Thursday, July 15, 2010


"You cannot make friends with the Rock Stars..."

Most Metalheads are obsessed with Horror movies... or Sci-Fi flicks... but one of Umlaut's favorite movie of all time is... Almost Famous. Long story short: I identify with this movie on many levels because of my teenage experiences writing about Metal bands for various fanzines and even befriending some of them who went on to become famous. Those experiences profoundly influenced me and this space is without a doubt a direct result of those times as well.

Most people my age were first introduced to Cameron Crowe via Fast Times At Ridgemont High... but I was fascinated by Cameron Crowe's story before even that: A teenager who wrote for Rolling Stone!? My teenage mind couldn't comprehend that. The guy was even thanked on a Lynyrd Skynyrd album! From the original liner notes of Skynyrd's One More From The Road:

Long story short, when I learned that Crowe was making a movie about his teenage Lock 'N Loll years I was beyond geeked out. Almost Famous opened in September 2000; I was such a dork for this movie I even kept my ticket stub from the screening I saw:

Not long after the movie's premiere I stumbled upon this item on Ebay:

It's a 100-page promotional book containing 8 of Crowe's vintage Rolling Stone interviews from 1972-79 with Jethro Tull, The Allman Brothers, Led Zeppelin, Neil Young, Peter Frampton, Fleetwood Mac, Van Morrison, and Joni Mitchell. The book also features vintage Neal Preston photos of the bands and Crowe backstage or during the interviews. It's a pretty awesome time capsule of Crowe's Rolling Stone years and he wrote an introduction to each interview to give them context and perspective.

The opening pages of Crowe's 1975 Led Zeppelin interview with his modern day introduction and a photo of Crowe with Robert Plant circa U.S. Tour '75:

Another nice touch is the end papers of the book were printed on translucent paper with text from Crowe's original typewritten draft of an interview. Pretty cool, right?

The copyright on the book is credited to Dreamworks Pictures and states that it is meant for "Promotional Use Only"; I can only imagine that these were maybe given out at the film's premiere... but I've never been able to find out the exact story behind this book. I've also never seen it featured or for sale anyplace else since I scored it on Ebay. Around the same time that I found the promo book, I also scored a promo keychain for the movie:

(From the Umlaut Archives)

My Almost Famous obsession came full circle in 2006 when I saw SLAYER at the San Diego Sports Arena, where the movie's early scenes were filmed. On the way back to the car after the Metal show, I snaked around to the back and snapped a picture of the iconic truck ramp:

"We're band aids.."

The Geeks shall inherit The Earth.

I watched the Academy Awards in 2001 only to see if Almost Famous would be awarded from its 4 Oscar nominations. It only won 1 Oscar, but at least it was for Best Screenplay... which is the only one that mattered to complete Crowe's story IMO.

I end up watching my Almost Famous DVD at least once a year; it's become like Star Wars was when I was younger. I don't pretend that it's the best movie ever made but, for whatever reasons, this movie resonates for me personally like no other movie. This has only been magnified in recent years as I've found myself working in an area of the Music Business that arguably ruined Rock 'N Roll and strangled everything we love about it. Be careful what you wish for, man.

Fifty bucks and a case of beer.