- Introducing the top ten rock music films of all time
- What makes a great rock music film?
- The top ten rock music films of all time
- Number ten – This is Spinal Tap
- Number nine – The Song Remains the Same
- Number eight – Pink Floyd: The Wall
- Number seven – Gimme Shelter
- Number six – Woodstock
- Number five – The Last Waltz
- Number four – The Decline of Western Civilization Part II: The Metal Years
- Number three – Metallica: Some Kind of Monster
- Number two – Anvil! The Story of Anvil
- Number one – Searching for Sugar Man
Here are the top ten rock music films of all time. This list includes a mix of documentaries and narrative features, all of which capture the energy and spirit of rock music.
Introducing the top ten rock music films of all time
In no particular order, here are the top ten rock music films of all time:
1. This Is Spinal Tap
2. The Song Remains the Same
3. Gimme Shelter
5. Pink Floyd: The Wall
6. The Last Waltz
7. Led Zeppelin: The Song Remains the Same
8. Metallica: Some Kind of Monster
9. U2: Rattle and Hum
10. Foo Fighters: Back and Forth
What makes a great rock music film?
Music documentaries are not a new phenomenon, but there has been a recent resurgence in the genre with films like Amy, Searching for Sugarman and 20 Feet from Stardom becoming critical and commercial successes. But what makes a great rock music film? Here are ten of the best examples from the last few years.
1. leave no trace (2018)
Directed by Deniz Gamze Ergüven, this Turkish-French drama tells the story of a young woman named Mustang who is sent to a strict girls’ school after being caught kissing her male cousin. Despite the repressive environment, Mustang and her friends form a secret rock band and use their music to rebel against the authorities. leave no trace is an invigorating film that celebrates female friendship and self-expression.
2. He Named Me Malala (2015)
Director Davis Guggenheim chronicles the life of Pakistani education activist Malala Yousafzai, who came to international prominence after she was shot by the Taliban for campaigning for girls’ right to education. He Named Me Malala is an inspiring film about a young woman who has overcome tremendous odds to make a difference in the world.
3. Sound City (2013)
Directed by Dave Grohl, Sound City chronicles the history of the titular recording studio in Van Nuys, California, which was home to some of the most iconic albums of all time (including Nirvana’s Nevermind). The film features interviews with many of the studio’s most famous clients, including Neil Young, Tom Petty, and Stevie Nicks. It’s a fascinating look at the magic that can happen when great artists come together in one place.
4. Searching for Sugar Man (2012)
The top ten rock music films of all time
Rockumentaries and rock music films have been around almost as long as the music itself. These films offer a unique and often intimate look at the artists, their music, and the fans who love them.
While there have been many great rock music films made over the years, these ten are considered by many to be the best of the best.
1. Gimme Shelter (1970) – This film chronicles The Rolling Stones’ 1969 US tour, which ended in disaster with the death of several concertgoers at the Altamont Free Concert.
2. Woodstock (1970) – This classic documentary captures all the excitement, chaos, and mud of the 1969 Woodstock Music & Art Fair.
3. Pink Floyd: The Wall (1982) – This surreal film follows Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters as he constructs an enormous wall to protect himself from the outside world.
4. This Is Spinal Tap (1984) – One of the most popular “mockumentaries” ever made, this film spoofs heavy metal bands and their larger-than-life egos.
5. Metallica: Some Kind of Monster (2004) – This fascinating documentary chronicles Metallica’s struggles to stay together while making their album St. Anger.
6. No Direction Home: Bob Dylan (2005) – This sprawling film covers Bob Dylan’s early years, from his start in folk music through his “electric” period and beyond.
7. Anvil! The Story of Anvil (2008) – This inspiring documentary follows aging metalheads as they try to recapture their former glory with one last album and tour.
8.. Searching for Sugar Man (2012) – This Oscar-winning documentary tells the incredible true story of forgotten musician Rodriguez, who found fame decades after he disappeared from view.
9.. Sound City (2013) – Directed by Dave Grohl, this film explores the history of Los Angeles’ legendary Sound City Studios and its impact on popular music. 10.. 20 Feet from Stardom (2013) – This Academy Award-winning documentary shines a spotlight on backup singers, who often play a vital but unrecognized role in making great music
Number ten – This is Spinal Tap
Rob Reiner’s 1984 “mockumentary” about a fictitious British heavy metal band became an instant classic among music fans and non-fans alike. The movie follows the (fictional) band on their U.S. tour, during which they face a number of misadventures. The movie is hilarious, but it also offers a surprisingly accurate portrayal of the often bizarre world of rock music.
Number nine – The Song Remains the Same
The Song Remains the Same is a 1976 documentary film of Led Zeppelin’s 1973 concert tour.
The footage for the film was shot during three nights of concerts at Madison Square Garden in New York City, over the course of two weeks in July 1973.
Theconcerts were part of Led Zeppelin’s tour to promote their fourth album, which had been released earlier that year.
The film was directed by Peter Clifton and Joe Massot, and produced by Sandy Gallin and Bill Graham.
It was originally supposed to be directed by Jean-Luc Godard, but he quit after only a few days of filming.
The title comes from the opening track on Led Zeppelin’s fourth album.
Number eight – Pink Floyd: The Wall
Pink Floyd: The Wall is a 1982 British musical drama film directed by Alan Parker with the screenplay written by Roger Waters. Based on Pink Floyd’s 1979 rock album of the same name, The Wall tells the story of Pink, a leader of an underground rock band in England during the early 1980s. When his fans turn against him and he becomes plagued by isolation and hallucinations, he builds a physical and mental wall between himself and the world around him.
The film features a cast that includes Bob Geldof as Pink, Christine Hargreaves as Pink’s wife, Jerry Hadley as Pink’s manager, and Kevin McKeown as Pink’s roadie. Despite mixed reviews from critics, The Wall was a commercial success, grossing $21 million worldwide against its $1.5 million budget.
Number seven – Gimme Shelter
Gimme Shelter is a 1970 documentary film directed by Albert and David Maysles and Charlotte Zwerin documenting the last weeks of The Rolling Stones’ 1969 US tour which culminated in the disastrous Altamont Free Concert. The film is named after the Stones’ song “Gimme Shelter”, their cover of Otis Redding’s “Satisfaction”, which reaches its climax with the murder of audience member Meredith Hunter by Hells Angels during the concert.
Number six – Woodstock
This documentary captures the three-day concert in 1969 that became a defining moment for the 1960s counterculture movement. Featuring performances by some of the biggest names in music at the time, including Jimi Hendrix, Santana and The Who, the film is a must-see for any music fan.
Number five – The Last Waltz
The Last Waltz is a Martin Scorsese film from 1978 documenting the final concert performance of The Band. Airborne with an all-star guest list that included Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Emmylou Harris, Joni Mitchell, Van Morrison, Muddy Waters, Neil Diamond and Ron Wood – to name but a few – The Last Waltz was always going to be something special.
And it doesn’t disappoint. It’s a wonderful opportunity to see some of the greatest musicians of their generation hamming it up for the camera and playing their hearts out on some of The Band’s most famous songs including ‘The Weight’, ‘Up On Cripple Creek’ and ‘The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down’.
What sets The Last Waltz apart from other musical documentaries is the amount of attention Scorsese pays to the interplay between the musicians. He captures the banter and the teasing that went on between them both on and off stage and weaves it into the footage so that we get a real sense of what it was like to be in their company. This is complemented by some great interviews with the members of The Band in which they talk candidly about their career, their music and their relationships with each other.
The Last Waltz is not only one of the best rockumentaries ever made, but also one of Scorsese’s finest films.
Number four – The Decline of Western Civilization Part II: The Metal Years
This 1988 documentary film directed by Penelope Spheeris is the sequel to The Decline of Western Civilization, which documented the Los Angeles punk rock scene. The Metal Years focuses on the heavy metal subculture in Los Angeles in the 1980s. It features interviews with metal stars such as Ozzy Osbourne, Alice Cooper, Gene Simmons, and Slash.
Number three – Metallica: Some Kind of Monster
Number three in our countdown of the top ten rock music films is Metallica: Some Kind of Monster. This film chronicles the struggle that the heavy metal band Metallica went through while making their album St. Anger. The film is equal parts heart-wrenching and inspirational, and it offers a rare glimpse into the creative process of one of the most successful bands in history.
Number two – Anvil! The Story of Anvil
Anvil! The Story of Anvil is a 2008 rockumentary about the Canadian heavy metal band Anvil. The film was directed by the band’s drummer and co-founder, Steve “Lips” Kudlow, and produced by Toronto-based Banger Films.
The film chronicles the band’s history, from their formation in 1978 to their decline in popularity in the early 1990s and their resurging career in the 2000s. It features interviews with a number of music industry figures, including Slash, Scott Ian, Lars Ulrich, Judas Priest frontman Rob Halford, and Metallica bassist Jason Newsted.
The film received positive reviews from critics and was nominated for Best Documentary at the 2009 Independent Spirit Awards.
Number one – Searching for Sugar Man
Number one on our list of the top ten rock music films is “Searching for Sugar Man”. This film tells the true story of Sixto Rodriguez, a little-known musician from Detroit who, despite having a huge cult following in South Africa, was unaware of his popularity and living in squalor. This film is a must-watch for any music fan, and will leave you feeling both inspired and heartbroken.