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The Best Rockumentaries of All Time

Updated May 28, 2021 6.6k votes 949 voters 38.5k views106 items

List RulesDocumentaries 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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  • 1
    199
    104

    This Is Spinal Tap

    Mockumentary, Cult film

    ActorsBilly Crystal, Fran Drescher, Anjelica Huston, Dana Carvey, Rob Reiner

    Released1984

    Directed byRob 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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  • 2

    ActorsPete Townshend, Keith Moon, Roger Daltrey, John Entwistle

    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
  • 3

    ActorsBilly Corgan, Geddy Lee, Neil Peart, Matt Stone, Les Claypool

    Released2010

    Directed bySam 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 band's...  more
  • 4
    142
    75

    Woodstock

    Various – Woodstock festival

    ActorsJimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Pete Townshend, Jerry Garcia, Keith Moon

    Released1970

    Directed byMichael 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 benchmark...  more

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  • 5
    135
    76

    ActorsRobbie Robertson, Muddy Waters, Neil Young

    Released1978

    Directed byMartin 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 the...  more

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  • 6
    156
    89

    ActorsJimmy Page, John Bonham, John Paul Jones

    Released1976

    Directed byPeter 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 Garden in...  more
  • 7
    102
    51

    ActorsJohn Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Ringo Starr

    Released1996

    Directed byGeoff Wonfor, Bob Smeaton

    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...  more
  • 8

    ActorsDon Henley, Glenn Frey, Don Felder

    Released2013

    Directed byAlison 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 at...  more
  • 9

    ActorsOzzy Osbourne, Gene Simmons, Bret Michaels, Paul Stanley, Joe Perry

    Released1988

    Directed byPenelope 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 of a...  more
  • 10
    86
    33

    Sound City

    Music, Documentary film

    ActorsTrent Reznor, Tom Petty, Mick Fleetwood

    Released2013

    Directed byDave 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....  more

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  • 11
    89
    56

    It Might Get Loud

    Jimmy Page, The Edge

    ActorsMichael McKean

    Released2008

    Directed byDavis 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
  • 12
    103
    77

    Stop Making Sense

    Talking Heads

    ActorsDavid Byrne, Bernie Worrell, Alex Weir

    Released1984

    Directed byJonathan 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 1983,...  more
  • 13

    ActorsDavid Gilmour, Roger Waters, Richard Wright

    Released1972

    Directed byAdrian 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
  • 14
    65
    33

    Monterey Pop

    Various - Monterey County Fairgrounds

    ActorsJimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Paul Simon, Otis Redding, Michelle Phillips

    Released1968

    Directed byD. 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 and...  more
  • 15
    77
    62

    Gimme Shelter

    The Rolling Stones

    ActorsKeith Richards, The Rolling Stones, Mick Jagger, Bill Wyman, Charlie Watts

    Released1970

    Directed byAlbert Maysles, David Maysles, Charlotte Zwerin

    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...  more

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  • 16
    78
    37

    ActorsJohnny Depp, John Densmore, Ray Manzarek, Robby Krieger

    Released2009

    Directed byTom DiCillo

    A documentary that traces the roots of Jim Morrison's iconic rock group and their live and studio performances....  more
  • 17

    ActorsDebbie Harry, Rob Zombie, Joey Ramone, Johnny Ramone, Dee Dee Ramone

    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

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  • 18

    ActorsBono, The Edge, Adam Clayton

    Released1988

    Directed byPhil 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, covers, and...  more
  • 19
    66
    32

    Runnin' Down a Dream

    Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers

    ActorsKevin Costner, Stevie Nicks, Ringo Starr, Dave Grohl, Eddie Vedder

    Released2008

    Directed byPeter 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 inception as...  more
  • 20
    55
    43

    ActorsSteve Jones, Malcolm McLaren, Glen Matlock, Paul Cook

    Released2000

    Directed byJulien Temple

    The Filth and the Fury is a 2000 British rockumentary film about the Sex Pistols, directed by Julien Temple....  more
  • 21
    45
    36

    The Rutles

    Mockumentary, Musical

    ActorsBill Murray, George Harrison, Mick Jagger, Dan Aykroyd, Paul Simon

    Released1978

    Directed byEric Idle, Gary Weis

    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 "purely...  more
  • 22

    ActorsShawn Cloninger, William Goldsmith, Jessy Greene

    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
  • 23

    ActorsExene Cervenka, Billy Zoom, John Doe, Dave Alvin, D. J. Bonebrake

    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
  • 24
    43
    31

    Hail! Hail! Rock 'n' Roll

    Documentary film, Concert film

    ActorsKeith Richards, Eric Clapton, Chuck Berry, Linda Ronstadt, Roy Orbison

    Released1987

    Directed byTaylor 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 album...  more
  • 25
    44
    35

    ActorsBob Dylan, B.J. Rolfzen, Dick Kangas

    Released2005

    Directed byMartin 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 between...  more