WUMB November Program Guide

Steve Tilston

How often do you get to see Al Pacino portray one of your friends in a movie? Actually the story is a little more complex than that, but I’ll try to be brief.

You probably remember Steve Tilston. Brilliant guitarist, much honored songwriter with 20 plus albums to his credit, and a former instructor at WUMB’s Summer Acoustic Music Week. In 1971 Steve, then a 20 year old artist at the start of his career, was interviewed by ZigZag, an English music magazine. That interview was read by none other than John Lennon, who was inspired to write a letter to Steve. It was addressed to Steve and the writer who conducted the interview care of the magazine. It never reached either. Suspicion is that someone in the ZigZag office sold the letter and, for all intents and purposes, it was lost for some 34 years.

Well, actually not lost, but it disappeared into the “collector market” and by 2010 was valued at some $10,300. All the while, Tilston had no knowledge of the letter’s existence, until it ended up in the hands of a collector in New York who contacted him to verify that he was, in fact, the Steve Tilston the letter was addressed to.


This is the basis of the movie Danny Collins with Pacino portraying the title character. The story is very different from that Steve’s own. Danny is an aging rock star on the skids while Steve is a well-respected artist still at the height of his popularity. Danny developed a drug problem while Steve will occasionally have a glass of wine, white please. Danny is estranged from his family, while Steve has a great relationship with his four kids, three of whom have musical careers. I could go on, but you get the idea.


The movie received limited theatrical release and quickly there after ended up on DVD and in digital release. I’m sure it’ll hit the streaming services in a few months. Is it a great movie? Probably not, but anything staring Al Pacino, Jennifer Garner, Annette Bening, and Bobby Cannavale is worth watching. And besides, how often do you get to see Al Pacino play someone you know?

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