|Directed by||Alan Rudolph|
|Produced by||Zalman King|
John E. Pommer
|Written by||Big Boy Medlin|
|Distributed by||United Artists|
Roadie is a 1980 film directed by Alan Rudolph about a truck driver who becomes a roadie for a traveling rock and roll show. The film stars Meat Loaf and marks his first starring role in a film. There are also cameo appearances by musicians such as Roy Orbison and Hank Williams Jr., and supporting roles played by Alice Cooper and the members of Blondie. The film was marketed with the tagline "Bands make it rock...Roadies make it roll."
Travis W. Redfish is a beer-drinking, bar-brawling, fun-loving distributor of Shiner beer. He also helps his father, Corpus C. Redfish with the family salvage company, whose motto is "Everything will work if you let it!" B.B. Muldoon is his best friend and business partner.
While B.B. and Travis are making deliveries in their Shiner beer truck, they notice an RV that has broken down on the side of the road. At first, they laugh at the thought of helping the stranded motorists, but then Travis sees wannabee groupie Lola Bouliabaise smile at him through the rear window of the RV. Travis slams on the brakes and decides to help, hoping to get a closer look at Lola. Lola is a big Alice Cooper fan and Travis has never heard of "her". Road manager Ace and his assistant George try to talk Travis into driving them to Austin for a show to be played by Hank Williams Jr., produced by music mogul Mohammed Johnson. He meets Bird Lockhart, a hippie and lifelong roadie in the music business. After repairing the RV, Lola talks Travis into coming along where he ends up becoming the "greatest roadie that ever lived" with his unusual techniques on fixing things.
On the road, Travis gets into a bar fight with "Tiny" Thompson after Lola accidentally ruins his little sister's hair by dumping beer on it in an attempt to meet Roy Orbison. After head butting Tiny, Travis ends up with "Brain-Lock", a condition he developed in the war, for which chugging a pitcher of beer is the only cure. Lola convinces him to drive them to Hollywood for another show. He drives like a maniac and ends up with B.B in hot pursuit and the police right behind them all. Soon Travis passes out and wakes up the next day in the back of a trailer carrying musical equipment. He yells at Lola for promising everybody that he'll stay on as a roadie, then relents when he brings her to tears. Lola then turns around with a smile and suggests they use the limo to go to the hotel.
Later at a concert, Blondie perform a version of "Ring of Fire". Finally reaching New York City and locating Alice Cooper, Travis and Lola meet up with Alice Cooper at his rehearsals for a live show. Cooper performs segments of "Only Women Bleed" and "Pain".
The film featured numerous cameos by the musicians in real bands (Asleep at the Wheel, Blondie), Utopia (band) as members of Alice Cooper's 'band', politicians (such as then Mayor of Austin Carole McClellan), non-acting show business personalities (such as television composer Jesse Frederick, music producer Joe Gannon and film editor Eric Gardner) and others, some playing a role and others playing themselves.
Roger Ebert gave the film one and a half stars out of four, writing, "The tour is an invaluable plot device, since it explains a cross-country odyssey during which our heroes meet all sorts of famous singing stars, including Hank Williams Jr., Roy Orbison, Alice Cooper, Asleep at the Wheel, and Deborah Harry with Blondie. If the movie had given us more of their songs, this could have qualified as a concert movie. If it had given us more of Meat Loaf, it might have developed into a character study. But Roadie never makes up its mind. The movie's so genial, disorganized and episodic that we never really care about the characters, and yet whenever someone starts to sing the performance is interrupted for more meaningless plot development."
Giving the film 1 out of 5, TV Guide wrote, "Director Alan Rudolph attempts to paint a portrait of the backstage world of rock 'n' roll but is considerably less successful here than in his other inventive efforts".People wrote, "As portrayed by rock heavy Meat Loaf, Redfish is pure delight, innocent and irresistible; in his first starring role he doesn't sing a note and still steals the movie. Not that there's much to steal. Coyly billed as 'the story of a boy and his equipment,' the movie has plenty of paraphernalia, but no notion of how to use it. Director Alan (Welcome to L.A.) Rudolph has signed on Hank Williams Jr., Alice Cooper and Blondie to lend musical authenticity, yet there is no semblance of a story line, apart from an unlikely love affair between Loaf and a tiresome groupie, Kaki Hunter."
The Radio Times wrote, "Alan Rudolph punctuates this straightforward tale with tiresome bar room brawls and noisy knockabout comic moments made bearable only by the occasional celebrity cameo".The Austin Chronicle wrote, "Upon actual viewing of Roadie, I admit to being something less than rollicked, but damned if Roadie didn't try with all its cornball might."
Nathan Rabin reviewed the film favorably for its DVD release, writing, "Rudolph's predilection for the lush glamour of classic films might make him an odd director for a Meat Loaf vehicle, but 1980's Roadie (just released on a no-frills DVD) is a marriage made in heaven rather than the shotgun wedding it initially appears to be".