The Muppet Show deserves serious consideration when discussing the essential variety shows that brought country and folk music into living rooms across America.
Much like The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour and The Johnny Cash Show before it, The Muppet Show cast a wide net when it came to lining up entertainers to enter the Jim Henson multiverse. Musically-inclined guest stars of Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy, Fozzie Bear and friends ranged from Alice Cooper and Debbie Harry to Harry Belafonte and Joan Baez. Kermit, a banjo picker from Mississippi, also shared billing with the 10 country artists and duos listed below.
Roy Clark (Season 3, 1978)
Highlights include a visually trippy performance of "Rocky Top" that shows off Clark's multi-instrumental talents.
Loretta Lynn (Season 3, 1978)
Loretta Lynn's musical skits include singing "One's on the Way" while wrangling literal Muppet babies and a performance of Don Gibson's "Oh, Lonesome Me" with former Jimmy Dean sidekick Rowlf and other dogs.
Kris Kristofferson & Rita Coolidge (Season 3, 1978)
Kris Kristofferson got offered everything from Miss Piggy's heart to Gonzo's autograph and Rita Coolidge shared screen time with repurposed puppets from Emmet Otter's Jug-Band Christmas during the couple's stay at the Muppet Theatre.
Roger Miller (Season 3, 1979)
As we learned from one of the best Muppet Show episodes, some of Roger Miller's silliest songs pair well with chicken puppets and singing watermelons.
Roy Rogers and Dale Evans (Season 3, 1979)
Just one week after Miller's appearance first aired, Roy Rogers and Dale Evans guest starred in an Old West-themed episode. During a medley of western favorites, Evans teases her husband over his yodeling performance while name-dropping a family friend and Hollywood peer: "Who do you think you are, Gene Autry?"
Crystal Gayle (Season 4, 1979)
Crystal Gayle and Loretta Lynn became the first and only sibling duo to guest star on separate Muppet Show episodes after Gayle's Nov. 1979 appearance.
"I loved taping The Muppet Show in London. Jim Henson, Frank Oz and all the Muppets made me feel like a part of their family," says Gayle in a press release.
A gorgeous and surreal performance of "We Must Believe in Magic" highlight's Gayle's interactions with the Muppets.
Kenny Rogers (Season 4, 1979)
Anne Murray (Season 4, 1980)
We get to hear "Snowbird," of course, but the main takeaway here is a "Walk Right Back" team-up with the Electric Mayhem that's among the series' most carefree and fun musical numbers.
Johnny Cash (Season 5, 1981)
Johnny Cash has a ball performing "Jackson" and "The Orange Blossom Special" with Miss Piggy and the show's massive cast of cowpokes, hillbillies and long-haired pickers.
Mac Davis (Season 5, 1981)
The next to last Muppet Show episode ever found Mac Davis teaching "Poor Boy Boogie" to a chorus of Beakers and singing "Don't Get Hooked on Me" to mermaid Miss Piggy.
Beyond these 10 examples, there's plenty of guest musicians (John Denver, Linda Ronstadt, Judy Collins, Gladys Knight) and actors (Steve Martin, Carol Burnett, Don Knotts, Dom DeLuise) country fans adore, so expect to binge watch more than 10 of the show's 120 episodes.
All five seasons of The Muppet Show are currently streaming on Disney+.
This story was first published on Feb. 19, 2021.