If you want to buy the movie on DVD, it’ll cost you $53 at Amazon.com.
Don’t even bother trying to buy the two-record vinyl album. It’s not available at all, at least not at Amazon.com.
The movie’s riddled with mistakes…but it’s still one of the best oldies-but-goodies movies to capture the excitement of late 1950’s rock and roll.
“American Hot Wax” debuted in Cleveland area theaters on this day in 1978 (March 17, 1978). Four performers portrayed themselves in the movie…Chuck Berry, Jerry Lewis, Frankie Ford and Screaming Jay Hawkins. You can make a case for five as producer Richard Perry’s also in it. Also in the cast are a young Jay Leno and Laraine Newman.
Here’s the part that features Chuck Berry..
"American Hot Wax" captures a day in the life of legendary DJ Alan Freed. For sure, the movie captures Freed's love of the new style of music and how much he defends it. Supposely, the day is at or around September 7, 1959, on what would've been Buddy Holly's 23rd birthday. In the movie, Hawkins performs his best-known song, the Halloween classic "I Put A Spell On You," which ends with him falling into a coffin that closes. Once in real life, though, his co-horts/stagehands pulled a prank on him--by keeping the coffin closed and locked! Yeah, they unlocked it and let him out...but not after he screamed, kicked and pounded the insides of the coffin for an eternity.
One more thing about Screamin' Jay Hawkins--he fathered as many as 75 children.
As great and exciting "American Hot Wax" was, it was loaded with inaccuracies. Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers ("Why Do Fools Fall In Love") and the Dell-Vikings ("Come Go With Me") aren't credited for their hits. Neither is the writer of the Skyliners' song, "Since I Don't Have You." The year "Why Do Fools Fall In Love" is credited as 1959, but it was actually 1956. Connie Francis is perceived as a new and upcoming singer...but in reality she'd already had 10 hits. The girl duo of Patience and Prudence is likewise perceived as up and coming...but the twosome already had its main hits with "Tonight You Belong To Me" and "Gonna Get Along Without Ya Now" three years earlier in 1956. What are we doing seeing Rick Nelson performing "Travelin' Man" on TV? This was supposed to be September, 1959. "Travelin' Man' was a hit in 1961.
The actual year and place of the concert depicted in movie is believed to have been 1958 and Boston, not New York City in 1959. Finally, what really did it in Freed wasn't that concert riot, but rather the payola scandal. Ironically, Alan Freed and the actor who portrayed him in "American Hot Wax," Tim McIntire, were both in their early to mid- 40's and died primarily from alcoholism 21 years apart (1965 and 1986).
If you’ve got the time, you can see the whole movie here…
TOMORROW: REMEMBERING THE MIDNIGHT MOVER
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