press a topic to read about how that mediator changed over time
History of Rockumentaries
Rock in the Movies
1955 - Blackboard Jungle released. The film helped spark rock ‘n roll’s
boom in the mid-50’s. Bill Haley’s "Rock Around the Clock" was featured
in this very popular, influential and controversial picture. Projected
‘rebellious spirit’ of early rock ‘n roll.
1956 - *Alan Freed appears in 3 films (playing himself): Don’t Knock
the Rock (featuring Bill Haley and the Comets), Rock Around the Clock (featuring
Haley again) and Rock, Rock, Rock. These films were essentially showcases
for the artists that promised to bring in a lot of money—which they did even without much of a plot or decent acting. It makes sense that the man who pioneered the marketing of rock ‘n roll be involved in these movies. Only
artists with the ‘potential for commercial success’ were bothered with—why show the public musicians that won’t sell?
**Elvis Presley, acknowledged as the only rock ‘n roll star to enjoy a long career in movies, stars in his first film, Love Me Tender—the film’s title track is a number 1 hit. Eventually, after successes like Jailhouse Rock (1957) and Presley’s service in the Army, he would stop performing live to concentrate solely on films. He would star in more than 20 of these during the 60s, most of his releases in the decade were soundtracks for those pictures.
1957 - Freed appears in Mr. Rock and Roll
1959 - Freed appears in Go, Johnny Go!
1964 - The Beatles’ first film, A Hard Day’s Night, is released during the height of Beatlemania. They would continue to appear in films (Help, the animated Yellow Submarine).
1965 - 1975 - As rock ‘n roll becomes ‘rock,’ artists begin appearing in more ‘serious’ documentaries (Bob Dylan, Don’t Look Back) and concert films (Pink Floyd at Pompeii, filmed in the Pompeii ruins).
1969 - the counter-culture film Easy Rider heavily features rock music
and its soundtrack is the first well-known example of the now ever-present
Compilation soundtrack album: an album comprised of songs that have already
been released. Featuring Jimi Hendrix and The Band, among others, the album went gold and was the second most successful soundtrack album of the year. This is generally acknowledged to have started the lucrative compilation
Late ‘60s/early-mid ‘70s - Many artists begin writing their music as
the soundtrack. Or, in L. Cohen’s case, working with a filmmaker to include
only their music, which is already available: Simon and Garfunkel (The
’69), Leonard Cohen (McCabe and Mrs. Miller, ’71), Cat Stevens (Harold and Maude, ’71). *This practice continues, some recent examples: Tom Petty (She’s The One, ’96), Aimee Mann (Magnolia, ’99), Air (The Virgin Suicides, ’99).
**Also rock stars acting in non-music films: Mick Jagger (Performance, ’70), Bob Dylan (Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid, ’73), David Bowie (The Man Who Fell To Earth, ’76). --This continues also with Tom Waits (Down By Law,
Short Cuts) and many others, eg. Sting, Bjork, Meat Loaf, etc.
1975 - Ken Russell’s film version of The Who’s Tommy released. The album Tommy is representative of the more ‘serious’ aspirations of rock stars, this being Pete Townshend’s famous ‘rock opera.’
1977 - Even though Saturday Night Fever was a film revolving around disco and featured a soundtrack of disco songs, its massive success was a landmark for soundtrack albums (and many of the people who purchased the album are part of the same pop/rock audience that would help soundtracks become even more popular—even if rock fans and disco fans were considered enemies at the time).
1978 - Rock music and film are so closely aligned that The Band decides to finish their career by having Martin Scorsese film their last concert, The Last Waltz.
Late ‘70/early 80s - Along with punk, lesser known artists are profiled
on film. The Decline of Western Civilization (’81) documents Black Flag
and X among other bands. Also Rock ‘n Roll High School (’79), featuring
late ‘70s and continuing… - Biography films about rock stars: The Buddy Holly Story (’78), Sid and Nancy (’86), La Bamba (’87), The Doors (’91). *This trend continues into the present with Backbeat (’94), and even Mr. Rock ‘n Roll Fantasy: The Alan Freed Story (‘99).
1980s - Artists work with film, making cutting-edge music films with
creative control: Talking Heads (Stop Making Sense), Tom Waits (Big Time).
Earlier examples include Frank Zappa’s 200 Motels (’71) and even The
Monkees’ Head (’68).
1983 - The Big Chill, a film designed to comfort baby-boomer guilt over compromising their youthful ideals, scores big by featuring 60s hits by Marvin Gaye, among others. In a decade that found record companies profiting greatly from CD reissues, The Big Chill is both representative of the increasing nostalgia in American society and the decreasing originality of movie soundtracks (especially movies which feature rock music).
1990s - Blatant promotional films continue on in the original spirit
of A Hard Day’s Night, albeit without much artistic success - Spice World
(’98) being a well-known example.
*A number of rappers (Master P, Big Pun) begin acting in, producing and directing their own films; mostly straight to video with the exception of Ice Cube.
late ‘90s/2000 - Increase of films focusing on rock mediators, examples: DJs - Telling Lies in America (’97). Record store clerks - Empire Records (’95), High Fidelity (’00). Rock Critics - Almost Famous (’00).
All-Movie Guide [allmovie.com]
All-Music Guide [allmusic.com]
AMC (American Movie Classics)
Billboard, a trade magazine for the music industry, continues to release sales charts and listings which become very important to popularizing rock and roll. The Village Voice is first published in 1955 out of New York, a
weekly â€˜undergroundâ€™ paper introducing free-form journalism. Underground papers such as this make record album reviews and artist interviews popular facets of music media. In 1957, the first ever music-oriented teen fanzine
was published, 16 Magazine, oriented towards teen girls. By 1958, two music-oriented British magazines had emerged (New Musical Express and Melody Maker).
In the mid-60â€™s, specialized, independently made fan magazine (fanzines) become increasingly popular, especially fanzines devoted to The Beatles and The Monkees. In 1964, The Lost Angeles Free Press, an underground paper
modeled after The Village Voice, is published by Art Kuntin. The late 1960s become the "heyday" of the underground press. The San Francisco Oracle, first published in 1966, is a popular psychedelic magazine, published in the
Haight Ashbury area. Crawdaddy!, coined as the first rock magazine in the U.S., is self-published by Paul Williams in February of 1966. Creem, a rock magazine out of Detroit is also published for the first time. In 1967, Jan Wenner publishes the first issue of Rolling Stone in San Francisco(a magazine dedicated to progressive rock music)
Rolling Stone and Creem continue to be popular print authorities on popular rock music. In the late 70â€™s, there is a boom of underground papers and fanzines, coinciding with the growing punk scenes in New York and London.
Most notably, Britain's Sniffin Glue and New York's Punk fanzines. Underground magazines for the punk and metal scenes are very common while mainstream rock magazines continue to exile both genres of music. The
seventies also brought a surge in teen music magazines which focused on the teen ido side of music...magazines such as Bop, Tigerbeat, and Teenbeat offered posters, pinups, and interviews with rock and pop's leading boys and
Glossy magazines devoted to non-mainstream rock reached a publishing boom. Alternative Press, a magazine dedicated to the U.S. independent music scene, was first published in 1985. Spin magazine, a forum for ˜alternative
music", also came into circulation. Metal magazines such as Rip became popular. Fanzines continue to thrive and spread in popularity through other fan groups (jazz, avant garde, etc.)
ONLINE music magazines THRIVE!!! The popularity of the internet brings, not only online versions of almost every popular print magazine, but also the birth of thousands of online-only mags dedicated to every genre and subgenre
of rock music. Glossy independent magazines also receive more circulation, such as Magnet (first published in 1993), focusing on indie/college rock.
Rock Music: Culture, Aesthetics and Sociology by Peter Wicke
Rock Music in Popular Culture: Rock and Roll Resources by B. Lee Cooper and Wayne S. Haney
Rockin in Time: A Social History of Rock and Roll by David P. Szatmary
Rolling Stone Magazine: The Uncensored History by Robert Draper
-1964- First rockumentary type film, “Hard Days Night” with the Beatles,
was released. This was made by
Richard Lester. It was a mockumentary instead of a rockumentary meaning that the film was in the intent
of showing what they where really like but it was scripted and directed. Their music was added into the
film to sell a record. This spawned other films such as "Help!" by the Beatles to sell other albums.
-1965-Bob Dylan hired D.A. Pennebaker to follow him during his tour
in England. This film incorporated
both behind the scenes to see what it was like to be a rock star and footage from the concert. This film,
"Don't Look Back" was released in 1967. The filmmaker become both a fly on the wall in the tour bus and an
audience member during the show. The filmmaker was everywhere the person watching the film wants to be.
-1969-Pennbaker filmed the “Monterey Pop” concert and Michael Wadleigh filmed the much-famed footage of Woodstock, being edited for the movie by Martin Scorsese to convey the feeling of the festival. These such rockumentaries where proof of the interaction between the artist and the audience for both groups. They brought them together in a way that felt that they was no mediator, despite the fact that the entire medium of film is a mediator.
-1970-One of the most famous and well-known rockumentaries was released
following the Rolling
Stones during their 1969 tour. The film was “Gimme Shelter”, and it has been voted one of the best rockumentaries in many circles.
-1970-Also gave birth to the rock group The Who’s film company “Who
Films”. With this company they released
many film and many rockumentaries including “The Kids are Alright”, about the Who themselves.
-1973-Pennebaker was hired by David Bowie to document his last Ziggy Stardust tour. This film was released in 1983 as “Ziggy Stardust: The Motion Picture”. This film was mostly tour footage but also some wild backstage scenes of what it was like to be Bowie.
-These films became more and more popular with not only the audiences but also the industry and the artists. As this happened the artist started taking a better grip on the film itself and filtering what the audience saw and what their perceived reality was.
-1976-One of the most popular rockumentaries was released documenting the last tour of The Band. The film "The Last Waltz” was filmed by Martin Scorsese as a sort of good bye letter to the band.
-1979-Rob Reiner released a film mocking the growing popularity and commercialism of the rockumentary with “This is Spinal Tap”. This film made fun of all the grandiose personalities and the melodramatic relationships within the generic “rock band”.
-1980’s-During this time with the rise of the rock video, rockumentaries began to change. Since the audience could now see concert footage through the filter of the video the artists started to make films themselves instead of just rockumentaries. The Talking Heads, Prince, and other band jumped in on this. Rockumentaries also started to be less and less documentary style and more of concert footage set in between their latest video on MTV.
-1991 - Madonna released “Truth or Dare: In Bed with Madonna”. Some say this is one of the best rockumentaries, others say that this is too manipulated and that Madonna was too “on” during the taping on stage and back stage alike. This movie brought up the rockumentary again after the lull following the MTV excitement.
-There are more and more rockumentaries being released everyday. Some are just being found, like “The Filth and the Fury”, a film by Julian Temple about the Sex Pistols that was just released. These such films destroyed the staged personality “exposed” during the 1970’s and it’s films.
-Today- The most popular form of rockumentaries is the commercial and
very filtered form of VH1's “Behind the
Music”. This only depicts the rise and fall of the artist as a group, or as a commodity. These fail to show what Bob Dylan's "Don't Look Back" and David Bowie's "Ziggy Stardust" revealed about the life of a rock star. The real feeling of the struggle of the tours and the organization of more than one person making art. These encountered much scrutiny for what they leave out, however, the "behind the scenes" aspect of the rock star still draw audiences today. We always want to know what the artists are "really like".
-The rockumentary is trying to be less of a selling devise as it became
in the 1970’s during its boom and
even more so with the commercialization of MTV, and is starting to be, as one young Canadian film maker said,
more about the feel of what it is like to be a rock star, not about what the audience entirely wants to see.
-2000-Now there are new type of rockumentaries which many state of the
art artists such as Peter Gabriel
and David Bowie are investing in. These are the interactive rockumentary on CD-ROM and DVD. With these the audience is able to direct what they want to see of the artist with their computer. They can choose which part of the artist that they wish to see. Although the artist still chooses what is filmed, these can cater to the different type of rockumentary audience: those who want to see the concert, those who want to see the back stage, or those who want to see the artist on the phone with their parents at home arguing about when they will be home for the holidays.
Where to find it through the years.
Rock criticism has gained more places to be found through the years,
but has never seemed to lose any. Since criticism can not be officially
produced without something being defined as an art, it was not found printed
anywhere until about 1966.
In 1955-'65 From the beginning of Rock till 1965 the only place to find criticism was in the minds of the fans and in the artists'. It was orally passed between people. Some deejays might have given their comments, but there was no printed material to read.
In 1966-'70 The first magazine that gave "intelligent writing about pop music" Was Crawdaddy, whose editor was Richard Meltzer. A year and a half later came Rolling Stone Magazine. Creem, Esquire, and a few college newspapers also offered columns for criticism.
In 1970-'80 Criticism still ran strong in the minds of the fans and in the magazines. Now the big names in rock criticism, Richard Meltzer, Nick Toches, and Lester Bangs (The Noise Boys), began to write books also. More newspapers began to print criticism columns.
In 1980-'90 In 1981 MTV premiered and now TV offered a place for reviews on rock music. There are more books being published, and about every newspaper has some music column.
In 1990-Now Some magazines have gone to being more commercial and find
that interviews are more profitable than criticism, like Rolling Stones.
We do start to see Fan sites on the Internet and writers are getting their
criticism out on their own sites.
So rock criticism has not changed where it can be found, only added to its list.
Beato, G. "The Prosthetics of Rock." Soundbitten.
Robertson, Lori. "Golden Oldies." American Journalism Review.
Robins, Wayne. "I was a middle age Rock 'N' Roll Critic."
Concert lighting was basically born from traditional theatre lighting. Theatre lighting had the general form and style desired by the beginning concert designer. In 1949, Louis Erhart develops the first movable light but people in the lighting industry did not welcome his invention. People thought that this would take away jobs from skilled laborers.
“Good sound and lighting systems enhance a concert, interest, and command attention”, John Vasey.
Concert lighting is a mediator between the audience and the artist. Lighting allows the audience to get in to what the artist is playing or singing about. They lighting make drastic changes when the mood of a song changes from being hard-core rock to mellow love ballad.
1955 Concerts were held in Community Halls and Theatres. Bands used what ever available at the venues. During the late fifties and early sixties, concerts were apart of the variety or vaudeville circuit.
1960 Lighting did not come into a prominent position until the advancement of sound was invented. Harry Belafonte was one of the first artists to carry lighting equipment on tour with him. The majority of the artists using lighting equipment were Folk Acts.
1965 The San Francisco Mime Troupe unwittingly created the first light show by the brains of Bill Graham. Graham rented out venues to put on light shows. The shows were mainly based on liquid light projection, strobe lights, black lights, follow spots, and effect lighting to create a visual mood as an environment for the band and the audience. This gave rise to the lighting effects of the Grateful Dead and many others. In 1967, Bill McManus at the Electric Factory in Philadelphia became a lighting guru. 1969, local and regional lighting and sound companies started to grow. Some early lighting companies were McManus Enterprises, Sundance Lighting, TFA, and See Factor. In 1969, brought the innovation of portable lighting. In the late sixties, early seventies, the vaudeville acts that artists played in were dying rapidly. Contemporary rock concerts lighting has its roots in the psychedel1ic experience. Also in the late sixties, bands began to play larger venues such as outdoor arenas or festivals and arenas. This gave rise to temporary stages and portable lighting structures. Trusses were introduced at this time; they were old radio towers laid on their sides.
1970 1971 audiences saw the era of the concert hall as a venue, dying. More artists were interested in playing the larger arenas and festivals.
1980 On September 25, 1981, the first movable light, the Vari*Lite (VL Zero) was previewed at a Genesis concert, in Barcelona, Spain. When these lights were activated the crowd went berserk. The loved the new lighting effects. With the rise of more sophisticated lighting designs and the more complex cues, the lighting profession gave rise to the Lighting Designer and the Programmer position. In the early 80s, the first truss was invented that was designed for lighting effects. The James Thomas Engineering Ltd. Company was the main builder of trusses for concerts. In 1983, they developed the original pre-rigged truss.
1985 Video screens at concerts are being used more and more to enhance the concert experience. They allowed the audience to get on stage but not really being on stage. Also it allowed audience members that were in the “nose bleed” seats to get a close up view of the artists at work.
1990 The Early nineties, new lighting elements were introduced. Newer lighting counsels that control all lighting effects except for follow spots could cost up to 2-3 million dollars for the top of the line counsel.
1995 Most of the lighting effects are the same as in the early nineties but just more elaborate with color changes, motion effects, image and background projections, videos, display panels, strobes, blacklights, fog machines, pyrotechnics, and chase lighting.
When it comes to salaries and fees, a company can be paid up to $20,000 a night for a tour. But more often enough, a company could get at least $10,000 a night. Lighting designers for Mega Tours can receive up to $50,000 per design for their ideas. In addition, they are paid a per day rate during rehearsal and to check out the production on the road. In addition to what designers get for their ideas, they get a flat fee of $5,000 to $10,000 up front for the pre-production meetings and design time they invest in time for the tour.
4 Genie tower systems $650 to $800 per show
1 truss, 2 Genie Towers $800 to $1200 per show
2 trusses (90 lamps) $1250 to $1400 per show
2 trusses (120 lamps) $1500 to $2000 per show
Truss grid (150 to 250 lamps) $2250 to $3750 per show
If you wanted moveable lights on your tour, you would pay for 10 Intellabeams and operator for a week, $2,500.
Concert Lighting: Techniques, art, and business. Moody, James. Focal
Press, Newton, MA 1998.
Concert Sound and Lighting Systems. Vasey, John. Focal Press, Newton, MA. 1998.
Psychedlic Lighting Workshop. http://wrsv.clas.virginia.edu/~rlk3p/classes/usem171/psychwork/psychintro.html
Kevin Shaw Lighting Design: Rock n Roll Lighting Techniques Concert Lighting. http://www.thelightingcenter.com/lcetner/kevin/Rock-n-Roll.asp
James Thomas Engineering. http://www.jthomaseng.com/AboutJTE.html