When a rock star crashes and burns, he takes his best friend with him.
Rocker Nat Axelrod thinks he’s found the ideal groupie in Mae Jean Minter, whom Nat’s roadie procures at a concert in Indianapolis. The dream turns to a nightmare when Nat groggily awakens the next morning to Mae Jean’s accusation that he beat and raped her. Even though Nat’s childhood friend Danny Manings, manager of the record label Nat headlines, hires a crack attorney, the rock star is convicted and sentenced to concurrent 25-year sentences, and a cutthroat rival fires Danny. Nine years later, with Nat believed dead, a photojournalist covering his story—his rise to stardom, his demise in prison—uncovers clues that not only suggest Nat was framed, but that he might still be alive. Danny gets a second chance with an unknown singer, Patrice Malloy, whom he hopes to steer toward stardom if he can just find a good songwriter. As the various plot points, slowed by tedious flashbacks, converge in a bloodbath, only one character shows much integrity. He joins the other men, however, in using four-letter words that show they’re tough, while the women use sex to get what they want (and strew endearments like “honey buddy”), and the mystery fades in and out.
Levinson (Phony Tinsel, 2013, etc.) avoids romanticizing either rock ’n’ roll or the recording industry. He could, however, have found a better balance between crudeness and sentimentality—and a sharper focus on his main story.