Times change but the songs remain the same

Dean Williams pays tribute to Malik Bendjelloul, who died this week, by introducing you to the best music documentaries ever made. Turn the volume up, these must be played loud!


The death of Searching For Sugar Man director Malik Bendjelloul at 36 has shocked the world. His documentary on 60s protest musician Sixto Rodriguez not only won an Oscar but was a sublime personification of the genre. Here are the best music documentaries ever made.

Sound City

When former Nirvana drummer, and founding-member of the Foo Fighters, Dave Grohl, decided to make a documentary on the studio in which Nirvana recorded the seminal Nevermind, nobody imagined it would be this big.

Featuring the likes of Stevie Nicks, Tom Petty and Mick Fleetwood, all of who recorded in Sound City is testament to how one studio can chart the course of popular music.

The Last Waltz

When The Band decided to play their last concert at Wonderland in 1978 they decided that it should be filmed by none other than close friend and genius Martin Scorsese. The result was a show that saw the who’s who of the rock music industry get on stage to play with the band, all filmed by Marty.

Arguably the finest music documentary ever made about arguably the finest band ever.

It Might Get Loud

Jimmy Page, The Edge, and Jack White come together on this documentary about the evolution of the electric guitar and its most talented exponents. This is a superb documentary that riffs its way through the history of three rock icons in one axe-grinding motion.


Mike Wadleigh’s epic documentary on the most famous music festival of all-time puts the viewer in amongst the flower children and mud as the decade of love drew to a close. Viewer’s who can remember that time of spliffs, free love, and flowers in your hair, will revel in Country Joe and the Fish’s Vietnam Song, and Ten Years After’s stunning rendition of I’m Going Home, not to mention Jimi Hendrix’s finest performance.

This is good stuff and what’s more Martin Scorsese was an AD at the event. Hear that film students?

Gimme Shelter

While most music documentaries celebrate music, Gimme Shelter focuses on the Rolling Stones and their infamous, and tragic concert at Altamont, that saw a young man stabbed to death by members of the Hell’s Angels, who strangely, were hired as security.

While the Stones’ music shines through, the sense that it’s not going to end well overshadows the documentary. Gripping and harrowing at the same time.

The Stone Roses: Made of Stone

If you’ve never heard the Stone Roses you should probably chastise yourself vociferously. The finest British band of the 80s and Madchester’s best musical offering to the world after the Beatles reunited for one last hurrah in 2012 after 16 years apart. The event, captured in this documentary, captures everything that was so right musically and so wrong personally with the group. Astounding trip down memory lane. I guarantee when I Am the Resurrection is played you’ll be on the roof shouting it.

The Song Remains the Same

For Led Zeppelin fans there is no other band in history that can be rated higher, and in so many ways they’re right. The sheer quality of Messers Page, Plant, Bonham and Jones is outstanding.

Their love show in Madison Square Garden in 1973, which is the focus of this documentary is arguable one of the greatest live shows ever, and if you ignore the dream sequences, you’ll find a band playing in a space that only a handful of musicians can occupy.


What the world be without Lemmy and his band Motorhead. We would never have classics like Ace of Spades and Orgasmatron (I know you’re singing it right now). This 2010 documentary catches up with one of heavy metal’s most influential figures as he continues to live a life that’s so ordinary (minus the copious amounts of Jack Daniels) that it could be lived by any one of us.

Uber-cool and with a rather strange penchant for World War 2 military history, Lemmy is Motorhead, and Motorhead IS Heavy Metal. God is loud.


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