Who the F**ck is That Guy? is the story of Michael Alago, a trailblazer in the music industry perhaps ultimately best known for signing Metallica. This could be quite the focal point, but this isn’t the “Metallica Makes It Big” story; this is the “Michael Alago” story, and it’s a doozy.

Alago grew up in an Orthodox Jewish neighborhood in Brooklyn (despite being Puerto Rican, himself), but routinely and purposefully ventured out into the world to consume as much music has he could. He shook hands and made friends with everyone from David Lee Roth to Bruce Springsteen. Despite his young age, he became a fixture at hotspots around the city where insanely artistic (and just plain insane) things were happening.

As the movie goes on, we see Alago do a little of everything on his way up. He starts a Dead Boys fanzine/club. He works at the Ritz as an assistant to manager-promoter-club owner-you name it Jerry Brandt. He becomes a booker himself and books stars for gigs before they are stars. He works at Elektra Records by the age of 21. (Really though, what were you doing at 21? Probably not hanging out with Joan Jett.) In short, he kicked ass.

Alago puts it a bit more eloquently, stating, “I was fearless back then…I felt that there was a scene happening, and I wanted to be part of that.” And he really was.

Unfortunately and predictably, the Rock n’ Roll scene got Alago into trouble. By the time he moved on to Geffen Records and garnered Brandt-level respect, he was falling into a dark hole of booze and drugs. He eventually contracted HIV and nearly died.

However, his story has a happy ending. Alago turns things around and gets healthy both mentally and physically. While he doesn’t return to the music scene, he becomes a photographer, forever remaining linked to the arts. His friends who saw his meteoric rise and his subsequent crash and burn express relief that he has picked himself up.

Speaking of his friends, the film gives us great interviews with Cheetah Chrome of Dead Boys, Cyndi Lauper, the members of Metallica, and many more, each in turn telling their experiences with Alago and the craziness of the Eighties music scene. One of the most touching quotes comes from Lauper who says Alago didn’t want her to be put in a box or be molded after anyone else: “He said you should sound like yourself,” she recalls.

Who the F**ck is That Guy? is a special little movie. It’s Almost Famous. It’s CBGB. Only it does it as a documentary. The one criticism? Because of the limited scope of the doc, we are left with a lot of unanswered questions. Tell us more about Geffen! About Elektra! Put Doyle Wolfgang von Frankenstein on screen more because he looks like a comic book villain and we need more anecdotes from him! One might argue that is a good thing though; Alago is interesting enough that you watch and want even more. Pretty Rock n’ Roll.

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInShare on Google+