Classic Rock on Amazon Prime: Documentaries and Concerts
Like Netflix, Amazon Prime is loaded with classic rock programming — in fact, there's almost too much of it, and sorting out the quality requires a lot of scrolling and false starts.
Here's our attempt to save you some trouble. We combed through the streaming service and rounded up some of our favorite rock documentaries, concert films and miniseries.
Check them out below.
Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers: Runnin' Down a Dream (2007)
Peter Bogdanovich went deep into Heartbreakers history for this four-hour documentary, moving from the formative Mudcrutch era up through the band's 30th anniversary show in 2006. Along the way — with the aid of guests like George Harrison, Stevie Nicks, Dave Grohl and Johnny Depp — the filmmaker also explores Petty's solo work and other musical projects, including supergroup the Traveling Wilburys.
The Last Waltz (1978)
The Band recruited one of Hollywood's most venerable directors, Martin Scorsese, to helm a concert film documenting their planned "farewell concert" on Nov. 25, 1976. They pulled out the red carpet for the occasion, nabbing guest spots from Bob Dylan, Ringo Starr, Neil Young, Eric Clapton, Neil Diamond, Joni Mitchell and Van Morrison, among others. (Note: The film leaves Prime on March 31, 2020.)
The Kids Are Alright (1979)
Jeff Stein broke into filmmaking by helming the definitive Who film, rounding up interview clips, concert footage and promo clips into a riveting document of the band's brilliance and insanity from 1964 to 1978.
Long Strange Trip (2017)
Director Amir Bar-Lev and executive producer Martin Scorsese take a fittingly epic approach in chronicling the Grateful Dead's musical and personal evolutions. Long Strange Trip, which won a Grammy for Best Music Film, structures the tale as a 238-minute, six-part miniseries, weaving in interviews with band members Bob Weir, Mickey Hart, Bill Kreutzmann and Phil Lesh, among other friends and collaborators.
The Rainbow (2019)
Late Motorhead leader Lemmy, Ozzy Osbourne, Slash and Gene Simmons are among the talking heads in Zak Knutson's documentary about Sunset Strip venue the Rainbow Bar and Grill. The film explores the history of the Hollywood locale and its sister location, the Whisky a Go Go.
Hired Gun (2017)
Director Fran Strine tips his cap to rock's unsung heroes — touring and session players — in this well-crafted doc, spotlighting "hired gun" musicians for Metallica, Kiss, Billy Joel and Bon Jovi, among others.
Lynyrd Skynyrd - I’ll Never Forget You: The Last 72 Hours of Lynyrd Skynyrd (2019)
I'll Never Forget You: The Last 72 Hours of Lynyrd Skynyrd documents the tragic plane crash that killed the Southern rock band's frontman Ronnie Van Zant, guitarist Steve Gaines and several others onboard. The film, which uses new interviews and archival footage, also focuses on three survivors: security guard Gene Odom, guitar tech Craig Reed and backing vocalist Leslie Hawkins.
Sound City (2013)
Foo Fighters mastermind Dave Grohl makes his directorial debut in this documentary on the titular Los Angeles studio, the recording site for bands like Nirvana, Fleetwood Mac, Tom Petty and Neil Young.
Can't Stand Losing You: Surviving the Police (2012)
This intimate documentary traces the Police's full career arc with guitarist Andy Summers as our guide — from their ascent to stardom through their ego-fueled break-up and 2007 reunion tour. In a clever twist, the film utilizes a treasure trove of Summers' personal photos as signposts along the way.
Alice Cooper: Live at Montreux 2005 (2006)
This sprawling concert, filmed during Cooper's Dirty Diamonds World Tour, documents the hard rock singer's July 12, 2005 performance at Switzerland's renowned Montreal Jazz Festival.
Talking Heads — Stop Making Sense (1984)
Talking Heads and director Jonathan Demme turned the concert film into high art with 1984's Stop Making Sense, which documents the elaborately staged tour behind the band's fifth LP, Speaking in Tongues. The massive suit, the boombox, the nerdy glasses, the build from solo David Byrne to massive full band, the jittery New Wave funk — it's all here.
Lo Sound Desert (2016)
In the 1980s, rebellious punks found a haven in the California desert and wound up spawning an entire musical movement, including bands like Queens of the Stone Age and Kyuss. Director Joerg Steineck explores this under-documented story, landing interviews with some of the scene's most famous players (including Josh Homme).
Peter Green – Story: Man of the World (2009)
The specter of Peter Green's psychedelic drug use and mental illness hovers over his life and career. But this insightful documentary digs beyond the sensationalism, offering a comprehensive view of the pioneering blues-rock guitarist. Along with archival live and studio footage, the film includes interviews with Green himself, along with his Fleetwood Mac bandmates (Mick Fleetwood, John McVie, Jeremy Spencer) and admirers (Carlos Santana).
Creating Woodstock (2019)
Director Mick Richards dives into the nitty-gritty of Woodstock lore in his detailed documentary, which includes archival footage and interviews with organizers John Roberts, Joel Rosenman, Michael Lang and Artie Kornfeld.
Who Is Harry Nilsson (And Why Is Everybody Talking About Him)? (2006)
Harry Nilsson's career was full of contradictions: He was a Grammy-winning pop-rock star who never toured, a singer-songwriter best-known for his covers, a man who made fans of the Beatles but also earned headlines for being drunkenly thrown out of L.A.'s Troubadour club with John Lennon. With Who Is Harry Nilsson, director John Scheinfeld surveys the musician's winding career path and unique legacy.
This Is Spinal Tap (1984)
This is Spinal Tap is the funniest rockumentary in film history, with Christopher Guest, Michael McKean and Harry Shearer satirizing the overblown excess (and underlying stupidity) of arena rock/metal. (It's available to view through IMDB TV, which comes free with Prime.)
Yes — Yessongs (1975)
Prog-rock giants Yes captured highlights from their Close to the Edge tour on this essential concert film, which features highlights from that LP, along with earlier juggernauts The Yes Album and Fragile.
The 25th Anniversary Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Concerts (2010)
This all-star 2009 Rock Hall event featured spirited sets from Crosby Stills & Nash, Simon & Garfunkel, Metallica, Bruce Springsteen, U2, Stevie Wonder, Jeff Beck and Aretha Franklin, with special guests (some welcome, some awkward) joining throughout.