• Entertainment

The Best Documentaries About Music

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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  • 26

    Mr. Blue Sky: the Story of Jeff Lynne

    Jeff Lynne, Tom Petty
    0
    0

    Released2012

    Directed byMartyn Atkins

    Mr Blue Sky: The Story of Jeff Lynne & ELO is a 2012 American music documentary film directed by Martyn Atkins. As the creative force behind Electric Light Orchestra and a singularly accomplished  ...more
  • Stevie Wonder, Chris Rock
    47
    26

    Released2021

    Directed byQuestlove

    Summer of Soul (...Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised) is a 2021 American documentary film directed by Ahmir "Questlove" Thompson. Over the course of six weeks during the summer of 1969,  ...more
  • Stephen 'Sugar' Segerman, Dennis Coffey
    60
    34

    Released2011

    Directed byMalik Bendjelloul

    Though he faded into obscurity in the U.S., an early '70s musician known as Rodriguez became a huge hit in South Africa and was widely rumored to have died. Two obsessed fans set out to learn the  ...more
  • Released2006

    Directed byStewart Copeland

    Drummer Stewart Copeland narrates the rise of legendary rock band the Police using a decades-old archive of intimate, behind-the-scenes footage shot with his own movie camera. Over the course of a  ...more
  • Dave Grohl, Slash
    36
    20

    Released2010

    Directed byGreg Olliver, Wes Orshoski

    Lemmy is a 2010 documentary film written and directed by Wes Orshoski and Greg Olliver.  ...more
  • David Lynch, David Bowie
    53
    31

    Released2021

    Directed byRob Gordon Bralver

    Moby Doc is a 2021 American Documentary directed by Rob Gordon Bralver. It's a surrealist biographical documentary about trailblazing electronic musician and animal rights activist Moby.  ...more
  • Taraji P. Henson, Alicia Keys
    53
    31

    Released2021

    Directed byVanessa Roth

    Mary J Blige's My Life is a 2021 American music documentary film directed by Vanessa Roth. Grammy-winning recording artist and actress Mary J. Blige reveals the demons and blessings that inspired her  ...more
  • Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson
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    27

    Released2010

    Directed byScot McFadyen, Sam Dunn

    A documentary about the Canadian rock band Rush relates the group's 40-year history and examines its continuing popularity. Using extensive archival footage, it follows the resilient rockers, lead  ...more
  • Les Paul, Mary Paul
    15
    8

    Released2007

    Directed byLes Paul

    The legendary Les Paul, father of the solid-body electric guitar, inventor of overdubbing and multi-track recording, king of the '50s pop charts, rock 'n' roll pioneer, tells his own rags-to-riches  ...more
  • Spike Lee, Luciano Pavarotti
    7
    3

    Released2019

    Directed byRon Howard

    Pavarotti is a 2019 documentary film directed by Ron Howard. An examination of the life and work of opera legend Luciano Pavarotti.  ...more
  • Leonard Cohen, Judy Collins
    4
    1

    Released2019

    Directed byNick Broomfield

    Marianne & Leonard: Words of Love is a 2019 international documentary film directed by Nick Broomfield. This documentary explores the relationship between singer Leonard Cohen and Marianne Ihlen and  ...more
  • Released1988

    Directed byPenelope Spheeris

    In this follow-up to the 1981 punk rock documentary "The Decline of Western Civilization," filmmaker Penelope Spheeris dissects the world of heavy metal. Through live performance footage and  ...more
  • Benny "Papa Zita" Benjamin, Eddie "Bongo" Brown
    22
    13

    Released2002

    Directed byPaul Justman

    This documentary mixes performances, interviews and reenactments to celebrate the Funk Brothers, the 1960s soul hitmakers. As the musicians behind the Temptations, the Four Tops and others, the  ...more
  • 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  ...more
  • Joan Jett, Billie Joe Armstrong
    14
    8

    Released2018

    Directed byKevin Kerslake

    Bad Reputation is a 2018 documentary film directed by Kevin Kerslake. Featuring archival footage and interviews with rock legends, the documentary explores the rise of Joan Jett in rock-n-roll  ...more
  • Released2003

    Directed byMichael Gramaglia, Jim Fields

    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  ...more
  • Shawn Cloninger, William Goldsmith
    21
    13

    Released2011

    Directed byJames Moll

    "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  ...more
  • Smokey Robinson, Bianca Lawson
    15
    9

    Released1998

    Directed byAllan Arkush

    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  ...more

    More The Temptations 

    #34 of 670 The Best Black Movies Ever Made, Ranked#144 of 431 The Best Miniseries in TV History#16 of 52 The Best Movies About Real Bands & Musicians

  • Pete Townshend, Keith Moon
    26
    17

    Released1979

    Directed byJeff Stein

    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.  ...more
  • Exene Cervenka, Billy Zoom
    27
    18

    Released1981

    Directed byPenelope Spheeris

    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,  ...more
  • 46

    Joy Division

    Anton Corbijn, Ian Curtis
    20
    13

    Released2006

    Directed byGrant Gee

    This documentary looks at the British band Joy Division, who rose to prominence in the 1980s and have had an enormous cultural influence in the years since their demise. Using archival footage and
  • 47

    Mayor of the Sunset Strip

    Coldplay, The Vines
    14
    9

    Released2003

    Directed byGeorge Hickenlooper

    This documentary traces Rodney Bingenheimer's journey from a hard-luck childhood to a successful career as a disc jockey. Involved in the Los Angeles rock 'n' roll scene since the 1960s, the
  • Filmmaker Jeff Feuerzeig chronicles the life of a manic-depressive musician and artist, using a blend of home movies, Johnston's own audiotapes, vintage performances and current footage. Johnston has  ...more
  • Elvis Presley, James Burton
    3
    1

    Released1970

    Directed byDenis Sanders

    Elvis: That's the Way It Is is a 1970 American documentary film directed by Denis Sanders. The film documents American singer Elvis Presley's Summer Festival in Las Vegas during August 1970. It was  ...more
  • Taylor Swift, Harry Styles
    3
    1

    Released2020

    Directed byLana Wilson

    Miss Americana (a.k.a. Taylor Swift: Miss Americana) is a 2020 American documentary film directed by Lana Wilson. An in depth look at American singer-songwriter Taylor Swift.  ...more