Rock music is one of the most popular and influential genres of music in the world. It has inspired countless artists, bands, songs, and albums over the decades. But how much do you know about the history, culture, and personalities behind rock music? If you want to learn more about the stories and legends of rock and roll, you should watch some of the best rock documentaries ever made.
These films will give you a glimpse into the lives and careers of some of the most iconic rock musicians and bands, as well as the events and movements that shaped rock music. Here are 10 must-see rock documentaries that you should not miss.
1. Gimme Shelter (1970)
Gimme Shelter is a classic rock documentary that captures the tragic end of the 1960s counterculture. It follows the Rolling Stones on their 1969 US tour, culminating in the infamous Altamont Free Concert, where a fan was stabbed to death by a Hells Angel in front of the stage.
The film shows the chaos and violence that erupted at the concert. It also shows the reactions and reflections of the band members and their entourage. Gimme Shelter is a powerful and disturbing film that exposes the dark side of rock and roll.
2. Don’t Look Back (1967)
Don’t Look Back is a groundbreaking rock documentary that chronicles Bob Dylan’s 1965 tour of England. It is one of the first films to use a cinema verite style, which means it does not have a narrator or a script. It follows Dylan as he performs, interacts with fans and journalists. He hangs out with fellow musicians like Joan Baez and Donovan.
The film reveals Dylan’s charisma, wit, and genius, as well as his arrogance, aloofness, and hostility. Don’t Look Back is a fascinating portrait of one of the most influential and enigmatic artists of all time. This is one of the must-see rock documentaries.
3. The Last Waltz (1978)
The Last Waltz is a legendary rock documentary that showcases the farewell concert of The Band. They are a group of talented musicians who backed up Bob Dylan and other stars in the 1960s and 1970s. The film was directed by Martin Scorsese, who captured the epic performance of The Band and their guests, including Dylan, Neil Young, Van Morrison, Joni Mitchell, Eric Clapton, Muddy Waters, and more.
The film also features interviews with The Band members. They share their stories and insights about their music and their history. The Last Waltz is a tribute to one of the greatest bands in rock history.
4. Woodstock (1970)
Woodstock is a monumental rock documentary that documents the historic Woodstock Music and Art Festival in 1969, where half a million people gathered to celebrate peace, love, and music.
The film features performances by some of the most legendary rock acts of the era, such as Jimi Hendrix, The Who, Janis Joplin, Santana, Crosby Stills Nash & Young, Sly & The Family Stone, Jefferson Airplane, and more. The film also captures the spirit and atmosphere of the festival, showing the crowds, the camping, the rain, the drugs, and the hippie culture. Woodstock is a celebration of music and humanity. This is one of the must-see rock documentaries.
5. A Band Called Death (2012)
A Band Called Death is a surprising and inspiring rock documentary that tells the story of Death, a pioneering punk band from Detroit in the early 1970s. The band was formed by three African-American brothers who played loud and fast music that was ahead of its time.
However, they faced rejection from record labels who did not like their name or their sound. The band eventually disbanded and their recordings were forgotten for decades until they were rediscovered by collectors and fans in the 2000s. The film follows the band’s journey from obscurity to recognition.
6. Anvil! The Story of Anvil (2008)
Anvil! The Story of Anvil is a hilarious and heartwarming rock documentary that follows the ups and downs of Anvil. They are a Canadian heavy metal band that was once considered to be the next big thing in the 1980s.
The film shows the band’s struggles to keep their dream alive, despite their lack of success, fame, and money. The film also shows the band’s friendship, passion, and perseverance, as they try to make a comeback with a new album and a European tour. Anvil! The Story of Anvil is a film that will make you laugh, cry, and rock out. This is one of the must-see rock documentaries.
7. Dig! (2004)
Dig! is a riveting rock documentary that chronicles the rivalry and friendship between two indie rock bands: The Brian Jonestown Massacre and The Dandy Warhols. The film shows the contrasting fortunes of the two bands, as The Dandy Warhols achieve mainstream success and The Brian Jonestown Massacre remain in obscurity, despite their critical acclaim and cult following.
The film also shows the personal and artistic conflicts between the two bands, especially between their charismatic and eccentric leaders: Courtney Taylor-Taylor and Anton Newcombe. Dig! is a film that explores the fine line between genius and madness.
8. Searching for Sugar Man (2012)
Searching for Sugar Man is a stunning rock documentary that uncovers the mystery of Rodriguez. It is about a folk rock singer-songwriter who released two albums in the early 1970s and then disappeared from the music scene. The film reveals that Rodriguez was actually a huge star in South Africa, where his songs became anthems for the anti-apartheid movement.
The film follows two South African fans who try to find out what happened to Rodriguez and whether he is still alive. Searching for Sugar Man is a film that celebrates the power of music and the resilience of the human spirit. This is one of the must-see rock documentaries.
9. Metallica: Some Kind of Monster (2004)
Metallica: Some Kind of Monster is a candid and compelling rock documentary that shows the inner workings of Metallica. They are one of the most successful and influential metal bands of all time. The film captures the band’s turmoil and tension as they record their controversial album St. Anger, which was met with mixed reviews from fans and critics.
The film also shows the band’s therapy sessions, where they confront their personal and professional issues, such as addiction, ego, rivalry, and creativity. Metallica: Some Kind of Monster is a film that reveals the human side of metal legends.
10. It Might Get Loud (2008)
It Might Get Loud is a fascinating rock documentary that brings together three generations of guitar heroes: Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin, The Edge of U2, and Jack White of The White Stripes. The film also shows the three guitarists sharing their stories, influences, techniques, and philosophies about music and guitar playing.
The film also shows them jamming together on some of their famous songs, as well as creating new ones on the spot. It Might Get Loud is a film that celebrates the art and craft of guitar playing.
The Bottom Line
Rock documentaries are more than just entertainment. They are also educational, inspirational, and cultural. These rock documentaries show us the history, the art, and the passion of rock music and its creators. They also show us the challenges, the struggles, and the triumphs of rock musicians and bands.
If you are a fan of rock music, you will find something to enjoy and learn from these rock documentaries. They will also make you appreciate rock music more and maybe even inspire you to rock on.