25 Best Music Documentaries To Stream On Max
Max is a treasure trove of music documentaries that span from historical accounts to modern-day stars. With an extensive library of films, Max offers an unparalleled experience for music aficionados. The eclectic mix of content includes concert films and some of the best music documentaries that one could ever want to watch. The Criterion Collection collaboration brings some of the most groundbreaking music documentaries in history, featuring legendary artists like The Rolling Stones and David Bowie, and iconic events like Woodstock and Monterey Pop.
The streaming service has a wide range of content, including musicals, classic documentaries, and new titles from the HBO running series, Music Box. The documentaries offer an array of styles, with some giving viewers a peek into the lives of stars, while others delve into the darker pasts and tragedies that transcend the music industry. The touching tributes to lost stars like David Bowie, Amy Winehouse, and Kurt Cobain are particularly poignant.
Max has something for everyone, including fans of classic bands like The Beatles, Donna Summer, and Elvis Presley, as well as newer stars like Jason Isbell. The documentaries showcase different styles, with some offering a glimpse into the personal lives of stars, while others focus on their music.
Some of the most outstanding documentaries on Max include David Bowie: The Last Five Years, which offers an in-depth look at Bowie’s late-career resurgence and final tour. Love to Love You, Donna Summer is a dark documentary that explores the musician’s traumatic past and how it haunted her throughout her career. Oasis: Supersonic tells the story of how the biggest band in the world self-destructed, while Listening to Kenny G takes a sly wink at music critics and shows how the musician’s music was inseparable from him.
Jason Isbell: Running With Our Eyes Closed offers a unique perspective on the musician’s life and struggles, including his relationship with his wife Amanda Shires. Jagged is a time capsule of the 90s, showing how Alanis Morissette broke the glass ceiling of the music industry. Dionne Warwick: Don’t Make Me Over follows the life and career of Warwick, one of the most successful female musicians of all time.
The most unconventional documentary on Max is 20 Feet From Stardom, which explores the lives of background singers who back up major stars. DMX: Don’t Try To Understand is a moving documentary that follows the legendary rapper’s life from his upbringing in Yonkers, New York, to his rise to fame in the 90s, and his struggles with addiction and legal troubles.
Elvis Presley: The Searcher is a two-part documentary that features interviews with musicians who were influenced by Presley. It’s a must-watch for fans of the iconic artist.
Max’s music documentaries are a testament to the diversity of the music industry and its influence on society. Whether it’s a historical account or an intimate look into a star’s life, Max has something for everyone.
There are a lot of music documentaries on Max, and they range the gamut from historical documents to looking at some of today’s top musical stars. With such an incredible library of movies, Max has so much to offer fans of the music industry. This includes concert films as well as some of the best music documentaries that anyone could want to see. With the collaboration with the Criterion Collection, this even includes some of the most groundbreaking music documentaries in history with looks at everyone from The Rolling Stones and David Bowie to events like Woodstock and Monterey Pop.
The streaming service has everything from musicals, classic documentaries, and new titles from the HBO running series, Music Box. These include a look at classic bands like The Beatles, Donna Summer, and Elvis Presley to newer stars like Jason Isbell. There are also some touching tributes to stars lost like David Bowie, Amy Winehouse, and Kurt Cobain. Each of the documentaries offers a different style. Some take viewers into the homes and lives of the stars, while others take a harsh look at dark pasts and tragedies that transcend the music industry.
25 David Bowie: The Last Five Years (2018)
There are two different David Bowie music documentaries on Max. While Moonage Daydream revealed a lot about Bowie, The Last Five Years is more informative when it comes to Bowie’s life and stardom. This loses a lot of the personality that Moonage presented but instead focused on Bowie’s late-career resurgence and his final tour. Directed by Francis Whately, this showed his rebirth with albums like The Next Day, Lazarus, and Blackstar. It also shows his final tour and also the recording sessions for The Next Day. Whately also brings in collaborators to talk about Bowie’s influence in the music industry.
24 Love To Love You, Donna Summer (2023)
Released in 2023, Love to Love You, Donna Summer shows more than just a great musician and her career. This documentary was about something much darker and more disturbing. When Summer was in her teens, a minister molested her, and it is something that she hadn’t spoken about before. Summer died in 2012, and she never talked about this, but it is now part of one of the best music documentaries on Max. In the interviews with Summer in this feature, she said that even when she was at the top of her career, that moment in her teens always haunted her. This is a dark documentary that shows that fame is fleeting when trauma exists.
23 Oasis: Supersonic (2016)
Oasis is a band that remains polarizing to a lot of fans. While they were on top of the world for a short time, the arrogance of Noah Gallagher turned many fans away as he claimed Oasis was bigger than the Beatles. His arrogance eventually drove his brother away and destroyed the band. Oasis: Supersonic had a chance to show how the biggest band in the world self-destructed. Produced by A24, the documentary is self-aggrandizing and focused mostly on the height of their success in 1996. While the movie is a bit short-changed as there are no present-day interviews with friends or family, it still shows Liam and Noah’s rough relationship, which is what fans wanted to see anyway.
22 Listening To Kenny G (2021)
One of the most offbeat music documentaries on Max is the Music Box release Listening to Kenny G. What makes this a documentary that is different from the rest is that director Penny Lane took a sly wink at music critics, which works for a musician as polarizing as Kenny G. The best-selling instrumentalist in the world, he is also one that many music critics despise. The movie shows that the musician and his music can never really be separated, and that makes it impossible for Kenny G to succeed just on his music alone. What makes it so interesting is that Kenny G is easily his harshest critic in this entire documentary.
21 Jason Isbell: Running With Our Eyes Closed (2023)
One doesn’t have to be a country music fan to appreciate the Music Box HBO documentary Jason Isbell: Running With Our Eyes Closed. This takes a hard look at Isbell’s life, starting off during the pandemic while he and his wife Amanda Shires seem to be struggling with their relationship. It isn’t what one might expect from a music documentary, and when the two move close to divorce midway through, it is clear this is more about the man than his music. However, this is a story about a couple whose careers are connected and how their love and trust help Isbell create his music, and in this case, his album, Reunions.
20 Jagged (2021)
Jagged was part of the HBO Music Box series of documentary films about some of the top singers in music history. This one was about Alanis Morissette, who released her first worldwide album, Jagged Little Pill, in 1995, and it ended up as one of the best-selling albums of all time. The documentary looked into her rise to the top of the music world, while also showing how she had to fight the sexism in the music industry in the 1990s and how she was able to break out anyway. It is a nice time capsule to the 90s and shows how important she was to the music industry, though Morissette wasn’t happy with the documentary.
19 Dionne Warwick: Don’t Make Me Over (2021)
The documentary Dionne Warwick: Don’t Make Me Over was released in 2021 at the Toronto International Film Festival. It premiered on CNN in 2023 and is now one of the better music documentaries on Max. The movie follows the life and career of Warwick, who had the second most charted songs of any female musician from 1955 to 1999, with 56 singles reaching the Top 100 and 12 of them in the Top 10. The documentary talks with several musical icons about Warwick’s influence on the music industry. It won the Audience Award at the 2021 Montclair Film Festival.
18 20 Feet From Stardom (2013)
One of the most unusual music documentaries on Max is 20 Feet From Stardom, which doesn’t look at a famous musical talent that everyone knows. Instead, this is about the people who, as the title suggests, are 20 feet or less from the stars. This 2013 documentary is about background singers. The movie wants to show the lives and careers of these backup singers to major stars. While they back up major stars like Bette Midler, Bruce Springsteen, Sting, Stevie Wonder, and more, this is about the people whose names you wouldn’t know. It won the Oscar for Best Documentary Feature in 2014.
17 DMX: Don’t Try To Understand (2021)
A popular rapper that got his start in the late ’90s, Earl “DMX” Simmons was a talented musician. Releasing eight studio albums and 47 singles, he earned his status in the rap community. From 1998 to 2021, he faced many setbacks with legal troubles and addiction, however, he continued to be active in the entertainment industry until his death in April 2021. DMX also had a notable acting career too.
In DMX: Don’t Try To Understand, the documentary followed DMX after his release from prison for tax evasion at the beginning of 2019. Viewers were given an in-depth look at his upbringing in Yonkers, New York, to his rise to fame in the ’90s, all from the point of view of DMX himself. This amazing documentary portrays an image of DMX as a human and not just a music legend, showcasing his struggles and successes with commentary from his family and DMX himself.
16 Elvis Presley: The Searcher (2018)
With the film Elvis being one of the best movies to watch on Max, fans of the legendary artist can also find the two-part documentary, Elvis Presley: The Searcher, on the streaming giant. The series features interviews with musicians like Bruce Springsteen and Emmylou Harris and dives into Elvis Presley’s rise as a rock-and-roll pioneer and pop culture icon.
The extensive look into Elvis’ declining health and the recording sessions a year before his death serves to understand him as not only a musical icon but a man with struggles. The film breaks apart each aspect of Elvis’ life that served as significance from his rise and fall and does an amazing job in doing so.
15 Juice Wrld: Into The Abyss (2021)
An artist gone too soon, Jarad Anthony Higgins (Juice Wrld) stepped onto the music scene as an independent artist in 2015 and signed with Interscope Records in 2017. Before his death, he successfully released two studio albums that gained him high praise for his genre-bending musical style and over a billion streams on Spotify.
The 21-year-old rapper died of an overdose in California in December 2019. Following his death, Tommy Oliver released the documentary film Juice Wrld: Into The Abyss in 2021, which focused on the life and death of the popular rapper. With footage from Juice Wrld’s final year and interviews with artists like The Kid Laroi and Polo G, the documentary examines every facet of Higgins’ life and influential career.
14 Kurt Cobain: Montage Of Heck (2015)
Another talented musician gone too soon, Kurt Cobain was the lead singer of the popular band, Nirvana. Through unreleased home videos and recordings, Kurt Cobain: Montage Of Heck follows the star’s rise to fame from the time of his birth to the end of his life and everything in between. The only documentary made with the cooperation of Kurt Cobain’s family, the film doesn’t shy away from the real-life struggles of the troubled musician. With footage to support many of the interviews given throughout the film, viewers are essentially given the behind-the-scenes of some of the most important moments in Cobain’s life until his death in 1994.
13 Tina (2021)
A living icon in the music industry and the “Queen of Rock and Roll,” Tina Turner rose to fame in her band with her ex-husband, Ike Turner, before she went on to have a highly successful solo career. From hits like “What’s Love Got To Do With It” and “Private Dancer,” Turner became a force to be reckoned with in the ’80s and ’90s.
Although the documentary explores her rise to fame and early life, it also dives a little deeper. Viewers are given a look into the personal and professional problems that plagued the star but also served as a fuse for one of the biggest comebacks in the ’80s, making her one musician who deserved a biopic.
12 Woodstock 99: Peace, Love, And Rage (2021)
An infamous festival that still reigns as one of the most chaotic in history, Woodstock 99 was meant to be a music festival promoting peace and love, but it soon turned into mayhem and panic. Starting over the course of three days, the 1999 festival featured a range of artists from Metallica to Alanis Morrissette giving amazing performances, and that’s where the fun ended.
Woodstock 99: Peace, Love, and Rage traverses through the mosh pits and sexual assaults to the poor environmental conditions to understand how a festival promoting peace and love quickly descended into debauchery and violence. Viewers are shown footage of the festival with accounts from some of the musical acts present, as well as the individuals in attendance.
11 Amy (2015)
Probably one of the best music documentaries of the past 15 years, Amy focuses on the life of the eclectic and talented Amy Winehouse. Known for her dynamic voice and mixed use of multiple genres, Winehouse, whose career started as early as 2002, took the music scene by storm with her international success in 2006 due to the release of her second album, Back To Black.
Winehouse sadly lost her life in 2011, but her music continues to live on, and in 2015, the documentary film Amy premiered at the Cannes Film Festival. It was later released in theaters the same year, earning 30 awards including a Grammy and an Academy Award. The documentary successfully follows Winehouse’s career before and after her addiction, while also showing the talent and genius of Winehouse herself.
10 Linda Ronstadt: The Sound Of My Voice (2019)
Being one of the first women to lead in a male-dominated music industry, Linda Ronstadt narrates her life and career in the 2019 documentary, Linda Ronstadt: The Sound Of My Voice. The documentary explores her exceptional career across genres that includes country and rock and her cross-over into opera.
Through interviews with family, friends, and collaborators, viewers get to learn about Rondstadt’s advocacy in a male-centric industry and the things in her personal life that proved both a hindrance and an advantage in her career.
9 The Bee Gees: How Can You Mend A Broken Heart (2020)
A documentary film that earned itself an Emmy and critical acclaim, The Bee Gees: How Can You Mend A Broken Heart was released in 2020 and directed by Frank Marshall. The film observed the career and lives of the legendary family band, The Bee Gees, which consisted of brothers Robin, Maurice, and Barry Gibb.
With artist interviews from Mark Ronson to Chris Martin, the film sought to explore the difficulties of fame that came with working in the spotlight and family. Through these interviews, the documentary sheds light on how the band’s influence in the music industry stretched genres and broke boundaries. One of the best documentaries for those who liked Jennifer Lopez’s Halftime, the doc is available to watch on Max.
8 Mavis! (2015)
Starting in a successful band with her siblings (Staple Singers), Mavis Staples shot to fame in 1956 with the band’s first hit, “Uncloudy Day.” From then on, she became a notable voice in the ’60s, ’70s, and beyond. From songs with Bob Dylan, Ray Charles, Prince, and plenty more, Mavis became a spiritual and musical voice for the civil rights movement.
Throughout the Mavis! documentary, audiences will see the impact she and her music had during the time of the Civil Rights Movement. It also dives into her personal life and its relation to her early rising career. The film chronicles the gospel and soul singer’s 60-year career from the beginning and expresses how her music helped shape a decade or two.
7 George Harrison: Living In The Material World (2011)
Martin Scorsese directed George Harrison: Living in the Material World in 2011, and it remains one of the best music documentaries on Max. In this movie, Scorsese followed Harrison’s life story from his early life in Liverpool through his time with the Beatles at the top of their popularity to his post-Beatles life. There is a lot of unseen footage of Harrison in his life, as well as rare interviews with friends of the rock star. The documentary picked up six Primetime Emmy Award nominations and won two, one for Scorsese and his direction and the other for Outstanding Nonfiction Special.
6 Buena Vista Social Club (1999)
Buena Vista Social Club is a 1999 documentary about the ensemble of Cuban musicians who assembled in 1997 and took the world by storm. The movie had one of the top international film directors at that time, Wim Wenders (Paris, Texas), behind the camera to tell their story. Wenders ended up earning one of his three Oscar nominations for Best Documentary Feature for this movie (his others were for Pina in 2011 and The Salt of the Earth in 2014). This movie takes a look not only at the band but at the country that made them famous. From the great music to the unforgettable personalities in the band, this remains a can’t miss documentary.