Vinyl, the HBO series co-produced by Mick Jagger and director Martin Scorsese, premieres today on Foxtel’s Showcase 3:30pm Express and 7:30pm Primetime. The show focuses on the sex- and drug-fueled music business in 1970s New York City just as punk rock, disco and the early signs of hip-hop were emerging.
Bobby Cannavale plays the series’ central character, a coke-snorting, volatile record executive named Richie Finestra, who’s trying to keep his struggling label afloat.
Speaking to reporters recently at Vinyl’s premiere in New York, Jagger explained that the show began as a film project that he brought to Scorsese, but it eventually became apparent that the story was better suited to be a TV series.
“We had a lot of incarnations as movie scripts and then we never really were a hundred percent satisfied with [them],” he pointed out, “so when the TV series medium came along, we decided to make it into a series rather than a movie…It was very long and very sprawling, and it would have been a very long Martin Scorsese movie.”
Jagger, of course, is very familiar with the New York scene depicted in Vinyl, but told reporters he felt it was more important that the series tell an engaging story than to get all the historical facts straight.
“It’s a drama series and so what you concentrate on is the characters and the narrative,” Mick maintained. “You don’t concentrate on what things were really like or what they weren’t really like, although, of course, you have to get that right. That’s a given. But it’s not really about that. It’s about the unfolding story and the way the characters work together.”
Jagger’s own son, James, portrays an important character in the series: Kip Stevens, lead singer of a fictional proto-punk band called The Nasty Bits. James described Stevens as “kind of jaded,” as well as someone who’s “been beaten back from the music industry so many times and he’s really got a ruthless streak and he really, really wants to make it.”
Asked if his father helped give him advice on how to play his character, James explained that his dad couldn’t necessarily relate to Stevens, since by the 1970s “he was already very successful [and] didn’t have that thing of being beaten back.” The younger Jagger added that what Mick did help inform him about was the sociopolitical aspects of the era, and “the zeitgeist of the ’70s.”
Music fans who watch the premiere episode of Vinyl might want to keep an eye out for dramatic portrayals of some real-life rock stars, including members of Led Zeppelin and The New York Dolls.
See a video preview of Vinyl featuring Mick Jagger discussing the series at HBO’s official YouTube channel.