Finally, the media outside of L.A. has taken notice of KROQ's Rodney Bingenheimer, the host of Rodney on the ROQ since 1976, with a film titled by the alias he has been known by since the mid-'60s: Mayor of the Sunset Strip. As a Los Angeles rock & roll scenester, club owner, writer, and A&R man, he was also the first DJ to play punk rock on commercial radio in the late-'70s. When the L.A. punk scene exploded, Rodney was in the thick of it; he never retreated from airing tracks by the Germs, T.S.O.L., and Black Flag in the same set as the Bangles, Go-Go's, or some rare unreleased gems by David Bowie or the Beatles. You never knew who would drop in on Rodney's Saturday or Sunday night shows, either live in the studio or via the phone line; one week it might be Darby Crash and Jello Biafra, the next Brian Wilson or Adam Ant. Bingenheimer is set apart from anybody else on the radio by his complete lack of professionalism. He wasn't blessed with decent pipes, he can be inarticulate, and his interviews were off-the-cuff at best. What is endearing about him, to both his audience and musicians, is his complete lack of pretension. Since his first job as gofer for Sonny & Cher in the mid-'60s, Rodney has made it his mission to be in "their world" and has yet to show signs of losing the initial spark that brought him to L.A. in the first place. Unfortunately, the Mayor of the Sunset Strip soundtrack doesn't fully capture the artists and songs that Rodney championed. More recent tracks by Starsailor, Blur, and Chris Martin reflect only a minuscule portion of Bingenheimer's four decades of music and ad hoc mayhem. For instance, Rodney's opening and closing signature tunes for many years, "This Could Be the Night" by Modern Folk Quartet and "The Porpoise Song" by the Monkees, weren't included. Still, the excitement of his program is represented by some great tracks by X, the Ramones, T. Rex, and Alice Cooper. After purchasing this soundtrack, make it a mission to hunt down Rhino's Best of Rodney on the ROQ compilation. And by all means, see the film and honor the reigning Mayor of the Sunset Strip -- he's earned it!
Mayor of the Sunset Strip Review
by Al Campbell
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