Behind the music: Five new rock documentaries to check out

Four men wearing psychedelic clothes face the camera

Syd Barrett (right) was a founding member of Pink Floyd.
Photo: Mercury Studios

With the mercury firmly pegged north of 100 degrees for the foreseeable future, you might be in the market for some entertainment that doesn’t involve going outdoors. Fortunately, 2023 has seen a bumper crop of worthwhile documentaries about rock and pop music you can either stream at home, or venture out to a movie theater to see.

Here are five recent releases best watched LOUD.

Have You Got It Yet? The Story of Syd Barrett and Pink Floyd

For a band with no shortage of mythic stories, one of the most enduring tales from Pink Floyd’s history involves founding member Roger “Syd” Barrett, whose infamous, drug-fueled flameout in the late 1960s shook the British psych-rock band to its core. Co-directed by Storm Thorgerson and Roddy Bogawa, the film draws on interviews with all surviving members of Pink Floyd for an emotionally charged exploration of this damaged genius. (Screening July 31 and Aug. 3 at Angelika Dallas and Angelika Plano; Aug. 13 and 20 at Texas Theatre)

Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars: The Motion Picture

Fifty years after David Bowie bade farewell to his glam-rock alter ego Ziggy Stardust during a concert at London’s Hammersmith Odeon, this acclaimed documentary/concert film hybrid, directed by D.A. Pennebaker, has been newly refurbished with 4K image and 5.1 surround sound. This 50th anniversary version also incorporates songs performed by Jeff Beck which were previously omitted. (Screening July 17-18 at Studio Movie Grill Spring Valley; July 23, 25-26 at Texas Theatre)


What George Michael and Andrew Ridgeley accomplished in less than four years is mind-boggling. The pair of friends from childhood rocketed to global fame as Wham!, one of the biggest pop acts of the 1980s, a thrilling journey now explored in the new documentary, directed by Chris Smith. Utilizing first-person recounting from Ridgeley and one-time Dallas resident Michael, this fizzy, poignant doc reminds you just how consistently incredible Wham! was — and is. (Streaming on Netflix)

Squaring the Circle: The Story of Hipgnosis

The 1960s and 1970s gave birth to some of the greatest rock music ever made. With his new documentary, “Squaring the Circle: The Story of Hipgnosis,” director Anton Corbijn (himself no stranger to capturing rock superstars through a camera lens) goes in-depth with the minds behind some of that era’s defining album art. Storm Thorgerson and Aubrey Powell’s groundbreaking work is the subject of fresh interviews with Roger Waters, Paul McCartney, Peter Gabriel, Noel Gallagher and many more. (In theaters and streaming via iTunes)

Love to Love You, Donna Summer

Directed by Roger Ross Williams and Brooklyn Sudano (Donna Summer’s daughter), “Love to Love You, Donna Summer” is an absorbing look at a disco-pop icon, whose career has often been overlooked and misunderstood. By peeling back the glitter and digging into the woman behind some of the biggest hits of the last half-century, “Love” shines a light on a generational talent. (Streaming on Max)

Preston Jones is a North Texas freelance writer and regular contributor to KXT. Email him at [email protected] or find him on Twitter (@prestonjones). Our work is made possible by our generous, music-loving members. If you like how we lift up local music, consider becoming a KXT sustaining member right here.