Entertainment

The Best Documentaries About Music  

Ranker Film
2.1k votes 303 voters 15k views 84 items

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.
list ordered by
1
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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 ...more
2
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looksharp added History of the Eagles Eagles
3
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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 ...more
4
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looksharp added 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 ...more
5
Lemmy is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Documentaries About Music
Dave Grohl, Slash, Billy Bob Thornton
Lemmy is a 2010 documentary film written and directed by Wes Orshoski and Greg Olliver.
6
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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 ...more
7
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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 ...more
8
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looksharp added 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 ...more
9
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richerb added 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 ...more
10
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clash1977 added 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.
11
Mr. Blue Sky: the Story of Jef... is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Documentaries About Music
looksharp added Mr. Blue Sky: the Story of Jeff Lynne Jeff Lynne, Tom Petty, Roy Orbison
12
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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 ...more
13
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Randy Ferchuk added 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 ...more
14
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Joan Jett, Billie Joe Armstrong, Miley Cyrus
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
15
Les Paul: Chasing Sound is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Documentaries About Music
looksharp added Les Paul: Chasing Sound Les Paul, Mary Paul, Miller
16
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looksharp added 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 ...more
17
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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 ...more
18
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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 ...more
19
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looksharp added 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 ...more
20
Cobain: Montage of Heck is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Documentaries About Music
BooRadley added Aaron Burckhard, Chad Channing, Don Cobain
Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck is a 2015 documentary film directed by Brett Morgen. The documentary chronicles the life of Kurt Cobain from his birth in Aberdeen, Washington in 1967, through his ...more
21
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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 ...more
22
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David Crosby
David Crosby: Remember My Name is a 2019 American documentary directed by A.J. Eaton. The film is about the life of the musician David Crosby.
23
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Leonard Cohen, Judy Collins, Ron Cornelius
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 ...more
24
Echo in the Canyon is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Documentaries About Music
Jakob Dylan, Brian Wilson, Tom Petty
Echo In The Canyon is a 2018 American documentary film directed by Andrew Slater. The documentary is an examination of Los Angeles's Laurel Canyon and its musical history.
25
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looksharp added 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 ...more