Music documentaries that hit the high notes
Deep down, we all want to be rock stars when we grow up. But for those of us lacking the talent and/or the showmanship, these movies on internet TV give us no-holds-barred access to the lives, loves, dreams and downfalls of some of the music industry’s biggest names.
Bonus: their soundtracks are pretty great, too.
Tom Petty: Runnin’ Down a Dream
Most people know Tom Petty’s music from Jerry Maguire. What many don’t know is that Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers are Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Famers, toured with Bob Dylan, recorded with Johnny Cash and formed part of the Traveling Wilburys. Essentially a candid conversation with the quintessential rock ‘n roller, this film gives us an earnest overview of the band’s colourful 30-year history.
Coming from the heart, the late Petty was unflinching in his quest to inject truth and passion into his songs, garnering huge respect from his peers and influencing the likes of Stevie Nicks, Eddie Vedder and Dave Grohl.
Through interviews with band members and producers, we get an entertaining, funny and comprehensive compilation of their best work using live recordings and amusing behind-the-scenes stories to chart their remarkable musical journey over four hours.
Fans, be warned – you’re going to want to keep a box of tissues handy. Tom Petty was on Earth for 66 years, and still he was gone too soon.
Stream it on Amazon Prime.
Quincy Jones has worked with Ray Charles, Frank Sinatra and Aretha Franklin, and you could say he discovered Oprah, Will Smith and Michael Jackson. The high-functioning producer, composer and musician has seemingly done it all across a transformative 70-year spectrum of American history.
In this intimate and eye-opening music biopic documentary, we find Quincy in his 80s and return to his childhood as the timelines converge through archival footage and photos. This fascinating and emotional trip down memory lane tells of a bigshot music producer who achieved everything through personal sacrifice. One of the few EGOTs, Quincy serves as a testament to hard work and the rags-to-riches American Dream.
Stream it on Netflix.
Launching an Afrikaans punk band with a controversial name, Fokopolisiekar’s journey was anything but smooth. Hailing from Bellville, the five-piece punk band formed to chuck the guilt, heritage, tradition and religion that had been dumped on them.
This fist-pumping rockumentary unpacks their formation, fight for freedom of expression and struggle to buck the disillusionment and social burden of the troubled Afrikaner identity in post-apartheid South Africa.
Interviews uncover the band’s personal beliefs as their punk rock culture-clash is explored through poignant anthems, five albums, a die-hard fan base and explosive live performances.
Raw black-and-white photography and powerful live performance footage drive this edgy, courageous and streetwise time capsule that stage dives into the zeitgeist of South Africa in the early 2000s.
A landmark of music history, Sound City recording studio in Los Angeles has unearthed iconic rock albums from Nirvana, Fleetwood Mac, Tom Petty, Neil Young and Weezer to Johnny Cash, Cheap Trick and Rage Against the Machine. Its trashy vibe, state-of-the-art equipment and lovable staff gave it personality and made it so much more than a recording studio.
Grohl guides this spirited rockumentary covering Sound City’s heydays, paying tribute to the owners and the many legendary acts who chose to record there. While somewhat messy, this flick is an audiophile’s dream, paying homage to the studio’s unparalleled acoustics, technological advances through the ages, jam session chemistry, insider politics and raw infamy.
Stream it on Netflix.