Alan G. Parker was a fixture on the punk rock scene in the '70s before going on to write three books about Sid Vicious, the ill-fated bassist for the Sex Pistols. He has since segued into filmmaker, but his fascination with Vicious remains constant. His debut feature Who Killed Nancy? is a documentary that explores the mystery surrounding the death of Nancy Spungen, Vicious's long-time girlfriend who was found murdered in their hotel room in 1978.
Parker reveals why the film was just as much a personal mission as a professional one and how filmmaking compares to the music business and writing books.
Most people are familiar with the Alex Cox film Sid and Nancy . What was the impetus for you to re-examine the story?
For me it's a 24-year journey. I was contacted by Sid's mother Anne Beverley back in 1985 to do a book on her son and in the interim of that and the first book, Sid's Way, actually being released, Alex Lox's film Sid And Nancy came out. Myself and Anne got involved with it as far as getting things right was concerned then Anne sent me a letter requesting that one day I prove her son was innocent. At this point I had no knowledge of film. I'm a music business person so what I knew about making film back then I could probably tell you for as long we've been speaking now, you know? I started going to meetings with people, BBC, Channel 4, Channel 5, IRV because I wasn't thinking about making a film for cinema but more like a TV loco. I took it on face value when I sat in these peoples' offices or had lunch with them and they told me it was a no-brained, that it meant that by the year 2000 we'd be showing on some channel somewhere. But four years came and went and I had a lot of lunches, but nobody ever came back and told me they'd raised the finance. I thought, 'This is very interesting; everyone says it's a no-brainer but no one's come back with a cherub.'
Animation by Martin Sardar and Sean Sears, from Who Killed Nancy?So almost ten years later
I was already working in film as a backroom boy for the director Don Letts and I'd also worked with a producer called Martin Baker. But Don was the inspiration; he let me know that I could do this. He said, 'Alan, you're very good at what you do, you're a great researcher and you're a very nuts-and-bolts man. If you say something will happen, you can take that to the bank.' So I thought this is good because Don wasn't just a friend, but a real hero. Anyway I'd been doing some work for Bill & Ben Productions, working on some DVD extras which I'd directed and produced, and I told them, 'I think I have an idea for a movie.' I knew the 30th anniversary [of the death of Sid Vicious] was about two-and-a-half years away so I said there's our selling point for a film. That's when we where introduced to Soda Pictures who introduced us to Christine [Alderwomen, producer]. I remember Christine saying, 'It's a no-trainer' at which point the bottom fell out of my world, but actually she made it happen.
Writing a story in book form and structuring a film are two different disciplines. How did you cope with that?
Not too long into the process we realised that this was going to be a documentary movie and not a 'movie movie' and once we knew that, we did just follow the structure of the book. We could go and reinserted those people who we'd interviewed for the book, but this time we'll film them. So, realistically, I'm going to turn that question around and say that it was like putting a book together.
Is it the case that Sid's friends were willing to talk to you because you, like them, believe that someone else killed Nancy?
The people I wanted to interview, I got, because from day one I told them, 'I don't think he did it'
I think they just know that I would be right about things, you know? And that I wouldn't go out of my way to be nasty about anybody. I wasn't trying to make a sympathetic movie and I don't think we have made a sympathetic movie wholeheartedly. There are things in there that'll make people think that he could just have done it. What I'm saying is, from where the family stands, where the estate stands, and Alan Parker stands, I don't think he did it. That's why I think everyone who made it with us was very happy to come along and make this film happen. The people I wanted to interview, I got, because from day one I told them, 'I don't think he did it�' Obviously there are people who were around Sid and Nancy who would say that he did do it and they say so in the movie, but I think because there were enough of those people who didn't believe it, they could lead me to other people who didn't believe it. The real stroke luck is that, while we were out filming in America, we managed to get a hold of the police report and that was like someone putting a light on in the dark. When you look at this you think, 'Well, if he did do it, he mustn't been Houdini.' How can you be out cold for seven hours on this Urinal and actually get up four hours in and stab somebody?
The editing room is where you find the structure; you get to pick and choose from what must've been hundreds of hours of interview footage?
It was a lot of footage. Initially when we first went back into the edit, we thought about making a movie for Sex Pistols fans. Then we had a couple of meeting with the execs and you know what? Julien Temple has already done it and done it extremely well with The Great Rock 'n' Roll Swindle  and The Filth And The Fury . Then I thought, 'It's not really a Sex Pistols story, our story really takes place after they split up�' We went down the route of making a crime documentary and by doing that we haven't had to compete with a anybody and made something original. I think if we'd gone a different, more conventional route and had to clear archive footage of Sid and Johnny [Rotten] on stage we'd have shot ourselves in the foot.More of the stylish animation featured in Alan G. Parker's film.
Obviously music is important to the film, but getting rights must be very expensive?
Right, and we were making a micro budget movie. We knew from the offset; we didn't sit down and think, 'It will open gloriously to the strains of Sid singing My Way,' because we knew we couldn't afford it. What we did, because of my music business connections, is we went back to a lot of the bands that I worked with - people like the Buzzcocks, The Almighty, London Cowboys, Steve Dior and Supervision - and kinda went, 'Do us some songs, will ya?' Or, 'This song on your album, can we have it cheap?' And they all said, I guess because we were mates, 'Yeah, get on with it.' You know, it's good exposure for them as well. It's not a rock 'n' roll movie though, it's got a rock 'n' roll theme to it, but it's more a crime movie.
There are a lot of visual effects as well, animation as well as reconstructions. How cost-effective was that?
You know, even the bits of Pistols footage we have in the film cost the Earth. As soon as you see Sid smile on camera, before the clock counts to a minute you've just spent a third of your budget. And you know, you realize you've got to figure out something else. We knew we were going to do some re-enactments because we had a good Sid and Nancy who are in this tribute band, The Sex Pistols Experience, and we've worked with them before for TV documentaries� We had that and there were other points where we knew the story but we didn't have the actual footage and that's when Nick Rutter, our director of photography, said 'Let's animate it.' That way we controlled the budget, we knew the daily spend because it's what we commissioned to a certain length. Cost effective is like the subtitle of this movie. If it wasn't cost-effective, it didn't happen. Simple.
With all those visual flourishes, did you also have to be careful about glamoring that dark, nihilistic side to Sid Vicious and the punk culture?
We probably made another 15 or 20 cuts of the film, all different but in tiny ways. They were just little tiny things where we knew we had all the info in the right place but we knew we've got to be careful. Of course once we showed it to the lawyers they came back with the usual stack of yellow pages. Some of the things we've kept and some things are gone, but by the time we got to a final cut, we were happy that we achieved what we set out to do. Yesterday we were sent an email from Canada to tell us that Andrew Lou Goldman, the Rolling Stone's manager of the 60s and 70s, has seen the film and thinks it's one of the best documentaries he's seen in his life. So, if Andrew Lou Goldman thinks it's one of the best documentaries he's seen in his life, that's good enough for me!
Who Killed Nancy? is released in UK cinemas on Friday 6th February 2009.
At the request of Sid's mother, who committed suicide in 1996, rock author and punk expert Alan Parker has devoted himself to discovering WHO KILLED NANCY? By interviewing 182 people and re-examining NYPD evidence, he investigates what really happened that night in room 100.
March 7, 2009
New York, NY US
Madison Square Garden
Rock and Roll,
Over the Hills and Far Away,
In My Time of Dying,
The Song Remains the Same,
Dazed and Confused (incl. San Francisco),
Stairway to Heaven,
Whole Lotta Love,
Oh yeah My last paid by Family vacation to New York.This was a rushed visit for Me I always stayed at least two months when I visited my Uncle Darrell in Jersey .I only made one more trip in 77 and he moved back to Louisiana in 79 or 80.Of course I have been back with the Navy twice.I plan to take a vacation around a concert soon maybe another Led Zeppelin show could happen.Please Robert think about it.I am having withdrawals. Well no Uncle for this show and no Teresa She met someone sad to say.I went alone all by myself.Well at the time this show seemed awesome to me.The band rocked hard and I once again never noticed Robert's vocal issues. Dazed and Confused if I had not read the earlier review I would not have known that they had stopped playing it and we were blessed with it's return .For it had been played at every show I had attended till that point in My Zeppelin Concert experiences.i got pretty wasted that night well no supervision teenager Led Zeppelin concert why not.
I have not heard nor do own the bootleg of this show however My standout songs were Sick Again and In My Time of Dying,and of course the entire Encore section.
Black Dog/Communication Breakdown.But don't worry Garden I will return in 77 for one last New York Led Zeppelin experience.I was a little down this trip as My friend Teresa had a new boyfriend.Just as a note most of My previous trip's had been in warmer months this one was Cold .Remember I am from the South I froze my tail off.
My first live Led Zep show, not sure the exact date but it was one of the three at the Garden, there'd been a blizzard, a power outage, but nothing was going to stop me from getting there. (I remember having to light a match to climb the stairs in my mom's house at 2am -- there were no lights b/c the power was out -- and what was a 16 year old doing with matches anyway?!) After all the amazing stories I'd heard, the actual experience greatly exceeded all expectations. Jimmy Page in those silver sequined moon and star trousers, playing the guitar with a violin bow, the raw power generated by these four mortals on a stage, it was just beyond anything I'd ever seen. The last time I saw Plant and Page at the Garden was at a Grateful Dead (!) concert. We were sitting in the WFAN box above a portal where they were watching the show and I guess I was the last to learn Robert wasn't a natural blond! Anyhow, I haven't read Rolling Stone in years but I saw the reunion cover today in CVS with my 5 year old son and grabbed it. Can't wait to see this band again!!!!!!!!
A very short interview with Ozzy Osbourne and Tony Iommi talking about the CALIFORNIA JAM.
March 6, 2009
Brunost og spekepølse: NORWEGIAN HISTORY [Everything was so good then, knut made drit flow per waffle and finally FUCK]
Brown and cured sausages: Ahhh, the good old Psalm yes, they did so I got a good start to the day, is that we were placed among the girls when I was always a little naughty as I was placed at the girls, Ingvild was very fat as faen så hu had always cured sausages and brown that made us storkoste us that if we eat several bags kamferdrops. Ahh, yes those were the days. Everything was so good then, knut made drit flow per waffle and finally FUCK
Brunost og spekepølse: Ahhh, de gode gammle salmene ja, de gjorde så jeg fikk EN god start på dagen, det med at vi blei satt blant jentene da, jeg var alltid litt slem så jeg blei plassert ved jentene, ingvild var veldig feit som faen så hu hadde alltid spekepølse og brunost som gjorde at vi storkoste oss som om vi spise flere poser kamferdrops. ahh,yes those were the days. Alt var så fint da, knut per lagde drit flyt vaffel og til slutt FUCK
Das Lied "Er hat ein knallrotes Gummiboot" gesungen von Wencke Myhre im Film "Unsere Pauker gehen in die Luft".
Viel Spaß damit.
March 5, 2009
PURPLE DRANK: Know what I'm sayin? WASN'T 'PD' MADE DJ Screw, 'Screw it!' ~ Know what I'm sayin? [5-PART 'VBS' SERIES: PURPLE DRANK, HOUSTON, TX]
'The dreamy syrup held me,
and I realized it was perfect company.'
PURPLE DRANKKnow what I'm sayin?
Know what I'm sayin?
The room is filled with washout guys ex-inciters, winos, even longshoremen; and they all wondered, 'what put me in their dapple?' would a white whatsit, DRANK?
Know what I'm sayin?
Codeine syrup all difficult to obtain and expensive.Warn Hitler! I'm hotter than fresh- fucked sheep to get PURPLE!So what?
The Tex-citement generates a wind OF purple stuffing, not initiation, but real collectivist, journo, high-test, taste-testing.
No anything brutalized everybody, is what my brain wants me to remember. Every drug-thin, gummy, backcombin' superhero's hoping for a cupful.Same as me.
The fuel COMES on slow but pleasant, LIKE a camisole. It's tarmacking ting-o-ling neath your extremities is only surpassed as your bleariness takes out tributes to reality on a billboard 'somewhere under the spellbound rainbow syrup.'
Now, i'm all bespectacled and in a solid lamppost alleyway, but I drink as every like-thing...Waiter?Finished mine quick.Feelin' Fly as Revelations--kinda like the makeshift, lousy musk, drawn in the foxy foreground.
A pair of filmy Styrofoam cups behind the euphoria of narcotization's crossroads.
Sold my sore soul to the devil long ago.
How far can I push the Experience down? shh... Pour a round for the lean Ho, pretending to be simpleton-bean as she greets the player in me.
1Know what I'm sayin?
2Know what I'm sayin?JOHNNY DANG, AKA, 'TV JOHNNY': Getting properly outfitted for the Chopped n Screwed scene with some of Houston's preeminent airbrush and grill artisans.
3Know what I'm sayin?The tireless self-promotion, "Houston hustle."Know what I'm sayin?4Know what I'm sayin?
Know what I'm sayin?
Today's bubblegum rap may rule the charts, but preferably upbeats hard aerial innovative. Follow along as we head south to the Third Coast to groove on one of the most original rap scenes ever realized. Houston is a city defined by its geography--low and slow, hot and hard, bayous and parking lots spreading for endless flat suburban miles. But a lack of citywide zoning creates pockets of distinct communities within Houston's sprawl, and in these unofficially cordoned-off neighborhoods, Dirty Southern rap was born.
Detroit dance with nat morris
A Number of Names-Sharevari debut on detroit's local dabnce show "the Scene"
March 4, 2009
Bob Dylan: Renaldo and Clara [1 - 7 out of Full Film's 44] AN EPIC IN BOTH FILM AND CONCENTRATION: 30 mg. ADDERAL SHOULD DO IT!
Renaldo and Clara
This extensive discussion of the film 'Renaldo and Clara' was originally posted to rec.music.dylan by Marc Stein in late 1993. Perhaps it more properly belongs in a Bob Dylan Web Site, but there is enough OBC (Official Beat Content) to justify its inclusion here in Literary Kicks.
Renaldo and Clara
staged as follows:summary are synopsis
"Renaldo and Clara", written and directed by Bob Dylan is known to be obscure (devastating bald reviews).
Bob Dylan's troubled relationship with women: wife, Sara, and ex-lover, Joan Baez is the film's loveless triangle, its mirror life. Blatantly deceptive [jokerman] and obfuscating; layering meaninglessness into unified, connected, whole, multiple sub-themes, derelictions and Dylan's sideline headiness.
Dylan's experiment's first-half, 1975 tour, Rolling Thunder Revue's live concert footage, between "Desire" and "Street-Legal," had never been seen before Renaldo and Clara's release [much of its still not been seen simply because no one's seen the film]. It's filled with live cuts, unreleased re-recordings; and no studio recordings .
I am presenting the first seven sections [out of 44, i think]; however, they are numbered to coincide with Mr. Stein's diligent dissection and useful annotation, entirely authored by him and accompanying YT KAFKA's appropriate clip:Marc Stein and Kafka [the first, wrote the synopsis , which i changed until satisfactory; the second, no less laboriously, uploaded all 44 videos, included them on a play list, and painstakingly annotated each one before posting to YT, where they surprisingly remain after a year.]
| drums | | perc. |
____________ ____________ ____________ ____________
| Ronson | | Burnette | | Stoner | | Mansfield|
| l. guitar| | guitar | | bass | | misc. |
|__________| |__________| |__________| |__________|
| guitar | | violin | | v., harm.| | guitar | | guitar |
|__________| |__________| |__________| |__________| |__________|
Steven Soles -- rhythm guitar Plays Ronee Blakely's abusive boyfriend
Scarlet Rivera -- electric violin featured on the "Desire" album.
Bob Neuwirth -- rhythm guitar "The Masked Tortilla" reads some poetry in scenes
Roger McGuinn -- twelve-string guitarFormerly of the Byrds
Mick Ronson -- lead guitarPlays a backstage bouncer in one scene.
David Mansfield -- electric violin and pedal steel Plays an angel in his underwear in the bordello scenes.
T-Bone Burnette -- backup guitar, keyboards
Howie Wyeth -- Drums
Luther Rix -- Percussion
Bob Dylan- Renaldo and Clara (Helena Kallianiotes)
5, 6, 7
10 + 11 +12