rock The Best Rockumentaries of All Time  

Ranker Film
Originally by
3.3k votes 432 voters 15.6k views 87 items Embed

List Rules Documentaries about rock music and rock musicians only.

When it comes to the history of rock and roll, there's nothing like a good rockumentary. This list of the best rockumentaries has been ranked by rock music lovers and includes documentary films about all the best rock and roll musicians and bands, with trailers. If you need to rock out, but also get the scoop on your favorite rockers, these great documentary films about rock and roll are what you need.

What are the best rockumentaries of all time? Whether you're interested in The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Nirvana, KISS, or even the Dixie Chicks, there's a great rockumentary out there for you. Bill Drake first coined the term in 1969, in a History of Rock & Roll radio documentary broadcast and since then, it has been used broadly to define documentaries and concert films and become its own genre.

Notable filmmakers have even tried their hand at the rockumentary, including Martin Scorsese (The Last Waltz), Jim Jarmusch (Year of the Horse), and Jonathan Demme (Stop Making Sense). More than just movies about music, these films take a closer, documentarian style look at the world of rock music, and the famous rock musicians who gave us all this great music. The best of these films provide historical context for these rockers and showcase much of their music as well.

This list ranks the best documentaries about rock music in the history of film. The rockumentaries featured on this list include Don’t Look Back, Woodstock, Cracked Actor, The Kids are Alright, AC/DC: Let There Be Rock, Bring on the Night, Rattle and Hum, Year of the Horse, and Back and Forth.

Don't see the rockumentary you think is the greatest on the list? Add it for other music and film fans to vote on and help make this the most comprehensive list of good rockumentaries anywhere on the Internet.
list ordered by

1
90 52
Ranker Video
looksharp added This Is Spinal Tap Mockumentary, Cult film, Musical This Is Spinal Tap is an American 1984 rock music mockumentary written, scored by, and starring Rob Reiner, Christopher Guest, Michael McKean and Harry Shearer. The film portrays the fictional ...more

2
82 57
Ranker Video
The Song Remains the Same Led Zeppelin The Song Remains the Same is a concert film featuring the English rock band Led Zeppelin. The filming took place during the summer of 1973, during three nights of concerts at Madison Square ...more

3
75 45
Ranker Video
Woodstock Various – Woodstock festival Woodstock is a 1970 American documentary of the watershed counterculture Woodstock Festival that took place in August 1969 at Bethel in New York. Entertainment Weekly called this film the ...more

4
67 45
Ranker Video
The Kids Are Alright The Who 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.

5
57 50
Ranker Video
Stop Making Sense Talking Heads Stop Making Sense is a concert movie featuring Talking Heads live on stage. Directed by Jonathan Demme, it was shot over the course of three nights at Hollywood's Pantages Theater in December ...more

6
56 57
Ranker Video
The Last Waltz The Band 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
75 55
Ranker Video
Rush: Beyond the Lighted Stage Rush 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

8
49 45
Ranker Video
Gimme Shelter The Rolling Stones Watch for Free with Amazon Prime Free Trial 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

9
51 38
Ranker Video
Pink Floyd: Live at Pompeii Pink Floyd Pink Floyd: Live at Pompeii is a 1972 concert documentary film featuring the English progressive rock group Pink Floyd performing at the ancient Roman amphitheatre in Pompeii, Italy, directed by ...more

10
47 49
Ranker Video
The Beatles Anthology The Beatles 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

11
30 32
Ranker Video
looksharp added The Decline of Western Civilization Part II: The Metal Years Documentary film, Rockumentary 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

12
38 42
Ranker Video
It Might Get Loud Jimmy Page, The Edge, Jack White 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

The Sexiest Women in Rock History, Ranked

13
17 3
Roger Water's The Wall is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Rockumentaries of All Time
punksnotdead added Roger Water's The Wall

14
31 30
Ranker Video
History of the Eagles Part One Eagles History of the Eagles is a 2013 two-part authorized documentary about the career of the American rock group the Eagles, directed by Alison Ellwood and co-produced by Alex Gibney. After screening ...more

15
17 20
Ranker Video
ziggy123 added The Rutles Mockumentary, Musical, Parody All You Need is Cash All You Need Is Cash is a 1978 television film that traces the career of a fictitious British rock group called The Rutles. As TV Guide described it, the group's resemblance to The Beatles is ...more

16
28 24
Ranker Video
Monterey Pop Various - Monterey County Fairgrounds Monterey Pop is a 1968 concert film by D. A. Pennebaker that documents the Monterey Pop Festival of 1967. Among Pennebaker's several camera operators were fellow documentarians Richard Leacock ...more

17
28 25
Ranker Video
End of the Century: The Story of the Ramones The Ramones 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

The Best Cities for Young Professionals

18
29 27
Ranker Video
When You're Strange The Doors A documentary that traces the roots of Jim Morrison's iconic rock group and their live and studio performances.

19
23 31
The Decline of Western Civiliz... is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Rockumentaries of All Time
looksharp added The Decline of Western Civilization Music, Cult film, Historical fiction 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

20
33 44
Ranker Video
Rattle and Hum U2 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, ...more

21
15 13
Ranker Video
looksharp added Sound City Music, Documentary film Sound City is a 2013 documentary film produced and directed by Dave Grohl, in his directorial debut, about the history of recording studio Sound City Studios in Van Nuys, Los Angeles.

22
33 30
Ranker Video
Iron Maiden: Flight 666 Iron Maiden Iron Maiden: Flight 666 is a concert documentary film featuring the British heavy metal band Iron Maiden. The film follows the band on the first leg of their Somewhere Back in Time World Tour ...more

Rock Stars Who Have Aged Surprisingly Well

23
24 24
Ranker Video
Foo Fighters: Back and Forth Foo Fighters "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 ...more

24
36 36
Ranker Video
AC/DC: Let There Be Rock AC/DC AC/DC: Let There Be Rock is a live concert motion picture featuring the Australian hard rock band AC/DC, released theatrically in September 1980 and on videotape the same year.

25
26 29
Ranker Video
Runnin' Down a Dream Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers 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

26
17 22
Ranker Video
looksharp added Super Duper Alice Cooper Music, Documentary film Super Duper Alice Cooper is a 2014 music documentary film written and directed by Sam Dunn, Reginald Harkema and Scot McFadyen.

27
20 27
No Direction Home is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Best Rockumentaries of All Time
looksharp added No Direction Home Documentary 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 ...more

The Best Movies That Were Originally Panned by Critics

28
15 24
Ranker Video
Elvis: That's the Way It Is Elvis Presley 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 ...more

29
16 26
Ranker Video
looksharp added Hail! Hail! Rock 'n' Roll Documentary film, Concert film 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

30
10 3
Ranker Video
punksnotdead added A Band Called Death Music, Biographical film, Musical 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 ...more

31
26 37
Ranker Video
Dont Look Back Bob Dylan Dont Look Back [sic] is a 1967 American documentary film by D. A. Pennebaker that covers Bob Dylan's 1965 concert tour in the United Kingdom. In 1998 the film was selected for preservation in ...more

32
26 38
Ranker Video
The Filth and the Fury Sex Pistols The Filth and the Fury is a 2000 British rockumentary film about the Sex Pistols, directed by Julien Temple.

List of Famous Jockeys

33
10 5
Ranker Video
slackMFr added Filmage: The Story of Descendents/All Music, Biographical film, Documentary film Watch for Free with Amazon Prime Free Trial Filmage: The Story of Descendents/All is a 2013 documentary, biographical, and music film directed by Deedle LaCour and Matt Riggle.

34
22 23
Ranker Video
Pearl Jam Twenty Pearl Jam Pearl Jam Twenty is a 2011 American rockumentary directed by Cameron Crowe about the band Pearl Jam. Preliminary footage was being shot as of June 2010. Crowe completed filming in April 2011, ...more

35
20 26
Ranker Video
Shine a Light The Rolling Stones Shine a Light is a 2008 documentary film directed by Martin Scorsese documenting The Rolling Stones' 2006 Beacon Theatre performance on their A Bigger Bang Tour. The film also includes archive ...more

36
9 6
Ranker Video
punksnotdead added Lemmy Music, Biographical film, Documentary film Lemmy is a 2010 documentary film written and directed by Wes Orshoski and Greg Olliver.

37
22 36
Ranker Video
Some Kind of Monster Metallica Some Kind of Monster is a 2004 documentary film featuring the American heavy metal band Metallica. It shares its name with the song "Some Kind of Monster" from Metallica's 2003 album ...more

The Social Issues You Care About Most

38
25 30
Ranker Video
Marley Bob Marley Marley is a 2012 documentary and music film directed by Kevin MacDonald.

39
6 4
Ranker Video
wmathis63 added Dig! Music, Biographical film, Musical 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 ...more

40
7 6
Ranker Video
mark-lamotte-foster added The Pink Floyd and Syd Barrett Story Musical, Documentary film, Rockumentary The Pink Floyd and Syd Barrett Story is a documentary released on DVD on 24 March 2003, produced by Otmoor Productions in 2001 as part of the BBC's Omnibus series and originally called Syd ...more

41
5 8
Ranker Video
looksharp added Brian Wilson: I Just Wasn't Made for These Times Biographical film, Documentary film Brian Wilson: I Just Wasn't Made for These Times is a 1995 biographical musical film directed by Don Was, centered on Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys. The documentary examines the ups and downs ...more

42
13 15
Cracked Actor is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Best Rockumentaries of All Time
Cracked Actor David Bowie Cracked Actor is a 53-minute-long BBC television documentary film about the rock star David Bowie. It was filmed in 1974. At the time he was a cocaine addict and the documentary has become ...more

The Best Rock Vocalists

43
11 19
Ranker Video
Riot18 added American Hardcore Music, Biographical film, Punk rock 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 ...more

44
21 26
Ranker Video
Heavy Metal Parking Lot Judas Priest Heavy Metal Parking Lot is a documentary short produced by Jeff Krulik and John Heyn in 1986.

45
15 27
Ranker Video
Year of the Horse Neil Young Year of the Horse is a 1997 documentary directed by Jim Jarmusch following Neil Young and Crazy Horse on their 1996 tour.

46
4 9
Ranker Video
looksharp added Classic Albums: Steely Dan: Aja Music, Documentary film Classic Albums: Steely Dan: Aja is a 1999 musical documentary directed by Alan Lewens.

47
5 10
Ranker Video
looksharp added Urgh! A Music War Music, Cult film, Musical Urgh! A Music War is a British film released in 1982 featuring performances by punk rock, new wave, and post-punk acts, filmed in 1980. Among the artists featured in the movie are Magazine, The ...more

48
2 3
Ranker Video
wmathis63 added Shut Up and Play the Hits Music, Documentary film Watch for Free with Amazon Prime Free Trial Shut Up and Play the Hits is a 2012 documentary film directed by Dylan Southern and Will Lovelace that follows LCD Soundsystem frontman James Murphy over a 48-hour period, from the day of the ...more

49
2 3
We Who Wait: The Adverts & TV ... is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Best Rockumentaries of All Time
punksnotdead added We Who Wait: The Adverts & TV Smith Documentary

50
13 26
Ranker Video
Let's Rock Again Joe Strummer Let's Rock Again! is a music documentary film following Joe Strummer as he tours across USA and Japan with his band the Mescaleros promoting their second album Global a Go-Go. The memoir was ...more