When I started writing these weekly recommendations at the beginning of 2012, I commenced by recommending the band, Thee Headcoats, fronted by an English gentleman who goes by the name, Billy Childish. Well, my interest in Billy Childish and his music has not waned, and so nearly six months later I am recommending a great, little documentary about the life and times of Billy Childish entitled, Billy Childish is Dead. This film, which was released in 2005, was obviously done with a very low budget and without the use of high quality video and editing equipment; however, that is actually quite fitting considering that it’s a film showcasing a man who despite his prolific contributions to the world of art, writing, and music, has very little interest in fame and fortune and has probably (without pretentiousness) made it a point to avoid such things. The film consists of various interviews with people associated with or interested in the life of Billy Childish, including bandmates, friends, lovers, and associates. Billy Childish himself is also interviewed, and his comments, stories, and quips were major highlights of the film for me. Mixed in with the interviews is footage from various shows that Billy Childish and his myriad bands have put on over the years. The footage includes performances by the Pop Rivets, The Milkshakes, Thee Mighty Caesers, Thee Headcoats, and The Buff Medways, as well as some solo stuff. The live footage was another big highlight for me, so I was pleased that the DVD included a lengthy bonus segment with extended versions of some of these performances as well as additional ones. This film is a great introduction to the world of Billy Childish, and I would implore you, if you aren’t already acquainted with the works of Billy Childish, to make yourself so. In my opinion, he is one of the few raw, genuine, unexploited, and unapologetic artists out there in this big, crazy world saturated with commercialism and pretended talent.
One of my favorite Billy Childish quotes from the film:
“The Beatles put the idea in mind that you could be in a group, and punk rock put the possibility of actually really being in one without really any talent.”