Best Music Documentaries

Please name any great music documentaries you’ve seen, and say why they were so good.

One recent favourite of mine is a BBC series ‘They all came out to Montreux’.

It tells the story of how a person called Claude Nobbs managed to create one of the world’s greatest jazz, rock and pop festivals from nothing in a small resort on the side of the Swiss lake where he lived.

Loads of great footage of gigs, interviews and incidental activities at the festival over the decades.

(Deep Purple once wrote a song about a fire at a gig there…)


Great wasnt it. Loved it.

Documentary on Laurel Canyon was excellent.


Ken Burns - Jazz. Great documentary with lots of historical live performances.


Do you remember the name of it?

Was it a BBC one?

Netflix has one, called ‘echo in the canyon’, but it’s only available in the US.

Echo in the Canyon

Laurel Canyon

Both on Amazon Prime.


XTC: This Is Pop is very good.
Andy Partridge becoming addicted to valium as a child and his subsequent struggles.

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Bring On The Night. Just saw that the whole thing was on YouTube last night

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Just a few adds to the list as I was thinking about the ones I’ve really enjoyed:

I Am Trying To Break Your Heart - Sam Jones’ film about Wilco, the making of YHF, and the general messed up state of the record industry in the 00s. I can watch this one over and over

Sound City - the story of a recording studio that kicked out some of the biggest records of the 80s and 90s. Dave Grohl’s directorial debut

Searching For Sugarman - two fans try to solve a mystery after a popular musician disappears - is he alive or dead? Won the Special Jury Prize at Sundance

Any or or all of them would be a good evening watch over the weekend


Nice one on BBC iplayer at the moment about the Everly Brothers.

Also, there is the Jimi Hendrix in Maui documentary on iplayer.


Oil City Confidential was on Sky Arts a while ago.
A very god insight into Dr Feelgood after the death of Wilco Johnson.

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I’ve got some of Aphex Twin’s early CDs in the garage.

One day, I will get a CD drive and get those silver discs spinning again.


Bbc4 often has good music documentaries. Sadly my memory for vosial things is limited, so I don’t recall many, but one good one a few months ago was the Rolling Stones: My life as a Rolling Stone, 4 episodes one each focusing on Mick, Keith, Ronnie and Charlie. Gave sone very interesting insights - the one on Charlie Watts particularly fascinating.

Another interesting one I remember was on Amy Winehouse, maybe a couple of years ago: an artist I had never liked in life, and most of her music holds no interest for me, but I gained great respect for her as an artist, and it made me wish I had seen her live.

Here are a few I can watch over and over.

The Wrecking Crew!

Muscle Shoals

Who Is Harry Nilsson?

Punk ( 4 part American TV series)

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BBC. 1978. Following Genesis on the ‘And then there were three’ tour culminating in the concert at Knebworth.

Thelonious Monk: Straight, No Chaser (1988) is both moving and insightful directed by Charlotte Zwerin.


If you’re looking for a kind of “real life” Spinal Tap documentary I highly recommend Anvil! The Story of Anvil. It tells the story of the Canadian heavy metal band that sticks to its dream of making music despite never making it to the big leagues. It won many awards and is quite touching and inspiring.


The documentary about Ronnie Scott and his club, ‘Ronnie’s’, is essential viewing. As is the 2005 BBC4 3-part series ‘Jazz Britannia’ (on Youtube).

There’s also a very good one about guitarist Pat Martino and his battles against brain aneurism.

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Also available as blu-ray

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