UPDATED (Friday, 11:50 a.m.) to correct the ID in the top photo.
This past week saw the release of Stephen King's latest short novel of hard-boiled crime fiction called Joyland, by my count his 70th overall, not counting reprints and compilations. What fuels output like that? By King's own admission, at one point it was cocaine; nowadays it's just nicotine and caffeine. But he also consumes a steady diet of rock and roll music spanning the genre's beginnings to today's young bucks.
With the release of Joyland, I decided to look back at some of King's best rock references and fixations throughout his legendary bibliography, and even his best-forgotten foray into directing films.
5. Pet Sematary King's Pet Sematary featured one of his darkest plot twists and one of his most enduring film adaptations due to its scenes that teeter between goofy and legitimately creepy. It was also one of the only films whose script King personally wrote.
One element he decided to carry over from the novel was a Ramones motif. The novel quotes from "Blitzkrieg Bop," and the film plays "Sheena is a Punk Rocker" in a particularly tragic scene. The band also recorded a theme song for the film, "Pet Sematary," which played over the credits and became one of their biggest late-career hits.
4. Lisey's Story Though contains a minor reference, 2006's Lisey's Story is included here just because of how cool it is that King included it. While describing "so-called smart bars" where hipsters inhabit, King alludes to the fact that they are the kind of places with "Bright Eyes on the jukebox instead of My Chemical Romance."
Just in case you thought King might not keep up with rock as he gets on in years, he throws in a reference like that to keep you on your toes. Not to mention that in 2008 he listed his 20 favorite songs to listen to while working and included Ryan Adams, Wilco and Billy Bragg, and LCD Soundsystem.
3. Christine King's Christine is about three things: a haunted car, a love triangle between three all-American teenagers, and 1950s rock and roll. Each chapter of the novel begins with a lyric from a '50s rock song about cars, a ubiquitous lyrical subject of the era, and its plot roughly mirrors a typical "car crash song"; though with a lot more supernatural stuff included.
Ultimately, Christine can be read as a tribute of sorts to not only the era itself but the music of the era. King grew up in that time and no doubt absorbed a great deal of that early rock into his psyche, which is evident all over the novel.
2. "You Know They Got a Hell of a Band" Adapted for King's short-lived TV series Nightmares and Dreamscapes and originally featured as a short story in the eponymously titled collection, "You Know They Got a Hell of a Band" is a pure rock story about a husband and wife who wander into a perfect town inhabited by the spirits of dead rock stars.
On an unfortunate note, the story, first written in 1992, was updated for the 2006 teleplay to include George Harrison and Kurt Cobain, both of whom had died in the intervening years.
1. Maximum Overdrive Stephen King may be a great novelist, but by all accounts his filmmaking endeavors might best be left to the professionals. After years of having his works mined for Hollywood films, King stepped into the director's seat and made his own film based on his 1978 short story "Trucks."
The result was Maximum Overdrive, which currently holds a 17 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes. It's most notable for being hilarious rather than scary, featuring a young Emilio Estevez in the starring role, and having a soundtrack composed by AC/DC at King's request. The movie may have flopped, but the soundtrack produced an enduring hit in "Who Made Who," which is featured in the opening credits of the film along with a truck featuring a giant AC/DC logo -- just in case you didn't recognize them.
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This isn't the first time we've written about Mr. King. Want to read more? See also: Top 10 Stephen King Movie Adaptations 5 Other Stephen King Novels That Could Use Sequels Top 5 Sickest Stephen King Sex Scenes (NSFW)