13 Things You Need to Know About 'Almost Famous'

Cameron Crowe's 'Almost Famous' was released 20 years ago today. Here are some trivia facts and Easter eggs from this classic flick.

Almost Famous

Image via Sony Pictures

Almost Famous

Crazy; it’s been twenty years since Almost Famous, Cameron Crowe’s love letter to his days as a teenage rock reporter, was released. During his time at Rolling Stone, Crowe toured with the Allman Brothers Band, Led Zeppelin, and Lynyrd Skynyrd. For the iconic magazine he also conducted interviews with the likes of Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, Neil Young and Tom Petty. 

After the excitement of the rock and roll life waned, Crowe turned his attentions toward Hollywood. This includes having penned two of the most worshipped teen films of all time in Fast Times at Ridgemont High and Say Anything, which he also directed. Next, he focused his formidable writing and directing abilities on a paean to the Seattle music scene of the early nineties, Singles, followed by the mega-hit film about the sports agent with a conscience, Jerry Maguire. However, despite a cluster of iconic films written and directed by Crowe, it’s safe to say, at this point, his most revered film is his next effort, Almost Famous.


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The movie about a young rock reporter’s relationship with a mid-level band struggling with their own limitations in the harsh face of stardom has reached Richard Linklater’s Dazed and Confused cult-like reverence in recent years. So much so, in fact, that Almost Famous was recently adapted into a critically acclaimed musical.

Having said all that, instead of leaving home to become a stewardess, spend a little time learning about this 1973 set Rock and Roll classic with these trivia facts and Easter eggs from Almost Famous. We promise that it will be incendiary.

Crowe sent the script for Almost Famous around Hollywood to see who would respond to it and it landed in the hands of Steven Spielberg. Spielberg read the 172-page script over the weekend and called Crowe on Monday to say, "Direct every word.” Unsurprisingly, Spielberg’s instincts were right as Crowe filmed nearly the entirety of this draft winning the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay.


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Despite having now achieved cult status, Almost Famous was a box office failure upon release, grossing just $32.5 million in America. Add that into the foreign take of $14.8 million, and it fell well short of its $60 million dollar budget.

Crowe’s previous film, Jerry Maguire, took in $273.5 million worldwide.

The albums William finds the vinyl left under the bed by his sister were from Crowe’s actual personal collection. In 2000 Crowe shared this with Rolling Stone: “I shot that scene so many times with the albums in different orders, but Pet Sounds was always first. That album is the sweetest sad thing I’ve ever heard.”


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Fittingly, Crowe’s production company is named Vinyl Films. 

4. It's a t-shirt

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Another Crowe artifact in the film is the Guess Who t-shirt Lester Bangs wore when we are first introduced to the rock critic. This was a promotional t-shirt given out from the record label that Crowe still owned.

“Give me The Guess Who. They have the courage to be drunken buffoons, which makes them poetic.”

Hoffman, who played larger than life CREEM magazine editor Lester Bangs, had a schedule that only permitted him to be on set for four days. He had the flu the whole time. 

5. Penny Lane is in my ears and in my eyes

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Kate Hudson was not Crowe’s first choice to play "band aid" Penny Lane. She was initially cast as William’s rebellious sister, Anita (Zooey Deschanel).  But, when Sarah Polley dropped out, Crowe recast Hudson as the forlorn William Miller’s love interest.  Crowe even admits that the scene where Penny dances by herself, in the Cleveland auditorium underscored by Cat Stevens’ placidly fantastic “The Wind,” is his favorite scene in the film.


To look like a real rock band, the four actors in Stillwater (Mark Kozelek as bassist Larry Rellows, John Fedevich as drummer Ed Vallencourt) rehearsed for four hours a night, five nights a week, for six weeks.

Jason Lee even emulated the moves of Paul Rodgers, lead singer of Free and Bad Company, to accurately portray rock star Jeff Bebe.

6. Even Flow

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The moment when William Miller is pulled into the pre-performance huddle before one of Stillwater’s show is based on a real Cameron Crowe experience…nearly twenty years after the film is set. 

The scene is an homage to an occasion when Eddie Vedder pulled Crowe into Pearl Jam's huddle before performing one of their 1992 Lollapalooza shows. Crowe would later direct Pearl Jam’s documentary 20 in 2011.

Russell Hammond is primarily based on Eagles’ guitarist Glenn Frey who once actually uttered the “Look, just make us look cool” line to Crowe. Although, there is a little Robert Plant and Gregg Allman sprinkled into the Hammond character as well.

The “Lyin’ Eyes” co-writer and singer even imparted some real-life lessons to the young Crowe during their time spent together. More specifically, how to maintain a buzz.

“If you want to craft a buzz correctly, you walk into a party, you drink two beers quickly. Then you drink a beer every hour and 15 minutes after that. You’ll always have a buzz and you’ll never get too embarrassing.”

In true journalistic fashion, Crowe feverishly wrote this advice down.

The raucous house party moment when a trippin’ on acid Russell Hammond proclaims from the rooftop "I am a golden god!" is a real quote from Robert Plant.

The lead singer of Led Zeppelin, once said this while looking over the Sunset Strip at the famous Hollywood Riot House. Plant even attended an early screening of Almost Famous and during the scene when Russell claims he never said, "I am a golden god," Plant pronounced, "Well, I did."

Brad Pitt was originally cast as rock god guitarist Russell Hammond.  Pitt worked with Crowe for months before finally admitting, "I just don't get it enough to do it.

Most musical budgets for studio films of that era rarely exceeded $1.5 million dollars. Almost Famous’ music budget, featuring over 50 songs by major artists, was $3.5 million.

Crowe even got guitarist Jimmy Page to agree to allow Led Zeppelin’s music to appear in the film. This is something Zeppelin hadn't done since letting Crowe use "Kashmir” in Fast Times.

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