After Elvis, What Other Musicians Deserve Biopics?

by Christopher Ehlers

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Monday July 4, 2022
Originally published on June 30, 2022

After Elvis, What Other Musicians Deserve Biopics?
  (Source:Warner Bros. Pictures via AP)

With Baz Luhrmann's flashy, well-liked "Elvis" debuting last week with grosses of more than $30.5 million, it is clear that audiences are willing to turn out for blockbuster biopics featuring their favorite idols. From worldwide smashes "Bohemian Rhapsody" and "Rocketman" to older hits like "Walk the Line" and "Ray," musical biopics continue to perform well both at the box office and during awards season. For his performance as Elvis, Austin Butler has shot to the top of experts' predictions for Best Actor.

When it comes to awards season, actors are rewarded often for their commitment to giving us fresh interpretations of our favorite legends, sometimes with nominations (Gary Busey, Angela Bassett, Joaquin Phoenix, Andra Day), and other times with Oscar wins (Rami Malek, Barbra Streisand, Marion Cotillard, Reese Witherspoon, Jamie Foxx, and Renée Zellweger). Considering the track record of these films, we had to wonder: what musicians are long overdue for a film about their life?

Fleetwood Mac




Although their seminal 1977 album "Rumors" is often mistakenly thought of as an early Fleetwood Mac album, it was actually the band's eleventh studio album, and there's a whole lot to the Fleetwood Mac story pre-Stevie Nicks. The fact that they had been formed a decade prior in London means that there's an awfully long, complex story to tell here. And as we all know, their relationship drama and epic drug use would make for a very compelling story.

Eagles




Like Fleetwood Mac, the Eagles have a long history of drama and band infighting that would unfold deliciously on the big screen. The creation of the "Hotel California" album alone—and the influence that it's had on rock music—could be its own film. Combine that with their breakup, reunion, and untimely death of Glenn Frey, and there's plenty of story to tell, one that would involve a tapestry-like who's who of the golden Laurel Canyon days.

Janis Joplin




While Bette Midler's character in "The Rose" is loosely based off Janis Joplin, it's high time that she receives her own film. Joplin lived a short but remarkable life, one that would no doubt captivate audiences and give one very lucky leading lady the role of her lifetime. Sex, drugs, Woodstock, and a one-of-a-kind voice, Joplin's story is under told and is surely ripe for rediscovery.

Cher




Allegedly already in the works, few living legends have a story as long, impressive, and inspiring as Cher. From dyslexia and early fame through her infamous marriages, struggle to be taken seriously as both a singer and an actress, and reinvention after reinvention, the story of Cher is one of strength and triumph.

The Velvet Underground




While Todd Haynes' recent documentary on the band was vital in the sense that it finally gave some real, modern attention to one of the most influential bands in music history, the film was a noisy and chaotic mess that did not give the band's legacy its proper due. The entire origin story of The Velvet Underground is a cinematic one, particularly when you factor in Warhol's involvement. There's a pretty remarkable cast of characters involved with this band, and it's worth digging into those crazy years in New York City in which the creative arts experienced a period of unbridled creativity.

Michael Jackson




While it is likely that any family-approved biopic about the King of Pop would be sanitized to the point of being disingenuous, we can dream about a warts-and-all glimpse into a man who was every bit as flawed as he was brilliant. And as Myles Frost just proved with his Tony win for portraying Jackson in "MJ" on Broadway, there are actors out there who are more than capable of doing justice to his singular talents.

Marvin Gaye




From his days as a vital and influential Motown pioneer through the seminal "What's Going On" and his genre-redefining "Sexual Healing" in the early 80's, Gaye remains one of the most important figures that the music industry has ever seen. When you factor in his drug problems, living in Europe as an exile for not paying his taxes, and his eventual murder by his father, there's a whole lot of story to tell here.

Amy Winehouse




It's hard to imagine anyone connected to Winehouse approving a film that goes as deep and as dark as it would need to go, but her bright, brief career deserves to be memorialized. She wasn't just a drunk with big hair and a good voice, she was a brilliant songwriter with—like so many legends before her—a tortured soul that informed her music and lyrics is ways that continue to resonate and feel surprising today.

Bob Marley




Four years ago, it was announced that Marley's son, Ziggy, was at work with Paramount on a biopic about his legendary father, but there doesn't appear to have been much movement on that front. It goes without saying that Marley remains the most famous and influential reggae artist of all time, but he also lived a fascinating life, one that ought to become as well-known as his music and would encourage a new generation to fall in love with his epic catalogue.

David Bowie




Two years ago, a wretched little movie called "Stardust" came out, which attempted to showcase the drama surrounding Bowie's first US tour along with the creation of his Ziggy Stardust persona. But they weren't allowed to use any of Bowie's music for it, and the film was a complete bomb: it earned a measly $9,000 at the box office. But if there's any artist who deserves the superstar biopic treatment, it's Bowie, not only for his fascinating personal story and career, but for his undying influence of music, which continues today, and likely always will.