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Interview:
"Hired Gun" film documents behind-the-scenes stars
 

By Gary Graff
ggraff@digitalfirstmedia.com, @GraffonMusic on Twi

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The premise that some of music’s greatest successes are not its most visible is what fuels “Hired Gun.”

The documentary -- which has been playing the festival circuit and screens for one night only in theaters on Thursday, June 29 -- does feature some big names such as Alice Cooper, Billy Joel and Rob Zombie. But the stars are the likes of Kenny Aronoff, Liberty DeVitto, Phil Chen, Dave Graydon, Toto’s Steve Lukather and Grosse Pointe’s John5 (nee Lowery) -- musicians who are not household names but made their reputation playing on sessions or as part of touring bands, contributing to the hits without necessarily getting the public credit for their work.

“‘Hired Gun’ is exactly what it says. It’s about people being hired to work behind some of the greatest artists,” says Aronoff, 64, an Indiana University music grad who’s played drums for John Mellencamp, John Fogerty, Smashing Pumpkins, Melissa Etheridge, Bob Seger and more. Albums he’s played on have fold more than 300 million copies. “It has great stories -- the ups, the downs, the laughs. It doesn’t tell it all, but it tells a lot of things people don’t know.”

Directed by Fran Strine, “Hired Gun” also features jam sessions between some of the artists featured in the film and looks at some well-known artists, such as Ray Parker Jr. and Toto’s Steve Lukather, who also have voluminous session credits on songs and albums even more successful than their own. Aronoff talks about coming up with the drum part for Mellencamp’s “Jack & Diane” “basically to save my career,” while members of Billy Joel’s band speak candidly about their experiences as well as his decision to let most of them go in 1989.

“To me the real importance of (the film) is to educate people to understand how difficult it is to make it -- in anything, but here is an example of how difficult it is to make it as just a background person are a hired gun, let alone be the artist,” says Aronoff, who’s currently touring with Fogerty as well as in the band Supersonic Blues Machine and published a memoir, “Sex, Drums and Rock ’n’ Roll ...,” last year. “The bigger picture is how difficult it is to be successful at anything -- that’s the message I would like to see portrayed. It’s deeper than the actual story itself.”

There’s no word yet on whether “Hired Gun” will go into wide release or come out on home video platforms in the near future. More information is available at hiredgunfilm.com.



• If You Go: “Hired Gun” screens for one night only on Thursday, June 29, at participating theaters. A full list of theaters and ticket information can be found at fathomevents.com.

• Note: Kenny Aronoff performs with Supersonic Blues Machine featuring Robben Ford at 8 p.m. July 13 at Wildwood Amphitheater, 2700 Joslyn Court, Lake Orion. Tickets are $30-$50. Call 248-858-9508 or visit atcallahans.com.

Web Site: www.fathomevents.com

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