Talking Heads, Neil Young Filmmaker Jonathan Demme Dead at 73
An Oscar-winner for Silence of the Lambs and Philadelphia, Demme was originally treated for esophageal cancer in 2010 but reportedly had a recurrence in 2015. He also suffered from heart disease, and his condition worsened in recent weeks, according to Indiewire.
Stop Making Sense, shot at the Pantages Theater in Hollywood over three nights in 1983, is considered one of the greatest music documentaries ever made. Later, Talking Heads frontman David Byrne got into filmmaking, but had to admit that Demme's work loomed large over his second career, too. "Oh absolutely. I thought, 'I can't try and compete with that – Jonathan Demme did such a great job with that one,'" Byrne told Digital Spy.
Demme's relationship with Bruce Springsteen included the Oscar-winning title song from Philadelphia and a video for the E Street Band's "Murder Incorporated." He also collaborated on the video for "Sun City," featuring long-time Springsteen sideman Little Steven and the Artists United Against Apartheid.
Demme's association with Neil Young went back to the soundtrack for Philadelphia, too. His trilogy of documentaries on Young's career included 2006's Heart of Gold, 2010's Trunk Show and Journeys in 2011. Once again, Demme brought his own unique sensibility to things. Asked what he hoped fans would get out of these films, Demme told TV.com: "The audience needs to get away from cynicism and into a positive place for an hour-and-a-half, and just let beautiful music and emotions wash over them, man."
His early career included a string of '80s dramas. Among them was Something Wild, which featured a soundtrack that included songs by Byrne, New Order, Steve Jones of the Sex Pistols, the Feelies, Fine Young Cannibals, Oingo Boingo and former Clash member Mick Jones' group Big Audio Dynamite.
Demme also directed videos for New Order's "The Perfect Kiss," and UB40's "I Got You Babe," a collaboration with Chrissie Hynde.
14 Jonathan Demme Movies for Music Lovers