Crossfire Hurricane - Exclusive Canadian debut Dec 26 on Super Channel, 9 p.m. EST.
Editor's note: *‘Crossfire Hurricane,’ the new documentary on the Rolling Stones, will be headed to DVD and Blu-Ray release early next year. Directed by Brett Morgen, the highly acclaimed documentary premiered last month in select theaters as well as multiple airings on HBO. Set for release on January 15 in the U.S. (a week earlier in the U.K.), the film is one of many ongoing events surrounding the band’s 50th anniversary.This Rolling Stones-produced documentary on the band’s beginnings in 1962 up to 1974 is nothing short of riveting.
Made on the inside with surprising candor, Crossfire Hurricane is a revelation and celebration of the greatest rock band that ever strode a stage.
We learn that the Stones’ bad boy image was pure commerce and performance, a collective persona imposed on them by manager Andrew Loog Oldham in 1964. It was intended to separate them from the goody-two shoes Beatles, who incidentally were supportive friends.
The rep stuck and in important ways,
shaped the Rolling Stones’ lives and work.
The Stones experienced fame and infamy equally as rock royalty and as unlucky magnets for trouble. The names “Redlands” and “Altamont” still conjure up memories of the other side of the Woodstock generation, a social loss of innocence.
Rather than showing the band in its best light and glossing over the bad times, Morgen and the Stones chose to go head first into the naked truth with insider / protagonist perspective. It’s breathtakingly confessional.
Mick Jagger strips down backstage, naked as a jaybird, sniffs cocaine off a hunter’s knife as he readies himself for a show. Keith provides musical accompaniment to an orgy taking place in the Stones private jet. Jagger loses control of the crowd in Altamont, a place they never should have been logistically speaking and they mourn the shocking, mysterious and yet not surprising death of Brian Jones, Jagger incapacitated by grief.
Headline-grabbing drug arrests and convictions are front and centre but no mention of their early days arrest on public indecency charges for urinating on a wall. That incident appears to have set the stage for “expected” Stones behaviour. They were bad and proud of it and played vigorously into the name.
The Stones were also victims of widespread smear campaigns. One commentator says “Parents become homicidal at the sight of them” and man on the street interviews back him up. The band expresses resigned regret for the image that was imposed on them because of its limitations.
They were called evil, ugly, Neanderthals, and the tabloid press stirred up hated and mistrust that exists today. They still have an uncomfortable connection but the insults have changed. Now they’re old and past it despite abundant evidence that they are not. In many ways the Stones have had a tough slog and earned their status as rock and roll’s leading survivors.
Crossfire Hurricane, a lyric from Jumpin’ Jack Flash, offers an exciting insight into how their lives were changed by the sudden rush of fame. From playing to 18 people in a suburban pub to lineups around the corner two gigs later, their rise was phenomenal.
From bafflement concerning their female fans’ aggressive adoration to becoming quasi-aristocratic, entitled jet-setters wasn’t such a long journey. They eventually existed in a rarefied world where no one said no. It’s incredible stuff.
Strangely there is very little mention made of their women. The wives and girlfriends are seen walking along with the Stones as they enter cars, planes and courtrooms, but they are non-existent in terms of the film’s content. Maybe that’s a chapter the boys aren’t ready to cop to.
The music and stage performances through the years are spectacular. Charlie even reveals the reason for the Stones’ signature “wobble” sound that feels as through its about to fall apart.
No one moves like Jagger. In the early days he said he knew nothing of timing or technique, that he just did what he felt like. In later years he said that guy with the swivelling hips was a character and he developed it while stating that he didn’t like being that guy offstage.
The world was in love with the character. Jagger remains the world’s most recognised rocker and one of its least known stars.
Gleaned from 1000 hours of private and publicity footage, 500 hours of audiotape and 80 hours of news footage, there’s plenty that’s never been seen publically. It includes scenes from "Gimme Shelter" and "Cocksucker Blues” and extraordinarily revealing private conversations between the band members.
The film is structured over new audio interviews with the boys, who wouldn’t allow video to be shot. Since the band chose the all-out confessional approach, it is positively fascinating for fans and a riveting introduction for newcomers. The Stones have never been as personally involved with a project like this before, so it is a heartfelt fiftieth anniversary gift to the fans.
So when do we see 1975 - now?
The worldwide distributors of Crossfire Hurricane are London’s Eagle Rock Entertainment, with Tremolo Productions and Milkwood Films as the production companies. Executive producers are Keith Richards, Charlie Watts and Ronnie Wood; co-executive producers, Joyce Smyth, Jane Rose, Sherry Daly; supervising producer, Joanna Rudnick; co-producer, Morgan Neville; produced by Mick Jagger, Victoria Pearman; written and directed by Brett Morgen.