Roger Friedman is an entertainment journalist and music fan with a particular love for R&B and soul music from the mid-’50s to the pre-disco era of the early ‘70s. Owing in part to segregated booking policies and simple lack of proper archiving, Friedman discovered there is little or no surviving film footage or videotape of many of the greatest artists of the era performing on-stage.
However, a large number of the performers in question were still active and performing on a regular basis, and with the help of documentary filmmakers Chris Hegedus and D.A. Pennebaker, Friedman set out to capture some of his favorites on film while they were still in good form.
Only the Strong Survive features knockout performances from such R&B legends as Wilson Pickett, Jerry Butler, the Chi-Lights, Carla Thomas, Mary Wilson, Ann Peebles, and many more, as well as interviews in which the artists discuss the ups and downs of their music careers. Only the Strong Survive also includes performance footage of Memphis R&B pioneer Rufus Thomas, who passed on at the age of 84, less than two months before the film was screened at the 2002 Sundance Film Festival.
- Directed by Chris Hegedus & D.A. Pennebaker Cast: William Bell, Jerry Butler, The Chi-Lites, Isaac Hayes, Sam Moore, Ann Peebles, Wilson Pickett, Sir Mack Rice, Carla Thomas, Rufus Thomas, Mary Wilson Produced by Roger Friedman - Associate Producer: Rebecca Marshall Co-produced by Frazer Pennebaker Executive producers Harvey Weinstein and Bob Weinstein Original Music by: Isaac Hayes “Soul Man”, “Hold On I’m Coming”, “When Something Is Wrong WIth My Baby” and “B-A-B-Y” Wilson Pickett song “In The MIdnight Hour” David Porter “Soul Man”, “Hold On I’m Coming”, “When Something Is Wrong WIth My Baby” and “B-A-B-Y” Carla Thomas “Gee Whiz Look At His Eyes” Rufus Thomas “Walking The Dog” Cinematography by Nick Doob (as James Desmond), Chris Hegedus, Erez Laufer, Jehane Noujaim & D.A. Pennebaker Film Editing by: Roger Friedman, Chris Hegedus, Erez Laufer & D.A. Pennebaker Sound Department: Kit Pennebaker - sound recordist Dominic Tavella - sound re-recording mixer Jon Tiver - live recording supervisor Other crew: Chris Robertson - music clearance Mary Robertson - production assistant