There was much anticipation for the band’s arrival in the United States, since they had not visited there since the 1969 disaster at the Altamont Free Concert, in which a fan was stabbed and beaten to death by Hells Angels, with the incident being caught on camera. Behind the scenes, the tour embodied debauchery, lewdness and hedonism.
The film was shot cinéma vérité, with several cameras available for anyone in the entourage to pick up and start shooting. This allowed the film’s audience to witness backstage parties, drug use (Mick Taylor is shown smoking marijuana with some roadies and Mick Jagger seen snorting cocaine backstage), roadie and groupie antics, and the Stones with their defenses down. One scene includes a groupie in a hotel room injecting heroin.
The film came under a court order which forbade it from being shown unless the director, Robert Frank, was physically present. This ruling stemmed from the conflict that arose when the band, having commissioned the film, decided that its content was embarrassing and potentially incriminating, and did not want it shown. Frank felt otherwise, hence the ruling.
According to Ray Young, “The salty title notwithstanding, its nudity, needles and hedonism was supposedly incriminating and the picture was shelved—this during a liberal climate that saw the likes of Cry Uncle! and Chafed Elbows playing in neighborhood theatres.” Deep Throat was released in the same year. A Rolling Stones concert film, Ladies and Gentlemen: The Rolling Stones, was released instead, and Cocksucker Blues was indefinitely shelved.
The court order in question also enjoined Frank against exhibiting Cocksucker Blues more frequently than four times per year in an “archival setting” with Frank being present.
The film was screened at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York on October 3, 2009 (curator Jeff Rosenheim, introducing the movie, mentioned that Robert Frank was “in the building,” but pointed out that the building was over two million square feet); the film has also been screened at the Museum of Modern Art in New York in November 2012 as part of a two-week festival, “The Rolling Stones: 50 Years on Film”. The film was also screened November 15, 2013 at the Cleveland Cinematheque. Shown in late night at a Santa Monica, California theatre to turn-away crowds, the first night was met with a stink bomb in the ventilation. The film was shown anyway. The film also screened at the Chuck Jones Theater during the 2015 Telluride Film Festival, and with Frank present at the Rotterdam, Netherlands 2015 International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam ‘IDFA’ as part of a Frank retrospective.
Inevitably, the film was eventually uploaded online for those interested in viewing it!
color, mono, fullscreen, VHS transfer runs 89 minutes. DVD-R comes packaged as shown in blue DVD case, wrapped in plastic!