Inspired by the real-life story of Tim "Ripper" Owens, singer in a Judas Priest cover band who was chosen to replace singer Rob Halford when he left Judas Priest. Bobby Beers' (Jason Flemyng's) declaration of homosexuality on his departure mirrors that of Halford.
When Mark Wahlberg tumbled down the stairs for Izzy's first Steel Dragon performance, he did it at a real rock concert. At first, the unaware fans thought he'd fallen for real, and were shocked into silence. After a few takes, they realized it was an act, and stopped caring.
Fortunately for Mark Wahlberg, he hung out with enough rock stars during his "Marky Mark" days, among them Motley Crue's lead singer Vince Neil, to know the drill. "I just took a crash course. I went and hung out with all of these guys", he says. " I was researching the part pretty early on, actually in the middle of shooting The Perfect Storm (2000). I just went to as many concerts as I could, and hung out with these guys."
The majority of the musicians in the movie are actual musicians: Mark Wahlberg fronted Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch; Jason Bonham (A.C., Steel Dragon drummer) is the son of John Bonham and was the drummer for Led Zeppelin; Jeff Pilson (Jorgen, Steel Dragon bassist) is the bassist for Dokken; Zakk Wylde (Ghode, Steel Dragon guitarist) has played with several bands, including Ozzy Osbourne and has his own band, Black Label Society; Blas Elias (Donny, Blood Pollution drummer) is the drummer of Slaughter; Brian Vander Ark (Ricki Bell, Blood Pollution bassist) is a singer and guitarist in The Verve Pipe; Nick Catanese (Xander Cummins, Blood Pollution guitarist) is a guitarist in Wylde's Black Label Society; Stephan Jenkins (Bradley, Black Babylon singer) is a singer for Third Eye Blind; Vitamin C (Guitarist outside the Steel Dragon mansion) is better known as Vitamin C; Myles Kennedy (Thor) joined Alter Bridge with ex-Creed members after leaving his band, The Mayfield Four, and has also sung for Guns N' Roses guitarist Slash. The majority of the songs are also played by 80's musicians, including Wahlberg's singing voice, which belongs to Mike Matijevic, lead singer of Steelheart. Steve Plunkett was the lead singer of Autograph, an 80's band with the Top 30 hit "Turn up the Radio". He plays the photographer in the scene where "Chris" does his first photo shoot with Steel Dragon. Steve Plunkett also co-wrote the song "Living the Life".
Tim "Ripper" Owens, on whom the movie is based, now owns a bar and restaurant in Akron, Ohio, and has various concerts of local bands, as well as classic stars, including himself. The bar was featured on Bar Rescue (2011).
The rooftop locale used for the press conference that introduces Chris "Izzy" Cole as Steel Dragon's new lead singer, and announces their forthcoming tour with him, is the same rooftop that was used for the final, tour ending press conference and record company party for the fictional heavy metal band, This Is Spinal Tap (1984).
Three of the actresses who played the wives of the Steel Dragon band members had actually themselves been in romantic relationships with rock stars in real-life. Rachel Hunter (A.C.'s wife) was in a relationship with Kip Winger (Alice Cooper, Winger) and had been married to Rod Stewart. Heidi Mark (Kirk's wife) had been married to Vince Neil of Mötley Crüe. Carrie Stevens (Ghode's wife) had been married to KISS drummer Eric Carr until Carr died of cancer.