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Famous Musicians Whose Lives Would Make Great Movies

Musical biopics have really been picking up
steam over the last few years. From Bob Dylan to Queen to Jimi Hendrix, it
seems that all kinds of musicians have been getting their own movies. But plenty of music legends have still been
left out in the cold. Here are a few of the musicians who really
deserve their own movies. Before they became arguably the most important
figures in rap music, Joseph Simmons, Daryl McDaniels, and Jason Mizell were just a bunch
of dudes from Queens who found themselves enamored of New York’s burgeoning hip-hop
scene. Simmons and McDaniels had been acquainted
since kindergarten, but were brought closer by their mutual love of rhymes and the fact
that McDaniels had his own turntables. Resolving to form a group, they figured they’d
call themselves The Dynamic Two – until Simmons’ older brother Russell, who had agreed to manage
them, put a fork in that idea. Speaking with the New York Times, McDaniels
explained: “He called and said, ‘You’re going to be Run-D.M.C.’ It sounded like the worst name in the world. We said, ‘You’re ruining us.'” McDaniels turned out to be wrong. Recruiting well-known Queens DJ Mizell, the
trio blazed a trail with their first three records, and changed rap forever. A biopic based on the group could have a lot
of fun focusing on all the seemingly career-killing choices that set them apart. They eschewed flamboyant, disco-y garb in
favor of jeans and leather jackets, stripped down their music to practically nothing but
drums and shouted vocals, and had the gall to employ elements of rock into the genre
before any of their contemporaries. Of course, there was also enough drugs, drinking,
and conflict during their heyday to add some classic second-act drama, including a late-career
turn to religion for Joseph Simmons. Just don’t let Aerosmith play themselves. Musical pioneers always make for good biopic
fodder, and you can’t pioneer much harder than Black Sabbath did. Formed in 1968 as the Polka Tulk Blues Band,
the boys eventually changed their name to the slightly-less-ridiculous Earth, and were
busy blues-ing it up around Birmingham when fate intervened. Guitarist Tony Iommi suffered an industrial
accident that de-tipped the fingers of his fretting hand, a career-ending injury for
any guitarist – but he compensated by tuning his axe down a half-step to provide some slack,
resulting in a sound nobody had quite heard before. Then, singer Ozzy Osbourne and bassist Geezer
Butler penned a dark, scary tune entitled “Black Sabbath” – and, suddenly, heavy metal
kicked in the womb. The band would go on to lay down a path for
every metal band since, while simultaneously puzzling critics, enraging anyone with religious
leanings, and doing more drugs than most human beings can handle. There’s almost too much material for a biopic
here; Osbourne’s exploits alone are legendary, but his leaving the band for a stellar solo
career – along with the tragic death of his guitarist Randy Rhoads – could also provide
strong dramatic beats, and the tenure of vocalist Ronnie James Dio in Sabbath deserves a close
look as well. Osbourne’s triumphant return to the band at
1997’s Ozzfest could even cap the whole thing off. With any luck, Ozzy’s reality show years would
end up on the cutting room floor. “Gosh, you are so tired. Come on, seriously, let’s go and lie down-” [Ozzy Osbourne rambling incoherently] The raucous, booze-soaked early years of famous
bands always make for good biopic material – and not many bands were more booze-soaked
and raucous than Metallica. They practically invented thrash metal as
teenagers, dropping perhaps the most aggressive musical style anyone had yet seen right on
the world’s face, and somehow parlayed that into becoming the biggest band on Earth. Along the way, the band endured its fair share
of drama – because, as the documentary Some Kind of Monster revealed, the personalities
in the band tend toward the petulant and dysfunctional. This was a band full of flagrant drunks who
kicked out guitarist Dave Mustaine for drinking too much. Their steady rise to fame was also threatened
by a horrific bus accident that claimed the life of original bassist Cliff Burton. And then Burton’s replacement, Jason Newsted,
was also in constant conflict with the other members, to the point that his contribution
to 1988’s …And Justice For All was mixed so low as to be nearly inaudible. And just when it seemed like they’d gotten
as mainstream as a thrash metal band could get, they hooked up with producer Bob Rock
for 1991’s Metallica – which, with its slightly more accessible sound, sold an unspeakable
number of copies and made them international superstars. And you could probably just fade to black
there, because Metallica got a lot less dramatic once they sobered up. The story of Van Halen is chock-full of possible
avenues for dramatization. There are the early years, which saw guitarist
Eddie Van Halen developing the highly unconventional playing techniques that would later make him
a guitar god. Then there was the meet-cute with vocalist
David Lee Roth, a famously limited singer who nonetheless absolutely owned the stage;
and there was also that early demo, financed by Gene Simmons of KISS. These are all great biopic beats, and you
could even end the flick with the band achieving world dominance with their landmark album
1984. Or, if you wanted a four-hour movie, you could
sidle on through to Roth’s 1985 fallout with the band and the tenure of vocalist Sammy
Hagar, during which things got a little weird – and the band became even bigger. Despite the Hagar years being the band’s most
commercially successful, they were marked by the kind of nastiness and infighting that,
while unfortunate, does make for great drama. A biopic could revisit Hagar’s dramatic break
from the band, the ill-fated and brief tenure of singer Gary Cherone, the subsequent on-again-off-again
with Roth, and Eddie’s onstage freakouts. Of course, after all that, there would be
no triumphant finale – since for the last 20 years or so, the band has just kind of
soldiered on through tours and albums, whenever they can tolerate each other long enough to
do so. In contrast to those early years, it’s actually
been kind of depressing. Everyone knows Phil Collins is a legend. But if you only know him for making you wonder
what a “Sussudio” is, then you don’t know enough. Collins is one of the most respected drummers
in rock – he manned the skins for Genesis, a wildly inventive prog-rock band with drum
parts that would make lesser drummers put their heads right through their snares. Then, when lead singer Peter Gabriel left
and took his uber-distinctive voice with him, Collins stepped up to sing lead – and not
only killed it, but took Genesis from proggy weirdos to one of the biggest pop bands of
the ’80s. Of course, we all know that he then went on
to an even more successful solo career. But did you know that he helped invent the
gated snare drum sound which practically defined the ’80s? That innovation is what makes perhaps the
single most memorable bar of drumming ever – on ‘In the Air Tonight’ – so memorable. He was also the only artist to play at both
Live Aid concerts, performing a solo set in London before hopping on a Concorde to sing
and sit in on drums for Led Zeppelin in Philadelphia. He’s a consummate professional, a badass in
some truly unexpected ways, and has more career highlights than you can shake a stick at. What more could you want? Many biopics fascinate audiences because they
delve into the personal lives of their subjects, showing us sides of their favorite artists
that they’d never seen before. But if Prince were ever to be immortalized
on film, this wouldn’t really be the case – because Prince didn’t have much of a personal
life. By all accounts, the man lived, breathed,
and ate music, composing a song a day on average and rarely ever taking breaks. With Prince, what you saw was what you got
– but his career still contained a wealth of moments ripe for dramatization. In his early years, there was controversy
over his notoriously dirty mind, brought about by albums like, well, Controversy and Dirty
Mind. This spiraled into full-blown hysteria when
the government of the time went to war with music, a conflict instigated by the Purple
One’s so-called “pornographic” lyrics to “Darling Nikki,” from his seminal 1984 release Purple
Rain. After that, he stoked tensions with his label
by changing his name to an unpronounceable symbol. A biopic could also touch on the hits he wrote
for other artists and his many stellar collaborations, and would surely have to end with George Harrison’s
posthumous Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame induction – at which Prince paid tribute with one of
the most blindingly amazing guitar solos ever performed. “Oh, how rude of me. I haven’t given you enough time to freak out
yet. You may do so now.” The great part about a David Bowie biopic
is that it’d be like six different biopics in one. You could start off with his early years playing
around in local bands – under his real name Davy Jones, before he changed it to avoid
confusion with the Monkee of the same name. After his first solo album went nowhere, he
spent a while at a Buddhist monastery, and then formed his own mime troupe – and you
still haven’t hit the really interesting parts yet. Throughout the 1970s, Bowie made a habit of
completely overhauling his image every time fans started to think they had him pinned
down. The spacy image of his first three albums
gave way to full-on alienhood in the form of perhaps his most famous persona, Ziggy
Stardust. That lasted all of a year before he glammed
it up for his next couple releases. Then, there was a segue into his slick, businesslike
Thin White Duke persona in the late ’70s, a period during which he scored his first
number one U.S. hit. Finally, in the early ’80s, he decided to
throw off all the pomp and became a full-fledged pop star, recruiting the legendary Stevie
Ray Vaughn to play lead guitar on the monster smash hit album Let’s Dance – which is as
good a place to wrap up the story as it is a great name for his biopic. In the wake of Bohemian Rhapsody’s success,
a Bowie-focused movie has actually been announced, but the movie is unlikely to have any of Bowie’s
music or the family’s blessing. Any film detailing the life and times of Janis
Joplin would have to start from her childhood – because her life, unfortunately, was famously
short. However, there’s plenty to mine for inspirational
beats here. She grew up singing in a church choir, and
was bullied throughout school for her weight and acne – which she later overcame to become
one of the most powerful singers of her time. After a couple of unsuccessful stints in college,
she made a name for herself in the early ’60s by sitting in with folk singers and generally
blowing them all out of the water. A performance at the 1963 Monterey Folk Festival
turned out not to be the big break she needed, and she almost gave up on music – before being
recruited by San Francisco-based Big Brother and the Holding Company, right before that
city’s music scene totally exploded. A return to Monterey for the 1967 Pop Festival
finally got the attention of record execs, and her vocals work on Big Brother’s 1968
album Cheap Thrills made her a bona fide star. Of course, the requisite drugs, alcohol, and
infighting all became factors, and Joplin would only produce two more solo albums before
her untimely death in 1970. It’s a classic story of struggle, hard living,
blowing up fast, and dying young. Joplin’s big personality and even bigger voice
surely deserve the Hollywood treatment. Check out one of our newest videos right here! Plus, even more Grunge videos about your favorite
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