This is a kind of “Hollywood goes to Frankie” thread. A few reflections about the peculiar relationship between the glamorous film industry and the magical world of popular music.
It all began at the weekend when @mikethep posted a clip of early 1960s chart topper Helen Shapiro. What an extraordinary voice she had and what a meteoric jump to the top of the charts.
That led me to the discovery that Richard Lester had made a film in 1962 It’s Trad, Dad starring Helen and Stranger on the Shore Hitmaker, Acker Bilk. (The first Brit to top the US singles chart.) Lester received a thousand quid for a movie with a flimsy plot but a wide variety of performances. It turned out however to be a real snapshot of its time. And it landed him the gig, directing the two Beatles movies.
Anyway, that is how I would like this thread to be. Unbelievable plot. Wooden acting. But several rather enjoyable musical interludes.
What do One Direction, Status Quo, The Pet Shop Boys, Madness, The Beatles, All Saints, Herman’s Hermits, S Club Seven, Cliff and the Shadows and the Dave Clark Five have in common?
They have all starred in feature-length films playing themselves or a thinly disguised version of themselves. Such bandwagon-hopping films were particularly popular in the 60s but have by no means died out.
The cinema industry and the music biz are like a couple who are really not so good together, but cannot keep their hands off each other.
That love story has led to moments of weirdness. Wilco and Ed Sheeran having bit parts in GoT. Or Devo appearing in a 1982 apocalyptic movie, Human Highway e co-directed by Neil Young using the nom de film Bernard Shakey.
But also many moments of magic: To take just one, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds in Wim Wenders’ Wings of Desire.
These are the kind of things I would like to hear about.
But let us kick off with the UK’s first real pop star, Mozambique-born crooner Al Bowlly. That wise man, Richard Thompson, wrote a song about him; Al Bowlly’s in heaven.