'Almost Famous': The Writers Behind Stillwater Include Director Cameron Crowe, Nancy Wilson, a Pearl Jam Member, and a '70s Icon
The 2000 movie Almost Famous was a massive success, and though its director and screenwriter Cameron Crowe was already known for creating excellent films, Almost Famous is widely considered to be his best. Among many other awards, this film earned Crowe an Academy Award for best screenplay, and praise from the influential film critic Roger Ebert.
Perhaps one of the factors that led to Almost Famous earning such high praise from such well-respected figures was the fact that the film was semi-autobiographical. The main band of the film, Stillwater, was fictional, however, being a composite of various bands Crowe spent time with before becoming a filmmaker.
Additionally, Crowe and other writers used this experience to create original songs for Stillwater, adding a sense of realism to the film that had to have impacted the film’s reception. Who wrote the music for the fictional band in this film?
Stillwater is a fictional band based on real bands of the 1970s
Cameron Crowe wrote Almost Famous based on his experience as a reporter for Rolling Stone as a teenager in the 1970s. In the film, the character William Miller, based on Crowe, does much of his reporting on the fictional band Stillwater.
Stillwater is a popular hard rock band, and in the beginning of the movie are shown opening for Black Sabbath. However, while Stillwater was a fictional band, the music they make, the members, the culture surrounding them, and the events are based off of Crowe’s experience with real life bands.
These bands include some massive names that have gone down in music history: Led Zeppelin, members of which saw the movie and saw themselves in Stillwater, the Allman Brothers Band, and the Eagles are clear influences on Stillwater. After all, the band is meant to sound like one that would plausibly open for Black Sabbath, and clearly, that effect was achieved.
Real musicians worked on Stillwater’s music
Stillwater is a fictional band, but the music is real. In fact, the real musicians who made the music for Stillwater are just as big a deal as the musicians Stillwater is based on! Crowe himself is not a musician, but he had a large role in writing the songs.
But there were more: according to Entertainment Weekly, Nancy Wilson, guitarist of Heart, also wrote much of the soundtrack and Stillwater’s music, and played rhythm guitar for the band. The lead guitar parts were played by Mike McCready of Pearl Jam, and influential ’70s musician Peter Frampton also contributed a significant amount of songwriting.
Part of the goal for the sound was, according to Wilson, a band that would be “really good, but not all the way formed yet.” They wanted it to be funny, but not “totally ‘Spinal Tap’.” Wilson also ensured a degree of realism for the band by making sure to use authentic ’70s recording equipment and production techniques. All of this adds together for an excellent listen, in and out of the film.
Stillwater has become a popular band on its own
Stillwater might be fictional, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t have fans! Today, their main song from the film, ‘Fever Dog,’ has over 1 million streams on Spotify and the soundtrack won a Grammy. Additionally, critics frequently cited the soundtrack as being authentic, and an important part of the film as a whole.
The amount of effort, research, experience, and talent that went into the soundtrack alone provides an important foundation for this coming of age movie, and it certainly wouldn’t be the same without the soundtrack.
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