Tim “Ripper” Owens recalls how the movie ‘Rock Star’ was going to be called ‘Metal Gods’ at one point
Former Judas Priest frontman Tim “Ripper” Owens was recently interviewed by Andy Greene for RollingStone.
Owens was asked how he first heard of the movie Rock Star, which ended up starring actor Mark Walhberg and featuring SteelHeart frontman Miljenko Matijevic on lead vocals (for Walhberg). Owens replied: “They contacted me. I was on the golf course…A New York Times article came out. It was the front page of the Arts and Entertainment section. That was pretty unusual. I’m at Turkeyfoot golf course here in Akron. My mom calls and says, “Hey, this movie place called. An independent movie place.” I went, “OK…” And then she called again and said, “Someone from Warner Bros. called.” I said, “You better give them the management number.” That’s how it started. It’s basically a movie about me, my life story. They wanted to do it. But it didn’t really work out very well, but they wanted to do it.”
In terms of whether he was ever contacted by the movie’s creative team, Owens recalled: “We tried. That’s where it departed. The guys in Judas Priest saw the draft and they were like, “No, no, no. You can’t do that.” They were making them look older and do some things they didn’t want to happen. That wasn’t how the movie finally came out. They had to change other stuff. Judas Priest said, “We want some sort of creativity. We can’t just sit here and do nothing.” And my understanding is Warner Bros. said, “No. You can’t have anything to do with it.” We were going to have music in it. It was going to be called Metal Gods. They eventually said, “You have nothing to do with it. It’s going to be loosely based now, so we don’t have to pay you.””
With respect to how he felt watching the movie Rock Star for the first time, Owens indicated: “Well, it came out with pretty good numbers, but it was the weekend before 9/11. I was in Mexico on 9/11 and got trapped there for about a week. I didn’t see it for a little bit. I then went to the movies and saw it. I mean, there were similarities since it was about a tribute singer that makes a band. I guess the way they portrayed the band members were pretty accurate even if they looked different. But it was just a Spinal Tap kind of movie. A serious movie would have been much better. They just made it with all the cliches of sex, drugs, and rock and roll. That’s just not what was out there at the time. That wasn’t what was going on.”
In regard to whether it’s still flattering to have a big movie inspired by his life even if he didn’t receive any compensation for it, Owens indicated: “Absolutely. First of all, it’s the first time in my life I ever had abs. Whenever people ask about “that movie Mark Wahlberg made about you,” I always say, “Do you mean Boogie Nights?” [Laughs.] But no, I love that I inspired a story. I have a poster of it on the wall. It also makes me mad to look at the tagline: “The story of a wannabe who got to be.” I wasn’t doing [the Judas Priest tribute band] to act like them. I was doing that to pay the bills. But I always say that now they can make a real movie about me that gets into the actual struggles. Inside of that movie, they can make the movie [Rock Star]. I think that could be great. Sometimes when you see a movie like Almost Famous, that hits home to me a lot more. You see what actually goes on. Then they make this and it has all these cliches.”
You can read the rest of the interview with Tim “Ripper” Owens via RollingStone‘s website.