On August 7, 2023, arguably (no argument from me) one of the greatest directors of all time passed away at 87. William Friedkin directed such classics as The French Connection, Sorcerer, and To Live and Die in L.A. but is undoubtedly best known for the 1973 horror classic (and one of my all-time favorites), The Exorcist. Being the horror fanatic that I am to this day, The Exorcist was my introduction to Friedkin and what would eventually expand to a wide ranging and largely celebrated body of work — sometimes controversial, but always honest and undeniable.
I’m not sure how I missed it in the first place but my friend Jason Byers (Disengage / Black Black Black vocalist) brought the documentary “Leap of Faith: William Friedkin on The Exorcist” to my attention recently. In fact, I believe this was shortly before Friedkin had passed away. Highly recommended, though. It’s a fascinating watch as it is basically a couple of cameras on Friedkin as he recites and reminisces nonstop for an hour and 45 minutes some intriguing anecdotes and thought processes behind the making of this classic film. Also, it was an excellent first hand account of some of his “take no prisoners/suffer no fools” methods that he came to be known for on the sets of many of his films, and The Exorcist was certainly no exception. Some of these accounts were a bit extreme, and say what you will about the man…but he was a fearless artist that did not take lightly the importance of creating something that is worth fighting for.
In 2006, Friedkin directed Bug starring Ashley Judd and Michael Shannon. It’s an underrated favorite of mine, and I actually wrote a song a few years later that was inspired by the film called “Millions” and it was released on my first solo record, Phantom Moon. The song features additional vocals by Dave Angstrom (Luna Sol, Hermano, Supafuzz), Rusty Knight on drums, and my late friend Barry Smith on bass. Check it out: