The movies have a long history of glorious rock & roll moments. Whether the story is about gangsters, lovers, warriors or vampires, the right song can jolt an ordinary flick into something loud and wild.
So behold, the 30 all-time greatest rock & roll moments in film history: from Goodfellas to Hot Tub Time Machine, from Elvis to the RZA, from Lloyd Dobler to Spinal Tap to the Dude.
HERE are just a few of Rolling Stone Magazine’s favorite eruptions of cinematic rockingness. Play these movies loud.
On October 5th, 1991, the Dublin-based soul band known as the Commitments hit their peak position on the Billboard 200 when they cracked the top 10 to secure the number eight spot on the music chart, wedged between Ozzy Osbourne and Bonnie Raitt. The biggest difference between those two legendary artists and the Irish newcomers? The Commitments were a work of pure fiction — at least, they were originally.
Originally created by writer Roddy Doyle for his 1987 novel of the same name, director Alan Parker brought The Commitments to life on August 14th, 1991 — with a cast of (mostly) musicians who had the acting chops to carry a movie. But those R&B road dogs are hardly alone: From Pitch Perfect‘s a capella champions to the punk Irish preteens of Sing Street, the movies are full of amazingly talented musical artists and groups who we only wish existed in real life.
Rolling Stone counted down the 25 most amazing “movie bands” — those fake metalheads, glam divas, bluegrass crooners and underage rock superstars that have graced the screen, and a few cases, the actual stage.
Some of them ended up touring (big up Jake and Elwood Blues!); others played their final note the minute they heard “That’s a wrap.” But all of them go to 11.
It’s odd to think that, once upon a time, a TV show set in space — one that declared, in its opening narration, as the cosmos being the “final frontier” — was considered the pop-cultural equivalent of an unwanted party-crasher. Yes, a concept like Star Trek was both of its time and clearly ahead of it; history has more than vindicated Gene Rodenberry’s notion of boldly going where no man had gone before. But given the number of top-notch shows set in the far reaches of the galaxy and that used genre for pulpy and profound purposes over the last 30 or so years, it seems crazy to think that one of the most groundbreaking SF series was a network pariah and a ratings dud. Today, there’s an entire cable network devoted to this kind of programming. You can’t turn on your TV/Roku/cut-cord viewing device without bumping into spaceships, alien invasion and wonky sci-fi food-for-thought.
Science fiction has been around in one form or another since the early-ish days of television, both here and abroad, and its legacy now looms larger than ever.
So what better time to count down the 50 best sci-fi TV shows of all time? From anime classics to outer-space soap operas, spooky British anthology shows to worst-case-scenario postapocalyptic dramas, primetime pop hits to obscure but beloved cult classics, HERE are Rolling Stone’s choices for the best the television genre has to offer — submitted, for your approval.
My personal favorites include: The Six-Million Dollar Man, Lost, Stranger Things, Watchmen, Westworld, The Mandalorian, The Twilight Zone, and Star Trek.
Director J.J. Abrams is trying to talk about his new Star Wars movie, but the process of making it keeps intruding. He’s in his office on the second floor of his Bad Robot production company’s Willy Wonka-worthy headquarters in Santa Monica, and his assistant keeps opening the door to pass him notes, as Abrams’ iPhone buzzes with increasingly urgent-seeming texts from the film’s visual-effects supervisor. He’s fresh from a stage over at Sony Studios, where John Williams was conducting an orchestra through the score for December 20th’s Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker. Just last week, Abrams was doing reshoots right here at Bad Robot, in a green-screen room that allows him maximum movie-tweaking flexibility. It’s mid-October, and the film is 71 days away from release.
Episode IX was supposed to be written and directed by Colin Trevorrow of Jurassic World fame, until Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy reportedly rejected his screenplay, though Lucasfilm calls it a mutual parting of ways. That opened the door for Abrams, who directed 2015’s The Force Awakens, to jump back in with co-screenwriter Chris Terrio and start from scratch — hence the current crunch.
“It’s probably a lot easier than being a schoolteacher,” Abrams says. “But it has very particular challenges. Especially when you’re directing, and you’ve got people in the scene that aren’t human. When you have, in some cases, a scene with someone no longer living.” Among the trials of Episode IX, in addition to forging a satisfying conclusion to one of the most loved stories of the modern world, was dealing with the tragic and sudden 2016 death of Carrie Fisher. Unlike Luke Skywalker and Han Solo, the character of Leia is still alive in the saga, a dilemma Abrams resolved via unused Force Awakens footage.
Abrams just struck a massive production deal with Disney rival WarnerMedia, which could get his hands on Superman, Batman, and the rest of the DC Comics pantheon — there are a notable number of Superman toys among the whimsical decorations downstairs. “We haven’t had those discussions yet,” Abrams says, not quite convincingly.
Donald Trump was still months away from being elected president when Stephen King began writing his new novel. But The Institute — out September 10th and centered on a 12-year-old boy stolen from his parents in the night and locked up in a mysterious facility — is likely to remind readers of certain immigration policies. “I can’t help but see similarity between what’s going on in The Institute and those pictures of kids in cages,” says King. “Sometimes fiction outpaces fact.”
This isn’t the first time a King book predicted the political future: His 1979 book The Dead Zone was about a Trump-like aspiring president threatening global apocalypse if he took office. “Fiction has foreseen Trump before,” says King, “always as a nightmare. Now, the nightmare is here. But I don’t want to force my worldview on people. I’m not George Orwell, and this book isn’t 1984. It wasn’t meant to be an allegory.”
King is calling in from his house in Maine, just a couple of weeks after traveling to Foxborough, Massachusetts, to see his first-ever Rolling Stones concert. (“Keith looked a little tentative and just putting in the time at first, but then he caught fire.”) He’s still reveling in the surge of interest in his work that followed 2017’s It, now the highest-grossing horror movie ever. “I think a lot of kids watched the  It miniseries with Tim Curry, and it scared the living shit right out of them,” King says. “They couldn’t wait to go back and see it again.”
Like IT, The Institute is about a group of children who band together to battle an unspeakably evil force. The twist this time is that they all have telekinetic or psychic powers and the adults who run the facility force them to undergo medical experiments. “I wanted to write a book like Tom Brown’s School Days,” King says, referencing the 1857 Thomas Hughes children’s classic about a British boarding school. “But in hell.”
A book about clairvoyant kids battling a shadow organization will surely draw comparisons to Stranger Things. Which was, of course, heavily inspired by Stephen King books. “I like [Stranger Things] a lot, but it does owe something to It,” the author says. “That’s another book about kids who are weak and helpless by themselves — but together can make something that is very strong.”
Long before Stranger Things and even It, children with supernatural powers were at the center of King books like Carrie, The Shining, and Firestarter. “Like a pitcher that has a great fastball or slider, you go back to what worked for you before,” says King. “I do think that kids are sort of magic. When I was a young man, I could draw [inspiration] from my own kids. Now that I’m so much older, I am drawing from my grandchildren and what I see them doing and how I see them interacting.”
The Institute could be the next King project to be adapted by Hollywood, joining The Stand (CBS All Access), The Outsider (HBO), and Lisey’s Story (Apple TV+) — plus the seven movies he has in development. King has script approval on all of them. “The scripts have to work,” he says. “They can’t have 19 pages of flashbacks to when the characters were kids. I want the pedal to the metal as much of the time as possible.”
The film adaptation of King’s 2013 The Shining sequel, Dr. Sleep, comes out November 8th and features Ewan McGregor playing an adult Danny Torrance. Though King has always hated Stanley Kubrick’s 1980 adaptation of his book for changing so much of the story, he allowed the Dr. Sleep filmmakers to use elements of Kubrick’s version. “My problem with Kubrick’s film was that it’s so cold,” King says. “The reason I didn’t have any problem with this script is they took some of Kubrick’s material and warmed it up.”
King’s next book, If It Bleeds, is due out sometime in 2020. It’s a continuation of his ongoing Holly Gibney detective series. “I have to do a polish on that,” he says. “But it’s basically done.” He’s already jamming away on the one after that (though he’s not ready to divulge any details) and the sudden surge of interest in his work has been a great motivator to keep going. “I’m 71 years old,” he says, “and a lot of people my age are forgotten and I’ve had this late season burst of success. It’s very gratifying.”
Naturally, retirement remains the last thing on his mind. “That’s God’s decision, not mine,” he says. But I’ll know when it’s time. I’ll either collapse at my desk or the ideas will run out — the thing you don’t want to do is embarrass yourself. As long as I feel like I’m still doing good work, I can’t see myself stopping.”
After years of psychotherapy, the King of All Media looks back, repents, and rescues a few kittens…
Howard stern hasn’t released a book in 24 years. Back in those days, he was a guy who didn’t think twice about calling Rosie O’Donnell a “fat pig”; using a giant, rotting fish as a mallet to spank a naked woman on the air; or viciously mocking a member of his “Wack Pack” with Down syndrome he’d dubbed “Gary the Retard.” On the cover of the book Miss America, he dressed as a drag queen, and inside he offered detailed accounts of his private cybersex sessions with fans.
The Howard Stern of 2019 — who spends his free time fostering rescue cats or painting watercolors — can only shudder when that book and its 1993 predecessor, Private Parts, comes up. “If I read them, I’d want to jump out a window,” he says. “I haven’t picked them up in years. They are snapshots of who I was back then, and I want to take that guy and shake him. I was a selfish prick. I can just see that quote in Rolling Stone, ‘I was a selfish prick.’ But it’s true.”
It’s before 8 a.m. on a Thursday in mid-April, and Stern is usually at his Hamptons home or Palm Beach estate by now, since he broadcasts Mondays through Wednesdays only. But he’s come into his SiriusXM studio in New York for a rare extended interview timed to the release of his new book, Howard Stern Comes Again, a compendium of his best interviews with the likes of Lady Gaga, Stephen Colbert, Gwyneth Paltrow and other A-listers.
Stern is now friends with ex-antagonists like O’Donnell. Gary is almost never seen; when he is, Stern lovingly calls him “Gary the Conquerer.” “Retard” has vanished from Stern’s vocabulary, along with bits that demean women or minorities. He vacations with friends like Jimmy Kimmel and Jennifer Aniston, and goes to parties with Jerry Seinfeld, Steve Martin and others he used to torment.
To Stern die-hards, this is blasphemy — the equivalent of Johnny Rotten singing Pat Boone songs. Superfans gather each day on the Howard Stern subreddit to blast their former hero, calling him “Hollywood Howie” or “PC Howie” and arguing over when they stopped listening. (Oddly enough, they all seem tuned in to current show developments.) But as Stern settles onto the studio couch usually reserved for show guests, he says he doesn’t care about the Reddit crew. As he reveals in his new book, he recently had two cancer scares. First, he almost underwent chemotherapy when his white-blood-cell count was off the charts, but discovered at the last moment that he was suffering from mercury poisoning from eating too much fish. Then, in a hypochondriac’s nightmare scenario, he got a full-body scan and doctors saw a spot on his kidney. They said there was a 95 percent chance it was cancer, and he had major surgery, only to wake up and learn it was a cyst that had burst.
In the book, he also says that after many years of psychotherapy he has come to terms with his narcissism. He says he no longer has any desire to humiliate or insult guests to score ratings. In an era when former heavyweights like Charlie Rose and Matt Lauer have been pushed out of the industry due to their treatment of women, it’s no small irony that Stern’s couch is now where some of the biggest names in the industry go for in-depth interviews. It’s the sort of third-act surprise that few people would have ever predicted for the guy formerly known as Fartman.
Billy Joel hasn’t released an album of new pop songs since 1993, but that hasn’t stopped him from selling out Madison Square Garden every month for the past five years and packing baseball stadiums across the country each summer. “I’ve gone onstage and said, ‘I don’t have anything new for you, so we’re just going to play the old shit,’ ” Joel says on the phone from his house in Palm Beach, Florida. “And the audience goes, ‘Yeah!’ I’ll be sitting in the stadium looking out at 30,000, 40,000, 50,000 people, thinking, ‘What the hell are they all doing here? Why now?’ I guess, in a way, I’m an anachronism. There aren’t that many of me left. There’s a rarity to it, which gives it value.”
Zoë Kravitz’s new Rolling Stone cover has a heartwarming backstory. The 29-year-old actress recreated a shoot that her mom, actress Lisa Bonet, did for the magazine while two months pregnant with Kravitz.
30 years after mother Lisa’s iconic Rolling Stone cover, where she wore a white shirt and nothing else, Kravitz recreated the pose for the magazine’s November “Hot” issue.
Even during the height of Electric Light Orchestra’s hit-making days in the late 1970s, only the most devoted rock fans knew the name Jeff Lynne. “I never pushed myself forward,” he says on the phone from his home in Los Angeles. “I could have gotten a big head, but it just wasn’t in my nature. All I wanted was studio time and more studio time and even more studio time.”
When a shifting musical climate in the 1980s made ELO seem like dinosaurs, Lynne became a producer and within the course of less than two years crafted comeback albums for George Harrison, Tom Petty and Roy Orbison before pulling all of them together, along with Bob Dylan, into the short-lived supergroup the Traveling Wilburys. “It was a marvelous time,” says Lynne. “I thought to myself, ‘Wow, I should have been doing this years ago.’”
But after 30 years of working almost exclusively behind the scenes, Lynne accepted an offer to revive Electric Light Orchestra for a massive show in London’s Hyde Park in the summer of 2014. He was a jumble of nerves when he walked onto the stage and faced 50,000 fans. “I felt such relief that all these people were there, screaming and clapping to every song,” he says. “It made me feel really good. I had so much fun doing it, I decided to come back and do a new album.”