8 music documentaries that will inspire you to explore the world
Like peanut butter and chocolate, Italy and pasta or Chrissy Teigen and John Legend, music and travel are one of the greatest couplings of all time. Whether it’s an adventure inspired by London punks in the 70’s or an LA trip to the ‘Riot Hyatt’ and Sunset Boulevard to walk the same streets as The Runaways, these music documentaries will inspire you to get out there and really see the world! Embrace that rockstar mentality and start looking for your next adventure.
While everyone knows the name Joan Jett, you may not know how deep her rock and roll passion runs and just how much she’s changed the face of music throughout the decades. One of the few to survive the drug-fuelled culture of rock and roll, Joan is a true rock pioneer, helping new acts like Bikini Kill to burst into the music scene in the 90’s. Her bad ass attitude that began in The Runaways still exists today, but the documentary also shows what a great person she is and it’s hard not to connect with the legend of Joan Jett as you watch. She and the Runaways hanging around Hollywood at the beginning of their careers will make you long for a trip to the star-studded streets.
The Defiant Ones
While not exactly a “rock doc” this Netflix mini-series on the history of music in the 80’s and 90’s, specifically RnB, cannot be left off the list. Following the rise of music juggernauts, Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine, The Defiant Ones will inspire you not only to travel the world but to start hustling as hard as these guys so you can fund that trip in a private plane (hello 3 billion dollar merger with Apple). There’s a ton of famous faces plus personal insights into the deaths of Tupac Shakur and Biggie.
Before the legend of Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, there was Brian Jones, perhaps the most influential and founding member of The Rolling Stones. Stoned delves deep into rock and roll culture, following the story of Jones’ life once he was kicked out of the band. A snapshot of the ‘cool’ London culture of the sixties, it’s also very much a cautionary tale. Before his death just a few weeks later, the film shows his drug fuelled antics and flashbacks to the loss of his girlfriend, Anita Pallenberg, to Keith Richards. The film also shines an element of suspicion around Jones’ death in 1969, where he was found at the bottom of his swimming pool.
The shockingly tragic story of Amy Winehouse’s rise to the top of the charts while struggling through her deep personal demons and drug-addled existence is a beautiful, honest tribute to a supremely talented artist. If anything is a key takeaway from this movie, it’s that life can be so quickly taken away and you should aim to live every moment to the fullest. ‘Amy’ follows Winehouse’s troubled relationship with Blake Fielder-Civil as well as her father, but also highlights the true genius of Winehouse in the media storm that ultimately destroyed her.
1991: The Year that Punk Broke
Any fans of the grunge era of the 90’s will not want to miss this documentary following Sonic Youth’s 1991 tour of Europe. This shift into a new era of music saw the band’s opening act, Nirvana, become the focus of the documentary by the time of release. ‘1991: The Year that Punk Broke’ ultimately became a unique picture of the lead up to Nirvana’s dizzying fame with the documentary following them until a week before the release of Smells Like Teen Spirit, which thrust them out of the underground scene and into the world of MTV. The mix of music, rebellion and the feeling of freedom will inspire your next adventure. Europe trip, anyone?
In Bed with Madonna
A true picture of the highs and lows of a touring artist, this insight into Madonna’s world shows that not everything is peachy, even when you’re as famous and successful as Madonna. The film is reality TV before it’s time, showing the rollercoaster of human emotion. Resonating deeply with gay audiences, the film also paints a picture of the stigma of AIDS that still existed at the time, which many of her dancers featured in the film faced. This film will make you want to travel the world just like Madonna as she journeys from Japan to Italy (where the Pope even tries to cancel her shows).
Dave Chappelle’s Block Party
Hosted and written by legendary comedian Dave Chappelle, the guy who threw a ‘block party’ in Brooklyn with performances by Kayne West, Mos Def, The Roots, and even Lauryn Hill (who reunited The Fugees for the occasion). Chappelle performs his comedy sketches and monologues between the acts which is a highlight, along with Kayne West performing with Ohio’s Central State University marching band. Filmed around neighbourhoods of New York, you’ll be begging to head off on a Hip Hop inspired adventure.
George Harrison: Living in the Material World
Martin Scorsese examines the life of the ‘quieter’ Beatle through two parts, the first dealing with the insanely consuming rise and mania of The Beatles that eventually descended into consciousness-expanding materials, the Maharishi and the ultimate breakup of the band. The second is a look at Harrison’s life outside of the Beatles, a more intimate insight for true fans of his work, while delving into his adoration for Eastern culture. Harrison’s interest in Hinduism may just inspire you to jet off on a trip to India yourself and discover the ancient teachings, meditation and practices (just not with the Maharishi!).