The 15 Best Rock Docs on Netflix Instant - Rolling Stone
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The 15 Best Rock Docs on Netflix Instant

What to stream tonight, from ‘It Might Get Loud’ to ‘Stones in Exile’

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What to stream tonight, from 'It Might Get Loud' to 'Stones in Exile'

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‘This Is It’

Michael Jackson was rehearsing for a 50-night stand at London's 02 Arena when he suddenly died in the summer of 2009. Luckily, the shows extensive rehearsals were filmed and turned into this fascinating documentary. It stunned many fans by proving that Jackson was actually in good voice and physical shape just days before his death. The Jackson estate will surely be flooding the market with product for years to come, but it's unlikely that anything will be nearly this engrossing.

This Is It [Netflix]

By Andy Greene

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‘We Jam Econo: The Story of the Minutemen’

When guitarist D. Boon died in a van accident in 1985 his group The Minutemen weren't widely known outside of the punk community, but in the past 25 years they've become a touchstone for an entire generation of bands. This 2005 documentary tells the story of their brief career, featuring interviews with surviving members George Hurley and Mike Watt alongside fans Flea, Henry Rollins, Thurston Moore and many more.

We Jam Econo: The Story of the Minutemen [Netflix]

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‘Led Zeppelin: The Song Remains the Same’

For decades this 1976 film was the only non-bootleg source of Led Zeppelin live material available to fans. Today the fantasy sequences seem ridiculous and the band's 2003 live DVD has a more wide-ranging look at the evolution of their live show, but there are still many amazing performances here from their 1973 tour — particularly smoking versions of "Black Dog," "Dazed and Confused" and "The Song Remains The Same."

Led Zeppelin: The Song Remains the Same [Netflix]

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‘Roy Orbison: Black & White Night’

In 1987, about a year before Roy Orbison died, a stellar line-up of musicians backed the legend at a concert in Los Angeles. Although the stage is packed with the likes of Bruce Springsteen, Tom Waits, Elvis Costello and Jackson Browne, they all wisely stay in the background to keep Orbison in the spotlight. Shot in gorgeous black and white, the film is a stunning chronicle of Orbison's unlikely late-career comeback.

Roy Orbison: Black & White Night [Netflix]

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‘The Who: The Vegas Job’

When The Who reformed for tours in 1989 and 1996 the stage was so packed by other bandmembers it barely seemed like The Who. (Even the band dubbed those tours "The Who On Ice.") When they came back together in 1999 they stripped down to a lean five-piece, and this 1999 Las Vegas gig was their first show with that line-up. From the first notes of "I Can't Explain" it's clear that the magic of the old band had survived intact. Less than three years later bassist John Entwistle would die.

The Who: The Vegas Job [Netflix]

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‘Madonna: Sticky and Sweet Tour’

In the past decade Madonna has transformed herself into a touring powerhouse, launching tours that rival U2 and The Rolling Stones in both stage production and demand for tickets. Her outing in 2008 was her most elaborate yet, and it featured reworked versions of some of her best songs — including "Vogue, "Like A Prayer" and "Human Nature." The most compelling part, however, comes when she turns off all the bells and whistles to sing a stunning, stripped down version of the Evita classic "You Must Love Me."

Sticky and Sweet [Netflix]

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‘It Might Get Loud’

In 2008 filmmaker Davis Guggenheim held the ultimate three-way guitar summit with Jimmy Page, The Edge and Jack White. The three men come from different generations and have wildly different approaches to the guitar, which is what makes their jam at the end all the more fascinating. Before that they share their life stories, taking nostalgic trips back to the houses and schools where they perfected their craft. When Jimmy Page picks up his guitar and shows the others how he wrote "Whole Lotta Love" it's a real trip to watch White and Edge grin like schoolboy fans.

It Might Get Loud [Netflix]

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‘Rolling Stones: Stones in Exile’

The making of the Rolling Stones 1972 masterpiece Exile In Main St. is one of the most mythical periods of their career. In 2010, to accompany the re-release of the LP, the band released this extensive documentary that explains the real story. They never quite get to the bottom of whether the mansion in France where they recorded it was a Nazi headquarters during World War Two, but new interviews with Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Bill Wyman, Charlie Watts and Mick Taylor explain almost everything else about the album.

Rolling Stones: Stones in Exile [Netflix]

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‘Imagine: John Lennon’

In 1998 journalist Albert Goldman wrote a scathing, mean-spirited book about John Lennon. This documentary, released the same year, was partially created to set the record straight. Offering interviews with Yoko Ono, Sean Lennon, Julian Lennon and many others, the movie traces Lennon's entire life and shows fascinating historical footage, from the famous Bed-In for Peace to more private moments of John at home in the late 1970s during his five-year hiatus from music.

Imagine: John Lennon [Netflix]

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‘Iggy & The Stooges: Live In Detroit’

For decades Iggy Pop swore that he'd never reunite with the men he memorably dubbed the Dum Dum Boys, which is what made his 2003 reunion with The Stooges all the more shocking. That summer they headed to Detroit for this triumphant homecoming concert, with Mick Watt subbing for the late Dave Alexander. While most reunions seem like pointless cash-ins, The Stooges played with a stunning sense of urgency that continues to this day — even though original guitarist Ron Asheton died in 2009.

Iggy & The Stooges: Live in Detroit [Netflix]

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‘I Am Trying to Break Your Heart’

Today Wilco's 2002 LP Yankee Hotel Foxtrot is regarded as their finest work, but when they turned it in to their label nearly a decade ago it was rejected and the group was dropped. This film chronicles this tumultuous time period, and the breakdown in relations between frontman Jeff Tweedy and guitarist Jay Bennett. It remains the definitive rock documentary of the 2000s.

I Am Trying to Break Your Heart [Netflix]

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‘The Flaming Lips: The Fearless Freaks’

To many people The Flaming Lips aren't known for much besides their bizarre 1993 alt-rock hit "She Don't Use Jelly," but to their army of fans they are the only band that matters. This 2005 documentary traces their  journey from their early days struggling in Oklahoma City through their alt-rock phase in the early 1990s to the making of their stunning late career masterpieces The Soft Bulletin and Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots.

The Flaming Lips: The Fearless Freaks [Netflix]

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‘When You’re Strange: The Doors’

Many people felt that Oliver Stone's 1991 film The Doors was based more upon myth than fact, so filmmaker Tom DiCillo was determined to tell it straight in his 2009 documentary about the band. Narrated by Johnny Depp, the film contains only archival film from the era — and not a single interview with the present-day band. As a result, the viewer is transported back to the 1960s as they were, not what decades of fables turned them into.

When You're Strange: The Doors [Netflix]

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‘Soul Power’

In October of 1974 Muhammad Ali famously fought George Foreman at the legendary Rumble In The Jungle match. Less remembered is the concert that accompanied the bout, featuring James Brown, Bill Withers, B.B. King, The Spinners, Celia Cruz and the Fania All-Stars. In 2008 the footage was turned into this stellar documentary that captures some of the greatest performers in R&B history at the peak of their powers.

Soul Power [Netflix]

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‘Who Is Harry Nilsson? (And Why Is Everybody Talkin’ About Him?)’

The underappreciated singer/songwriter Harry Nilsson (perhaps best known for two songs he didn't write, "Without You" and "Everybody's Talkin,'") gets his due in this moving, lovingly crafted documentary. The film finds both humor and pathos in Nilsson's mix of quirky talent and self-destructive tendencies – he refused to play live, partied perilously hard and blew out his voice while trying to impress his close friend and collaborator John Lennon in the studio.

Who Is Harry Nilsson? (And Why Is Everybody Talkin' About Him?) [Netflix]

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