A few years back, the Morgan Neville directed documentary 20 Feet From Stardom won an Academy Award and single-handedly revived the careers of R&B legends Darlene Love and Merry Clayton. Now, in 2017, shines the spotlight on the industry's best musicians or "hired guns".
What is a hired gun? It's a musician that has the ability to read charts fast, fit in like a missing piece of a jigsaw puzzle and be ready to tour at a moment's notice. Sounds like a great way to earn a living right? Not all of the musicians interviewed would agree with you. As a matter of fact, several members of Billy Joe's band referred to him as 'heartless'. Most attribute this attitude as an aftermath of his former manager stealing 90 million dollars and vanishing into thin air. That kind of betrayal would leave a bad taste in anyone's mouth.
What struck me most about this doc is how few women were interviewed and/or featured. As a matter of fact...there was only one - Nina Strauss, who was a tour guitarist for rockstar Alice Cooper among others. Nina is a brilliantly, gifted musician, who literally had to be 100 times better than her male counterparts or their equal to even get a shot. Guess even artists can be chauvinistic knuckleheads. I mean seriously, what about the chick that toured with Michael Jackson - Orianthi Panagaris?
But, by far the most heartbreaking stories, are those musicians who just couldn't handle the pressure of financial instability that comes alongside the high of being onstage in front of hundreds of thousands of screaming, adoring fans. Having been a "hired gun" myself as a background vocalist, I know all too well the luxuries one trades for having a career onstage. You don't wanna know how many birthdays, weddings, baby showers, family gatherings I have missed due to a touring, rehearsal or performing schedule. Being in that type of limelight comes at a price and for some the price tag is just a little too steep or you find yourself unemployed with little to no notice often times. Hired Guns never get fired...you just don't get another invite to tour or anything else.
Grammy-winning songwriter/musician Ray Parker, Jr. breaks it down when I chatted with him recently for iTalkMovies at Popcorn Talk...Take a look
Directed by Fran Strine, Hired Gun: Out Of The Shadows, Into The Spotlight will receive a one-night showing on Thursday night (June 29) at several hundred North American locations through Fathom Events. The spell-binding doc chronicles the story of world-renowned musicians who are not household names, performed at concerts and on countless recordings with huge stars yet remain largely unknown to the public. For more information and ticket sales log onto www.fathomevents.com and for more about the Hired Gun documentary hop on over to hiredgunthefilm.