Whether you are playing guitar, or just lurking the internet for some rock and roll inspired movies, here’s our list to help you get started. Since this is probably not the only place you’ll look for the information, we decided to include some of the movies that are not that often mentioned, but we also included some of the classics, like: This is Spinal Tap and The School of Rock.
So grab your remote control, stack up some popcorn, and just relax and enjoy while watching a marathon of movies that will hopefully inspire you, on occasions make you laugh, and give you something to think about.
A Hard Day’s Night (1964)
What’s it about? Recorded during the first flush of Beatlemania in 1964, the movie follows the band as they travel by train from Liverpool to London, to record a TV show. Once they managed to escape a horde of fans, and aboard the train trying to relax, various interruptions begin to test their patience, mainly those coming from their manager and Paul’s grandfather.
Starring: George Harrison, John Lennon, Ringo Starr, Paul McCartney
Directed by: Richard Lester / Produced by: Alun Owen
The Blues Brothers (1980)
What’s it about? Former inmate Jake, and his brother Elwood are sent by their former teacher, Sister Mary Stigmata, on a mission to raise $5000 to save an orphanage. In the course of their adventures, the Blues Brothers encounter neo-Nazis from Illinois, perform the before the hard crowd of Bob’s Country Bunker, and lay waste to hundreds of cars on the streets and freeways of Chicago.
Starring: John Belushi, Dan Aykroyd
Directed by: John Landis / Produced by: Bernie Brillstein (and others)
This Is Spinal Tap (1984)
What’s it about? This faux documentary movie follows the members of a going-nowhere British heavy metal band called Spinal Tap during their 1982 United States concert tour. Just as the tour opens, about everything starts to go wrong: concert are repeatedly canceled due to low ticket sales, stage props go wrong, girlfriends start to involve themselves in the management, and the band teeters on the verge of breakup.
Starring: Rob Reiner, Michael McKean, Christopher Guest, Harry Shearer…
Directed by: Rob Reiner / Produced by: Karen Murphy
What’s it about? Young classical guitar player, Eugene Martone, starts to develop a passion for blues music, particularly towards Robert Johnson, and his famed missing song that was supposedly lost. Eugene becomes associated with Johnson’s longtime friend, musician Willie “Blind Dog Fulton Smoke House” Brown, helps him escape the hospital, and together, they start on a journey across the Mississippi Delta. In return, Willie promises he’ll tell the boy about the missing Robert Johnson tune.
Starring: Ralph Macchio, Joe Seneca, Jami Gertz, Steve Vai…
Directed by: Walter Hill / Produced by: Mark Carliner (and others)
The Doors (1991)
What’s it about? The movie follows the life of a late singer and band-leader Jim Morrison, and starts of with a childhood memory where Morrison sees an elderly Indian dying by the roadside. It then goes to recapture the crucial moments in Jim’s life, including his arrival in California, his film school days at UCLA, meeting his girlfriend Pamela Courson, and the origin of The Doors. It also focuses on Morrison’s obsession with death, and drug addiction, which eventually led him on a path of self-destruction.
Starring: Val Kilmer, Meg Ryan, Kyle MacLachlan, Billy Idol…
Directed by: Oliver Stone / Produced by: Brian Grazer (and others)
The Commitments (1991)
What’s it about? Disgusted with bands in Ireland, Jimmy Rabbitte decides that Dublin needs is a top-shelf soul band, in the tradition of Otis Redding and Aretha Franklin. After long and tiresome process of finding members for the band, he makes two discoveries: Deco, an alcoholic streetcar conductor with a voice of Otis Redding, and Joey “The Lips” Fagan, a horn player who knows soul music backwards and forwards and claims to have played with everyone from Wilson Pickett to Elvis Presley. After recruiting few more people, the band — called the Commitments is formed, and Jimmy begins to whip the members into shape.
Starring: Robert Arkins, Colm Meaney, Andrew Strong, Maria Doyle…
Directed by: Alan Parker / Produced by: Lynda Myles / Based on: The Commitments by Roddy Doyle
That Thing You Do! (1996)
What’s it about? Guy Patterson is a salesman who dreams of becoming a drummer in a jazz band. One day, he was asked to sit in with a band called One-Dees, at the annual Mercyhurst College talent show, because their regular drummer had a broken arm. During the performance of the ballad titled “That Thing You Do”, Guy launches into a faster tempo, and the audience goes wild for the song. Soon after that, record company representative Mr. White offers the band a development contract with Play-Tone Records, which they sign up, and their song makes it way to the top of the national charts. The band soon begins to face problems, as they become familiar with the specifics of the contract, which some of them are unwilling to follow.
Starring: Tom Everett Scott, Liv Tyler, Tom Hanks…
Directed by: Tom Hanks / Produced by: Jonathan Demme (and others)
Still Crazy (1998)
What’t it about? Tony Costello – the keyboardist of a bend from the 70s called Strange Fruit, makes a decision to reform a band after 20 years of hiatus. He tracks down Karen Knowles, the band’s original runaround-girl, and with her help gathers all the original members; bassist Les Wickes, who has a family and works as a roofer, drummer David “Beano” Baggot, who lives in a trailer in his mother’s garden and owes a big amount of money, and lead singer Ray Simms, who after years of drug and alcohol abuse is now completely sober, lives in a mansion and struggles to release a solo album. The only member that they have been unable to locate is the original guitarist, Brian, so they decide to hire a much younger guitarist – Luke. The rest of the band feel like Luke is stealing the show, particularly with the members of the opposite sex. Despite efforts to stay calm and professional, the band is falling into the old routine of bickering day by day as they get closer to the big reunion concert.
Starring: Stephen Rea, Billy Connolly, Bill Nighy, Timothy Spall…
Directed by: Brian Gibson / Produced by: Amanda Marmot
Detroit Rock City (1999)
What’s it about? Four young friends, who also happen to be big fans of the band Kiss, find themselves without tickets for the band’s upcoming concert in Detroit. Soon after, they found out about a radio contest for tickets to the show, and one of the boys – Trip, ends up winning them. Things start to go downhill as they discover that Trip did not stay on the phone long enough to give the radio station his information, forcing the station to give the tickets to the next caller.
Starring: Edward Furlong, Sam Huntington, Giuseppe Andrews, James DeBello
Directed by: Adam Rifkin / Produced by: Barry Levine, Gene Simmons
Almost Famous (2000)
What’s it about? William Miller is a teenage aspiring rock journalist, who gets an offer to write for Rolling Stone magazine about the popular 70s band Stillwater. He meets a young woman named Penny Lane – a leader of groupies who call themselves “Band-Aids”, and soon after goes on tour with Stillwater and the Band-Aids, promising to keep in contact with his worried mother. During the tour, William gets to find out from his own perspective on all the goods, and the bads of the rock-star lifestyle.
Starring: Patrick Fugit, Billy Crudup, Kate Hudson, Frances McDormand, Zooey Deschanel…
Directed by: Cameron Crowe / Produced by: Cameron Crowe
School Of Rock (2004)
What’s it about? Dewey Finn is a broke, unemployed guitarist of an unpopular rock band called “No Vacancy”, who very soon gets replaced because of his never-ending self-indulgent solos and crowd-divings during the gigs. One day he picks up the phone call for his brother about a job at a local school and thinking he has nothing to lose, accepts the teaching job while pretending to be his brother. Facing the fact that he’s not qualified for the job, Dewey decides to take a different approach to learning the class, incorporating Rock and Roll in his everyday schedule, and along the way, discovers some hidden talents among the pupils.
Starring: Jack Black, Joan Cusack, Sarah Silverman…
Directed by: Richard Linklater / Produced by: Scott Rudin
Taking Woodstock (2009)
What’s it about? Set in 1969, the film follows the true story of Elliot Tiber, an aspiring Greenwich Village interior designer whose parents own the small El Monaco Motel in White Lake. Due to financial trouble, the motel may have to be closed, but Elliot finds a solution to get some money when he discovers that a high-profile concert has recently lost its permit from the nearby town of Wallkill, and decides to call the producer Michael Lang at Woodstock Ventures and offers his crew a boarding in his parents motel. Elliot’s neighbor, Max Yasgur joins the opportunity and provides his nearby farmland for the concert that would ultimately make history as one of the greatest events in the rock & roll.
Starring: Demetri Martin, Imelda Staunton, Henry Goodman, Liev Schreiber
Directed by: Ang Lee / Produced by: Ang Lee, James Schamus / Based on: Taking Woodstock by Elliot Tiber