15 Important Details Music Biopics Left Out Of The Story
We get that movies can’t possibly include every single thing about a person’s life. We know how movies work, and we also have some idea of how long and full some people’s lives are (we read that in a book somewhere). Sometimes, though, it’s a pity when a movie leaves out a significant detail in a biographical movie — especially when that detail tends to make you look differently at a character.
Bohemian Rhapsody: Got Murky On Mercury’s Sexuality
While the movie sees Freddie Mercury tell his fiancée Mary Austin that he’s bisexual, she tells him he’s gay, and the rest of the movie shows Mercury only being interested in men. Queen’s singer, however, went on to have relationships with both men and women, including Austrian actress Barbara Valentin … who also reasoned that the famous frontman was “mostly gay.”
Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom: The Talent Scout
The Netflix adaptation left out a Black talent scout from Chicago who allegedly exploited Ma Rainey, too. J. Mayo Williams was a con artist who worked as Ma Rainey’s middle man, and he would pay his talent a flat recording fee rate and keep royalties and copyrights for himself. As he gained a reputation, he ended up doing all of this for his white bosses at Paramount, who basically paid him to grift musicians.
Rocketman: Elton John Was Previously Engaged
The film shows Elton John’s marriage to Renate Blauel, but it didn’t show that he was actually engaged to another woman before her — a secretary named Linda Woodrow. This was all while he and Bernie were working as songwriters at DJM Records, and Elton himself said it was such a dark time and a “stormy six months” that he couldn’t write anything, had a nervous breakdown, and attempted suicide. It was Long John Baldry who convinced him that he wasn’t really in love with Woodrow.
The Greatest Showman: Your Annual Reminder That P.T. Barnum Wasn’t That Nice
P.T. Barnum wasn’t a hero of society’s outcasts like the movie wants you to believe. That scene where Barnum meets Tom Thumb and The Bearded Lady who are both adults? In real life, they were kids — Tom Thumb was part of Barnum’s museum since the age of four, and The Bearded Lady was already paraded around as The Infant Esau at the age of one.
One of Barnum’s very first “attractions” was omitted from the movie. Barnum bought an elderly slave, Joice Heth, and paraded her around as the 160-year-old nurse of George Washington (she was around half that age). When Heth died, Barnum sold tickets to a public autopsy where he claimed he’d prove her incredible age. No one seems to want to write a song about that story, though.
Straight Outta Compton: Left Out Dr. Dre’s Abuse Against Women
According to director F. Gary Gray, that part of Dre’s life was left out because it didn’t “serve the narrative.” Before the movie premiered, Dre told Rolling Stones: “I made some f*cking horrible mistakes in my life. I was young, f*cking stupid. I would say all the allegations aren’t true - some of them are. Those are some of the things that I would like to take back. It was really f*cked up. But I paid for those mistakes, and there’s no way in hell that I will ever make another mistake like that again.”
Walk The Line: Johnny Cash’s Daughter Wasn’t Happy With Her Mother’s Portrayal
Kathy Cash, Johnny Cash’s second daughter, wasn't happy about the way the movie portrayed her mother, Vivian Liberto Distin. Kathy said the movie only showed the bad parts of Cash’s first marriage, not any of the 13-year-long marriage that had plenty of good times, too. “My mom was basically a nonentity in the entire film except for the mad little psycho who hated his career. That’s not true. She loved his career and was proud of him until he started taking drugs and stopped coming home.”
Kathy also pointed out that the movie omitted the part where she and her three sisters had to witness and deal with their dad developing a severe drug addiction, as well as her parents’ ultimate divorce.
Kurt Cobain: Montage Of Heck: Leaves Out His Troll Days (That Was A Fabrication Anyway)
Melvins frontman Buzz Osborne and close pal of Cobain said that most of Montage of Heck was BS. “People need to understand that 90% of Montage of Heck is bullshit. Total bullshit. That’s the one thing no one gets about Cobain — he was a master of jerking your chain.”
Osborne went on to say that Cobain didn’t try to kill himself on a train track, he didn’t suffer from chronic stomach pain because he only used that as an excuse to “stay loaded,” and he didn’t contemplate suicide when Courtney threatened to cheat on him. These are just things people apparently like to believe about the guy … which is odd, then, that the film left out the very famous (and apparently very untrue) story of how Cobain at one point lived under a bridge in Aberdeen. Like a troll, who’s also really into jerseys.
The Dirt: Left Out Pamela Anderson Completely
The lack of Pam in this biopic was as obvious as getting a restraining order against Tommy Lee. It’s also pretty strange given that their tumultuous marriage — involving a tabloid-beloved sex tape and oh, yeah, Lee doing six months prison time for assaulting her — was kind of a big part of his life. We guess there’s that show about the two of them, now. The one that, for some reason, decided to feature Lee’s talking dong.
Ray: Had Another Mother
While the movie focused on Ray Charles’ relationship with his mother, Aretha, the musician actually had another “mother” named Mary Jane who was one of his dad’s former wives, and who had a huge impact on him growing up. After Ray went blind at the age of six, his mother Aretha taught him independence, while Mary Jane allegedly fostered his self-indulgence.
The Runaways: Where Was Their Bass Player?
Jacqueline Fuchs, bass player for the ‘70s all-girl band and known by her stage name as Jackie Fox, had her character minimized in the film because the filmmakers went ahead with production without acquiring the life rights from both her and guitarist Lita Ford. Fuchs’ character had a name change, and when she started raising questions, she was told that there was no character based on her. Which, for a biographical drama about a band, doesn’t even make sense.
The Doors: The Oliver Stone Movie Left Out Who Jim Morrison Really Was
The trippy take on trippy guy Morrison did not sit well with people who knew him. Co-founding member of The Doors and keyboardist Ray Manzarek said that the film really didn’t do the guy who became the face of the ‘70s hippie counterculture any justice.
“He (Oliver Stone) should be ashamed of himself. Too sensationalistic. Too jivey. Jim with a bottle all the time. It was ridiculous. It was like a movie about an alcoholic. If you want to see a movie about a drunk go see The Doors movie. If you want to see the real Jim Morrison and The Doors, you gotta see The Soft Parade. That's what it's all about. That's what those home videos are all about. That's why I spent all the time making them … Oliver Stone did a terrible job, but it sure was wild. It was a wild movie, and a lot of people liked the wildness of the movie, it's wild, but it's not psychedelic. It was not about Jim Morrison. It was about Jimbo Morrison, the drunk. God, where was the sensitive poet and the funny guy. The guy that I knew was not on that screen. That was not my friend. I don't know who that guy was.”
Get On Up: Left Out Aunt Honey’s Abuse
The movie left out how Aunt Honey (in real life named Hansone Washington) abused her young nephew James Brown while he was growing up inside her brothel. Apparently she was always telling him how ugly he was, and she made him hide in the closet whenever customers came over. Washington’s brother Melvin also abused Brown, and once hanged the boy from the ceiling so he could beat him with a belt.
8 Mile: Young Love (Like, Literally)
Sure, 8 Mile isn’t billed as a biographical film … even though it contains a myriad of autobiographical facts and elements of Eminem’s life. So we’re including it, because the relationship between Jimmy (Marshall Mathers) and Alex (Brittany Murphy) is clearly based on Mathers and Kim Scott, just different in some noted ways.
In the movie, Jimmy is 23 and Alex is clearly an adult, too, but in real life Mathers was 15 and Scott only 13 when they met and hooked up. Said Mathers mom in her 2008 memoir: “He introduced her as Kim Scott and said she needed a place to stay. I was happy to help out. Kim said she was 15 and I had no reason to doubt that. In truth, she was so cute and busty that she could have passed for 17.” Mama Eminem only learned Scott’s true age when truant officers came around to investigate why Scott wasn’t attending school any more.
The Buddy Holly Story: Why Holly Was Really On That Fateful Plane
The movie probably did the right thing, ending it with Buddy Holly calling Maria to tell her he’ll be flying a plane ahead because their tour bus had broken down. In reality, Holly was on that fatal plane because he wanted to go and get his laundry done.
Love & Mercy: How Brian Was Actually Rescued
The biopic shows Dr. Eugene Landy (played by a Paul Giamatti with the most hair) who had 24/7 control over Beach Boys leader Brian Wilson’s life when he started suffering from severe mental health issues. The movie shows his second wife Melinda Ledbetter and his housekeeper Gloria Ramos persuade his brother Carl Wilson to step in and expose Landy’s extreme influence and control (Landy presumably got Brian to leave him all his assets in his will).
It seems, however, that therapist and Beach Boys fan Peter Reum was the one who informed Wilson’s brother and biographer David Lead about the Brian’s alarming condition after seeing him at a fan convention. It’s not the biggest deal, but it seems fair that more people should be credited for coming to Brian’s aid in the end — even a fan.
Thumbnail:TriStar Pictures, Universal Pictures