On Thursday June 29, 2017 we attend a special screening of the music documentary Hired Gun. Fathom Events with Vision Films presented the hard hitting Hired Gun to cinemas nationwide along with an exclusive Q&A with several hired guns from the film. The documentary along with additional footage is scheduled to be released for home viewing sometime in the future.
Similar in concept to the Academy Award winning documentary 20 Feet From Stardom (2014), Hired Gun hits the mark as it explores the positives and negatives of session work, touring and being the supporting act behind some of the industry’s most iconic figures. These hired guns are recognized as some of the best musicians in the world, and include Jason Hook (Five Finger Death Punch), Liberty DeVitto (Billy Joel), Kenny Aronoff (John Mellencamp), RudySarzo (Ozzy Osbourne), Phil X (Bon Jovi), Justin Derrico, Mark Schulman (P!NK),Ray Parker Jr. (Ghostbusters), Jason Newsted (Metallica), Eric Singer (KISS),John 5 (Rob Zombie), Glen Sobel, Nita Strauss (Alice Cooper), Steve Lukather (Michael Jackson, Toto), Steve Vai (David Lee Roth), Paul Bushnell (Katy Perry), Jay Graydon (Steely Dan), Derek St. Holmes (Ted Nugent), Chris Johnson (Rihanna), music producer David Foster, and featuring Alice Cooper and Rob Zombie, and more.
You may not know these A-list artists but you have heard them play on countless radio hits. Hired Gun tells their stories through interviews, video clips and more. The documentary was engaging, and entertaining as well as educational for those considering a career in this challenging field. Director Fran Strine stated that “the music fans who come out to see it should expect an immersive musical experience. Hired Gun is a music documentary with passion and talent at its core, digging deep and ripping the curtain back to expose what it’s really like to tour and record with the legends.” The hired gun jams interspersed throughout the movie revealed to us how talented these players really are.
A few themes were reinforced numerous times during discussions. One was that hired guns always have to bring their A game to live and studio work as someone is standing by ready to take their place. There is no job security but what a musician does today will be reflected in what he/she will be doing tomorrow. In other words your reputation is important and those respected for their chops will be chooses first. Passion is key as not all hired guns make a lot of money – some do but just because you played and perhaps helped compose a number one song does not mean you are a millionaire.
Interviews with lead singer/showman Alice Cooper confirmed many of these concepts. Alice says I don’t have time for B list players meaning he only hires the best. The shock rocker recalled taking his daughter to see Hilary Duff. Alice took notice of her guitarist Jason Hook who looked like he belonged in a hard rock band rather than with a Disney pop artist. Later, Hook was hired to join Cooper on tour but then Jason risked the security of that steady gig to be in a band he felt passionate about – Five Finger Death Punch – an unknown quantity at the time. Hook’s gamble paid off as the group has become huge in the heavy metal world.
Hired guns have many happy and hard times. Case and point Liberty DeVitto who was Billy Joel’s drummer. Liberty contributed musically to some of the Piano Man’s biggest singles. For years he enjoyed the lifestyle of being in a successful band but according to DeVitto and others Billy changed when Joel found out that management had ripped him off. Billy no longer trusted people and this led to him letting go most of his long-time band members without even a phone call. The same fate awaited Liberty further on down the road. DeVitto now devotes much of his time to teaching a new generation the love of music but he is still haunted by the suicide of his former bandmate Doug who could not handle being dismissed by the Piano Man.
Hired Gun exposes these highs and lows. It gave us a greater appreciation of A-list players. It was a reminder that it is not just the name on the marquee but the band that makes the music magical. We would highly recommend this documentary.
Fathom Events who hosted Hired Gun is recognized as a world leader in the event cinema industry. Their films are high definition, surround-sound experiences that explore the arts, dance, films, inspirational, music, sports and more. In July they will be featuring Carol King: Tapestry, Nabucco Summer Encore, Discovery’s Shark Week, Carmen, Angels In America, Devdas, Kiki’s Delivery Service, Lady Antebellum and the 35th anniversary of Fast Times at Ridgemont High. Talk about a diverse line-up of entertainment – enjoy.
Related Links: For more information on FATHOM EVENTS and the other organizations mentioned please visit the following links — Fathom Events