One of the interesting things about Walt Disney films is the way they borrow from or hold up a mirror to popular culture. Along with great storytelling and good songs, this is quite possibly why people like them in the first place.
In fact, it's how some of us get introduced to great artists such as Elton John, who wrote songs for The Lion King, Billy Joel and Phil Collins, who wrote songs for Disney's Tarzan.
A Goofy Movie
Character: Powerline Musician(s): Prince/Michael Jackson/Devo
When A Goofy Movie was released in 1995, it was pretty cool for this then-nine-year-old. In the film, pop star Powerline was everything you wanted in an über-cool musician: Style, pizzaz, and that "holy jeez" factor that pleases fans worldwide. Very few artists have been able to do that. Prince, Devo, Michael Jackson have wowed fans worldwide.
Powerline was based off two great artists and one great (albeit interesting) band: Prince, Michael Jackson and Devo. If you look closely, you can tell that Powerline is modeled after these musical giants. Powerline has the popularity of Michael Jackson, a voice like Prince (even though Tevin Campbell supplied the actual vocals) and a Devo-style suit... minus the hat.
The Jungle Book
Character(s): The Vultures Musician(s): The Beatles
Originally the Vultures were supposed to be based off the Beatles, and look, talk and act like the Fab Four down to the mop-top hairdos. Originally, Disney was going to get the actual band to voice the birds, and then-manager Brian Epstein even talked to them about the project. The Beatles turned the idea down and John even suggested that the studio hire Elvis instead.
Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (and sequels)
For the role of Captain Jack Sparrow, actor Johnny Depp did some research on actual 18th-century pirates, and came to the conclusion that they were the era's version of rockstars. Therefore he took a lot of inspiration from Keith Richards --and in Pirates of the Carribean: At Worlds End, the Rolling Stone makes a cameo as Captain Jack's father.
Oliver and Company
Character: Dodger Musician(s): Billy Joel
Voiced by Billy Joel, Dodger also carries himself much like the piano man. In many ways, the scene where Dodger sings "Why Should I Worry" seems like a nice tribute to the music videos Joel made in the '80s. Plus, who doesn't want a cool dog or cat like Dodger or Oliver?
Oliver and Company
Character: Georgette Musician(s): Bette Midler
Georgette is voiced by Bette Midler, and the character certainly seems to be based on her. In the film, she acts kind of prissy, snobbish and has no problem telling her audience how perfect she is.
The Princess and the Frog
Character: Louis the Alligator Musician(s): Louis Armstrong
If you saw The Princess and the Frog, you will know that it was a welcomed return to traditional animation for Walt Disney Pictures. According to imdb.com, Louis the alligator was named after the great jazz artist Louis Armstrong. Like the real-life Louis, the alligator in the film also is a trumpeter, but he scares people when he jumps on a riverboat and tries to play his trumpet.
Pepper Ann (Saturday morning cartoon)
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Character(s): The Flaming Snots Musician(s): Sex Pistols/Poison
Though they are often reference on Pepper Ann, they are rarely seen. However, we do get to see them once - as seen in the clip above. From the looks of it, they look like a weird mashup of the Sex Pistols meets Poison.