Hired Gun

1 h 38 min201716+
They are the "First Call, A-list" musicians, just 20 feet from stardom, yet rarely receive credit for their work. The 'hired gun' community lives and breathes music, and for the first time, share their incredible stories detailing the highs and lows of touring life, the demands of session schedules, and the dedication required to play next to some of the world's most iconic musicians.
Fran Strine
Alice CooperLiberty DeVittoRay Parker Jr.
English [CC]
Audio languages
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Supporting actors
David FosterJason HookSteve VaiPhil XRudy SarzoJay GraydonRob ZombieKenny AronoffSteve LukatherJustin DerricoEva GardnerJohn 5Eric SingerDerek St. HolmesPaul BushnellJason NewstedGlen SobelNita StraussChris Johnson
Vision Films
Content advisory
Foul languagesexual contentviolence
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4.7 out of 5 stars

533 global ratings

  1. 81% of reviews have 5 stars
  2. 11% of reviews have 4 stars
  3. 4% of reviews have 3 stars
  4. 2% of reviews have 2 stars
  5. 2% of reviews have 1 stars
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Top reviews from the United States

Nic RReviewed in the United States on September 30, 2021
5.0 out of 5 stars
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Very well done. Great story telling. Harsh at times. Funny at others. A sincere and effective piece of film making. The Liberty DeVito story was particularly impacting.

Proof positive that musicians are the greatest givers, for the most committed ones will endure anything to leave behind their creative stamp on the world. Sometimes the world notices. Sometimes it doesn't. But like Szarso said, "It's the journey that matters."

Another reviewer sat in judgement condemning a musician's lifestyle. The one thing that reviewer failed to consider, because they're clearly not creative people who live from their art, is the fact that artists cannot live without the creative process. Without money, they can manage. But without exercising their creative powers, they cannot. It's walking death to an artist to not be able to produce output.

They ultimately don't care about material things. To clarify, they do, but won't change the fact that they need to create output. If it pays the bills great! If it doesn't, it won't stop them. Even if it means sleeping on a floor in a basement with nothing but a sheet, they will still produce art that moves people's soul.

Or die trying.

Because they are able to value their lives in much loftier terms than the car you drive, the money you can spend, what you can show off, they are also able to regularly display more courage in the pursuit of their dreams than the guy who made enough money to buy the Ferrari. Every musician featured in this film is courageous to the bone. Brad Gillis having to learn Randy Rhoads solos in 4 days when Randy Rhoads had virtually just invented a new style? Abandoning Alice Cooper to play for an unknown band? To not turn bitter even after you're betrayed by someone you thought of as a brother for 30 years, like Liberty Devito?

Look at what Liberty is doing with his music programs for kids in underprivileged neighborhoods now. That is priceless. That is a sign of a good person. A sign of true character.

No. No one should dare sit in judgement of these people. It's wrong.

That coveted Ferrari offers no path to immortality. A poem can. A song can.

Artists don't conceive life on your materialistic terms. To judge them by those terms therefore, is senseless and ungrateful.

No matter how an artist's life ends, we can always say something you cannot: I am part of recorded history. I have records. I have pieces. I have music that people hear and can change their mood. Accompany them through their sadness. Send a message. Smash boundaries. Help them solve a problem. See something from a different perspective. Start a revolution.

I'd urge you to consider being grateful and not making these indictments on artists' lifestyle. After all, like Robin Williams said, "Banking, Real Estate, Finance, these are all noble pursuits. But music, art, poetry, those are the things that we live for.".
4 people found this helpful
Leslie H. SchwartzReviewed in the United States on April 5, 2020
5.0 out of 5 stars
What not to do with your life, an excellent video for young people, thank you Alice Cooper
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I greatly appreciate Alice Cooper for creating this video because it shows the reality of what might appear to some young people to be an attractive career and way of life, but on a realistic evaluation, its one of the worst choices a young person could make. Music is great, everyone loves music, but it is a very crowded field, careers are unstable, unpredictable, and as this video shows, even the best players face life long discouraging setbacks no matter how good of a player they are. Even the best have extreme highs and lows, and the lows and setbacks are going to come inevitably. If you love music, great, make it your hobby, but find a decent way to earn a living that will be predictable so that you have that asset for the long run, so you can earn a living, raise a family, and evolve that career as technology and society evolves. But watch this film, these character are drawn in by the apparent glamour, the remote possibility of fame and fortune, only for most of them to find that outside of the opportunity to play music for an audience, the life style, is a dead end life style. This video shows how some, perhaps many in the business, will callously rip you off and treat you like dirt, and this includes some of the biggest names, most successful, and the business managers and their companies as well will rip of the unwary. Another point I have to make, these people think they are cool with the hair styles, dress, tattoos, jewelry, crude trash talk, and my feedback is that all this just shows how shallow and degraded they have made yourselves, being crude, uneducated, and being a perpetual adolescent is nothing to admire. Another point, this music is trash, shredding is noise, its not a musical skill.
4 people found this helpful
Shane SarpyReviewed in the United States on January 25, 2021
5.0 out of 5 stars
Awesome, pure and simple
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If you are into music documentaries you owe it to yourself to watch Hired Gun. This documentary exposes the hidden world/ talents of the elusive session musician. My mentor in music theory, who is himself an amazing player/ musician told me in the very beginning that if you want to be an awesome, all-around musician you should strive to be a session guy. That is where the true talent lies in the music industry, no offense meant to the truly good artists out there, but these session musicians have to be able to change music and playing styles on the fly (depending on who their client is at any given time) not to mention that some of the time these guys don't have the luxury of rehearsal/ practice before getting called into the studio. They're just told "oh, we need a guitar solo here, a drum fill here," etc. and then have to make it happen or the producer will just call the next session guy on the list. How many of you could do that? I know I sure can't and I consider myself to be a pretty ok player. Now I just need to figure out how to play like the session musicians of the world.
One person found this helpful
AngelaReviewed in the United States on November 15, 2021
5.0 out of 5 stars
The Faces Behind Those Sounds
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It really takes a team effort when it comes to creating a classic song/tune. This also helped me appreciate why you always need a back up plan even if you are one of the best. As they say, "it's just business" and you saw from this movie {Hired Guns} the dirty side of it and sadly, what it cost some who gave their all. Appreciate the honesty of the musicians especially the one who worked with 'TheStranger,' referring to himself as "the uncle" and was helping kids. Very commendable and there's nothing wrong with being nice. Now each time I hear those classic tunes, I'll smile and think of him.😄 As well as the other faces standing behind or beside the Star, who truly helped in creating the sounds.📝🎤🎸🥁🎷🎺🎶🎼🎶💞
ESVKReviewed in the United States on August 22, 2017
5.0 out of 5 stars
Inspiring Video About Being Your Best...
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Great documentary covering several genres of music. I especially liked the segment on John Cougar's drummer, Kenny Aronoff, as it is amazing that he has continued to make himself relevant after several decades. The movie has applications for all of our lives: 1) Be competent 2) Be cooperative and able to work with others 3) Say No to alcohol and drugs 4) Never give up or be complacent 5) accept whatever wage you are offered and use it for a stepping stone to something bigger while staying humble.
10 people found this helpful
Wylie CoyoteReviewed in the United States on July 11, 2019
5.0 out of 5 stars
What every aspiring musician should see!
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It is not enough to be a great musician. You need to understand business too! The entertainment industry is full of snakes that will steal what you have earned and created, This movie should serve as a cautionary tale for anyone that wants to be in entertainment. Jason Hook put his heart and soul into this documentary and was cheated out of money when he first started putting this together - but he was passionate about telling this story and it shows. For every Alice Cooper paying and treating his "hired guns" well, there is a Billy Joel that you have to watch this movie to believe. Tragedy and triumph, hostility and kindness, greed and generosity - Jason Hook exposes the side of the music industry that most people have no clue exists and you will never look at the same again.
One person found this helpful
Darrell LloydReviewed in the United States on August 30, 2021
5.0 out of 5 stars
Excellent documentation on the musicians that make the headliner look and sound good in concert.
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It is so fascinating on what it takes to be a successful professional musician. Some of these musicians have the chops to be headlining their own concerts. Yet some choose to stay on the sidelines. Less headaches that way.
But what it all boils down to, is…..the headliners could NOT survive without these top notch musicians. While it is true that a few of the musicians are interchangeable, the musicians are still unique in their own original style and personalities.
Excellent documentary.
Richard A. ColeReviewed in the United States on January 15, 2020
5.0 out of 5 stars
A insightful film about unsung musical heros
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What an awesome film. It shed light on the realities of the music business, and put faces and names to some of the most iconic music ever. This was so very educational about the real talent behind most musical hits and who takes the money and the credit. Often taking more than they earned and stabbing people in the back. I guess humans have not gotten honorable enough to be honorable and stop screwing others over.
This shed light on the difference between a Rockstar, and a true professional musician. I was surprised to learn what was shared in this documentary. And it was good to learn that even in the music biz, there ARE CLASS acts that appreciate what the "Hired guns" provide to musical history.
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