> Volume 6 > Number 19


George Hickenlooper

Rodney Bingenheimer

Release: 26 Mar. 04

Mayor of the Sunset Strip


Rodney Bingenheimer helped make stars of people like Debbie Harry and David Bowie, bringing their mix tapes to the attention of other musicians, music execs, and the audiences waiting for the next artist to arrive. Hosting a show at KROQ, he was the purveyor of the unknown rock band who deserved to be heard –- now he’s marginal because who listens to the radio to discover the next great performer? The music industry is about who can be promoted the easiest, not who deserves the promotion.

You feel bad for Bingenheimer, but more because you slowly understand his plight from the interviews with those around him in The Mayor of the Sunset Strip. Bringenheimer, in the meantime, adds nothing other than underlining his obsession with the music industry. He’d rather talk about the Elvis Presley driver’s license on his wall than why his longtime KROQ co-host has decided to move to a competing station. He’s distance never helps Mayor of the Sunset Strip, which becomes a bothersome production because most everyone else seems more willing to canonize him.

He’s evidently well known in Los Angeles but anonymous to the rest of the world. That’s a shame, because I did become convinced that he’s been integral to the definition of the music industry in the 1970s and early 1980s, for what amounts to a very modest lifestyle. He may be the mayor, but isn’t the benefactor of his music wonderland. He deserves a better documentary, not because he shouldn’t be noted, but because he should be able to speak for himself without Cher hogging the spotlight again

©2004, David Perry,, 7 May 2004