Unless you are a student of pop and soul music or a big music trivia buff, chances are you have not heard of the late Bert Berns. Just as surely though, you're familiar with his work as a songwriter and producer. Some of the songs that Berns wrote or co-wrote include the big Beatles and Isley Brothers hit "Twist and Shout," "Hang on Sloopy" by the McCoys (with Rick Derringer), Van Morrison's "Here Comes the Night," "I Want Candy" originally performed by the Strangeloves and later a hit for Bow Wow Wow, and "Piece of My Heart," famously performed by Big Brother and the Holding Company with Janis Joplin. And as the founder of Bang! Records, Berns nurtured the nascent careers of Morrison and Neil Diamond. All of this just scratches the surface of what Berns accomplished; the rest of the story is told in this documentary that's been put together with loving care by Berns' son Brett Berns. Narrated by Steven Van Zandt and featuring commentary from the likes of Keith Richards, Ronald Isley, Paul McCartney and Morrison (as well as artists who are no longer with us like Solomon Burke and Ben E. King; Brett worked on the film for over a decade) the film documents Berns' amazing career almost on a hit-by-hit basis. Amazingly and perhaps out of jealousy, there were music business people back in the day who wanted to stifle Berns, and this is also touched on in the film. Perhaps this is why Berns is, until now, not as well-known as his peers. Berns had heart problems and passed away in 1967 at 38, and son Brett was only two-years-old at the time, so the researching and making of this film was as much a journey of discovery for him as it will be for viewers. Many of the celebrities interviewed for the film count Berns as a genius; many viewers will likely feel the same at the conclusion of this very enjoyable film.
Bang! The Bert Berns Story