Crossroads is a 1986 American musical drama film about a young man's coming of age, based on the history of blues guitarist Robert Johnson. The film, directed by Walter Hill and starring Ralph Macchio, Joe Seneca, and Jami Gertz, was written by John Fusco and has an original score by Ry Cooder and Steve Vai on guitar and Sonny Terry on harmonica. Vai also makes an appearance in the film as the devil's servant.
Arlen Roth—guitarist, columnist, and co-creator of the Hot Licks instructional video series—was contacted by filmmaker Walter Hill in early 1984 about a new picture he was planning to create starring Ralph Macchio.
The focus was to be on the blues, with a modern twist on the mythology and folklore surrounding the late Robert Johnson.
Roth turned out to be the right candidate for the job. The musician, who was employed as the film's musical consultant, was also tasked with teaching Macchio how to play the guitar and producing guitar parts for the movie that he could mime to.
Roth paid four weekly visits to Macchio's house in Long Island, New York, during the next two months. He taught him.
The young actor was determined to actually play the guitar in the movie; however, Roth knew this would be impossible. He was keen to just get Macchio good enough to fake the parts recorded by Roth, Ry Cooder and Bill Kanengiser.