10 fantastic music biopics that you may not know

Films you might have missed but need to see.

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DOCUMENTARY No. 3

A BAND CALLED DEATH (2012)

In early 2013, a movie about a long-lost Detroit musician won the Academy Award for Best Documentary. It was called Searching for Sugar Man. There was another documentary about a long-forgotten Detroit band the same year, and it tells an equally fascinating story.

But the movie A Band Called Death, about – as you have no doubt guessed – a band called Death, never got the same attention. Death was comprised of three brothers, Bobby, Dannis, and David Hackney. They loved the hard rock music of the Who and the Rolling Stones and set out to do their own version, even louder and faster than their heroes. There was just one problem. The Hackney brothers were black.

Black musicians in the mid-70s didn’t play rock and roll. In fact, since the death of Jimi Hendrix in 1970, very few black musicians played rock and roll anywhere. In Detroit, home of Motown, it was even more daunting. But the Hackneys persisted.

During the lifetime of the oldest brother and guitarist David, they mostly failed to gain attention. Then decades later, they were rediscovered. Directors Mark Covino and Jeff Howlett use archival footage and extensive interviews with Bobby and Dannis to make a fairly convincing case that Death was as much a proto-punk godfather as the Sex Pistols or Ramones. David died in 2000, but thanks to the movie, Death lives on.