Our Favorite Classic Rock Thanksgiving Stories

Thanksgiving is traditionally all about family, food and football, but classic rock also plays a part.

From Paul Simon poking fun at his self-serious image to the Band’s final concert with its original lineup to Kiss showing up at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade, we’ve found times when some of our favorite musicians made holiday memories that we love to revisit every year. Below, you’ll read about those and other classic rock Thanksgiving moments, and find links to our in-depth stories about them.

When Paul Simon Dressed as a Turkey on ‘Saturday Night Live’

On Nov. 20, 1976, Paul Simon opened up Saturday Night Live by singing his then-recent hit, “Still Crazy After All These Years,” in perhaps the most memorable outfit of his career: a turkey suit. But after the first verse, he brought the song to an abrupt end and explained his side of the story: “When the turkey concept was first brought up, I said there’s a very good chance I’m gonna end up looking stupid if I come out wearing it.” Simon then walks offstage and confronts producer Lorne Michaels about the stunt, but winds up with a different problem.

Read More: How Paul Simon Ended Up Wearing a Turkey Suit on ‘Saturday Night Live’


The Band’s Last Waltz

United Artists

United Artists

In 1976, the Band decided to give up the road after spending years as a backing band for Ronnie Hawkins and Bob Dylan, then enjoying extensive success on their own. They put on one last show that included friends, influences and collaborators like Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, Eric Clapton and Dylan. Thanks to Martin Scorsese’s famed 1978 concert film The Last Waltz, the Thanksgiving Day show would go down as one of the famous events in rock history.

Read More: The Story of the Band’s Thanksgiving Farewell


Kiss’ “Horrible” Thanksgiving Parade

Mike Pont, Getty Images

Mike Pont, Getty Images

When Kiss appeared at the 2014 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in their hometown of New York City, the intended spectacle did not go according to plan. Situated on a last-minute, much smaller-than-expected float, the band members did their best to make the most of the makeshift circumstances, miming “Rock and Roll All Nite” on cold and rainy day. “We looked like the shittiest thing on the Macy’s Day Parade,” manager Doc McGhee later said. “That was just a horrible time.”

Read More: Revisiting Kiss’ “Horrible” Thanksgiving Parade: “This is How You Get Fired”


‘WKRP in Cincinnati”s Hilarious Thanksgiving Episode

“As God is my witness, I thought turkeys could fly,” says station manager Mr. Carlson in this special Thanksgiving edition of WKRP in Cincinnati. It’s this small but significant misunderstanding that lands Carlson in hot water as he plans a promotional event in which live turkeys get dropped from a helicopter. Amazingly, it was based on a real-life stunt.

Read More: Revisiting the Classic ‘WKRP in Cincinnati’ Thanksgiving Episode


The Story Behind Arlo Guthrie’s ‘Alice’s Restaurant’

Hulton Archive, Getty Images

Hulton Archive, Getty Images

Arlo Guthrie was just 18 years old in 1965 when he rolled into Great Barrington, Mass., to celebrate Thanksgiving with his friends, Alice and Ray Brock, who lived in an old church. Guthrie and a friend spent the day helping to clear debris from the Brock’s home, but it led to their arrest for littering, and the bust turned out to be crucial in getting Guthrie out of military service. The good deed gone wrong inspired Guthrie’s 18-minute career-launching “Alice’s Restaurant Massacree.”

Read More: How Arlo Guthrie’s Arrest Inspired the Thanksgiving Classic ‘Alice’s Restaurant’


“Leftovers” Albums

While the meal is the highlight of Thanksgiving, raiding the fridge in the days following has its own joys. Similarly, sometimes musicians will dig deep into their archives for their own “leftover” albums. Many of our favorite artists – including the Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, Tom Petty and Pink Floyd – have fashioned compelling releases out of songs originally deemed not suitable for release for one reason or another.

Read More: Top 10 “Leftovers” Albums


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