Meet the Man Who Discovered the Stooges and Leonard Cohen — and Didn’t Even Get Rich


Famous boomer extroverts are pretty sure that their epic debauchery in the 1960s was rebellious and shocking, though the old people they were trying to shock still had howling episodes of PTSD from disemboweling German infantry with their bayonets and were basically unshockable. There are a lot of those kinds of infantile reminiscences in director Brendan Toller’s documentary Danny Says, but its principal figure has an interesting past and a gift for storytelling.

Music promoter Danny Fields has essentially two superpowers: One is for networking with exactly the right people — meeting Andy Warhol leads to meeting Lou Reed and Nico, which, through a continuing chain of famous acquaintances, eventually leads to a weekend during which he hides the stupendously intoxicated Jim Morrison’s car keys so he won’t die in a terrible accident.

The other superpower is the ability to recognize artistry where no one else sees it. After becoming the press agent for the Doors, he talked Elektra into editing “Light My Fire” to a length that would fit on a 45 single.

Toller’s film is narrated entirely by Fields via a series of lengthy recorded interviews that unwind jerkily, like a misshapen bolt of yarn over hundreds of still photos, Super-8 footage, and hand-drawn animations. Fields signed MC5 and Iggy Pop and the Stooges to recording contracts on the same night he met them. He discovered Leonard Cohen and Judy Collins; he also managed the Ramones and utterly failed to get rich. But he gained enduring friends and interesting stories.

Danny Says

Directed by Brendan Toller

Magnolia Pictures

Opens September 30, IFC Center; Available On Demand