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20 Feet from Stardom

4.6 out of 5 stars 979 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

They are the voices behind the greatest Rock, Pop and R&B hits of all time, but no one knows their names. Now in this award-winning documentary, director Morgan Neville shines the spotlight on the untold stories of such legendary background singers as Darlene Love, Merry Clayton, Lisa Fischer, Claudia Lennear, Judith Hill and more. These are the triumphs and heartbreaks of music's greatest unsung talents, featuring rare behind-the-scenes footage, vintage live performances, and interviews with superstars Bruce Springsteen, Sting, Mick Jagger, Stevie Wonder and Bette Midler.


While the lead singers in rock, pop, and R&B are the ones who get the glory, knowledgeable music fans will tell you the backing vocalists often add the touches that make a performance truly memorable, and though many backup singers have the respect of their peers in the music business, they're all but unknown to the average listener. Twenty Feet From Stardom pays homage to some of these unsung heroes, including Darlene Love (the un-credited lead voice on some of Phil Spector's most memorable productions of the 1960s), Merry Clayton (who contributed a striking vocal cameo on the Rolling Stones' "Gimme Shelter", Lisa Fischer (who has appeared on albums by Sting, Tina Turner, and Aretha Franklin, as well as touring with the Rolling Stones), and the Waters Family (they sang with Michael Jackson on the album Thriller and lent their voices to the films The Lion King and Avatar).

Product Details

  • Actors: Darlene Love, Merry Clayton, Lisa Fischer, Judith Hill
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.77:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    Parents Strongly Cautioned
  • Studio: ANCHOR BAY
  • DVD Release Date: January 14, 2014
  • Run Time: 91 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (979 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00E1LR2B4
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #7,025 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
So you never thought about those backup singers that make so many songs memorable? You will after you see this movie. The Stones, Beatles, David Bowie, Springstein, Elton, Bette Midler, Lynard Skynard, and other greats all used backup singers on their most famous songs, and as we learn here, they are blazing talents equal to Aretha who had to live in the shadows of the stars they sang behind.

When you hear these ladies unleash their unbelievable voices, you will wonder how they never made it to stardom. Their voices are beyond belief. So how is it possible that one was reduced to cleaning people's houses to survive?

This movie explores all the reasons these incredible ladies who sing never made it all the way to the stardom they deserved. They even were the actual voices of The Crystals in the 1960's, and watched as The Crystals were celebrated stars, while lip syncing and taking credit for their own voices.

You won't have a dull moment watching this. And you will remember it for a long time. The music, the singing, are rare treats. This is in theaters now where I live, but it is such a great documentary, so well done, so entertaining, with such an amazing display of talent and such unbelievable voices, that I want to watch it several more times, something I never do.

The soundtrack and performances are rare footage that I've not seen anyplace. It's worth seeing just for the that. The Beatles, Stevie Wonder, The Stones, Bowie, Springstein, Cream, Lynard Skynard, Tina Turner and the Ikettes (Ike Turner is described as thinking of himself as a pimp), Luther Vandross, and other such greats, are shown in early performances, with their backup singers.
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Format: DVD
In "20 Feet From Stardom" (2013 release; 91 min.), director Morgan Neville brings a great look into the importance of the backup singers in rock and roll and R&B. There is an enjoyable mix of interviews of "big names" (the movie opens with insights from none other than Bruce Springsteen himself, later on Mick Jagger provides comments as well), along with archive footage, and then focusing on several famously un-famous backup singers both from the old days (Merry Clayton, Darlene Love, Tata Vega) and more recently (Lisa Fischer, Judith Hill). Did you know that one of those songers won a Grammy? If you wonder who, just watch! The best moment in the documentary comes when we see a discussion about the backup singers of Luther Vandross, only then to learn that Vandross himself started out as a back-up singer for David Bowie! Best of all, the documentary gives us archive footage of this (when Bowie went through his soul period on the "Young Americans" album). The person who comes out worst in this documentary is Phil "Wall of Sound" Spector. If you wonder why, just watch!

The bigger question relating to those obviously talented singers is why did they not make it big while other less talented singers did? Stevie Wonder comments that "it's not a matter of talent, it's luck and circumstances" and Springsteen says the same but in different words. (Please note that there is a great soundtrack album, containing many of the songs featured in this movie, including Lou Reed's "Walk on the Wild Side", Talking Heads' "Slippery People" (the live version from "Stop Making Sense"), David Bowie's "Young Americans", and several tracks from the 'backup' singers.
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Format: DVD
I was totally unaware of this movie until a vocalist friend of mine asked me if I wanted to see it. Some friends in her all female singing group had seen it and raved about it. So, on an impulse I went to see it.

Behind every great star is a great singing talent backing them up. Sting, Rolling Stones, George Harrison, Lynyrd Skynrd, Luther Vandross, Michael Jackson, Stevie wonder.

Twenty feet tells the story of backup singers who we are impressed by but have not necessarily given much thought to their story. However to see this movie is to become of aware of their story, their talent, and their struggles.

Thematically, it visits the theme explored in Standing in the Shadows of Motown, which explored the musician talent behind all the great Motown hits. Most of the great hits of Motown featured almost the exact same musicians creating the distinctive Motown sound, and that movie explored their story.

Although I loved that movie which I highly recommend I loved this one more, because it explores the more personal dimension of the singer. We get inside the story of these women singers and learn of their trials and tribulations, and as the title suggests the closeness to fame and the elusive quality of fame itself. These ladies are undoubtedly very talented, and I pulled out a pen and started writing down their names as I watched the movie so that I could explore more of their work later.

Most of the great artists do use backup singers, and there is no doubt that the harmonies and counter-melodies they contribute add a huge dimension to the artists performance, and to our experience as a listener.
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