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Apple TV+ rocks back to tumult of ‘1971’
The Vietnam War, the Attica prison inmate revolt, Jim Morrison of The Doors’ Paris death, Charles Manson’s guilty verdict for murder, the Stanford Prison Experiment.
There are a lifetime of momentous events to fit into the Apple TV+ docuseries about one of the most tumultuous and musically powerful years in American history “1971: The Year That Music Changed Everything.”
The eight-part series (now streaming) demonstrates how such musicians as The Rolling Stones, Aretha Franklin, Marvin Gaye and John Lennon influenced the culture and politics in a country undergoing political and cultural upheaval.
Series director and executive producers Asif Kapadia and James GayRees (the Academy Award- and Grammy-winning team behind the Amy Winehouse documentary, “Amy”) immerse viewers into the era’s sights and sounds with magical, sometimes startling, unearthed moments in “1971.”
Here are five revealed moments that rocked us:
David Bowie’s hair, performance transition
Chameleon rocker David Bowie goes through changes in “1971,” which features audio (not film footage) of the evolving performer showing new material in an uninspiring dawn time slot at the Glastonbury Music Festival.
“He was meant to play the night before, but that’s the chaos of Glastonbury. So no one was up except the recording engineers,” says “1971” producer and director Danielle Peck. “But it’s genuine audio of (Bowie) playing.”
Peck also personally scored a trove of rare Bowie photographs in which the artist’s long, flowing locks were in transition to his iconic Ziggy Stardust phase.
“It was sort of this mullet,” Peck says. “Anyone else would have looked really bad. But on David Bowie, it was astonishing. The chrysalis of Ziggy Stardust.”
Found Sly and the Family Stone musical footage
Sly Stone, the genius behind the soul-funk-rock band Sly and the Family Stone, grapples with drugs through most of the year, as the band’s seminal album, “There’s a Riot Goin’ On” is released along with the hit single “Family
A disastrously disjointed televised interview with Dick Cavett shows the clear impact of Stone’s struggles. Yet Peck tracked down forgotten record label promotional footage shot of the artist riffing with bandmates, the existence of which she saw mentioned in a Billboard article at the time.
“We told the record label people in Los Angeles what to look for,” Peck says. “And we found this fantastic footage of Sly Stone.”
The Troubadour gives voice to Elton John, Carole King
Carole King, Joni Mitchell, James Taylor, Elton John and Cat Stevens were a startling array of singer-poets stepping into prominence at the time. During King’s stage introductory performance at Los Angeles’ Troubadour club, “1971” plays the audio of the moment the nervous singer cracks a joke – about the
club’s evacuation due to a bomb scare. The laughter helps crack the ice for her performance.
The club serves as the venue for John’s star-making debut, depicted in 2019’s “Rocketman.” The documentary shows footage of John performing the set that would launch him into music’s stratosphere.
“That was quite lucky someone was filming,” Peck says. “Bear in mind, Elton John wasn’t anybody at that stage in his career.”
Rolling Stones’ Keith Richards, troubled in repose
The Rolling Stones were in self-imposed tax exile in the south of France in 1971, living in a wild, drug-fueled chateau. Rolling Stone reporter Robert Greenfield allowed “1971” to use audio footage of his extended interviews with Stones guitarist Keith Richards, in the throes of heroin abuse with wife Anita
“The interview also caught this background sounds of Keith, Anita and son Marlon, hanging out and just being a family,” Peck says. “With all the natural sound effects you hear in the south of France, it’s incredibly effective against amazing personal photographs of the Rolling Stones.”
The sessions led to “Exile on Main Street.”
News reporter shows horrors of Attica
The Attica prison uprising in upstate New York demonstrated the turmoil at the time, which turned to horrors with a disastrous law enforcement raid on the prisoners holding guards hostage for four days in the yard. Ten hostages and 29 inmates were killed amid gunfire.
“1971” features a TV reporter in shock at the travesty he’s seen behind the prison walls, but continuing to report.
“When we found that footage, we had to put it in the film, even though we had pretty much finished the project,” Peck says. “It’s just too powerful. The reporter can barely speak after what he’s seen.”