5 Rock-Star Biographies That Should Be Broadway Musicals
According to Nikki Sixx, Nikki Sixx gets asked this a lot and yes, his biography The Heroin Diaries is being turned into a Broadway musical, ostensibly quenching theater fans' dire thirst for a musical based on the life of a Motley Crue member. All joking aside, this sort of thing is getting a lot of traction lately. I mean, that Tom Cruise movie, based on another rock and roll Broadway musical, did pretty well, in Tom Cruise's mind.
Let's say Broadway is just going to run with this sort of thing, as we in the entertainment industry (people like myself and Nikki Sixx) can totally just make such bold declarations regardless of whether they're actually going to happen or not.
If they do, which they will, today's Broadway producers a lot of potential memoirs from which to choose. Rock-star biographies have quickly become an accepted form of literature in the William S. Burroughs tradition of writing down all your insane drug trips and near-death experiences. It's almost hard to choose which drug-fueled rags-to-riches story to turn into a musical next, so we'll pick five for them.
5. Getting High: The Adventures of Oasis Author: Paolo Hewitt
Look, I wanted to stick to biographies written by the rock stars themselves... but that title. You can't tell me that you wouldn't go see a Broadway musical with that title. And Liam and Noel have had some pretty fucking crazy adventures in their time.
Liam did coke in the Queen's bathroom, that's all I should have to say to sell this.
The only problem is that the musical would have to change the ending to Liam and Noel reuniting at the end, because nobody wants to sit through the part where the brothers are embroiled in a bitter legal battle, except fans of John Grisham, and their opinions don't matter.
4. Tommyland Author: Tommy Lee w/Anthony Bozza
Unfortunately for Nikki Sixx, I think we'd all honestly rather see a musical adaptation of Tommy Lee's biography. Not only did Tommy Lee live a crazy life himself, he also had that sex tape with Pamela Anderson and let's be honest, we'd all much rather see that adapted on the Broadway stage than anything that happened in Sixx's life.
Plus, considering Lee even allows Anderson to give her own perspective in Tommyland, you could probably get Pam Anderson to co-star, for all that she's doing these days. The possibilities are much less, let us say, limited here than they are for a Sixx biography.
3. The Real Frank Zappa Book Author: Frank Zappa
Had his life not been taken by cancer, Zappa probably would have written a few humorous Broadway musicals by this time in his life.
He even wrote an album shortly before he released this book, entitled Broadway the Hard Way and containing songs like "Jesus Thinks You're a Jerk."
For anyone familiar with Zappa, that's just a taste of the man's twisted sense of humor that would work so well for a biographical musical based on his life.
Were one tempted, they could even just adapt some of his albums as well. I know I'd love to see a Joe's Garage performance on Broadway.
2. The Last Holiday Author: Gil Scott-Heron
This 2012 memoir was finished just before the late soul singer died last year, and covers the best years of Scott-Heron's life, essentially up to the 1980s. Those were the years he was working with Stevie Wonder to make a national holiday celebrating the birthday of Martin Luther King Jr. (SPOILER: They succeeded, and we celebrate it every year).
While one could make the case that this whitewashing of his history would mar a Broadway musical on Scott-Heron's life, ending things before he lost a fight with a crack cocaine addiction and spent years strung out (eventually contracting HIV), it seems only right to celebrate the man's life when he was at his best.
He deserves it for all his hard work in the Civil Rights movement, and we shouldn't be so tempted to simply reflect on the nastier aspects of him. It makes a good human-interest story, but it means little to the greater things he achieved in his lifetime.
1. Chronicles: Volume One Author: Bob Dylan
The great thing about Chronicles and the reason it would work so well on Broadway is that it's a story to begin with. Much of the book is a loose retelling of Dylan's life story -- one that doesn't even cover the whole span of his life, rather the portions he deemed important enough to make it in. In other words, it's more of a novel than a biography.
So many playwrights would be tempted to do something of a straight adaptation of Dylan's life. Many filmmakers have also fallen prey to that idea. But the best have been films like I'm Not There, which take the same abstract view of Dylan's life which Dylan himself takes.
I've often said that in a few hundred years, Dylan will be less of a man and more of a folk hero like Paul Bunyan or John Henry. His story will be steeped more in legend than truth. This has partly been cultivated by Dylan himself, and any great Broadway musical about him would be more of the same.
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