Mayor of the Sunset Strip - * * * 1/2
Viewed on DVD
Sam, who plays bass in Chris Mess, loaned me this documentary after she and Chris told me about this LA music fixture. This documentary feels a little like Forrest Gump's jaunt through history, only Bingenheimer's journey is through music.
Bingenheimer, a D.J. on LA's radio station KROQ, was the first to play bands that went on to be major recording artists. From KROQ's website:
"He was the first to play records by - and interviews with such artists on his KROQ show as: Blondie, The Ramones, The Sex Pistols, Van Halen, The Go-Go's, Nina Hagen, The Cramps, Nena, The Clash, The Cure, The Smiths, The B-52's, Billy Idol, Adam Ant, Echobelly, Ride, X, Siouxie and the Banshees, Bad Religion, Duran Duran, The Jam, The Bangles, The Runaways, Redd Kross, Bananrama, Joan Jett, Tom Petty, Dramarama, Teenage Fan Club, Suede, The Jesus and Mary Chain, Echo and the Bunnymen, No Doubt, Blur, Elastica, Belly, L7, Sonic Youth, Nirvana, Rialto, Placebo, Oasis, The Verve, Kent, Ash, Gene, Travis, Coldplay, Doves, JJ72, The Strokes, Starsailor, The Hives, The Vines, Black Rebel, Motorcycle Club, and The Electric Soft Parade plus over 300 celebrity interviews!"
Bingenheimer is one of those people behind the curtain, creating the LA scene, which in turn becomes the world scene. You tend not to hear of these people until someone notices and writes a book, does a news story, or a documentary film.
The "Gumpian" part of this documentary is that Bingenheimer has been around and discovered many of the major music artists past thirty years. There are pictures of the Beatles, with Bingenheimer standing off to the side. He was there with the Monkees. He hangs out with David Bowie. There were times I wondered if this was a mockumentary not unlike Woody Allen's Zelig, as Bingenheimer seemed to be everywhere.
What struck me almost from the beginning was the sadness surrounding Bingenheimer. This was especially evident in his meeting with David Bowie. It's obvious the two know each other, that they might even be friends; but underneath it all, Bingenheimer is really just a music fan who happens to be in a position of influence. The sadness comes from Bingenheimer understanding that this is his station in life.
To see another documentary about a different type of influential person, see Big City Dick, about Seattle fixture Richard Peterson and his influence on bands like Stone Temple Pilots.