Biopics are very polarising among classic rock fans. Some people love them and other people hate them. I’m a classic rock enthusiast and I like pretty much everything classic rock so if there’s a musician biopic coming out, I’m gonna see it in the cinema and because I write this blog, I’ll let you know what I think. What I love about biopics is that they tell a story and it’s a way to keep the band evergreen and remembered for generations to come. I also love seeing the revival of interest in the band, unlike some fans who are total snobs who like to keep classic rock bands for themselves as if they’re some secret. Newsflash, classic rock is well known, that’s why it’s classic rock.
Biopics do get a lot of flack though. There are a bunch of reasons people don’t like biopics. I think the first big one is because they’re not always the most accurate. Documentaries are factual, movies on the other hand – even if based on a true story – take a lot of artistic licence to tell a story, and die hard fans who have encyclopaedic knowledge will be very annoyed watchers going “ummm actually” the whole time. Another problem with biopics is sometimes they take the Disney sanitised approach, notoriously done by Bohemian Rhapsody, and that’s just not the reality in rock and roll! I’m guessing it’s all for ticket sales and doing well at awards shows. In my opinion, classic rock movies shouldn’t be for kids. The music is fine for the family, but if you’re making a classic rock movie, it’s going to naturally have a lot of content that’s not family friendly. It’s the rock and roll lifestyle! Biopics are also something that can either be amazing or awful. Amazing to me would be Coal Miner’s Daughter (Loretta Lynn) and Ray (Ray Charles). Awful classic rock biopics that come to mind are the Bowie and Hendrix ones that their families did not approve of and therefore weren’t allowed to use their music.
Now we’re going to go onto the bands I want to see biopics for. But my rules are that these rock bands can’t have a biopic made about them, and yes that includes biopics that focus on just one band member – that’s still a rock band biopic. Now the five bands I’ll be talking about here are ones I adore, but don’t worry I’ll be giving compelling reasons why they need a biopic and I think you might agree.
1. The Who
The Who are #1 on my list for rock bands that need a biopic and they’re high up on a lot of people’s lists. No, I didn’t put The Who at #1 because they’re my favourites. I genuinely believe they have a compelling story and I would love to see it be told in movie format. For years, we Who fans have been teased with possibilities of a Keith Moon biopic, but no dice. I’m guessing it’s problems behind the scenes rather than people not having an interest in the story because The Who back in their heyday were some of the craziest partiers, plus they recorded great rock operas like Tommy and Quadrophenia, and they played famous festivals like Woodstock and Monterey – one of the best live bands ever. There have been movies about The Beatles and there was a biopic about Brian Jones of The Rolling Stones, so I don’t know why there hasn’t been a Who one yet. Who wouldn’t want to see the band’s humble beginnings as The Detours and later the High Numbers, Keith Moon joining the band, Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend fighting and Roger even getting kicked out of the band, John just minding his own business on stage and spending all his money on clothes, Keith blowing up his drum kit on the Smothers Brothers, Keith’s 21st birthday party, all of Keith’s antics, Roger flushing his bandmates’ drugs down the toilet, Roger in the bathtub with cold Heinz Baked Beans, Keith and John getting endorsement deals with Premier Drums and Rotosound strings and making jingles for them, the recording of Tommy the album, Woodstock, Live At Leeds, Pete trying to explain Lifehouse to the band and then that falling apart, the making of Tommy, the making of the film adaptation of Quadrophenia. It would be epic!
2. The Kinks
Every time I look at lists of rock band biopics people want to see, no one ever mentions The Kinks. It’s the biopic you didn’t know you needed. There was supposed to be a biopic, but that fell through for whatever reason. Anyway, It’s the perfect recipe for a rock biopic with a sibling rivalry and constant fights and drama. And some things that set them apart from other classic rock bands: two bisexual band members, and they’re the only band ever to be banned from America and that’s what led to them taking a different path musically than their bandmates. It’s a great opportunity for male bisexual representation, since bi men get erased all the time. There’s a lot you can put in this biopic: Ray’s struggles with depression/bipolar, Ray and Dave’s fights over the years, Dave cutting the speaker cone with a razor blade to create that fuzzy guitar sound, Mick Avory joining the band and all of the band members acting campy and he thinks they’re all gay, Dave’s relationship with Michael Aldred (and other men), Pete Quaife’s love of mod stuff and him leaving the band twice, the Australia tour with Manfred Mann, Mick throwing a cymbal at Dave’s head knocking him out at a concert in Cardiff, the craziness that was their first American tour (the one that got them banned), the making of the music video for Dead End Street, the band being hours late to a concert because they wanted to watch England win the World Cup, the making of Village Green Preservation Society, Dave crossdressing and seducing Mick, the list goes on! What an incredible biopic this would be! And no, it should not be Disneyfied. It’s The Kinks, not The Vanillas. Kinks fans are also some of the most robbed fans because so many of their 60s TV performances were erased (I’m looking at you Ready Steady Go) and I guess the next best thing would be seeing these recreated for a biopic.
3. Led Zeppelin
This one comes as a surprise to me. Why isn’t there a Led Zeppelin biopic? They’re only one of the best rock bands of all time and such a great live act. And of course a lot of wild partying and crazy stories. Personally, I’d love to see Jimmy’s beginnings as a session guitarist and then joining The Yardbirds and how he met fellow session musician Jonesy and how they played “Beck’s Bolero” in this once off supergroup and thanks to Keith Moon who also played on the song, Led Zeppelin got their name. Also, can we talk about how talented Jonesy is? He plays every instrument and he got his start as a teenager playing with former Shadows Jet Harris and Tony Meehan, what a way to begin your music career! Robert Plant’s beginnings in Birmingham and how he met Jimmy. John Bonham, one of the best rock drummers of all time and in many people’s opinion the best ever – gone too soon! It would definitely be a sad biopic at the end because of John Bonham’s death leading to their breakup, would be interesting to see an alternate history or different timeline showing the possibilities had he lived. That’s not the only sadness though, Robert lost his son Karac in 1977. The band’s interest in Lord of the Rings, the occult (can we have a scene of Jimmy arguing with Kenneth Anger over Lucifer Rising? and show Jimmy’s obsession with Aleister Crowley to the point where he buys his house?), and mystical things would be cool to explore. It’d be cool to get some scenes of them in the Welsh countryside being inspired by the scenery. The band have a consistently good discography and I’d say so consistently good they come close to The Beatles in that way – there’s very few bands I can say that about. Not a big fan of the last two albums, but everything before that was amazing, genius. I guess similar to BoRhap, we can get a lot of great concert scenes, maybe an epic MSG 1973 one?
4. Pink Floyd
Another surprise, there’s never been a Pink Floyd biopic and once again the band have a captivating, compelling story. Sad at times, yes, but would make for a great movie, can’t always have happy movies. The saddest moments would be seeing Syd Barrett’s performance decline and his behaviour becoming erratic, him becoming a recluse, and showing up to Abbey Road Studios in 1975 bald with a beer belly and the band not recognising him at first. The movie should obviously have a lot of Syd Barrett, doing justice to Pink Floyd’s first leader. You really haven’t listened to Pink Floyd unless you’ve listened to Syd Barrett era Floyd. It’s really out of this world and that part of the movie would be a total acid trip. Seeing recreations of the 70s Pink Floyd concerts in the movie would be cool! Like Live at Pompeii and that one concert where Roger Waters spitting on a fan at a concert in the late 70s. Imagine seeing the making of DSOTM, Animals, and The Wall! And of course Pink Floyd have their fair share of drama: Waters versus Gilmour! Plus the drama of Roger Waters leaving the band in the 80s and decades later being banned from the Facebook page (no joke). The tea is hot, sis!
5. Black Sabbath
Like Led Zeppelin, this band have a lot of crazy stories and drama so get the tea kettle boiling and the popcorn popping. Like the other bands on this list there have been talks of a biopic, but no action really. First reason we need a Black Sabbath biopic is because they are so important in heavy metal history and so groundbreaking and their story isn’t ordinary so there’s a lot of potential for a one of a kind true story. For starters, Tony Iommi losing his fingertips on his last day of working at a sheet metal factory and having to re-learn to play guitar – nearly giving up on it but then his coworker told him about Django Reinhardt, that would make an interesting story. That created Black Sabbath’s unique dark, heavy guitar sound. Ozzy Osbourne has a lot of drama so where to begin, well there’s the notorious eating a bat’s head on stage story and him quitting Black Sabbath. It would also be interesting to see the story of how Ronnie James Dio and Ian Gillan joined the band. And of course seeing the making of the first three albums (considered their best) as movie scenes – would be amazing! Definitely not a movie for kids, but a great story!
Now these aren’t the only classic rock bands who deserve a biopic, there’s many more. Would you like me to write a sequel sometime? Let me know in the comments and feel free to share any of your insights: fan castings, who you’d love to see direct these movies, any rants or raves!
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