story for Las Vegas Weekly about Las Vegas as the new capital of hair metal, and I asked most of the musicians I interviewed for their thoughts on the Rock of Ages movie, which had just been released. They almost universally loathed that movie (I did too), but I was surprised to hear from a couple of them that the movie they felt better represented their experience in the '80s rock scene was the 2001 Mark Wahlberg flop Rock Star. I wouldn't have considered it as some bastion of authenticity to seek out for this project, but hearing people like Ron Keel heartily recommend it made me wonder if there was something about it that everyone else had missed.
Tim "Ripper" Owens, who went from singing in a Judas Priest tribute band to fronting the real thing when singer Rob Halford left. That basic idea is all the movie takes from real life, though, and Judas Priest is never mentioned, nor are any of their songs on the '80s rock-filled soundtrack (the band later even disavowed the movie). Although Owens joined Judas Priest in 1996 as the band's fortunes were already fading, Rock Star moves the setting to 1985, when fictional hair metal band Steel Dragon is producing hit singles and selling out arenas. When the band's singer quits in a huff (outing himself as gay, in the movie's one other reference to Judas Priest), the remaining members hire Chris, fresh from his own working-class tribute band, as the replacement.