When a 1974 demo tape was discovered of music by Death, the Detroit proto-punks, it was like a missing link. Ahead of its time and now all but forgotten, the trio's harsh, fast sound was the precursor to that of bands like Bad Brains, Ramones and Minutemen. A Band Called Death, part of the University of Colorado's International Film Series, finally tells the story of Dannis, Bobby and David Hackney's close call with fame, followed by the brothers' rapid descent into obscurity
In honor of A Band Called Death, which will screen at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, March 7 in the basement auditorium (room 1B20) of CU's Visual Arts Complex, 1085 18th Street in Boulder, here are five more films about almost forgotten musicians and music scenes that have flourished despite mainstream acknowledgement.
5) Searching for Sugar Man One of the most talked-about documentaries of 2012, Searching for Sugar Man traces the roots of Sixto Rodriguez, another forgotten Detroit-based musician from the early '70s. Rediscovered after two South African fans went on a mission to find out if the folk artist was still alive, the movie tells the tale of how Rodriguez found success halfway across the world -- after it eluded him here for decades.
4) You're Gonna Miss Me Not forgotten but more of a living myth, Roky Erickson is the focus of You're Gonna Miss Me. The 2005 film follows his bizarre musical career, one laced with mental-health issues, family difficulties and legal troubles. Erickson was introduced to the world in 1965 when he fronted 13th Floor Elevators, the band he cofounded, and while fame did not elude him, it came in strange waves. He all but disappeared from music in the '80s, only to resurface a decade later.
3) The Gits In 1993, Mia Zapata was brutally raped and murdered a few blocks from her home in Seattle. Named for Zapata's explosive band, The Gits (2005) is a documentary about the life of a musician inching closer to stardom -- just as the world was turning its eye to the infamous "Seattle sound" as it played out and changed music history forever.
2) Afro-Punk Shining a light on an often undiscussed part of punk music and culture, Afro-Punk (2003) explores race identity through the personal stories of fans and musicians alike. Featuring commentary from members of bands like Bad Brains, TV On the Radio and Dead Kennedys, the film builds on the collective experience of individuals involved in music scenes across the country.
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1) From the Back of the Room Another film documenting an often under- and mis-represented musical demographic, From the Back of the Room (2011) looks at women's place in punk rock. Digging deeper than just the Riot Grrrl movement, this film also talks to both fans and musicians about the treatment women that receive within the context of a male-centric, often aggressive art form.