6 of the Best Music Documentaries on Netflix

Jamaican reggae musician Bob Marley
Bob Marley | Express Newspapers/Getty Images

Netflix has been adding tons of documentaries to its collection in recent months and with so many options to choose from, it may be hard figuring out which ones to watch first. Along with various documentaries on everything from the drug trade to the finance industry, the streaming service has a compelling set of music-themed biographical films that explore every kind of genre from rock to hip-hop. These films reveal the stories of legendary acts, like The Beatles and The Rolling Stones. Here are six of the best music documentaries currently available for streaming on Netflix.

1. Keith Richards: Under the Influence

Netflix has delved heavily into creating original content in the last few years, and one of their most intriguing offerings in the music department is the Keith Richards documentary Under the Influence. Directed by Morgan Neville, the film follows Richards as he discusses the brighter spots of his past, including his early influences and stomping grounds. The Rolling Stones frontman also teases his solo album, Crosseyed Heart. This behind-the-scenes look is perfect for rock ‘n’ roll fans who’ve always wondered what it would be like to hang out with a legend.

2. Jimi Hendrix: Voodoo Child

Jimi Hendrix: Voodoo Child chronicles the groundbreaking career of singer and guitarist Jimi Hendrix, from his hometown of Seattle to his untimely death at the young age of 27. Featuring narration by Bootsy Collins and plenty of rare archival footage of Hendrix, this documentary is a must-see for rock aficionados.

3. Marley

The 2012 documentary film spans the life and musical career of Bob Marley, mainly as seen through the eyes of those who knew him and contributed to the documentary, including Bunny Wailer, Rita Marley, Lee “Scratch” Perry, and others. In addition to insightful interviews, the movie also features captivating concert footage.

Directed by Kevin Macdonald, the project earned an overwhelmingly positive critical response, with a 95% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Reviewers praised its “fascinating insights into reggae’s greatest star.”

4. Janis: Little Girl Blue

Narrated by musician Cat Power, this documentary takes a close look at the life of one of rock ‘n’ roll’s most famous singers: Janis Joplin. Featuring interviews with family members and friends who knew her best, as well as rare performance footage, this critically acclaimed film offers an intimate portrait of an artist whose full potential was tragically unrealized due to her untimely death at the age of 27.

5. History of The Eagles

This two-part documentary is the official authorized history of this legendary American rock band. The first part tells the story of how the band was founded and wraps up with their break-up at the start of the ’80s. The second follows each of the band members as they grow their individual careers before eventually reuniting in 1994.

While this is a great documentary for hardcore fans of The Eagles, casual fans may find the three-hour-plus run time a little daunting. That being said, you’d be hard pressed to find a more complete history of the band.

6. What Happened, Miss Simone?

Directed by Liz Garbus, this film chronicles the career of the talented singer, Nina Simone. While there has been much controversy about the feature film, Nina, this documentary, which uses previously unseen footage and exclusive recordings of Simone, has received mostly positive reviews. What Happened, Miss Simone? features interviews with Simone’s daughter and friends, and focuses on the ambition of Simone and the struggles she faced while trying to break into music. The film also delves into her activism in dealing with racism and sexism.

Additional reporting by Becca Bleznak

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