Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Johnny Depp had Keith Richards: I have Robert Plant


by Jamie Freveletti

My last post was about classic rock and classic protagonists, but let's talk rock and creating a character. I've finished Keith Richards' book Life and must say that I respect him a bit more since reading his views on music, especially Chicago blues. (Full disclosure: my mother was a jazz singer in the 60's and 70's in Chicago and knew many of the people mentioned). While the whole drug
fueled lifestyle sounds painful, it seemed to be a fixture in the scene during the 60's and 70's.
By now most of us know that Johnny Depp used Mr. Richards as inspiration when creating his Jack Sparrow character. The swaying, insouciant pirate owed a lot to Depp's portrayal, and Richards eventually appeared in the movie as well.

I'm currently writing my fourth thriller featuring Emma Caldridge, and in this one she hooks up with a character that is in the music scene. Much of what I'm writing comes from my memories of being a child when my mother used to rehearse with her band at our house.

But the other day I was cruising through a book store and saw a magazine cover picture of a man with a fascinatingly craggy face, experience in his eyes-some pain too-and long, wavy hair which is a rarity on men in their sixties. His face was so arresting that I stopped and stared.

It was Robert Plant. I had to stare, because, thanks to the teen resident guitar player in my house the screen savers on our computers at home have some sort of picture of this man in various stages of his rock god years. This photo above is the current screen saver. Now this is a great photo. Whatever this man is doing, he's loving his life. There's a lot of happiness in this man's face. But the photo above, which stares back at me every morning as I load up on coffee to begin writing, is nothing compared to the photo that I saw on that magazine cover. That photo was a testament to a life lived.

That photo is here:


Whatever you want to say about this man, he's been there, done that, and is probably fascinating to talk to. Like Keith Richards, I'll bet there's a whole lot of stories this man could tell. As a writer, I'd love to hear them.

More disclosure, I like Led Zeppelin a whole lot better now then when I was a kid. The music hit way too early in my life to really match with my musical tastes--which at that point were still colored by a mother who'd sing the standards: Ella, Frank, Lena, Peggy. My favorite song as a child was "Angel Eyes" as sung by my mother. It still is. My favorite writer was Edgar Allan Poe. Still is.

So now I'm writing about my own rocker in the music scene and I'm using an amalgam of musicians that I knew growing up. They were crazy, creative, big pot smokers and God knows what else, and they loved music, the Blues, life, women, and alcohol. They were constantly cycling women through their hotel rooms. They refused to wear tuxedos on stage on New Years' Eve--almost getting the band fired, and wrote in their journals about the first time they got crabs.
They were very nice to an eight year old girl who would sit in the corner of the living room with her plastic horse models and listen to the rehearsals. Some were crazy as hell, some were talented as hell, and all are fodder for this new character that I'm creating.

Rock on.

16 comments:

Ricky Bush said...

Yeah, LIFE was a hoot to read. Keef very honestly assessed himself and pretty much nailed it.

Jamie Freveletti said...

I did like the craziness in it. A bit of diva as well--when he held up a show waiting for his own sheperds pie so that he could stick a knife in it?

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