On Air

Hired Guns & Grounded Stars

30 June 2017 Blog Of My Heart


Hired Guns

Lord have mercy.

Last night I took in the latest documentary on the Music Industry,  Hired Gun, and it was a doozy.  Chronicling the lives of some serious players, Hired Gun does a fair job of exposing just what it takes to play with the big kids in the world of music without pandering to the stereotypes of drunken, broken wannabe, Superstars, although we all know it there.  Instead, we get a very human look at side players, unknown and often uncredited instrumentalists who probably have more to do with your favorite songs than you ever knew.  That is, of course, unless you’re a professional musician because you know the game – it isn’t really about talent.  And the irony is, the more talent you have, the less you seem to get paid. What a sick business.

Following in the footsteps of 20 Feet From Stardom which featured the careers of such legendary singers such as Darleen Love and Merry Clayton, we again are shown just how much ego and greed can destroy. Liberty DeVitto, Billy Joel’s longtime drummer wistfully recounts the early days of their collaboration with a sweet nostalgic retelling that makes listening painful as one already knows how it ends.  And sadly it’s not a rare tale to be told.  However, juxtaposed against the utter joy of playing, the sheer happiness the hired guns emanate onstage while co-creating some of the most phenomenal music of our times is mind blowing. That they were so easily exploited and discarded is disgusting.  For as the once mighty “Record Industry” which killed more dreams than can be counted, takes it’s last gasping breath I can’t help but think Karma has been served.

It’s In The Mix

The best thing about this movie is the music.  Interspersed between the dialogue there are some amazing sessions with these guys as the musicality is off the chart. Antidotes that I will not ruin will have some of us of a certain age pulling out vinyl and listening just a little deeper.   A painful wince at sight of Randy Rhoads reminded me of just how intertwined music is with our lives as the sadness I felt so many years ago was met by the question of what might have been. But holy crap Ozzy actually HIRED someone who 10 days later replaced Rhoads on tour.  That’s not only talent but balls. And no matter what the circumstances these players always brought their A Game.

If you have a chance to catch this in the theaters – do.  I can’t imagine any home system doing justice the music. And although it saddens me to hear stories such as this as brutal as it may sound, only the strong survive.


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