Graham Nash has plenty of experience with the vagaries of rock & roll documentaries. Take Woodstock, for one: "There were three days of really good music and the movie was three hours," he says, "so there are a lot of great performances that have never been seen apart from bootlegs." No one knows that more than Nash, since Neil Young refused to be filmed during Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young's career-making set at the festival. In the film, you'll hear an announcer say, "Crosby, Stills, Nash" – but no Young. "Neil threatened to deck anybody who filmed him," Nash says. "So I heard – after the fact."
On July 9th, Nash will help champion the cause of rock filmmaking when he begins hosting "Graham Nash Presents 9 Days of Rock Docs" on HDNet Movies (both cable and on-demand). Woodstock won't be part of the televised festival, but a broad range of movies for music geeks will. The Allman Brothers Band – After the Crash examines the band's rise-from-the-ashes comeback after Duane Allman's death and its subsequent turbulent times. Slave Trade: How Prince Re-Made the Music Business takes a look at the ways Prince tried to carve out his own path in the business, from his clashes with Warner Brothers to his interest in digital technology; interviews with former associates like tour manager Alan Leeds are included.
Bob Dylan: In & Out of the Folk Revival plunges into Dylan's pre-electric career and features interviews with folk-club pals like Eric Andersen, Maria Muldaur and the Holy Modal Rounders' Peter Stampfel. Rise of a Texas Bluesman looks at the early, pre-fame career of Stevie Ray Vaughan, while Rush: The Rise of Kings takes a similar approach with that band.
The series will also air classic docs like D.A. Pennebaker's 1973 Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars (documenting the show at London's Hammersmith Odeon that marked the last time David performed as that persona) and Jeff Stein's immortal Who movie, The Kids Are Alright. Also included are docs on the Beach Boys' 50th anniversary tour and the lives of Van Morrison, Eric Clapton and Lynyrd Skynyrd, Rounding out the programming will be an airing of Walk the Line, the Joaquin Phoenix-starring Johnny Cash biopic.
Nash says the eclecticism of the lineup was very intentional. "People love to pigeonhole folk and rock and blues and reggae," he says, "but we really wanted to present all the different faces of music. I've seen pieces of them all and there are some really interesting ones." Regarding his host duties (he'll be sharing stories about his encounters with many of the artists), he shrugs: "I guess they realized I was probably OK on camera."
As far as archival material on his own band, Nash says he's still hoping to make a film out of the unreleased footage shot onstage and backstage during CSNY's legendary run at New York's Fillmore East in 1970. But it will have to wait. Nash says he's "run out of patience" with the craziness that can often engulf CSNY, culminating recently in a rift between David Crosby and Neil Young over Crosby's critical comments on Young's new girlfriend, Darryl Hannah; Nash and Crosby are also not on speaking terms at the moment.
"There are many projects," Nash says. "But I've run out of energy right now. Maybe at some point I will get back to it, but right now I don't care."