List of films about bands

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Popular music and motion pictures have been linked since the dawn of the talkies and 1927's The Jazz Singer. While numerous films in the intervening years have featured popular music in their sound tracks, and many have profiled solo artists, the list of films about popular bands is much shorter. The following are significant theatrical films that tell the stories of real or imagined musical groups.

List of motion pictures about music bands (real or fictional)[edit]

Year Film/Title Director(s) Cast/Leads Notes
1954 The Glenn Miller Story Anthony Mann James Stewart
June Allyson
The film tells the story of the Glenn Miller Orchestra and big band leader Glenn Miller (1904–1944) (James Stewart) from his early days in the music business in 1929 through to his 1944 death when the airplane he was flying in was lost over the English Channel during World War II. The film features ten songs performed by the Glenn Miller Orchestra.[1]
1956 Rock Around the Clock Fred F. Sears Bill Haley and his Comets
Alan Freed
Considered the first true rock and roll feature film, it is a highly fictionalized account of the origins of rock. The film features several major acts of the day, including The Platters, but largely focuses on the success of Haley and his band, whose single "Rock Around the Clock" is widely considered to be the first rock and roll hit.[2]
1964 A Hard Day's Night Richard Lester The Beatles Several days in the lives of the Beatles.
1966 Charlie Is My Darling Peter Whitehead The Rolling Stones The first documentary film about the Rolling Stones, shot during the band's tour of Ireland in September 1965. A restored edition, with additional material, was released theatrically in 2012.
1970 Let It Be Neil Aspinall The Beatles
Billy Preston
A documentary about The Beatles rehearsing and recording songs for the album Let It Be, it was filmed in January 1969. The film features an unannounced rooftop concert by the group, their last performance in public. Released just after the album, it was the final original Beatles release.
1970 Gimme Shelter Albert and David Maysles
Charlotte Zwerin
The Rolling Stones A documentary film chronicling the last weeks of The Rolling Stones' 1969 US tour which culminated in the disastrous Altamont Free Concert. The film is named after "Gimme Shelter", the lead track from the group's 1969 album "Let It Bleed".
1975 Flame Richard Loncraine Slade

Tom Conti

Alan Lake

Film starring the British rock band Slade. The film charts the history of "Flame", a fictitious group in the late 1960s who are picked up by a marketing company and taken to the top, only to break up at their zenith. Described as the "Citizen Kane of rock musicals" by BBC film critic Mark Kermode, the film went on to achieve critical acclaim years after the mixed feelings on its original release.
1977 ABBA: The Movie Lasse Hallström ABBA
Robert Hughes
Largely filmed during ABBA's 1977 Australian tour, the film is a record of a pop band at the peak of its global chart success. It was the first English-language feature directed by future Academy Award nominee Hallström, who also directed most of the band's pioneering music videos. He is also credited as writer, though he has admitted that much of the story, involving a radio reporter trying to land an interview with the band, was mostly improvised on the fly.[3] The film features 19 live performances including one song, "Get on the Carousel", that has never been officially released on any other medium.
1978 Kiss Meets the Phantom of the Park Gordon Hessler Kiss In this made-for-television film, Kiss use their superpowers to battle an evil inventor and to save a California amusement park from destruction.
1978 The Last Waltz Martin Scorsese The Band Arranged by travel-weary Robbie Robertson as a farewell concert for The Band. Containing comments by the bandmembers and a host of notable guest performers associated with The Band, it contains concert footage and interviews taped both upon the occasion and afterward. The film drew controversy in part, as the other bandmates did not share Robertson's eagerness to part. Other issues, according to Levon Helm, involved the lack of visibility of The Band itself, drug use both on set, (including by Scorsese and musicians ostensibly affecting the quality of the film), and Helm felt the film portrayed Robertson the key player in a star role, minimizing what appeared to him as the importance of the other bandmates and their contributions.[4]
1978 Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band Michael Schultz Peter Frampton
The Bee Gees
The film uses the music of The Beatles to tell the story of a band as they wrangle with the music industry and battle evil forces bent on stealing their instruments and corrupting their home town of Heartland.
1979 Rock 'n' Roll High School Allan Arkush Ramones
P.J. Soles
A musical comedy about a high school girl and her quest to meet her rock heroes, The Ramones.
1980 The Blues Brothers John Landis John Belushi
Dan Aykroyd
Paroled convict Jake and his brother Elwood, set out on "a mission from God" to save the Catholic orphanage in which they were raised from foreclosure. To do so, they must reunite their R&B band and organize a performance to earn $5,000 needed to pay the orphanage's property tax bill.
1981 Menudo: La Pelicula Alfredo Anzola Menudo
Marisela Buitrago
Puerto Rican boy band Menudo is on a Venezuelan nationwide tour. They encounter fictionalized situations through the tour, interloped with images of the band performing at real concerts.
1982 Ladies and Gentlemen, The Fabulous Stains Lou Adler Diane Lane
Laura Dern
A cult classic starring about three teenage girls who form a punk rock band.[5]
1983 Eddie and the Cruisers Martin Davidson Ellen Barkin
Tom Berenger
A Jersey band in the 1960s rises to fame but right before their second album comes out, the master recordings and the lead singer Eddie, mysteriously disappear. Twenty years later a reporter investigates.[6]
1984 Purple Rain Albert Magnoli Prince
Apollonia Kotero
A singer with a trouble past, the Kid (Prince) is a Minneapolis musician on the rise with his band, The Revolution. While trying to avoid making the same mistakes as his father, the Kid navigates the music scene and a rocky relationship with a captivating singer. But a rival musician, Morris (Morris Day), looks to steal the Kid's spotlight -- and his girl.
1984 This Is Spinal Tap Rob Reiner Michael McKean
Christopher Guest
A famous "mockumentary" about a heavy metal band trying to make a comeback while being followed around by a filmmaker.[7]
1986 Sid and Nancy Alex Cox Gary Oldman
Chloe Webb
(Also known as Sid and Nancy: Love Kills[8][9]) A 1986 British film which portrays the life of Sid Vicious, bassist of the seminal punk rock band the Sex Pistols. It stars Oldman as Vicious and Webb as his girlfriend, Nancy Spungen. The movie chronicles the lives of the couple and their early deaths.
1987 La Bamba Luis Valdez Lou Diamond Phillips
Esai Morales
Rosanna DeSoto
Biographical story of the rise from nowhere of early rock and roll singer Ritchie Valens who died at age 17 in a plane crash with Buddy Holly and the Big Bopper.[10]
1987 Rock 'n' Roll Nightmare John Fasano Jon Mikl Thor The rock band Triton travels to a remote farmhouse to rehearse only to be attacked by an evil presence there.[11]
1988 Vicious Lips Albert Pyun Dru-Anne Perry
Gina Calabrese
Film about an all-female band that has to travel across the galaxy to play a gig.
1988 Satisfaction Joan Freeman Justine Bateman
Liam Neeson
Julia Roberts
Teenage band The Mystery is hired as the house band for a summer at a Florida bar. Lead singer Jennie falls in love with the owner of the bar, and they have to choose between fame and friendship.
1989 Eddie and The Cruisers II: Eddie Lives Jean-Claude Lord Michael Pare' Marina Orsini Bernie Coulson Matthew Laurance After disappearing twenty-five years earlier, the music of rocker and lead singer Eddie Wilson of Eddie and The Cruisers suddenly becomes popular once again when a mysterious recording of Eddie is found.
1991 The Commitments Alan Parker Robert Arkins
Colm Meaney
A film adaptation of the novel of the same name by Roddy Doyle, which tells the story of some unemployed Dubliners who form a soul band.
1991 The Doors Oliver Stone Val Kilmer
Meg Ryan
biographical film about the 1960s rock band The Doors, focusing primarily on the life of Jim Morrison.
1994 Airheads Michael Lehmann Brendan Fraser
Steve Buscemi
In a desperate attempt to gain radio airplay for their demo, a would-be rock band take a local radio station hostage until their songs are played on the air.
1996 That Thing You Do! Tom Hanks Tom Everett Scott
Liv Tyler
The Wonders rise to fame for a brief while in the 60s before ultimately becoming a one-hit wonder.[12]
1997 Bandits Katja von Garnier Katja Riemann
Jasmin Tabatabai
A German film about four female convicts who start a band, and then escape prison. While on the run, the heroines perform concerts and attain fame as a rock band.
2000 Almost Famous Cameron Crowe Patrick Fugit
Kate Hudson
Semi-autobiographical story of writer and director Cameron Crowe's life as a teenage journalist already working for Rolling Stone magazine while still in High School.[13]
2001 Josie and the Pussycats Harry Elfont Rachael Leigh Cook
Tara Reid
Rosario Dawson
Loosely based upon the Archie comic of the same name and the Hanna-Barbera cartoon, the film is about a young all-female band that signs a record contract with a major record label, only to discover that the company does not have the musicians' best interests at heart.
2001 Rock Star Stephen Herek Mark Wahlberg
Jennifer Aniston
Based loosely on the real story of the replacement lead singer for the band Judas Priest. In the film the band is the fictional "Steel Dragon" and the character is Chris Cole (Mark Wahlberg). Cole's life metamorphoses when he goes from singer of a Steel Dragon tribute band to the actual lead singer of Steel Dragon, replacing his idol in the process.[14]
2001 Hysteria: The Def Leppard Story Robert Mandel Nick Bagnall

Karl Geary

Adam MacDonald

A dramatization of the early years of the hard rock band, Def Leppard, the group faces both success and personal tragedies such as drummer, Rick Allen losing his arm in a car accident and guitarist Steve Clark's alcohol addiction.
2002 Garage Days Alex Proyas Kick Gurry
Maya Stange
The story of a young Sydney, Australia garage band desperately trying to make it big in the competitive world of rock and roll.
2002 Rock My World Sidney J. Furie Peter O'Toole,

Joan Plowright

The rock band Global Heresy bursts onto the scene and then their frontman disappears on the eve of a European tour
2003 School of Rock Richard Linklater Jack Black
Lucas Babin
A heavy metal guitar player voted out of his own band so later impersonates a substitute teacher for advanced placement kids for money. To compete in a battle of the bands with his former mates, the guitarist, played by Jack Black, teaches his students to be his rock group after discovering the kids are talented instrumentalists.[15]
2003 Prey for Rock & Roll Alex Steyermark Gina Gershon
Drea de Matteo
Jacki is the lead singer of the all-female punk band Clam Dandy. On the verge of turning 40, she decides to give the band one last shot at stardom before retiring her dreams.
2004 Metallica: Some Kind of Monster Joe Berlinger
Bruce Sinofsky
Metallica A documentary showing the recording process of Metallica's eighth studio album St. Anger.
2004 Dig! Ondi Timoner The Dandy Warhols
The Brian Jonestown Massacre
A documentary contrasting the success of the two bands.
2006 Dreamgirls Bill Condon Jamie Foxx
Jennifer Hudson
Academy-award winning, critically acclaimed story about an all-female African-American singing group in the 1960s starring Beyoncé Knowles.[16]
2006 BoyTown Kevin Carlin Glenn Robbins
Mick Molloy
Australian comedic film about BoyTown, a fictional 80s boyband of the eighties who leave their terrible and bad-paying lives for one last crack at the big time. They return to the stage with slightly older fans and slightly larger pants to complete some unfinished business.
2006 Tenacious D in The Pick of Destiny Liam Lynch Jack Black
Kyle Gass
American fictional comedic film about real life rock band Tenacious D, on their quest to obtain a historic guitar plectrum that promises them fame and fortune.
2007 Control Anton Corbijn Sam Riley
Samantha Riley
A film about the English 1976 band Joy Division. Focus on lead singer Ian Curtis. Shows how the band rose to success and the depression that Ian had which eventually led to his death. The film is shot completely in black and white.
2008 Rock On!! Abhishek Kapoor Arjun Rampal
Shahana Goswami
A Bollywood film about a 90's-era grunge band who break up due to pressures of conforming to major label constraints. Ten years later, the estranged members meet up again by chance, eventually reforming the band and their friendships
2008 The Rocker Peter Cattaneo Rainn Wilson
Christina Applegate
A failed musician goes on tour with his nephew's band after one of their songs goes viral.
2008 Shine a Light Martin Scorsese The Rolling Stones
Jack White
A film documenting The Rolling Stones' 2006 Beacon Theatre performance on their Bigger Bang tour. The Scorsese film also includes archive footage from the band's career and marked the first utilisation by Scorsese of digital cinematography for his films with it being used for the backstage sequences.
2008 Anvil! The Story of Anvil Sacha Gervasi Anvil
Slash
A documentary about the Canadian heavy metal band Anvil and the lives of its members after they fail to hit it big in 80s.
2009 Bandslam Todd Graff Aly Michalka
Lisa Kudrow
After moving to a new school, previously unpopular music enthusiast Will teams up in an unlikely pairing with former cheerleader Charlotte to form a rock group and perform in a battle of the bands competition called "Bandslam".
2010 The Runaways Floria Sigismondi Dakota Fanning
Kristen Stewart
Film about the 1970s all-female rock band The Runaways, based on the book Neon Angel: A Memoir of a Runaway by the band's original lead vocalist Cherie Currie.
2010 Bus Palladium Christopher Thompson Marc-André Grondin
Arthur Dupont
A comedy that follows the break-up of a French rock group.
2011 Killing Bono Nick Hamm Ben Barnes
Robert Sheehan
Martin McCann
Pete Postlethwaite
Killing Bono is a 2011 British-Irish comedy film directed by Nick Hamm, based on Neil McCormick's 2003 memoir Killing Bono: I Was Bono's Doppelgänger.[1][17]
2012 The Sapphires Wayne Blair Chris O'Dowd
Deborah Mailman
It's 1968, and four young, talented Australian Aboriginal girls learn about love, friendship and war when their girl group The Sapphires entertain the US troops in Vietnam.
2012 Not Fade Away David Chase John Magaro
Jack Huston
James Gandolfini
Bella Heathcote
Set in suburban New Jersey the 1960s, a group of friends form a rock band and try to make it big.[18]
2014 Jersey Boys Clint Eastwood John Lloyd Young Christopher Walken Vincent Piazza Erich Bergen The story of four young men who formed the group, "The Four Seasons."
2016 Attack of Life: The Bang Tango Movie Drew Fortier Bang Tango
Dee Snider
Riki Rachtman
Howard Benson
A documentary about the 80's hard rock band Bang Tango and their over 2 decade long decline into present day.[19]
2016 Sing Street Lucy Boynton
Mark McKenna
Fictional story
2018 Bohemian Rhapsody Bryan Singer Rami Malek
Lucy Boynton
Gwilym Lee
The story of the legendary rock band Queen and lead singer Freddie Mercury, leading up to their famous performance at Live Aid (1985).
2018 Lords of Chaos Jonas Åkerlund Rory Culkin
Emory Cohen
Jack Kilmer
A horror film about the band Mayhem, guitarist Euronymous and their dark past.
2018 Leto
2019 The Dirt Jeff Tremaine Douglas Booth

Colson BakerDaniel Webber (actor)

Iwan Rheon

A biographical musical comedy-drama about glam metal band Mötley Crüe, featuring famous events in the band's history and their numerous struggles as a band.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Turner Classic Movies profile: http://www.tcm.com/tcmdb/title/76497/The-Glenn-Miller-Story/articles.html
  2. ^ Turner Classic Movies profile: http://www.tcm.com/this-month/article/184955%7C0/Rock-Around-the-Clock.html
  3. ^ "Bang a Boomerang" – Australian Broadcasting Corp: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cVgwnEA3L5U
  4. ^ Helm, Levon; Stephen Davis (1993). This Wheel's on Fire. London: Plexus. p. 276. ISBN 1-55652-405-6.
  5. ^ "GetBack movie summary and analysis". Archived from the original on 4 October 2008. Retrieved 12 October 2008.
  6. ^ Fast-Rewind full film summary
  7. ^ RetroJunk movie details
  8. ^ https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0091954/releaseinfo
  9. ^ http://lovekillssite.webs.com/Sid%20And%20Nancy%20Cover.jpg[permanent dead link]
  10. ^ http://ia.media-imdb.com/images/M/MV5BMTk4NTk0NTMyNV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMTc1NzgxMQ@@._V1_SY317_CR6,0,214,317_AL_.jpg
  11. ^ http://www.somethingawful.com/movie-reviews/rock-roll-nightmare/1/
  12. ^ Starpulse movie summary
  13. ^ http://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/almost-famous-2000
  14. ^ Mahalo movie facts and summary
  15. ^ Allmovie film overview
  16. ^ About.Com synopsis and articles
  17. ^ Killing Bono Killing Bono
  18. ^ [1][2] Not Fade Away
  19. ^ [3]