We love when we get to go behind-the-scenes with artists at home, in the recording studio and on tour. Check out seven times musicians let us into their world.
Some of our favorite musicians are notoriously private people, and we can’t blame them. The press and overly-enthusiastic fans alike have a history of digging in a little deeper than some artists want. So when those artists, especially the ones known for being private people, let us into their worlds, we can’t help but get excited.
Here are a few of those times we got to visit our favorite artists at home, on the road and in the studio via movies, tv shows, audiobooks, podcasts and more—these are the moments where artists opened up to let fans catch a glimpse of their inner world.
The Rolling Stones — Olé Olé Olé!: A Trip Across Latin America
The Stones aren’t exactly camera shy—the 1970 film Gimme Shelter features close-up studio footage of the band recording “Wild Horses” at Muscle Shoals and details the intense behind-the-scenes negotiations prior to the band’s 1969 performance at Altamont Speedway. But you’ve never seen the Rolling Stones like this.
Olé Olé Olé! chronicles the Stones’ 2016 Latin American tour from the conference room to the stage as the band and their management work together to confirm the details of their biggest gig yet—playing in Cuba for the first time ever. With its mix of intimate acoustic performances, tour-diary footage, eye-opening Latin American history lessons and energetic all-or-nothing performances from Mick, Keith, Ron and Charlie, this film is guaranteed to satisfy.
Patti Smith — Just Kids
Patti Smith’s 2010 memoir Just Kids is a polaroid snapshot of bohemian life in 1970s Manhattan during the pre-dawn of the punk era. Smith takes readers (and audiobook listeners) on an unflinching and captivating tour of the emerging New York art, poetry and music scenes from her bare-bones room at the Hotel Chelsea (where she lived with photographer Robert Mapplethorpe) to Andy Warhol’s famous roundtables in the back of Max’s Kansas City.
Just Kids and its follow-up M Train don’t just focus on the heaviest parts of Smith’s life—though it certainly doesn’t stray away from that. We also get a taste for Smith’s lighter loves, including Nespresso and her favorite TV show, The Killing. These details give a human element to one of rock’n’roll’s most elusive figures.
Fugazi — Instrument
Before the internet, Fugazi connected punks across the world with their relentless touring schedule and noble DIY ethics. While fans generally appreciate the band’s commitment to all-ages venues and outspoken progressive politics, the group has also attracted their fair share of detractors who criticize Fugazi (and their “no mosh pit” policy) as humorless, no fun.
Jem Cohen’s 1999 documentary Instrument is required viewing for both camps.
For fans, this rare look behind the curtain at one of punk’s most mythologized bands offers insight into their creative process through studio footage and live performances. Non-fans might be surprised to discover that the most exciting “world” in the film isn’t the world of Fugazi, but the mythology audiences built around them.
One such scene involves a band meeting where drummer Brendan Canty, between laughs, explains to Ian MacKaye, Joe Lally and Guy Picciotto that his sister’s new boyfriend believes that the band only eats rice and all live together in a house with no heat. In a series of parking lot interviews, Fugazi fans offer their unfiltered feelings on the band—and not everyone likes the new songs.
Few bands elicit such strong reactions, and fewer still have released films capturing the creative process, tour life and cult of personality that accompanies musical success quite like Instrument.
Beyoncé — Homecoming
Experience the spectacle of Beyoncé’s headlining 2018 Coachella performance from the comfort of your living room. More than just a thrilling front-row view of Queen Bey’s monumental history-making concert—Beyoncé is the first Black woman to headline the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival—Homecoming offers a glimpse at the show’s planning and rehearsal process to give viewers a sense of the colossal effort it takes to build a labor of love.
Ozzy Osbourne — The Osbournes
On MTV’s The Osbournes, the Prince of Darkness takes a seat beside Herman Munster and Gomez Addams as the most lovable goth dad on American television. The reality show, which aired from 2002—2005, finds the “Crazy Train” singer going off the rails of domestic tranquility in a series of misadventures filmed on-location at the family’s Los Angeles mansion.
The show was a huge hit for MTV, achieving the highest ratings in the station’s history and winning the 2002 Primetime Emmy for Outstanding Reality Program. As an early example of non-competition-based reality TV, The Osbournes paved the way for classic guilty-pleasure viewing like Hogan Knows Best, Gene Simmons’ Family Jewels, and Rock of Love with Bret Michaels.
Joe Wong — The Trap Set Podcast
On The Trap Set, drummer, composer and podcaster Joe Wong gets in the groove with this weekly interview show about the lives of drummers. Rather than talk about technique, Wong gently guides his guests through slice-of-life moments and personal stories as well as sweeping philosophical discussions—you won’t hear many paradiddles on this podcast.
Kathy Valentine (The Go-Go’s) — All I Ever Wanted: A Rock ‘n’ Roll Memoir
The Go-Go’s might have been most well-known for cheerey pop hits like “We’ve Got the Beat,” and “Vacation,” but the title of songwriter and bassist Kathy Valentine’s memoir lives up to its name. After all, if you’re going to put “Rock ‘n’ Roll” in the title of your book, readers are going to expect unedited recollections of debauchery and redemption, and Valentine’s story delivers.
From her early days in Texas growing up as an essentially feral child to meteoric success, crushing lows and struggles with alcoholism, Valentine’s doesn’t try to sugar-coat the darkest parts of her life’s story. Nor does she try to understate her remarkable achievements—to this day The Go-Go’s remain the only all-female band to record all their own instruments, write all their own songs and have a number one record.
Valentine’s storytelling remains as engaging as it was in The Go-Go’s earliest hits. All I Ever Wanted is a page-turner about raising yourself as a child—then again as an adult—and makes you glad that The Go-Go’s are finally in The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.
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