Through the glitter and the grunge, from The Monkees to Coldplay, Rodney Bingenheimer--a.k.a. Rodney on the ROQ--has reigned over the Los Angeles music scene for over two decades. A constantly evolving fixture as rock fan, journalist, promoter, club owner and radio DJ on KROQ, Bingenheimer has helped advance every adventurous rock mutation--California pop, glam, punk, goth, new wave, alternative--since he first hit the Sunset Strip during its psychedelic 1960s heyday. Written by
Sujit R. Varma
After making its world premiere as the Centerpiece Film of the 2003 IFP/Los Angeles Film Festival the movie sold to First Look Media and Lakeshore Entertainment for $1.3 million, making it the second highest selling documentary of all time, next to Michael Moore's Bowling for Columbine (2002). See more »
After the credits, we see the conclusion of the concert by the band X that starts the movie. Then we see Rodney talking with one of X's members, who tells him that he always finds Rodney's radio show, no matter when it airs. See more »
Interesting story of a guy who became an accidental rock star.
I remember listening to Rodney Bingenheimer's radio show on KROQ when I was in high school. I knew nothing of him at the time and only know what I know now because of what I learned from this movie, but regardless of how popular Rodney became with the rock stars and celebrities and regardless of how well his show ever did, the guy just does not have a voice for radio. I think that in his case it is vital that you know him personally or that you know about his history in the music business, because listening to him as a radio talk show host is intolerably boring. It is not a surprise, to say the least, that his radio show never strayed far from the midnight to 3am shift on Sundays, although I would rather listen to him than Jed the Fish any day of the week. Jed the Fish irritates the hell out of me.
Speaking of which, one of the more interesting things that I learned from this documentary was actually just proof of something that I had always suspected, that Jed the Fish has always been faking that ridiculous accent that he always talks with on the air. In his brief interviews in the movie he makes the mistake of talking in his regular voice, revealing how much of a fake he really is. On the other hand, he is, in fact, an entertainer, so I don't want to give the impression that he is some kind of fraud because he talks with a fake accent on the air. He's been on KROQ for some ridiculous number of years, so he must be doing something right. Not my thing, I guess. I think I may have just developed this contempt for KROQ for ruining great songs and popularizing bad songs in the ten years or so since I first moved to Irvine and started listening to them.
The thing that I really liked about this documentary is that it really gives good insight into the life of Rodney Bingenheimer, who seems like some geeky guy who made his way into rock stardom by a simple love of music and what must have been a very disarming and unusually charming demeanor. For some reason he reminds me of this 1978 Honda Civic that I had in high school, it was the crappiest car in the parking lot but everyone loved it. I remember lots all the hot Flygirls used to always want to drive it, it was like a toy. Interpret that as you will, I still haven't figured it out.
There are moments in the film when I almost felt bad for being so bored by Rodney's radio program, because despite having been experienced far more than every high school kid's dreams of the, ah, fleshy pearls of rock and roll decadence, Rodney has been through a lot of pain in his life. He had some truly heartbreaking experiences in his life growing up, which are kind of manifested in scenes like the one where he goes to visit his parents, with whom he had something of a falling out, and finds that they don't have any pictures of him in the front room. The saddest thing is that he brings the camera crew into a back room and points to a picture of himself, framed on hung on the wall but almost hidden in a corner where no one would ever see it. And he acted like it was perfectly normal.
Rodney's demeanor that thing that really leaves the film open to interpretation. Despite having just watched a documentary about the guy, I feel like I know less about him than I knew before, just because he is such a closed off kind of person. There are scenes when he genuinely loses his temper, and there are scenes where he is clearly uncomfortable and comes right out and says that he doesn't want to talk about certain things, but at the same time he discloses information about himself that almost anyone else would probably find embarrassing.
This is one of the rare instances in documentary film-making where you can learn so much about a person but come away from it amazed at how little you really know about him. It's like the old saying, the more I learn, the more I realize I don't know. Rodney is a truly unique person with a truly unique personality, and while I can't claim to have been entertained by his radio show even for a minute, he is certainly a fascinating person to learn about. Especially since I went to high school listening to the kind of music that he introduced to the world and I now live in the area that is portrayed in the movie. All music fans should watch this.
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