The following is featured on the San Francisco International Film Festival website. Susan Steinberg worked as an editor on “Cocksucker Blues”, which documented The Rolling Stones 1972 tour of North America.
Filmmaker Jim Jarmusch, commenting on this notorious documentary portrait of the Rolling Stones’ 1972 North American tour, called it “definitely one of the best movies about rock and roll I’ve ever seen…. It makes you think being a rock and roll star is one of the last things you’d ever want to do.” Bleak in some scenes, celebratory in others, Cocksucker Blues conveys the confusion, hysteria, euphoria and tedium of a large-scale rock tour. But while it is in many ways a straightforward “real cinema” documentary, it is also a personal and unsparing look at the seductive power of rock-and-roll glory.
First commissioned, then condemned by the Stones, the rarely-screened film unstintingly depicts Frank’s extended trip into the bubble of fame, showing the surrounding drug and groupie scene, Keith Richards’ heroin addiction, Mick Jagger’s marital squabbles and the Glimmer Twins’ canny manipulation of their outlaw reputations.
Frank also records the participation of his own friend and fellow filmmaker Danny Seymour, whose attraction to the volatile mix of drugs and music proves his undoing. Frank downplays the concert performances in favor of the backstage world, letting the everyday sounds of the tour give the film its feel: inconsequential conversations; a tiny music box; a sad, recurring piano theme; a scratchy record; and the ragged playing of rehearsal. Frank’s hypnotically rough camera and overlapping soundtrack immerse us in the reality of a very strange experience.