Ron & Russell Mael of the iconic group Sparks talk to Katie Puckrik about their teen years on the Sunset Strip and how British groups they saw live shaped their musical future.
Ron and Russell Mael are best known as the art pop geniuses behind the iconic band Sparks. What is less known is that they are born and bred California boys who came of age in the first flowering of 1960s rock'n'roll.
As LA teenagers, the Maels prowled the clubs of the Sunset Strip, witnessing first-hand early gigs by the likes of The Doors (Russell modelled his look on Jim Morrison's), The Byrds, Bob Dylan, The Ronettes, Love, Buffalo Springfield, Alice Cooper and The Beach Boys.
Too ahead of their time for the hippy trippy LA scene, a last throw of the musical dice (and a change of name) saw them despatched to London where they found favour with an Art School rock crowd hungry for more of the kind of showmanship deployed by Bowie and Roxy Music.
Before too long this town wasn't big enough for the both of them...
In addition to making musical history themselves, Sparks have been present at the key points in rock's timeline and have collaborated with artists peers and fans to great success. Sparks on Sunset features the Maels in conversation with their long-time friend Katie Puckrik, who draws out vivid, never-before-heard anecdotes and insights, interspersed with key tracks from the iconic artists who all made their mark on Sparks.
The first programme in this two part odyssey deals with their rise from being music fans to creators and how an encounter with super-producer Todd Rundgren at an out-of-town dog kennel workshop finally landed them their big break...
As teenagers they lived the Californian dream, surfing by day and going to gigs and parties at night. The venues on LA's famous Sunset Strip gave them front row access to homegrown stars like The Doors and The Byrds and also the British 'invasion' of groups like The Small Faces, The Who and The Move and a young David Bowie...
This melting pot of innovative music, lyrics and fashion provided a platform for the Mael brothers to find their own musical direction.
Sparks on Sunset is a riveting documentary that re-contextualises beloved pop classics through the first-hand experiences of the veteran art-rockers who're celebrating fifty years of making music together.
- Wed 23 May 2018 21:00
- Sun 2 Feb 2020 02:00