Mayor of the Sunset Strip (2003) (mini-review++)

(If you’re curious, my review process. It’s also pasted at the end of this post. I don’t believe in Rotten Tomatoes. I just believe in me.)

(***all-purpose SPOILER ALERT*** there may be some in this review)

importance 9

directing 9

effects 9

editing 9

writing 9

SW SCORE: 45

4.5 out of 5 🐙

++

A very close friend of mine, The Blushing Whale, is allowing me to re-print this review he wrote back in 2004. I’ve seen the documentary, too, and I can’t add anything that isn’t already eloquently put forward here. So, to be clear, the numbers above are mine. Don’t yell at my buddy.

You may not have heard of Rodney Bingenheimer but chances are, he has made an impact in your life if you’re a music fan. In the past, Rodney was THE MAN at Los Angeles’ legendary radio station KROQ. His show would come on at 8 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. He introduced bands such as T-Rex, the Sex Pistols, the Clash, the Ramones, Blondie, David Bowie, Nirvana, Coldplay, to name a VERY few, to America. If he dug a band’s song, he would pronounce it ‘godhead’. Then every other station would play it. But Rodney always played it first.

George Hickenlooper’s Mayor of the Sunset Strip is a documentary about the life of Rodney. The diminutive Bingenheimer looks like Davy Jones of the Monkees. He resembled Jones so much that he was often used as a stand-in. Rodney’s is a very fascinating story, very sad at times. You think this man would be a millionaire after all that he’s done for the music industry. But he isn’t. He lives in an average-looking abode, numerous photographs with famous musicians hanging on his wall. He has met everyone, from Elvis, to psychotic Courtney Love, to Sonny and Cher – who took him under their wing when he first moved to L.A.

Early in his career, Rodney wrote for music mags, then landed a job at Capital records and helped promote Linda Ronstadt. He also worked for Mercury records, where he promoted Bowie and Rod Stewart. Eventually, Rodney got fed up with the L.A. music scene and left for London. He returned a year later and, under Bowie’s urging, opened a Brit-like club on the Sunset Strip, English Disco, which became a hot spot during the 70s. Bingenheimer was such a philanderer that Led Zeppelin frontman Robert Plant told him that he outplayed even him. 

Today, Rodney is a forgotten man. The resurrected Gibson Showroom stands where English Disco used to be. Rodney still DJ’s, but not for his foundational KROQ (whose quality had deeply fallen since his heyday). He’s got a 9pm-Midnight slot on SiriusXM radio as a host on Little Steven’s Underground Garage

At the time of this review, he was in love with a girl named Camille, but to Camille, he was just a friend. It’s beyond the scope of this review to investigate on the current status of his unrequited love. He was (is? I think so and hope so) a friend to many. Just watching him, you can tell he has a good and kind soul. So kind that he put his friend Ronald Vaughan on the film’s soundtrack. This documentary is a must-see. 

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(1) Shark Wrighter (SW) Score: Based on a sum of 5 sub-scores (acting, directing, writing/story, effects: cinematography &/or animation &/or effects, editing) with 1 being terrible and 10 being terrific.

(2) Octopuses (0-5 🐙, with 5 being fantastic and 0 being feces)

(3) Octopuses are my unquantifiable feeling…not that SW score is scientific…but this one is even less so

(4) ++ This optional section includes any incredibly *brilliant observations that don’t fit into simple quantitative slices like the scores and octopuses *(they are likely NOT brilliant)

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