girl singing into a microphone in nighttime venue

Songs that mention famous people

Songwriters get inspired by so many life experiences, there’s always plenty of inspiration out there. Of course much of that inspiration is from past musicians and singers. So why not write songs based on them.  But songwriters name drop plenty of other famous people in songs, real or fictional. So what are the songs that mention famous people.

I’ve collated them by inspiration, although many would appear in different lists where they’re name dropping heaven. Some cover numerous people, and are often the most well remembered songs if you ask someone which songs mention other names.

songs that mention famous people

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Songs with famous people

Songs naming literary figures and authors

  • These Words by Natasha Bedingfield – Byron, Shelley, Keats
  • I Am the Walrus by The Beatles – Edgar Allan Poe 
  • Don’t Stand So Close to Me by The Police – Vladimir Nabokov
  • Pray For Me by John Cougar Mellencamp – Shakespeare

Songs name dropping actors

  • Hollywood Boulevard by The Kinks – Bela Lugosi 
  • That Don’t Impress Me Much by Shania Twain – Brad Pitt
  • Message Of Love by The Pretenders – Brigitte Bardot
  • If Hollywood don’t need you By Don Williams  – Burt Reynolds
  • You Made Me Love You by Judy Garland – Clark Gable
  • Clint Eastwood by Gorillaz – Clint Eastwood 
  • Crispin Glover by Scarling – Crispin Glover
  • Living Dead by Rob Zombie – Donna Reed
  • Grace Kelly by MIKA – Grace Kelly
  • Just Like Greta by Van Morrison – Greta Garbo
  • She’s Fine by Hurricane Chris featuring Superstarr – Halle Berry
  • Key Largo by Bertie Higgins – Humphrey Bogart  
  • James Dean by The Eagles – James Dean
  • Jack & Diane by John Cougar Mellencamp – James Dean
  • Style by Taylor Swift – James Dean
  • Rock On by David Essex –  James Dean
  • Restless by Gordon Lightfoot – John Wayne 
  • Wild Thing by Tone Loc – John Wayne
  • Restless by Gordon Lightfoot – John Wayne
  • Bette Davis Eyes – Kim Carnes 
  • Hey Leonardo by Blessed Union of Souls – Leonardo DiCaprio 
  • Give Me Everything by Pitbull, Ne-Yo, Afrojack – Lindsay Lohan
  • Werewolves in London – Warren Zevon – Lon Chaney 
  • Independent Women by Destiny’s Child – Lucy Liu 
  • Greenlight by 5SOS – Megan Fox + Katy Perry
  • Candle in the Wind by Elton John – Marilyn Monroe 
  • Marilyn Monroe by Pharrell Williams – Marilyn Monroe 
  • Pocahontas by Neil Young – Marlon Brando 
  • Riptide by Vance Joy – Michelle Pfeiffer
  • Uptown Funk by Bruno Mars – Michelle Pfeiffer
  • The Truth by John Wesley Harding – Richard Gere
  • Robert De Niro’s Waiting by Bananarama – Robert De Niro
  • Rosanna by Toto – Rosanna Arquette 
  • Come On and Dance by Motley Crue – Sandra Dee 
  • Steve McQueen by Sheryl Crow – Steve McQueen 
  • One Night In Bangkok by Murray Head – Yul Brynner 

Historic figures in songs

  • I’m Henry VIII, I Am by Hermans Hermits – Henry VIII
  • Waterloo by ABBA – Napoleon 

Sports stars in songs

  • Mrs Robinson by Simon and Garfunkel – Joe Dimaggio
  • Hurricane by Bob Dylan – Ruben “Hurricane” Carter 
  • Centerfield by John Fogarty – Willie Mays

Songs mentioning people from politics

  • Revolution by The Beatles – Chairman Mao
  • Bullet by the Misfits – Jackie Onassis-Kennedy
  • Bo$$ by Fifth Harmony – Michelle Obama
  • Ego Is Not a Dirty Word by Skyhooks – Richard Nixon 
  • Young Americans – David Bowie – Richard Nixon  

Musicians and singers mentioned in songs

  • Be Lucky by The Who – AC/DC
  • Amy by Green Day– Amy Winehouse 
  • Wood Beez (Pray Like Aretha Franklin) by Scritti Politti – Aretha Franklin 
  • Hey Nineteen by Steely Dan – Aretha Franklin
  • King of Rock by Run D.M.C – The Beatles
  • Alfred’s Theme by Eminem – Billie Eilish 
  • Mr. Jones by Counting Crows – Bob Dylan 
  • Only Wanna Be With You by Hootie & The Blowfish – Bob Dylan 
  • Thunder on the Mountain by Alicia Keyes – Bob Dylan 
  • Brian Wilson – Barenaked Ladies – Brian Wilson
  • Don’t Let Me Get Me by Pink – Britney Spears
  • Lookin’ Out My Back Door by Creedence Clearwater Revival – Buck Owens
  • Buddy Holly by Weezer – Buddy Holly, Mary Tyler Moore
  • Tribute to Buddy Holly by Mike Berry – Buddy Holly
  • With David Bowie – Veruca Salt – David Bowie
  • Runnin’ Down a Dream – Tom Petty –  Del Shannon
  • I Forgot That You Existed by Taylor Swift – Drake 
  • For You Blue by The Beatles – Elmore James
  • Free Fallin by Tom Petty – Elvis Presley
  • Bigger Than Elvis by Chicago – Elvis Presley
  • Calling Elvis by Dire Straits – Elvis Presley 
  • Walkin’ In Memphis by Marc Cohn – Elvis Presley
  • Wanna Be a Rock n Roll Star by Eddie Money – Elvis Presley 
  • God by John Lennon – Elvis, Zimmerman (Bob Dylan), The Beatles
  • It’s My Life – Bon Jovi – Frank Sinatra
  • Fairytale of New York by the Pogues – Frank Sinatra 
  • Smoke on the Water by Deep Purple – Frank Zappa 
  • Long Way Home by 5SOS – Green Day
  • Sorry, Blame It on Me by Akon – Gwen Stefani 
  • That’s Just the Way We Roll by the Jonas Brothers – Hanson
  • Jackie Wilson Said by Van Morrison – Jackie Wilson
  • Rock & Roll Heaven by the Righteous Brothers – Janis Joplin
  • So What by Pink – Jessica Simpson  
  • Anyone Can Play Guitar by Radiohead – Jim Morrison 
  • Drowse by Queen – Jimi Hendrix 
  • I Hate Jimmy Page by Mindless Self Indulgence – Jimmy Page 
  • Rock Show by Wings – Jimmy Page
  • Angel of Harlem by U2 – John Coltrane
  • Devil’s Sidewalk by Neil Young – John Lennon 
  • Life Is Real by Queen – John Lennon 
  • Long Time Gone by the Dixie Chicks – Johnny Cash
  • The Ballad of Dorothy Parker by Prince – Joni Mitchell
  • Up All Night by One Direction – Katy Perry
  • Boys Boys Boys by Lady Gaga – The Killers
  • End Up Here by 5SOS – Kurt Cobain 
  • Ghost of You by 5SOS – Led Zeppelin
  • Pennyroyal Tea by Nirvana – Leonard Cohen 
  • Mr Sandman by The Chordettes – Liberace
  • Chocolate Cake by Crowded House – Liberace
  • Sweet Home Alabama by Lynyrd Skynyrd – Neil Young
  • Highlands by Bob Dylan – Neil Young
  • I’ll Be Missing You by Puff Daddy – Notorious B.I.G. 
  • Chained to you by Savage Garden  – Madonna 
  • Hey Soul Sister by Train – Madonna
  • Slow Jamz by Kanye West – Michael Jackson
  • Ashes to ashes by David Bowie – Mickey Mouse
  • Moves like Jagger by Maroon 5/Christina Aguilera – Mick Jagger 
  • Comfortable by John Mayer – Miles Davis 
  • Blinded by the Light by Bruce Springsteen – Mozart 
  • Elegantly Wasted by INXS – Oasis 
  • Stan by Eminem – Phil Collins
  • Good Times by Owl City – Prince
  • Monterey by the Animals – Ravi Shankar
  • I Go Crazy by Queen – Rolling Stones, Queen 
  • You’re The Reason I’m Leaving by Franz Ferdinand – R.E.M. 
  • Walks like Rihanna by The Wanted – Rihanna 
  • Take Me Home Tonight by Eddie Money – Ronnie Spector
  • Thunder Road by Bruce Springsteen – Roy Orbison
  • Twisted Road by Neil Young & Crazy Horse – Roy Orbison 
  • Juicy by Notorious B.I.G. – Salt N Pepa 
  • Aint Even Done With the Night by John Mellencamp – Sam Cooke
  • When Smokey Sings by ABC – Smokey Robinson 
  • Tim McGraw by Taylor Swift – Tim McGraw
  • I’ll Never Smoke Weed With Willie (Nelson) Again by Toby Keith – Willie Nelson
  • Be My Yoko Ono – Barenaked Ladies – Yoko Ono 
girl singing into a microphone in nighttime venue

Other famous people mentioned in songs

  • The Night Chicago Died by Paper Lace – Al Capone
  • Mister Crowley by Ozzy Osbourne – Aleister Crowley
  • This Afternoon by Nickelback – Cheech & Chong 
  • California Girls Katy Perry – Daisy Dukes
  • God & the FBI by Janis Ian – J. Edgar Hoover 
  • Merely a Man by XTC – Jimmy Swaggart 
  • Everything’s Wonderful by Lily Allen – Kate Moss
  • 3 AM by Eminem – Kim Kardashian
  • Where Do You Go To, My Lovely? by Peter Sarstedt – Pablo Picasso 
  • Pretty Boy Floyd by Woody Guthrie – Pretty Boy Floyd 
  • Timothy Leary’s Dead by The Moody Blues – Timothy Leary 
  • Clap For The Wolfman by The Guess Who – Wolfman Jack

Songs mentioning multiple famous people

  • Cadillac Ranch by Bruce Springsteen – James Dean,  Burt Reynolds
  • Classic by MKTO – Michael Jackson, Prince, Marvin Gaye
  • Cleaning Windows by Van Morrison – Jimmie Rodgers, Leadbelly, Blind Lemon, Sonny Terry, 
  • Crush (1980 me) by Darren Hayes – Cyndi Lauper, Michael Jackson, Simon LeBon
  • Brownie McGhee, Muddy Waters, Christmas Humphreys, Jack Kerouac
  • Club at the End of the Street by Elton John – Otis Redding, Marvin Gaye
  • Dig It by The Beatles – B.B. King, Doris Day, Matt Busby
  • Do You Remember Rock ‘n’ Roll Radio? By The Ramones – Jerry Lee, John Lennon, T. Rex
  • Downtown by Neil Young – Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, Jimmy Page
  • From Hank to Hendrix by Neil Young – Hank Marvin, Jimmy Hendrix
  • Hello by The Beloved – Tommy Cannon, Bobby Ball, Little Richard, Willy Wonka, William Tell Salman Rushdie, Kym Mazelle, Brian Hayes, Barry Humphries, Paris Grey, Billy Corkhill, Vince Hilaire, Freddie Flintstone, Fred Astaire, Desmond Tutu, Charlie Parker, Charlie Brown Leslie Crowther, Mary Wilson, Jean Paul Sartre, Zippy, Bungle, Jeffrey Archer, Andre Previn
  • How to be a country star by Statler Brothers – Jerry Reed Jeannie Shepard, Tom T, Haggard,  Johnny R, Bill Anderson, Jerry Lee, Roy Acuff, Ralph Emery, Conway Twitty, Sonny James Minnie Pearl, Jimmy Dickens, Roy Clark, Barbara Mandrel, Eddy Arnold,Charley Pride, Dolly Parton, Crystal Gayle
  • I Contain Multitudes by Bob Dylan – Anne Frank, Indiana Jones, the Rolling Stones
  • I feel lucky by Mary Chapin Carpenter – Lyle Lovette, Dwight Yoakum
  • I Hear You Knocking by Dave Edmunds – Fats Domino, Smiley Lewis, Chuck Berry, Huey Smith
  • It’s The End Of The World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine) by R.E.M. – Lenny Bruce, Leonard Bernstein, Leonid Brezhnev, Lester Bangs
  • Ode to a Black Man by Phil Lynott – Stevie Wonder, Muhammad Ali, Malcolm X, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Bob Marley, Robert Johnson, Jimi Hendrix
  • James Dean I Wanna Know by Daniel Bedingfield – James Dean, Brad Pitt, Versace
  • Let ‘Em In by Wings –  Martin Luther King, Phil and Don Everly
  • Life in a Northern Town by The Dream Academy – John F. Kennedy, The Beatles
  • Nightshift by the Commodores – Jackie Wilson, Marvin Gaye
  • Man on the Moon by REM – Mott the Hoople, Andy Kaufman, Fred Blassie, Elvis, Moses, Newton, Charles Darwin, Saint Peter
  • Murder Most Foul by Bob Dylan – Don Henley, Glenn Frey, the Beatles, Patsy Cline, Etta James, Carl Wilson, as well as naming songs by Everly Brothers, the Who, Queen, the Animals, Johnny Cash, Randy Newman and Billy Joel.
  • Party in the USA by Miley Cyrus – Jay-Z, Britney Spears
  • Poster Child by Red Hot Chili Peppers – Robert Plant, Billy Idol, Adam Ant, Led Zeppelin, Thin Lizzy, Thompson Twins, the Ramones, Judas Priest, Yoko Ono, Steve Miller, Van Morrison, Duran Duran, Motorhead, Status Quo, Queen, Chubby Checker, Prince, Sid Vicious
  • R.O.C.K. in the U.S.A. by John Mellencamp – Frankie Lyman, Bobby Fuller, Mitch Ryder,  
  • Rock ‘n Roll Heaven by the Righteous Brothers – Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Otis ReddingJackie Wilson, Shangra-Las, Martha Reeves, James Brown
  • The Seeker by The Who – Bob Dylan, The Beatles, Timothy Leary
  • She’s so High by Tal Bachman mentions Cleopatra, Joan of Arc, and Aphrodite
  • Sir Duke by Stevie Wonder – Count Basie, Glen Miller, Satchmo (Louis Armstrong), Sir Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald
  • The Ultimate Showdown of Ultimate Destiny by Lemon Demon – Abraham Lincoln, Batman, Optimus Prime, various other goodies and baddies from films.
  • Tik Tok by Ke$ha – P. Diddy, Miley Cyrus
  • U.S. Blues by The Grateful Dead – P.T. Barnum, Charlie Chan, Uncle Sam
  • Vogue by Madonna – Greta Garbo, Marilyn Monroe, Marlene Dietrich, Joe DiMaggio, Marlon Brando, Jimmy Dean, Grace Kelly, Harlow Jean, Gene Kelly, Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers, Rita Hayworth, Lauren Bacall, Katherine Hepburn, Lana Turner, Bette Davis
  • We Didn’t Start the Fire by Billy Joel – Buddy Holly, Ben Hur, Castro, U2, Syngman Rhee, Kennedy, Chubby Checker, Elvis Presley, Bob Dylan, Jonnie Ray
  • Year of the Cat by Al Stewart – Humphrey Bogart, Peter Lorre
  • You Get What You Give by The New Radicals – Hanson, Marilyn Manson, Beck, Courtney Love
  • You’re the Top by Cole Porter – Mahatma Ghandi, Johann Strauss, Shakespeare, Mona Lisa, Greta Garbo, Calvin Coolidge, Fred Astaire, Eugene O’Neill, James MacNeil Whistler, Dante Alighieri, Jimmy Durante, John Jacob Aster

You can find some of these through Amazon Music*

Check out the list for songs with one word titles

What other songs with famous people in do you know?

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