Where would you ever see Slash, Dave Mustaine, Joe Walsh, country music legend Roy Clark and punk originator Joey Ramone, all in one place? That would have to be one of the oddest musical gatherings of all time, right?
It certainly was, back when it happened in 1998. But the occasion wasn’t a performance—it was an episode of The Drew Carey Show.
Though he’s known these days as host of the game show The Price Is Right, Carey found fame in the Nineties with his eponymous sitcom, which ran from 1995 to 2004. In it, the comedian played a fictionalized version of himself—who he would be, he said, had he not become an actor—living in Cleveland, Ohio, and hanging out with his directionless friends.
The show’s popularity was at a peak during its second, third and fourth seasons, and attracted a number of celebrities for guest appearances. Among them were “Weird Al” Yankovic, Donald Trump, Lemmy Kilmister and Motörhead, and even Rush Limbaugh, all of whom appeared as themselves.
But by any calculation, the most star-studded episode was “In Ramada Da Vida,” the second show of season four. In the episode, Drew and his pals spontaneously jam on a lounge act’s musical gear while attending a business meeting at a local Ramada Inn. The manager is so impressed that he invites them to play the hotel for the week. They accept the gig, thinking it will be an opportunity to meet women (though they’re not musicians, these guys think like them). Taking the name the Horn Dogs, Drew and his friends decide that they should add a guitarist to their lineup and set out to find someone who can play on one day’s notice for $10.
Who would want that gig? In Drew Carey’s world, some of the biggest guitarists in the business, all of whom show up to audition for the part in Carey’s suburban backyard.
The guitarists, all chosen by Carey, include (in order of appearance) Slash, Rick Nielsen, ZZ Top bassist Dusty Hill, Matthew Sweet, Ramone, Lisa Loeb, Mustaine, Clark, Johnny Lang, Michael Stanley and Walsh. As it happens, Walsh gets the gig and sticks around to perform in the next episode, where he is reunited with his former bandmates from the James Gang—which is only fitting, since the James Gang formed in Cleveland.