Top 10 Music Documentaries of All Time

gimmeshelterWhat are some good music documentaries? What are your favorite music documentaries? I get asked questions like these all the time from my family and friends and have decided to compile a “Top 10 Music Documentaries of All Time” list. Having seen a plethora of these flicks one-too-many times, I also sought out some expert opinions from some of my musician friends and other music connoisseurs. Without any further adieu, Grimy Goods’ “Top 10 Music Documentaries of All Time.”

  • The Devil and Daniel Johnston
    If you’re a Nirvana fan but don’t know who Daniel Johnston is, shame on you. With the simplest and most sincere lyrics, Daniel Johnston has won the hearts and respect of musicians and fans all over the world. But do you know the whole story about Daniel? Check out this touching documentary and how his music affected musicians worldwide.
  • You’re Gonna Miss Me
    The story of one of rock ‘n’ roll’s psychedelic pioneers, Roky Erickson. I can’ tell you how much I love this man’s music with his eerie lyrics, slide guitar and a soulful howl so deep you’d think he’s summoning his inner werewolf. He’s always thought way far out of the box, but his drug addiction and mental illness took him out even further. His moving story will give you goosebumps and send chills up your spine.
  • DiG
    Everyone knows the Dandy Warhols, but not everyone recognizes the Brian Jonestown Massacre. Taking place in the mid 90s when grunge was fading, this is the cool yet fucked-up story of two very similar bands, that were once friends and how it all crumbled. Selling out, going corpo, self-righteousness, drugs, mental illness, self-sabotage and so much more! This shit’s better than a Spanish telanovela!
  • The Mayor of The Sunset Strip
    Some people just know him as KROQ’s Rodney on the Rock, but Rodney Bingenheimer is far much more than that and a famed Hollywood DJ. This guy had and still does, have one of the best ears for music and spotting talent before anyone else. From Bowie, the Dolls, the Stooges, Ramones, Nirvana and more, he brought so many of the greatest punk and rock ‘n’ roll bands into the proverbial light … he should of gotten more credit for it. Loved by all and a true lover of music.
  • New York Doll
    Combining glam and punk way back in the early 70s, the New York Dolls pushed the limits and took bold steps that not everyone approved of. Besides the infamous story about this awesome band and the life of Johnny Thunders that ended far too soon, there’s also the story of bassist Arthur “Killer” Kane. From alcoholism to Mormonism, and to bringing this iconic band back together, this is yet another touching documentary. Grab some tissues!
  • Gimme Shelter: Rolling Stones at Altamont
    Hands down, these guys are one of the greatest rock bands of all time! What I would do to have a fuckin’ time machine to go back to these days. It was 1969 and a FREE concert, you can only imagine how crazy this shit was gonna be. But it wasn’t just hippies and free lovin’ here; bad boys, Hell’s Angels and the infamous Sonny Barger had a big part in this story. It’s the concert that went terribly wrong, deadly wrong.
  • The Beatles Anthology
    This is THE documentary for Beatles lovers! Actually, THE documentary for music lovers all around. Riding 10 hours deep, this is the true story of the Beatles. First-person accounts from the band themselves. Amazing vintage footage, interviews, photos and a whole lot more! If you think you knew a lot about one of the greatest bands to walk the planet, you’re probably wrong (unless you’ve endured all 600 minutes of this flick).
  • The MC5: A True Testimonial
    Leaving a huge dent in the history of rock ‘n’ roll, far greater than their record sales, where would rock ‘n’ roll be without the MC5? As one of the most revolutionary bands in the early 60s knocking down all walls with no rules whatsoever, “are you going to be part of the problem or part of the solution?” There’s so much politics behind this documentary; damn the man. This flick will make you want to get up and “Kick out the Jams” as well as start a revolution.
  • Control
    This movie portrays the post punk era and the troubled life of rising lead singer Ian Curtis of Joy Division. The film portrays the complexity of Ian’s inner-self dealing with rising stardom, romance, family and depression. It’s a sad flick, but a true document all about Curtis’ life. The film focuses on Curtis and not so much the music of Joy Division.
  • End Of The Century: The Story Of The Ramones
    Who doesn’t love the Ramones and everything they’ve done for punk today!? If you look around, kids today dress more like them now then back in their day, with tight ass jeans and leather jackets, it’s a Ramones revival. These guys set the tone for the short one-and-a-half minute punk numbers full of power chords and repetitive hooks. This is a great epic on the New York renegades, how they started, came together and stayed together for as long as they could.

What are you favorite music documentaries? Let me know in a comment below!

Feautre by Sandra Burciaga


13 thoughts on “Top 10 Music Documentaries of All Time

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  4. Bop City

    MC5 – A True Testimonial

    “It’s a great document of the band, it’s a great document of life, and it’s a great document of things … far and beyond the band.” – Jackson Smith, Detroit-based musician son of Fred & Patti Smith

    “Music so extraordinary that it transformed the lives of all who experienced it demands the release of a documentary that does the MC5 justice.  Few bands have ever seen so much go so wrong so quickly and have been so misunderstood in the process. A True Testimonial represents a belated opportunity to set things straight, put things right. The fans deserve it. So does the band. And so does the music.” – Don McLeese, author of Kick Out The Jams (Continuum 33 1/3 series)

  5. ryan

    Good list. I’d change it up a bit but I have no real complaints. As such, this comment is completely pointless.

    Add “the devil went home and puked” the official GBV DVD by Robert Pollard (just released) for its sheer insanity factor, maybe.

  6. Lori

    Good list, but I would also add “No Direction Home.” Dylan and Scorsese are magic together. Also, though more mockumentary, “This is Spinal Tap” is a classic.

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