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films The Best Documentaries About Music  

874 votes 192 voters 9.9k views 69 items Embed
A number of documentaries examine the famous lives of musician or discuss the music industry, genres, or the effects music can have on the brain. The best documentaries about music include Oscar nominees, short films, and those music movies you can find on Netflix, Hulu, or even online.  Music affects the deepest parts of our soul; it can inspire us, relax us, lift us up, fill us with adrenaline, make us angry, or unleash our inner rock gods. The best kind of music speaks the language we’ve always wanted to speak but just didn’t know how! What are the best documentaries about bands? 

This list discusses the top documentary films discussing music, including: Carter, Imagine, Searching for Sugar Man, A Band Called Death, Until the Light Takes Us, Lemmy, Last Days Here, American Hardcore, and The Road to God Knows Where. Vote for your favorites and add any that are missing.

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looksharp added The Decline of Western Civilization Part II: The Metal Years Ozzy Osbourne, Gene Simmons, Bret Michaels The Decline of Western Civilization Part II: The Metal Years is a documentary film directed by Penelope Spheeris about the Los Angeles heavy metal scene from 1986 to 1988. It is the second film of a trilogy by Spheeris depicting life in Los ...more

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Searching for Sugar Man Dennis Coffey, Malik Bendjelloul, Clarence Avant Searching for Sugar Man is a 2012 Swedish–British documentary film directed and written by Malik Bendjelloul which details the efforts of two Cape Town fans in the late 1990s, Stephen "Sugar" Segerman and Craig Bartholomew-Strydom, to ...more

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Rush: Beyond the Lighted Stage Billy Corgan, Geddy Lee, Neil Peart Rush: Beyond the Lighted Stage is a 2010 documentary film directed by Scot McFadyen and Sam Dunn. The film offers an in-depth look at the Canadian progressive rock band Rush, chronicling the band's history and musical evolution. The film made ...more

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History of the Eagles is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Documentaries About Music
looksharp added History of the Eagles Eagles

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looksharp added The Beatles Anthology Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Ringo Starr The Beatles Anthology is a documentary series on the career of The Beatles. It was broadcast on UK television in six abridged parts between 19 and 23 November 1995, while in the U.S. it was seen as three feature-length episodes. An eight-volume ...more

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Lemmy is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Documentaries About Music
Lemmy Dave Grohl, Slash, Billy Bob Thornton Lemmy is a 2010 documentary film written and directed by Wes Orshoski and Greg Olliver.

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The Last Waltz The Last Waltz was a concert by the Canadian rock group the Band, held on American Thanksgiving Day, November 25, 1976, at Winterland Ballroom in San Francisco. The Last Waltz was advertised as the Band's "farewell concert ...more

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We Jam Econo Henry Rollins, Flea, Thurston Moore We Jam Econo: The Story of the Minutemen, is a full-length documentary about the influential 1980s punk rock band Minutemen, created by director Tim Irwin and producer Keith Schieron in association with Rocket Fuel Films. The film premiered on ...more

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Dig! Dig! is a documentary film directed by Ondi Timoner, and produced by Timoner, Vasco Nunes and David Timoner. Compiled from seven years of footage, it contrasts the developing careers and love–hate relationship of the bands The Dandy Warhols and ...more

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The Decline of Western Civilization Exene Cervenka, Billy Zoom, John Doe The Decline of Western Civilization is an American documentary film filmed through 1979 and 1980. The movie is about the Los Angeles punk rock scene and was directed by Penelope Spheeris. In 1981, the LAPD Chief of Police Daryl Gates wrote a ...more

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clash1977 added The Kids Are Alright Pete Townshend, Keith Moon, Roger Daltrey The Kids Are Alright is a 1979 rockumentary film about the English rock band The Who, including live performances, promotional films and interviews from 1964 to 1978.

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sebbzor added George Harrison: Living in the Material World George Harrison: Living in the Material World is a 2011 documentary film directed by Martin Scorsese, based on the life of Beatles member George Harrison. It earned six nominations at the 64th Primetime Emmy Awards, winning two Emmy Awards for ...more

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You're Gonna Miss Me Billy Gibbons, Roky Erickson You're Gonna Miss Me is an American documentary film by Keven McAlester. It focuses on Roky Erickson, the former frontman for the band The 13th Floor Elevators. The band is cited as pioneers of the psychedelic rock sound. The film covers ...more

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The Devil & Daniel Johnsto... is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Documentaries About Music
The Devil & Daniel Johnston

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A Band Called Death is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Documentaries About Music
A Band Called Death A Band Called Death is a 2012 American documentary film directed by Mark Christopher Covino and Jeff Howlett. The documentary is about the 1970s rock band Death and their new-found popularity decades after the group recorded their music. The ...more

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End of the Century: The Story of the Ramones Debbie Harry, Rob Zombie, Joey Ramone End of the Century: The Story of the Ramones is a 2003 documentary film about highly influential New York punk rock band the Ramones. The film, produced and directed by Jim Fields and Michael Gramaglia, documents the band's history from their ...more

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clash1977 added The Filth and the Fury Steve Jones, Malcolm McLaren, Glen Matlock The Filth and the Fury is a 2000 British rockumentary film about the Sex Pistols, directed by Julien Temple.

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richerb added Runnin' Down a Dream Kevin Costner, Stevie Nicks, Ringo Starr Runnin' Down a Dream is a 2007 documentary film about Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, directed by Peter Bogdanovich. The 4-hour documentary chronicles the history of the band, from its inception as Mudcrutch, right up to the 30th-anniversary ...more

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sebbzor added No Direction Home No Direction Home is a documentary film by Martin Scorsese that traces the life of Bob Dylan, and his impact on 20th-century American popular music and culture. The film focuses on the period between Dylan's arrival in New York in January 1961 ...more

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Anvil! The Story of Anvil At 14, Toronto school friends Steve 'Lips' Kudlow and Robb Reiner made a pact to rock together forever. Their band Anvil went on to become the 'demi-gods of Canadian metal', releasing 1982's Metal on Metal, which influenced a musical generation ...more

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It Might Get Loud Michael McKean It Might Get Loud is a 2008 American documentary film by filmmaker Davis Guggenheim. It explores the careers and styles of prominent rock musicians Jimmy Page, The Edge, and Jack White. The film received a wide release on August 14, 2009 in the ...more

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Until the Light Takes Us Per "Dead" Ohlin, Varg Vikernes, Hellhammer Until the Light Takes Us is a 2008 American documentary film about Norwegian black metal by the directors Aaron Aites and Audrey Ewell. It was released on December 4, 2009.

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Joe Strummer: The Future Is Unwritten Joe Strummer: The Future Is Unwritten is a 2007 documentary film directed by Julien Temple about Joe Strummer, the lead singer of the British punk rock band The Clash, that went on to win the British Independent Film Awards as Best British ...more

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The Clash: Westway to the World Joe Strummer, Siouxsie Sioux, Shane MacGowan The Clash: Westway to the World is a 2000 documentary film about the British punk rock band The Clash. In 2003 it won the Grammy Award for Best Long Form Music Video. Directed by Don Letts, the film combines old footage from the band's personal ...more

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richerb added Foo Fighters: Back and Forth "The film takes us on the 16 year journey of the Foo Fighters, from Dave Grohl and Pat Smear’s surviving the aftermath of Nirvana to Dave, Pat, Nate Mendel, Taylor Hawkins and Chris Shiflett’s rise to the top of the charts and the stages ...more

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Cobain: Montage of Heck is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Best Documentaries About Music
BooRadley added Cobain: Montage of Heck Aaron Burckhard, Chad Channing, Don Cobain

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I Am Trying to Break Your Heart: A Film About Wilco Fred Armisen, Jeff Tweedy, John Stirratt I Am Trying to Break Your Heart: A Film About Wilco is a black-and-white documentary film by Sam Jones which follows the American alt-country rock band Wilco through the creation and distribution of their fourth studio album Yankee Hotel ...more

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richerb added Big Star: Nothing Can Hurt Me Big Star: Nothing Can Hurt Me is a 2012 documentary film about American rock band Big Star, directed by Drew DeNicola and Olivia Mori.

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Hype! Flop Gas Huffer Hype! is a documentary directed by Doug Pray about the popularity of grunge rock in the early to mid-1990s United States. It incorporates interviews and rare concert footage to trace the steps of grunge, from its subversive inception in ...more

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looksharp added Hail! Hail! Rock 'n' Roll Keith Richards, Eric Clapton, Chuck Berry Hail! Hail! Rock 'n' Roll is a 1987 documentary film directed by Taylor Hackford that chronicles two 1986 concerts celebrating rock and roll musician Chuck Berry's 60th birthday. A soundtrack album was released in October 1987 on the MCA label. ...more

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Classic Albums: Steely Dan: Aj... is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Best Documentaries About Music
looksharp added Classic Albums: Steely Dan: Aja Classic Albums: Steely Dan: Aja is a 1999 musical documentary directed by Alan Lewens.

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looksharp added Standing in the Shadows of Motown Meshell Ndegeocello, Bootsy Collins, Martha Reeves Standing in the Shadows of Motown is a 2002 documentary film directed by Paul Justman that recounts the story of The Funk Brothers, the uncredited and largely unheralded studio musicians who were the house band that Berry Gordy hand picked in ...more

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Mr. Blue Sky: the Story of Jef... is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Best Documentaries About Music
looksharp added Mr. Blue Sky: the Story of Jeff Lynne Jeff Lynne, Tom Petty, Roy Orbison

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Randy Ferchuk added Gimme Shelter Keith Richards, The Rolling Stones, Mick Jagger Gimme Shelter is a 1970 documentary film directed by Albert and David Maysles and Charlotte Zwerin chronicling the last weeks of The Rolling Stones' 1969 US tour which culminated in the disastrous Altamont Free Concert. The film is named after ...more

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Joe Strummer - the Future Is U... is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Best Documentaries About Music
punksnotdead added Joe Strummer - the Future Is Unwritten

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Last Days Here Last Days Here is a 2011 American documentary film featuring Bobby Liebling, lead singer of the American heavy metal band Pentagram. Directed by Don Argott and Demian Fenton, the film had its world premiere at the South by Southwest film ...more

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Radiohead: Meeting People Is E... is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Best Documentaries About Music

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looksharp added Rattle and Hum Rattle and Hum is the sixth studio album by rock band U2, and a companion rockumentary film directed by Phil Joanou, both released in 1988. The film and the album feature live recordings, covers, and new songs. To a greater extent than on their ...more

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The Other F Word is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Best Documentaries About Music
DawnFillinger added The Other F Word 2011 punk rockThe Other F Word is a 2011 music comedy drama documentary film written and directed by Andrea Blaugrund Nevins.

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American Hardcore American Hardcore is a documentary directed by Paul Rachman and written by Steven Blush. It is based on the book American Hardcore: A Tribal History also written by Blush. It was released on September 22, 2006 on a limited basis. The film ...more

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Les Paul: Chasing Sound is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Best Documentaries About Music
looksharp added Les Paul: Chasing Sound Les Paul, Mary Paul, Miller

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looksharp added The Temptations Smokey Robinson, Bianca Lawson, D. B. Woodside The Temptations is a four-hour television miniseries broadcast in two-hour halves on NBC, based upon the history of one of Motown's longest-lived acts, The Temptations. Executive produced by former Motown executive Suzanne de Passe, produced by ...more

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carlybobarly added I'll Sleep When I'm Dead

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looksharp added The Decline of Western Civilization III The Decline of Western Civilization III is a 1998 documentary film directed by Penelope Spheeris that chronicles the gutter punk lifestyle of homeless teenagers. It is the third film of a trilogy by Spheeris depicting life in Los Angeles at ...more

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The Damned: Don't You Wish We ... is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Best Documentaries About Music
punksnotdead added The Damned: Don't You Wish We Were Dead about The Damned by Wes Orshoski

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The Carter The Carter is a 2009 documentary film about American hip hop recording artist Dwayne Michael Carter, Jr., better known as Lil Wayne. The film was directed by Adam Bhala Lough and produced by Joshua Krause and Quincy Delight Jones III. The ...more

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Beats, Rhymes & Life: The Travels of A Tribe Called Quest Beats, Rhymes & Life: The Travels of A Tribe Called Quest, is a 2011 documentary film about the music group A Tribe Called Quest, directed by Michael Rapaport. The film was released on July 8, 2011, by Sony Pictures Classics. ...more

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Jude Newsome added Crossfire Hurricane Crossfire Hurricane is a 2012 documentary film about The Rolling Stones written and directed by Brett Morgen. The film chronicles the early years of the band through their gradual mainstream acceptance in 1981. The film is a series of ...more

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Joy Division Joy Division is a 2007 British documentary film on the British post-punk band Joy Division, directed by Grant Gee. The film assembles TV clips, newsreel, pictures of modern Manchester and Manchester in the late 1970s, and interviews. The ...more

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Imagine is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Best Documentaries About Music
Imagine