Legendary jazz fusion bassist Jaco Pastorius with his famed fretless “Bass Of Doom.” [Photo: Getty Images]
How did the Jaco documentary come about?
About 18 years ago when I was finishing up with Suicidal and heading into Ozzy Osbourne’s band I was able to meet Johnny Pastorius, Jaco’s oldest son. A friend of mine who lived near him in Florida put us in touch and when I happened to be in town with Ozzy, Johnny came to the show and we became great friends. We hung out the whole night. I was making calls back to California, putting Johnny on the phone, you know, with my old guitar player, Rocky George (of Suicidal Tendencies) “Hey look! I got Jaco’s son here”—all drunk, you know. It was kind of a special, cool moment. He gave me a really great, beautiful big black and white photo of his dad. And I had told him, “You really have to share your father’s story with the world and the universe because there’s a lot of people that would love to hear it and learn about your father and his compositions.” And he totally got it. He was also of the age to where he appreciated the Infectious Grooves and stuff that I had been doing. So it made sense at the time. And I don’t know how many years later, we reconnect and he said “I’m working on this film” and I’d always say “If you need anything from me, let me know.”
Then, I’d say about 5 years ago, I was playing in Fort Lauderdale with Metallica and he brought a guy who had grown up with Jaco. His name was Bob and he had done an audio documentary called “Portrait of Jaco: The Early Years.” Bob knew nothing about Metallica and was amazed at the show, like, “Wow, a sold-out show in this massive arena and here’s this Mexican guy on bass who loves Jaco.” So he and Johnny actually sort of pursued me to help them with the project and to join the team, and all of us sort of became partners on the project. When my wife and I and the family moved back down from San Francisco to Los Angeles the door kind of blew open, meaning the opportunities for this film to develop and really kind of take shape suddenly made real sense. I ended up having a meeting with Passion Pictures with John Battsek who you may or may not know had this Searching For Sugar Man film a year ago win the Academy Award for Best Documentary and they’ve had successes with other films as well. It’s probably one of the best documentary film production companies in the world. So at that point I was like, “Okay, now we’re getting serious. Now we’re really going to make a film here and we’re going to do it the right way.” And it’s been a long journey. I can’t say that it’s been easy, but it’s really coming together well. There’s editing going on right now as I speak to you. It’s almost there. We need to have a November release. That’s where it’s at. It is a beautiful film and I know that it’s going to definitely register incredibly well with not just Jaco fans but people that love a good, beautiful story.
What’s the Record Store Day tie-in?
What ended up happening was (Record Store Day manager) Michael Kurtz had footage of Jaco that he shot, I think it would have been 1978, in North Carolina. He was just this kid that would bring his little Super 8 handheld to concerts and film them. And he filmed Weather Report with Jaco, his first tour, and since he knew Metallica and Marc Reiter, our middle manager from Q Prime, he said, “I’d like to get ahold of Robert because I have this footage of Jaco that I shot when I was 17 or 18-years-old.” So that’s how it all started. He had this footage he wanted to donate to the project and then in actually meeting him and sharing with him this trailer we had put together—more of a seven minute short—he really, really got into the potential story here and the film. He invited Johnny Pastorius, myself, and our director/editor Paul Marchaund to attend this International Record Store Day dinner in Los Angeles and we went in there with our little trailer, and there’s about 100 retailers from all over the U.S., and we played this trailer for them, and everybody in the room was speechless. I mean, some of them were almost crying because it was such a beautiful thing to them. At that point we were asked to release the film under the Record Store Day banner. And that’s where we are now. That ended up turning into an Omnivore Records release, which is Jaco’s original demos from 1974. Those are coming out on April 19th, Record Store Day.
Bassist Robert Trujillo played with Suicidal Tendencies, Infectious Grooves and Ozzy Osbourne before joining Metallica in 2003. [Photo: Getty Images]