Prime Video's Daisy Jones & the Six is quite the rock & roll fable. From the opening notes of the show's theme song, Patti Smith's "Barefoot Dancing," you know the writers, directors and cast mean business.
The 10-episode series is based on Taylor Jenkins Reid's 2019 book of the same name. The story begins in Hollywood where the teenaged Margaret, who would change her name to Daisy played by Elvis Presley's 33-year-old granddaughter Riley Keough, is hanging out in 1970. Her standout performance is enough of a reason to binge through the episodes, which are all avaialble now.
There are spoliers from this point.
Daisy sneaks into clubs on Sunset Strip and sees bands like the Byrds. The drinking and drugging begins early with pot, pills, coke and alcohol. By the end of the first episode, she professes: "I took a Bennie to wake up this morning. Then, if I just have a coffee, I'll be way amped. Hence the champagne. I call it an up and down."
The other track of the plot is the Dunne Brothers, a rock band from Pittsburgh who move to L.A. to make it big. They start off in a van like most bands. Frontman Billy (Sam Claflin) marries Camila (Camila Morrone) before the band heads West and soon she's mother to their baby.
Rock cliches are inevitable in this kind of tale. The band goes on tour, Billy shags a few groupies and Camila finds out. Billy likes to drink and generally is wound pretty tight. He's a control freak about the band. When Billy has a chance encounter with record label talent scout Teddy Price (Tom Wright), things start looking better for the band, who have been renamed The Six (even though they're a quintet).
By Ep. 4 the drugs start to kick in. The band has relocated to a pad in Laurel Canyon. The other guys in the band - Billy's brother and guitarist Graham (Will Harrison), bassist Eddie Roundtree (Josh Whitehouse), keyboard player Karen Sirko (Suki Waterhouse) and drummer Warren Rojas (Sebastian Chacon) - hang out on the porch and do mushrooms.
"How soon does it kick in?"
"Warren's feeling it?"
"I can't feel my heart."
"Are you sure?"
By this point Daisy has been introduced to The Six. She and her friend Simone Jackson (Nabiyah Be) are both singers - Daisy's a singer-songwriter and Simone is an up-and-coming disco diva. Teddy decides to add Daisy to The Six, making the group a sextet.
It's pretty clear the band model is Fleetwood Mac with the female singer and keyboard player, the flamboyant lead guitarist, bass and drummer. What Fleetwood Mac didn't have was strong frontman like Billy in the mid-'70s. Sparks fly when Billy and Daisy perform together (in most cases they do their own singing). She's impulsive and raw, undisciplined and often out of control, With her full voice, Daisy's a composite of Janis Joplin's brassiness and Stevie Nicks' sensuality. Karen is cool like Christine McVie but doesn't get to write or sing the songs.
As Billy and Daisy grow closer, Camila is overwhelmed with jealousy. While Billy reminds her its all an act, you know, show business, Camila knows better. Pretty much the rest of the episodes involve the push and pull between the two leads. Can they work together closely - even sharing a mic oftentimes on stage - without taking the possible next steps?
Daisy's so confused by where Billy stands that she jets to Greece just as the group has a No. 1 hit. Simone tracks her down and learns that Daisy is marrying a guy she just met. Daisy returns to U.S. with Nicky (Gavin Drea), but that relationship is not meant to last.
Things continue to spiral downward as Daisy consumes a cocktail of pills, coke and champagne. She even snorts on stage, leading to an eventual stage breakdown followed by an OD, which she survives.
"I almost died last night," Daisy tells a large arena crowd in 1976.
The last two episodes are a hot mess, with band members fighting (literally), Karen getting an abortion (she was seeing Cameron), Teddy having a heart attack and Billy and Daisy heading to some sort of climax.
When Eddie tells Warren he's qutting the band, Warren's incredulous: "We're the luckiest motherfuckers in the world."
It all comes down to an end-of-the-tour sold-out show at Soldier Field in Chicago. Even the band's generally unflappable tour manger Rod Reyes (a hilarious Timothy Olyphant) wonders during the show, "What the hell is going on with everyone tonight?"
Cutting back and forth between concert footage and current band interviews conducted by Billy and Camila's daughter Julia (Seychelle Gabriel), the final episode is a tour de force, building to the series' dazzling denouement.
Rock cliches aside, Daisy Jones & the Six nails the period and reminds fans just how hard it is for a great band to survive.
Since this is Season 1, expect to hear more from Daisy Jones and Billy Dunne in the near future.
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