In the dramedy Rock the Kasbah (Open Road), in theaters now, Bill Murray stars as a talent manager who risks his life to help a Pashtun singer realize her dream of becoming the first woman to sing on Afghanistan’s American Idol equivalent. The screenwriter, Murray’s longtime friend Mitch Glazer, reveals their musical past:
I’ve been writing for and with Bill since 1987, when we did Scrooged. I wrote Kasbah for him. I was thinking, “God, to see Bill Murray sing ‘Smoke on the Water’ to Pashtun tribesmen! Someone has to do that scene, and it might as well be me.”
Bill and I have had some rock moments. Eric Clapton is a friend of Bill’s, and a few years ago the producer of Eric’s Crossroads Guitar Festival called me and said, “Do you think Bill would host and you guys would write introductions?” We said yes two years in a row.
The second time we did it, I asked Bill, “Is there one rock song you can play guitar to?” He said, “Yes, [’60s rock classic] ‘Gloria.'” The lineup was Jeff Beck, Clapton and some of the greatest guitarists, but the first one out will be this knucklehead playing “Gloria.” I said, “Eric should come out behind you playing it too.” We find Eric and he says, “I don’t know how to play it.'” Bill goes, “A chimp can play ‘Gloria’! Give me a guitar.” And he teaches him the chords. It took a second because Eric’s trying to learn it from Bill saying, “No, no, put your fingers here.” It was priceless.
–As Told to Frank DiGiacomo