Saturday, May 08, 2004

Movie Review: Mayor of the Sunset Strip

His name carries much more cache in L.A. than elsewhere in the country, but Rodney Bingenheimer has been an important taste-maker in American music, providing the initial exposure that helped launch many careers. He introduced British glam to Los Angeles with his English Disco, a tiny but trendy club on the Sunset Strip. He then moved to KROQ, one of the country's biggest radio stations, where he was known as Rodney on the ROQ and continued to break new artists. The documentary Mayor of the Sunset Strip explores the many facets of his life: his obsession with famous people, his relation with his parents, how his radio show created careers, the decline of his own career in an increasingly profit-driven radio market, how his sexual conquests exceeded Robert Plant's in their heyday.

The movie boast lots of cameos. Musicians such as David Bowie and Gwen Stefani, who he helped break in America, cozy up to him. Ray Manzarek talks about how he fit into the L.A. scene, but I kept thinking of the Onion headline, something like "Ray Manzarek Goes a Whole 10 Minutes Without Discussing the Doors." Kim Fowley extols his own genius, a frequent habit of his since others either don't think he's a genius or don't think he's worth extolling. Fortunately, former Runaway/protégé Cherie Currie offers up a different viewpoint on Fowley than his own elevated one.

The movie had playe briefly at the Music Box; it now looks like the only way to catch it in Chicago is to wait for the DVD.

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