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The Royal College of Psychiatrists Improving the lives of people with mental illness

Summer Update - Documentary Recommendations

Amy, 3 July 2015

It is an exciting time for fans of music documentaries. I recently featured ‘Be Here to Love Me’, ‘The Devil and Daniel Johnston’ and ‘Heaven Adores You’. While not directly related to mental health matters, 2012's ‘Searching for Sugarman’ and ‘Beware of Mr Baker’ are also interesting works about unusual characters. Ginger Baker, now 75 and only recently recovered from a serious physical illness, performed at The Jazz Café in Camden last week to a fervent reaction from an awestruck crowd, proving that 'difficult' personalities can sometimes make for astonishing creative output.





Kapadia's "Amy" premieres 3 July 2015.


Kurt Cobain - Montage of HeckEarlier this year, Brett Morgan's 'Montage of Heck', about the troubled life of musician Kurt Cobain, was met with a mixture of critical acclaim and criticism. On July 3rd, Asif Kapadia's film about Amy Winehouse, 'Amy', will be released to a legion of fans of the London singer, who tragically died of an overdose in 2011. Both performers were 27 at the time of their death, and have sadly been added to the '27 club', a list of musicians who have died at that age. After a college conference event on music and mental health in 2013, I spoke with a colleague intrigued by this phenomenon. He suggested to me that this age, associated with the onset of adult responsibilities and the end of late adolescence, perhaps resulted in the chaotic life of a musician being less easily managed, and represented a high risk period for vulnerable creative people. I recommend both films for those interested in these issues and look forward to feedback and discussion on this forum and our twitter account.


Beware of Mr Baker

For those of you who may bemoan the lack of female musicians featured in this blog to date, I am aware of this shortcoming! I will seek to make amends with my next interview piece, where I will speak to the director and producer of another upcoming documentary about the life of British folksinger, Shirley Collins. From the era of Billie Holliday to that of Amy Winehouse, there have been many brilliant female musicians who have struggled with mental health problems. I very much welcome suggestions for other female artists to feature.

I would like to wish all our readers an enjoyable summer break and thank you for your continued interest.




2012 Documentary "Beware of Mr Baker"
tells the story of Drummer and Hellraiser
Ginger Baker, who continues to play at a
professional level aged 75.


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Minds in Music

Minds in Music

  John Tully  


Dr John Tully is a forensic psychiatrist and researcher at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience, London. He is also a musician and is interested in the role of the arts in mental health.