Music Documentaries to Watch

by shawnevans666 | created - 07 Jun 2013 | updated - 2 weeks ago | Public
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1. Dont Look Back (1967)

Not Rated | 96 min | Documentary, Music

Documentary covering Bob Dylan's 1965 tour of England, which includes appearances by Joan Baez and Donovan.

Director: D.A. Pennebaker | Stars: Bob Dylan, Albert Grossman, Bob Neuwirth, Joan Baez

Votes: 7,299

2. The Idea of North (1970 TV Movie)

58 min | Documentary, Drama, Fantasy

The Idea of North is part filmed docudrama, part fantasy, part forerunner of music television. Based on the radio play by Glenn Gould, North's montage of words, images and music tells a ... See full summary »

Director: Judith Pearlman | Stars: Bob Burns, Geoffrey Reed, Glenn Gould, Jim Lotz

Votes: 9

3. Can (1972)

54 min | Documentary, Music

Can's legendary "Free Concert," recorded in Cologne's Sporthalle, Germany, on February 3, 1972.

Director: Peter Przygodda | Stars: Holger Czukay, Michael Karoli, Irmin Schmidt, Damo Suzuki

Votes: 7

4. Saravah (1972)

100 min | Documentary

Documentary about Brazilian music circa 1969, with extremely rare scenes, such as the only color footage of Pixinguinha, images of João da Baiana, one of the fathers of Samba, Maria ... See full summary »

Director: Pierre Barouh | Stars: Maria Bethânia, João da Baiana, Paulinho da Viola, Raul de Souza

Votes: 44

5. Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars (1973)

PG | 90 min | Documentary, Music

58 Metascore

The July 3rd, 1973 historic concert of the 'leper Messiah'. This was to be David Bowie's last concert with the Ziggy persona and the Spiders from Mars. A great medley of 'Wild Eyed Boy From... See full summary »

Director: D.A. Pennebaker | Stars: David Bowie, Mick Ronson, Trevor Bolder, Mick Woodmansey

Votes: 2,304 | Gross: $0.16M

6. Chulas Fronteras (1976)

58 min | Documentary, Music

"Chulas Fronteras" is a documentary about the music of the Mexican community on both sides of the Texas-Mexico border, particularly of migrant farmers. It includes material about the roots ... See full summary »

Director: Les Blank | Stars: Los Alegres De Teran, Flaco Jiménez, Lydia Mendoza

Votes: 107

7. Baby Snakes (1979)

R | 166 min | Documentary, Comedy, Music

Rock artist Frank Zappa hosts a concert in New York City. This movie contains tons of on-stage footage, off-stage footage, and animation.

Director: Frank Zappa | Stars: Frank Zappa, Adrian Belew, Tommy Mars, Terry Bozzio

Votes: 745

8. The Kids Are Alright (1979)

PG | 101 min | Documentary, Music

From the early black and white days to their colourful hedonistic era, you will Rock! See them at their most creative, and destructive, and experience The Who: Here!

Director: Jeff Stein | Stars: Roger Daltrey, Pete Townshend, Keith Moon, John Entwistle

Votes: 3,153

9. AC/DC: Let There Be Rock (1980)

PG | 95 min | Documentary, Music

Filmed coverage of Australian band AC/DC's '79 appearance in Paris intercut with quasi-fictional interludes.

Directors: Eric Dionysius, Eric Mistler | Stars: AC/DC, Phil Rudd, Bon Scott, Cliff Williams

Votes: 1,002 | Gross: $1.37M

12. Black and Blue (1981)

87 min | Documentary, Music

Concert film of 1980 East Coast U.S. performance by heavy metal bands Black Sabbath and Blue Oyster Cult.

Director: Jay Dubin | Stars: Vinny Appice, Black Sabbath, Eric Bloom, Blue Öyster Cult

Votes: 50

13. Caribbean Nights: The Bob Marley Story (1982)

Documentary, Music

The life of Bob Marley with interviews from family and friends, and features rare footage of Bob Marley. Captures the feel and timelessness of the music and the man himself.

Directors: Charles Chabot, Jo Mendell | Stars: Al Anderson, Aston Barrett, Carlton Barrett, Chris Blackwell

Votes: 18

14. Four American Composers (1983 TV Movie)

220 min | Documentary

This is a 4 pieces documentary that follow 4 different contemporary composers performing/creating/building theirs shows. Peter Greenaway lead us, with a great sense of balance between the ... See full summary »

Director: Peter Greenaway | Stars: Robert Ashley, John Cage, Meredith Monk, Philip Glass

Votes: 88

15. Stop Making Sense (1984)

Not Rated | 88 min | Documentary, Music

89 Metascore

An innovative concert movie for the rock group The Talking Heads.

Director: Jonathan Demme | Stars: David Byrne, Bernie Worrell, Alex Weir, Steven Scales

Votes: 10,243 | Gross: $5.02M

16. Louie Bluie (1985)

Not Rated | 75 min | Documentary, Music

About the obscure country-blues musician and idiosyncratic visual artist Howard "Louie Bluie" Armstrong, member of the last known black string band in America.

Director: Terry Zwigoff | Stars: Howard Armstrong, Ted Bogan, Jay Lynch

Votes: 624

17. Chuck Berry Hail! Hail! Rock 'n' Roll (1987)

PG | 120 min | Documentary, Biography, Music

This documentary movie covers two concerts at the Fox Theatre in St. Louis, Missouri, to celebrate Chuck Berry's 60th birthday, and also discusses his life and career.

Director: Taylor Hackford | Stars: Chuck Berry, Keith Richards, Eric Clapton, Ingrid Berry

Votes: 1,105 | Gross: $0.72M

18. Uncle Meat (1987 Video)

100 min | Documentary, Comedy, Music

This is a documentary about an unfinished movie. Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention try to film the sci-fi epic "Uncle Meat."

Director: Frank Zappa | Stars: Phyllis Smith Altenhaus, Dick Barber, Massimo Bassoli, Rodney Bingenheimer

Votes: 167

19. Big Time (1988)

PG | 87 min | Documentary, Music

Bringing his unique sense of humor to this bizarre and original piece of moviemaking, Tom Waits takes the audience through a musical journey with his jazzy, quirky, bluesy tunes presented ... See full summary »

Director: Chris Blum | Stars: Tom Waits, Michael L. Blair, Ralph Carney, Greg Cohen

Votes: 649 | Gross: $0.15M

20. The True Story of Frank Zappa's 200 Motels (1988 Video)

59 min | Comedy, Documentary

Using takes and rehearsals discarded from the original edit plus interviews made during the shooting, Zappa reconstructs the bizarre story of 200 Motels, one of the most problematic ... See full synopsis »

Director: Frank Zappa | Stars: Phyllis Smith Altenhaus, Dick Barber, BBC Symphony Orchestra, Theodore Bikel

Votes: 88

21. J'ai été au bal (1989)

84 min | Documentary, Music

Film on the history of the toe-tapping, foot-stomping music of French Southwest Louisiana.

Directors: Les Blank, Chris Strachwitz

Votes: 66

23. Remembering Otis (1989 TV Movie)

Documentary, Music

A documentary examining the life and career of the late singer Otis Redding.

Star: Otis Redding

Votes: 18

24. The Eyes Scream: A History of the Residents (1991 Video)


A pseudo-documentary about the band The Residents blends comedy with live clips, music videos, interviews and documentary footage. Spanning the years 1972 to 1990, and including clips from ... See full summary »

Director: John Sanborn | Stars: Penn Jillette, The Residents

Votes: 17

27. Time Will Tell (1992)

90 min | Documentary, Biography, Music

The life story of Nesta Robert Marley, Rastafarian prophet who with Peter Tosh and Bunny Wailer brought the powerful message of reggae music to the world outside their native Jamaica. ... See full summary »

Director: Declan Lowney | Star: Bob Marley

Votes: 153

29. Half Japanese: The Band That Would Be King (1993)

90 min | Documentary

From their underground days recording songs in their bedroom to their rise as one of rock music's most alternative bands, this documentary chronicles Jad and David Fair's formation of Half Japanese.

Director: Jeff Feuerzeig | Stars: Byron Coley, David Fair, Jad Fair, David Greenberger

Votes: 233

30. New Order Story (1993 Video)

120 min | Documentary, Music

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Director: Kevin Hewitt | Stars: Keith Allen, Arthur Baker, John Barnes, Colin Bell

Votes: 133

31. Stepping Razor: Red X (1992)

103 min | Documentary

On a fall night in 1987, three men forced their way into Peter Tosh's home in Kingston, Jamaica. Inside, they drew guns and forced their way upstairs where they confronted Tosh and some ... See full summary »

Director: Nicholas Campbell | Stars: Edward 'Bigs' Allen, Lloyd 'Rocky' Allen, Andrea Davis, Sandra Dkiror

Votes: 130

33. Smashing Pumpkins: Vieuphoria (1994 Video)

90 min | Documentary, Music

Vieuphoria is a long form music movie. It stars the smashing pumpkins as the main characters. It shows live shows, and skits including "meet the frogs".

Director: Modi | Stars: Jimmy Chamberlin, Billy Corgan, James Iha, Butch Vig

Votes: 409

34. The Maestro: King of the Cowboy Artists (1995)

Not Rated | 54 min | Documentary

This documentary from Les Blank follows the indomitable Gerald "The Maestro" Gaxiola, who turned to a life of prolific art making after years as an aircraft mechanic, traveling salesman, and body builder.

Director: Les Blank | Stars: Peter William Brown, Alice Gaxiola, Gerald Gaxiola, Peter Mollica

Votes: 128

35. Steve Reich: City Life (1995 TV Movie)

60 min | Documentary, Biography, Music

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Director: Manfred Waffender | Star: Steve Reich

Votes: 7

36. Sworn to the Drum: A Tribute to Francisco Aguabella (1995)

Not Rated | 35 min | Documentary, Short, Music

A documentary about the music and influence that Francisco Aguabella has had on the world.

Director: Les Blank | Star: Francisco Aguabella

Votes: 87

37. Can't You Hear the Wind Howl? The Life & Music of Robert Johnson (1998)

77 min | Documentary, Biography, Music

An in-depth, award-winning documentary on the life and music of legendary bluesman ROBERT JOHNSON. Mixing rare photographs, exclusive interviews, and dramatic re-creations, director PETER ... See full summary »

Director: Peter Meyer | Stars: Danny Glover, Eric Clapton, Robert Cray, John Hammond

Votes: 98

39. American Masters (1985– )
Episode: Lou Reed: Rock and Roll Heart (1998)

TV-14 | 73 min | Documentary, Biography

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Director: Timothy Greenfield-Sanders | Stars: Lou Reed, David Bowie, David Byrne, John Cale

Votes: 290

40. Can: The Documentary (1999 Video)

87 min | Documentary, Music

The late-'60s avant garde rock band Can gets a feature-length tribute with this affectionate documentary chronicling its odd inception and subsequent career.

Directors: Rudi Dolezal, Hannes Rossacher | Stars: Can, Holger Czukay, Michael Karoli, Shirley Karoli

Votes: 18

41. Genghis Blues (1999)

Not Rated | 88 min | Documentary

San Francisco bluesman and composer, Paul Peña makes a musical pilgrimage to the land of Tuva.

Director: Roko Belic | Stars: Richard Feynman, B.B. King, Kongar-ol Ondar, Paul Pena

Votes: 1,216 | Gross: $0.32M

42. The Ballad of Ramblin' Jack (2000)

PG-13 | 112 min | Documentary, Biography, Music

72 Metascore

With the help of her mother, family, friends, and fellow musicians, Aiyana Elliott reaches for her father, legendary cowboy troubadour, Ramblin' Jack Elliott. She explores who he is and how... See full summary »

Director: Aiyana Elliott | Stars: Jack Elliott, Gil Gross, Arlo Guthrie, Kris Kristofferson

Votes: 296 | Gross: $0.22M

43. American Masters (1985– )
Episode: Bob Marley: Rebel Music (2000)

TV-14 | 90 min | Documentary, Biography

Profile of the life and music of the legendary reggae singer.

Director: Jeremy Marre | Stars: Rita Marley, Bob Marley

Votes: 177

46. VH1 Legends (1996– )
Episode: Sam Cooke (2001)

90 min | Documentary, Biography, Music

This film documents the rise of legendary singer Sam Cooke, from his beginnings as a gospel singer to his crossover to the pop and R&B charts. Includes interviews with Aretha Franklin, Lou Rawls and more.

Director: Mary Wharton | Stars: Lou Adler, J.W. Alexander, Dick Clark, Charles Cooke

Votes: 37

47. Screamin' Jay Hawkins: I Put a Spell on Me (2001)

102 min | Documentary, Music

Portrait of an important American musician through the testimonies of fellow musicians and people from his environment, but also through archival material and documents from various stages of his life and career.

Director: Nik Triantafyllidis | Stars: Frank Ash, Arthur Brown, Eric Burdon, Bo Diddley

Votes: 163

48. Standing in the Shadows of Motown (2002)

PG | 108 min | Documentary, Music

76 Metascore

Documentary about the Funk Brothers, a group of Detroit musicians who backed up dozens of Motown artists.

Director: Paul Justman | Stars: Joe Hunter, Jack Ashford, Uriel Jones, Richard 'Pistol' Allen

Votes: 3,156 | Gross: $1.60M