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The One Love Music Documentary Index: Over 30 Great Music Documentaries You Should Watch

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The world of music is an incredible, awe-inspiring place. So too is the world of cinema. So when the two are combined, it is a great thing! There are so many great music documentaries out there. If you love music or are interested in stories and history surrounding historical events, movements, and people in music then this is the list for you!

We have assembled a list of over 30 music documentaries that we highly recommend. We included Rotten Tomatoes and IMdB scores to backup our claims that these are indeed great documentaries! We have included trailers for nearly each film on the list, as well as where you can find them on the interwebs. You can even watch a few of the documentaries right here on this page! Grab some friends, make some popcorn, and enjoy so fantastic and cool music documentaries.

This is a rolling and interactive list. Let’s keep adding to it! Know of a good music documentary to add to this index? Which movie on the list do you highly recommend? Let us know in the comment section below!



Beats,Rhymes & Life: The Travels of A Tribe Called Quest

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 90%
IMdB Rating: 7.7
“A film by Michael Rapaport about one of the most influential and groundbreaking musical groups in hip-hop history.”
Trailer:

Available On: Amazon Video, iTunes


Woodstock: 3 Days of Peace and Music (Directors Cut)

Rotten Tomatoes Score: n/a
IMdB Rating: 8.1
“The film chronicle of the legendary 1969 music festival.”
Trailer:


Available On: Amazon Video


Ken Burns: Jazz (PBS Mini-Series)

Rotten Tomatoes Score: n/a
IMdB Rating: 8.5
“A survey of the musical form’s history and major talents.”
Trailer:


Available On: Amazon Video, Netflix DVD, Youtube Playlist


Nas:Time Is Illmatic

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 100%
IMdB Rating: 7.2
“Time Is Illmatic is a feature length documentary film that delves deep into the making of Nas’ 1994 debut album, Illmatic, and the social conditions that influenced its creation. Twenty years after its release, Illmatic has become a hip-hop benchmark that encapsulates the socio-political outlook, enduring spirit, and collective angst of a generation of young black men searching for their voice in America.”
Trailer:

Available On: Amazon Video, iTunes


Our Vinyl Weighs A Ton

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 100%
IMdB Rating: 7.5
“Our Vinyl Weighs a Ton is a feature-length documentary about avant-garde Los Angeles-based record label Stones Throw Records. The film weaves together rare concert footage, never-before-see archival material, inner-circle home video and photographs and in-depth interviews with the artists who put Stones Throw Records on the map. Our Vinyl Weighs a Ton gives an exclusive look into the label’s left-of-center artists, history, culture, and global following. The film features exclusive interviews with Kanye West, Snoop Dogg, Common, Questlove, Talib Kweli, Mike D (The Beastie Boys), Tyler the Creator, and many more.”
Trailer:


Available On: Netflix Streaming, Amazon Video, iTunes


The Show

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 80%
IMdB Rating: 6.6
“A documentary about the culture of hip-hop. Through interviews with some of hip-hops biggest names, the film makers attempt to find out why it has become so popular.”
Watch it here:

Available On: Amazon Video,


Decline of Western Civilization

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 100%
IMdB Rating: 7.8
“The Los Angeles punk music scene circa 1980 is the focus of this film. With Alice Bag Band, Black Flag, Catholic Discipline, Circle Jerks, Fear, Germs, and X.”
Trailer:

Available On: Amazon Video, iTunes


Supermensch

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 77%
IMdB Rating: 7.3
“The life and career of the legendary Hollywood insider, Shep Gordon.”
Trailer:

Available On: Netflix Streaming, Amazon Video, iTunes


Gimme Shelter

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 100%
IMdB Rating: 7.9
“A harrowing documentary of the Stones’ 1969 tour, with much of the focus on the tragic concert at Altamonte.”
Watch here:

Available On: Amazon Video


Fishbone: The Reality of My Surroundings

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 100%
IMdB Rating: 7.8
“A complete collection from the Fishbone Archives, including all their videos plus a candid look at the reality of their surroundings.”

Available On: Amazon Video


Beware Of Mr. Baker

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 98%
IMdB Rating: 7.6
“Ginger Baker looks back on his musical career with Cream and Blind Faith; his introduction to Fela Kuti; his self-destructive patterns and losses of fortune; and his current life inside a fortified South African compound.”
Watch here:


Available On: Amazon Video, iTunes


The Other One: The Long, Strange Trip of Bob Weir

Rotten Tomatoes Score: n/a
IMdB Rating: 7.8
“A documentary that explores Bob Weirs life, through the Greatful Dead, Ratdog, and his childhood.”
Trailer:


Available On: Netflix Streaming


I Dream of Wires

Rotten Tomatoes Score: n/a
IMdB Rating: 6.6
“The history and resurgence of the electronic modular music synthesizer.”
Trailer:

Available On: Netflix Streaming, iTunes


American Hardcore

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 72%
IMdB Rating: 7.3
“The History of American Punk Rock 1980-1986.”
Trailer:

Available On: Amazon Video, iTunes


Wattstax

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 86%
IMdB Rating: 7.7
“Documentary covering a Stax Records-sponsored all-day concert at the 1972 Watts Summer Festival with performances by Stax Records artists such as Isaac Hayes, Rufus Thomas, The Staples Singers, and more.”
Watch it here:

Available On: Amazon Video


Festival Express

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 96%
IMdB Rating: 7.6
“The filmed account of a large Canadian rock festival train tour.”
Trailer:

Available On: Amazon Video, iTunes


Montage of Heck

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 97%
IMdB Rating: 7.7
“An authorized documentary on the late musician Kurt Cobain, from his early days in Aberdeen, Washington to his success and downfall with the grunge band Nirvana.”
Trailer:

Available On: Amazon Video, iTunes


Put The Needle on the Record

Rotten Tomatoes Score: n/a
IMdB Rating: 5.8
“‘PUT THE NEEDLE ON THE RECORD’ is an award-winning documentary which explores the evolution of electronic music and the rise of the DJ in pop culture. Filmed in Miami during the hot and sexy Winter Music Conference, a yearly week-long event attended by over 20,000 electronic music professionals and fans, the film takes an inside look at a growing global phenomenon in the world of music. Interviews with top artists, footage from events around the globe and a brilliant soundtrack are combined to create a highly energetic piece of filmmaking. First-time director Jason Rem brings an unexplored genre of music to the masses for a glimpse at a movement that is driven by passion, creativity and business. The film has been called “A rock solid documentary,” and “An event to savor in wonderment,” and is not to be missed.”

http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xemfgv_put-the-needle-on-the-record_shortfilms

Available On:  Daily Motion Video


American Massive (Sex, Drugs, Rave & Roll – Portrait of a New Generation?)

Rotten Tomatoes Score: n/a
IMdB Rating: 5.7
“Shot on the Moonshine Overamerica 2000 tour, American Massive shows the rave scene from the participants’ perspective: the DJs, the promoters, the artists, and the kids. 24 Cities, 13,000 miles in 32 days with some of the America’s biggest names in electronic music, including AK1200, Christopher Lawrence, Carl Cox, Cirrus, D:Fuse, Dara, Micro, Frankie Bones and Keoki.”

Available On: Amazon Video, Youtube,


Everybody Needs Somebody

Rotten Tomatoes Score: n/a
IMdB Rating: n/a
“This definitive documentary traces the history of Solomon Burke, whose talent and guts took him from modest beginnings in Philadelphia to the pinnacle of success in the music industry: a Grammy Award (for the album “Don’t Give Up on Me”). Burke — deeply rooted in the gospel tradition and known as the King of Soul — discusses his family and his spirituality and performs several gospel selections.”


Available On: Netflix DVD, Youtube


Muscle Shoals

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 96%
IMdB Rating: 7.7
“A documentary that celebrates Rick Hall, the founder of FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, and the signature sound he developed in songs such as “I’ll Take You There”, “Brown Sugar”, and ‘When a Man Loves a Woman.”
Trailer:

Available On: Netflix Streaming, Amazon Video, iTunes


A Band Called Death

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 94%
IMdB Rating: 7.5
“A documentary on the 1970s punk trio Death, and their new-found popularity decades after they disbanded.”
Trailer:

Available On: iTunes


It Might Get Loud

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 80%
IMdB Rating: 7.7
“A documentary on the electric guitar from the point of view of three significant rock musicians: the Edge, Jimmy Page and Jack White.”

Trailer:


Available On: Netflix DVD, Amazon Video, iTunes, Youtube


Before The Music Dies

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 81%
IMdB Rating: 7.7
“With outstanding performances and revealing interviews Before the Music Dies takes a critical look at the homogenization of popular music with commentary by some of the industry’s biggest talents like Eric Clapton, Dave Matthews, Elvis Costello, Erykah Badu, Branford Marsalis, Bonnie Raitt and more. Using historic footage the film looks at the evolution of American music and the artists who created it and pulls back the curtain (in a very creative way) to expose the sad truth behind today’s “artificial” music stars.”
Trailer:

Available On: Amazon Video


Maestro

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 79%
IMdB Rating: 7.1
“Maestro, tells the story of how a group of people found refuge and a call for life outside the mainstream. What evolved was a scene that set the ground work for what was to come in dance music culture worldwide, a rare insight into the secret underground world. It’s the first time this story is told in a motion Picture, included in the film are pioneer dance music DJs and producers, “founding fathers”, its center being Larry Levan, as well as high-profile DJs of today.”
Trialer:

Available On: Netflix DVD


Tom Dowd and the Language of Music

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 90%
IMdB Rating: 8.3
“A documentary about Tom Dowd, who was an innovative recording engineer and producer of noted albums with John Coltrane, Ornette Coleman, Otis Redding, Eric Clapton, the Allman Brothers and many others.”

Available On: Amazon Video


Paris Is Burning

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 100%
IMdB Rating: 8.1
“A chronicle of New York’s drag scene in the 1980s, focusing on balls, voguing and the ambitions and dreams of those who gave the era its warmth and vitality.”
Trailer:

Available On: Netflix Streaming, Amazon Video, iTunes


Sonic Highways

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 92%
IMdB Rating: 8.8
“Sonic Highways commemorates the Foo Fighters 20th anniversary by documenting the eight-city recording odyssey that produced their latest, and eighth, studio album.”
Trailer:

Available On: Amazon Video, iTunes


Standing in the Shadows of Motown

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 92%
IMdB Rating: 7.8
“Documentary about the Funk Brothers, a group of Detroit musicians who backed up dozens of Motown artists.”
Trailer:

Available On: Amazon Video (with Starz subscription), Netflix DVD, iTunes


It’s All Gone Pete Tong

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 77%
IMdB Rating: 7.4
“Former musician Frankie Wilde is a legend within the Ibiza club scene for being the most inspired DJ around. On top of that, he has a beautiful model wife named Sonja Slowinski, although many within his social circle don’t see her as being a good influence on him. But Frankie has disappeared from the Ibiza club scene now for a year, with most only speculating that his life has degenerated into squalor based on his excessive lifestyle in Ibiza…”
Trailer:

Available On: Amazon Video, iTunes


Fela Kuti: Music Is the Weapon

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 83%
IMdB Rating: 7.8
“Shot in Lagos at the peak of his career in 1982, this documentary contains interviews with Fela detailing his thoughts on politics, Pan-Africanism, music and religion, alongside unpublished versions of songs like ITT, Army Arrangement and Power Show.”
Excerpt:

Available On: Amazon Video,


Rubble Kings

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 71%
IMdB Rating: 7.1
“Through archival footage Nicholson tells the story of the real Warriors that walked the streets of New York City in the 1970s and the harsh reality of gang life in a city that seemed to be falling apart”
Trailer:

Available On: Netflix Streaming, Amazon Video, iTunes


The White Stripes Under Great White Northern Lights

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 91%
IMdB Rating: 8.0
“In 2007 the legendary American duo White Stripes toured Canada. Besides playing the usual venues they challenged themselves and played in buses, cafés and for Indian tribal elders. Music video director Emmett Malloy followed the band and managed to capture both the special tour, extraordinary concert versions of the band’s minimalist, raw, blues-inspired rock songs and the special relationship between the extroverted Jack White and the introspective Meg White – a formerly married couple who for a long time claimed to be siblings.”
Trailer:

Available On: Amazon Video

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