Rock Star (2001)
Lead singer of a tribute band becomes lead singer of the real band he idolizes.
Chris Cole was born to rock. His longtime girlfriend Emily believes his talent could take him all the way - but Chris worships at the altar of Bobby Beers, the fiery frontman for heavy metal legends Steel Dragon. By day, Chris still lives at home with his parents and spends his days repairing copy machines. But when Chris takes the stage, fronting Pennsylvania's premiere Steel Dragon tribute band, all of that disappears. Chris Cole is Bobby Beers - mesmerizing audiences with his perfect imitation of Beers' electrifying vocals. The night his bandmates boot him out of the group, Chris is devastated - until an unexpected phone call changes his life forever: He, Chris Cole, has been tapped to replace Bobby Beers as the lead singer of Steel Dragon. In an instant, Chris rockets to the dizzying heights of sudden stardom, rising from devotee to icon, from rock fan to rock god - the wanna-be who got to be. So what happens when an average guy gets everything he wants - and discovers it's not enough?
Rock Star is based on Tim "Ripper" Owens, who initially was in a Judas Priest cover band. He then left to join the real Judas Priest.
- The story opens with a rock musician and singer, Chris Cole, being interviewed. He recalls his early days in music, when he lived in Pittsburgh and was the lead singer of a band called Blood Pollution, a cover/tribute act that performed songs by an infamous heavy metal band called Steel Dragon. While a member of Blood Pollution, Chris was also a singer in a local church choir and had a pretty girlfriend, Emily Poule, who managed his band. Chris also worked as a photocopier technician.
Chris and his compatriots go to a Steel Dragon concert. In the parking lot they paper every car in sight with flyers for their next gig. At the show, Chris and his friends have stage-side seats. They are refused backstage passes by the bands live manager, Mats. During the performance, Chris mildly annoys Dragon's lead singer, Bobby Beers, by singing along with the songs as well or better than Beers himself.
Following the show, Chris and his bandmates return to their car and find a flyer for their rivals, another Steel Dragon tribute band called Black Babylon. The members of Black Babylon have callously replaced Blood Pollution's flyers on every car. The two bands face off in the parking lot and fight after trading insults.
At a Blood Pollution practice session (which they hold in the basement of a porn theatre), Chris and his guitarist, Rob Malcolm, argue over the manner with which they'll play a Steel Dragon song live. Chris obsesses over a specific guitar riff and Rob can't understand why.
The band plays a gig in a steel foundry. The show goes well until Chris notices that Rob is once again defying the singer's wishes and reinterprets a guitar part. After an initial warning from Chris, Rob begins to solo wildly in defiance. Chris casually picks up a microphone stand and smashes Rob's amplifier head, disabling it. Rob tackles Chris onstage and the two fight. Emily, at the soundboard, calls it a night and encourages the audience to buy the band's merchandise on the way out.
A few nights later Chris shows up for band practice and sees that his fellow members have invited Bradley, lead vocalist for Black Babylon, to the session. Bradley has also brought updated equipment. Rob tries to explain his side, saying that Chris has become impossible to work with due to his obsession with playing only Steel Dragon songs and his demanding perfectionism while playing them live. Chris also refuses to write his own material and accept any of the band's original compositions as well. Chris becomes furious and leaves, saying he'll never return to the band. When Rob asks Emily to stay on as their manager, she refuses and leaves as well. In the car outside, Chris discusses the incident with Emily, who tells him something better will come along.
The next day Chris receives a phone call from Kirk Cuddy, guitarist and founding member of Steel Dragon. Chris is incredulous at first, even hanging up on Kirk. Kirk patiently calls back and is able to convince Chris of his identity and even plays a clip of Chris singing at a recent gig over the phone. The video of the gig was given to Cuddy by two of Blood Pollution's groupies. Kirk tells Chris to come to Los Angeles and meet him.
Chris goes to LA with Emily. They are met by Kirk's personal assistant, Tania, who takes them to Kirk's mansion. Chris and Emily meet the band and Kirk offers Chris a chance to audition for the lead singer spot in the band. At that moment, Bobby Beers bursts into the studio and begins an argument with Cuddy. Cuddy points out that Beers missed most of the shows on the last tour and has missed several recording sessions. Beers, in a moment of dramatic revelation that shocks Chris, argues that he's being thrown out of the band for being gay. Eventually, Beers storms out of the studio. Chris sings one of Dragon's songs, has a few false starts and watches the band confer inside the control room. After a few moments, he's offered the position. He adopts the stage name "Izzy."
During his first show with the band, Chris quickly wins the respect of the crowd, opening with "Blood Pollution" one of Chris' favorites & a song the band hasn't played in a decade. Chris takes a nasty spill while descending the stage's elaborate staircase, however, he continues to perform admirably. At the wild party thrown after the show, Tania seduces both Chris and Emily. Chris discovers the next morning that Tania is a transvestite.
When the band packs up to travel to their next gig, Emily isn't allowed to travel with Chris on the tour bus and is relegated to riding with the band members' girlfriends and wives in a limousine. As they trail the bus, the girls tell Emily that the band often cavorts with groupies on the bus. Emily holds her opinion that Chris would never betray her and the girls scoff. One goes to so far as to say that she has a special relationship with her husband's accountant.
The tour goes on for the larger part of a year. Chris, newly introduced to the rock icon lifestyle, spends a large amount of money on drugs, cars and other excesses. Tired of following Chris all over America, Emily leaves and heads home, upset that Chris spends too much time partying with the band and not as much time devoted to their relationship. She agrees to meet him in Seattle. When she arrives there, she meets Chris, who is drunk enough not to know where he is. Emily tells him she's going to stay in Seattle and open a cafe with a friend of hers and that her relationship with Chris is over. When the tour finally ends, the band goes on hiatus.
Six months later Chris shows up for a new recording session at Kirk's house. When he shows the band a concept sketch for their next album cover as well as some new songs, Kirk takes an arrogant stance, telling Chris that he and their other guitarist, A.C., are the only songwriters. Chris is puzzled and Kirk goes further, saying that they'd hired Chris merely to sing, not to be a part of the creative force of the band. Chris is stunned and during the vocal recording of a new song, defiantly sings it as if it were a rap tune. Kirk admonishes him and the recording session goes on with Chris singing the song properly. Chris later meets Mats in a bar and reflects on how the same manner of obsessive behavior he'd shown toward Rob and Blood Pollution was now being visited upon himself.
Steel Dragon goes out on tour again to support the new album. Chris, feeling he's been duped, only puts out a half-hearted effort at most shows. One night, while performing, Chris notices a fan singing along with him, a reflection on how he'd sang along with Bobby Beers. Chris invites the fan to join him on stage and asks him if he'd like to finish the show; the young man enthusiastically accepts and Chris walks off stage, the rest of the band hardly noticing. He says goodbye to Mats and leaves.
A few years later, Chris has traveled to Seattle and has reinvented himself as an alternative rock musician. He reunites with Rob and the two form a new group, playing smaller shows in bars and coffeehouses. Emily has also moved to Seattle and opened the coffeehouse she'd talked about with an old friend. While walking in the street, she spots a flyer for one of Chris shows. She goes to it and he spots her from the stage. He walks over to her and kisses her and the two reconcile.
Over the closing credits, we see that Steel Dragon's popularity has dropped off considerably with the advent of the Seattle Sound in music. Bobby Beers has also reinvented himself; as a Celtic dancer.