The Star Wars Saga's Six Biggest Rock Stars

With Star Wars fans about to get a new installment in the series later this week, older fans are eagerly hoping that the new films are better than the much-despised prequels — and really, how could they be any worse? — while a whole new generation is about to get its own Star Wars moviegoing experience. The Star Wars universe has always been populated with a vast array of colorful characters, but why are there so few music stars represented in the epic space opera? Surely in a time of world-shaking intergalactic warfare, a few bands would have risen to predominance, no?

Looking back at our own cultural history, music played a huge role during the Vietnam era, and quite a few bands rose to stardom as the soundtrack to the social unrest of the time. So unless every famous musician in the Star Wars universe had been attending a huge rock festival on Alderaan when Darth Vader blew the planet up, it stands to reason that a few would still be gigging around. Here are a few of the characters who seem to have the rock-star qualities that such a status would require.

This iconic bad-boy mercenary has all of the personality traits that fit a classic rock-star template, and it's not hard to visualize a scenario where Han could have picked up an electric guitar instead of a blaster. He's snarky, rude, and selfish, but also noble and heroic — he's got the same star appeal that any number of rock stars have possessed, and it seems likely he could have been a struggling musician somewhere along the line. Perhaps the real reason he so callously murdered poor Greedo was because they were musical rivals, with a long history of hating one another. Who knows?

With her galactic fame and go-getter attitude, it seems possible that Princess Leia could have fronted a successful band. She has leadership qualities, and doesn't seem to have any problems being assertive or holding her own in a male-dominated environment. Plus, in the 1978 Star Wars Holiday Special, Leia shows off her singing chops. Sure, the song isn't great, and everyone looks like they might have ingested some sort of space cocaine shortly before the performance, but Leia seems to have the talent to carry a tune.

Another galactic scoundrel with a chip on his shoulder in regards to Han Solo — possibly also with roots in a musical rivalry between the two; who knows? — the popular armored bounty hunter has the kind of appeal that could have transitioned him into a successful career as a musical act if he'd just decided to climb aboard Slave 1 and traveled the music-bar circuit instead. Perhaps he'd have been able to tread the same sorts of musical ground as a band like Rammstein, using plenty of pyro to entertain his audiences.

Almost universally reviled, this Gungan should have gotten into music instead of politics. While it's unknown what types of musical "masterpieces" the clumsy Mr. Binks would've unleashed upon the Star Wars universe, I could picture him croaking out bourbon-soaked ballads a la Tom Waits at dive bars scattered far and wide. That seems like a better purpose in life for poor Jar Jar, since no one needed him as a major character in a beloved film franchise.

2. C-3PO AND R2-D2
Beloved droid buddies like this pair would make a natural musical duo in a world looking towards a better future. What kind of music would two robots make together? Anything would be possible, although synth-pop or Krautrock in the style of Kraftwerk seems like a natural fit for these guys.

Wait, what? Well, if we're to believe the 1978 Holiday Special, Jefferson Starship was a huge musical act in the Star Wars universe. Since the events of the original trilogy took place "A Long Time Ago, In a Galaxy Far, Far Away," it's hard to know how a late-'70s incarnation of the onetime "Somebody to Love" rockers was able to find fame there, but apparently they did. As far as I can tell, it's the only canonical reference to a rock band in Star Wars, so I'm going to assume they were a pretty big deal. Perhaps they were time travelers. It's hard to say, but one thing's for sure — Jefferson Starship was popular listening in the Star Wars universe.

When one goes down this particular rabbit hole, all sorts of possibilities present themselves — imagine a Jar Jar Binks-fronted version of the Cantina Band from the first Star Wars film, or a subplot where a young Han Solo clashes with other local musicians before joining the Rebellion to find a different kind of fame. Judging from Princess Leia's performance, she had at least the vocal talent of a lot of contemporary pop singers, so it's not out of the question that she could have found fame as a singer too.
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Chris Lane is a contributing writer who enjoys covering art, music, pop culture, and social issues.