on the list of music stars who’ve duetted with Kermit on "The Rainbow Connection", Ed Sheeran also appeared in a 2015 episode of Sesame Street. Everyone’s favourite acoustic ginger hangs out with a bunch of colourful furry friends in while singing about school life. Unlikely to appear in the setlist during his 2018 Australian tour, but pleasant nonetheless. 

  1. Michael Buble – Believe In Yourself

Canadian crooner Michael Buble dropped by Sesame Street in 2014 to give Elmo some positive reinforcement alongside his besuited monster friends. Buble’s relationship with Henson’s creations was already well established, with Oscar The Grouch, Elmo, Cookie Monster and Miss Piggy all appearing in his Christmas specials over the years. 

  1. Billy Joel – Just The Way You Are

Looking cool in his Wayfarers, Billy Joel dropped by Sesame Street in 1988 to tell Oscar “We’re Grouch groupies!”. “Don’t go changing just to please me, ‘cos being friendly’s not your style,” Billy sings, while actress Marlee Matlin signs the song beside Oscar’s trash can. A decade before, Joel’s song "New York State Of Mind" was also performed by shaggy dog pianist Rowlf on The Muppet Show in the 1970s.

  1. Katy Perry – Hot N Cold

A contentious inclusion – not least because pop star Perry’s appearance never aired on a TV episode of Sesame Street due to Katy’s cleavage being deemed too voluminous for youngsters to handle. Thankfully for Perry fans and perverts alike, her performance of Hot N Cold with Elmo is up on her YouTube channel for all to see – at 93 million views, it’s the most successful video on this list!

Who has been your favourite Muppet musical guest? Let us know on our Facebook page, here, who we might have missed!

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