The Best Rockumentaries of All Time 

Ranker Film
Originally by
Updated May 11, 2020 6.2k votes 879 voters 35.2k views 89 items

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. And when you're done here, check out our list of the best rock music movies.

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looksharp added Mockumentary, Cult film, Musical

Actors: Billy Crystal, Fran Drescher, Anjelica Huston, Dana Carvey, Rob Reiner, + more

Released: 1984

Directed by: Rob Reiner

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

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Behind The Scenes Of 'This Is Spinal Tap,' The Fake Documentary That Was Actually All Too Real #61 of 1,137 The Absolute Funniest Movies Of All Time #656 of 1,646 The Most Rewatchable Movies

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Various – Woodstock festival

Actors: Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Pete Townshend, Jerry Garcia, Keith Moon, + more

Released: 1970

Directed by: Michael Wadleigh

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

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Inside Jimi Hendrix’s Legendary And Controversial National Anthem Performance At Woodstock '69 #25 of 195 The Best Movies About Musiclisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

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Actors: Billy Corgan, Geddy Lee, Neil Peart, Matt Stone, Les Claypool

Released: 2010

Directed by: Sam Dunn, Scot McFadyen

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
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The Who

Actors: Pete Townshend, Keith Moon, Roger Daltrey, John Entwistle

Released: 1979

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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The Band

Released: 1978

Directed by: Martin Scorsese

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

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#37 of 195 The Best Movies About Music #166 of 554 The Best '70s Movies #18 of 37 The Best Martin Scorsese Movies

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Led Zeppelin

Actors: Jimmy Page, John Bonham, John Paul Jones

Released: 1976

Directed by: Peter Clifton, Joe Massot

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
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The Beatles

Actors: Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Ringo Starr, John Lennon

Released: 1996

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
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Talking Heads

Released: 1984

Directed by: Jonathan Demme

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

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#85 of 195 The Best Movies About Music #62 of 347 The Greatest Documentaries of All Time #32 of 123 The Best Rock Music Movies

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Released: 2013

Directed by: Alison Ellwood

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
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looksharp added Documentary film, Rockumentary

Actors: Ozzy Osbourne, Gene Simmons, Bret Michaels, Paul Stanley, Joe Perry, + more

Released: 1988

Directed by: Penelope Spheeris

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
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looksharp added Music, Documentary film

Actors: Ralph William Tarr

Released: 2013

Directed by: Dave Grohl

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.

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#129 of 327 The Best Free Movies On YouTube, Ranked #268 of 347 The Greatest Documentaries of All Time

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Pink Floyd

Released: 1972

Directed by: Adrian Maben

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
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Jimmy Page, The Edge, Jack White

Actors: Michael McKean

Released: 2008

Directed by: Davis Guggenheim

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

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#118 of 195 The Best Movies About Music #218 of 347 The Greatest Documentaries of All Time #100 of 123 The Best Rock Music Movies

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The Rolling Stones

Actors: Keith Richards, The Rolling Stones, Mick Jagger, Bill Wyman, Charlie Watts, + more

Released: 1970

Directed by: Albert Maysles, David Maysles, Charlotte Zwerin

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

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#58 of 195 The Best Movies About Music #4 of 19 These Documentaries Took A Hard Left Turn And Left Audiences Shocked And Confused #24 of 347 The Greatest Documentaries of All Time

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The Ramones

Actors: Debbie Harry, Rob Zombie, Joey Ramone, Johnny Ramone, Dee Dee Ramone, + more

Released: 2003

Directed by: Michael 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

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#22 of 84 The Best Documentaries About Music #9 of 33 The Best Punk Movies

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Various - Monterey County Fairgrounds

Actors: Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Paul Simon, Otis Redding, Michelle Phillips, + more

Released: 1968

Directed by: D. A. Pennebaker

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
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The Doors

Actors: Johnny Depp, John Densmore, Ray Manzarek, Robby Krieger

Released: 2009

Directed by: Tom DiCillo

A documentary that traces the roots of Jim Morrison's iconic rock group and their live and studio performances.
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Foo Fighters

Released: 2011

Directed by: James 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 ...more
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Released: 1988

Directed by: Phil Joanou

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

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#1,071 of 3,110 The Greatest Albums of All-Time #142 of 195 The Best Movies About Music #93 of 339 The Greatest Album Covers of All Time

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ziggy123 added Mockumentary, Musical, Parody

Actors: Bill Murray, George Harrison, Mick Jagger, Dan Aykroyd, Paul Simon, + more

Released: 1978

Directed by: Eric Idle, Gary Weis

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
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Sex Pistols

Actors: Steve Jones, Malcolm McLaren, Glen Matlock, Paul Cook

Released: 2000

Directed by: Julien Temple

The Filth and the Fury is a 2000 British rockumentary film about the Sex Pistols, directed by Julien Temple.
The Decline of Western C... is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Rockumentaries of All Time
looksharp added Music, Cult film, Historical fiction

Actors: Exene Cervenka, Billy Zoom, John Doe, Dave Alvin, D. J. Bonebrake, + more

Released: 1981

Directed by: Penelope 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 ...more
No Direction Home is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Rockumentaries of All Time
looksharp added Documentary

Released: 2005

Directed by: Martin Scorsese

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

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#156 of 195 The Best Movies About Music #22 of 37 The Best Martin Scorsese Movies #116 of 347 The Greatest Documentaries of All Time

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Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers

Actors: Kevin Costner, Stevie Nicks, Ringo Starr, Dave Grohl, Eddie Vedder, + more

Released: 2008

Directed by: Peter Bogdanovich

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
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looksharp added Documentary film, Concert film

Actors: Keith Richards, Eric Clapton, Chuck Berry, Linda Ronstadt, Roy Orbison, + more

Released: 1987

Directed by: Taylor Hackford

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