If You Loved ‘Rocketman,’ Try These Streaming Movies About Real Life Music Legends

Elton John's known as much for his catchy, emotional piano tunes as he is for outright flamboyance and showmanship. Rocketman, coming to theaters May 31, attempts to capture a fraction of his real life, to share with audiences who've grown up with the persona, not the man. If you can't wait for the peek those platform boots and spangled glasses, here are 13 music biopics streaming now to make sure you're still standing when Rocketman is finally out.

Music biopics present a double difficulty: not only do those films have to wrangle normal biopic issues, like how to portray an actual experience, finding someone who can convincingly read as the person, and creating a dramatic arc from disparate true moments, but they also have to work in the music. That's an entirely new set of issues. Can the actor sing and/or play? Will they sing and/or play? Will their performance distract audiences from the story? Should reality be sacrificed to play the hits?

The biopics below tackle their topics in many different ways. Some, like The Hours and Times, Bessie, and Shine, focus more on the personal dramas of the protagonists, with the music incidental or not even there. Other films, such as The Music Lovers, 24 Hour Party People, and Rain the Color of Blue with a Little Red in It put the music first and foremost, playing fast and loose with time and reality. The only thing they all have in common is dealing with personas as big as John's.


'Behind The Candelabra'

The only pianist who could fairly be called more fabulous than Elton John, this retelling of Liberace's sequin-spangled life follows the relationship between Liberace (Michael Douglass) and much younger lover and "chauffeur" Scott Thorson (Matt Damon).

Streaming on HBO Go and Amazon Prime.



Jaimie Foxx stars as legendary pianist Ray Charles, in this story of his tumultuous personal life, which won its star an Oscar.

Streaming on Starz.



Gifted pianist David Helfgott, pushed hard by an overbearing father, snaps under the pressure. The film follows as he slowly reconciles his mind and gifts.

Streaming on HBO Go and Amazon Prime.


'Love & Mercy'

Focusing on Beach Boys member Brian Wilson's struggles with mental illness, this documentary captures the strain and stress of reconciling one's personal and public life, while keeping in the music that people still can't resist.

Streaming on Vudu and TubiTV.


'Rain The Color Of Blue With A Little Red In It'

Not quite a biopic, but as close to one of Prince as we'll get at the moment — this retelling of Purple Rain via Tuareg guitarist Mdou Moctar captures the outlandishness and hypnotic music of Prince, with a style entirely its own.

Streaming on Amazon Prime.


'Music Lovers'

This highly experimental Tchaikovsky biopic is intense as the man's music, diving into his passion for flesh and art in equal measure.

Available to rent on Amazon Prime.


'24 Hour Party People'

The chaos of the '70s had little on the "Madchester" scene of '80s and '90s Manchester, England. The film follows Factory Records founder Tony Richards through the rise and fall of the music nightlife.

Streaming on Hoopla and Vudu.


'The Hours And Times'

The holiday is real, but everything else that happened between John Lennon and Beatles manager Brian Epstein on their weekend getaway to Barcelona is purely speculative in this quiet, thoughtful biopic.

Streaming on Kanopy.


'La Bamba'

Lou Diamond Phillips plays doomed Chicano rock n' roller Richie Valens, whose hit song "La Bamba" was one of the first non-English songs to crack the Top 10 in America.

Streaming on Amazon Prime and Sony Crackle.


'Bessie Smith'

Queen Latifah stars as blues singer Bessie Smith, a woman whose talent couldn't be denied even in an era where black women were told they were too dark to be on stage, and bisexuality was nearly invisible.

Streaming on HBO Go.


'What's Love Got To Do With It'

It's hard to believe that working class boy Reginald Dwight blossomed into fantastical Elton John, a transformation that was, in some ways, motivated by pain. In this biopic, abandoned Anna Mae is forged into glittering Tina Turner through the fires of an abusive relationship with husband Ike, her confidence slowly building until she comes into her own.

Streaming on Showtime and Amazon Prime.


'Song Without End'

Franz Liszt's music is the star of this biopic focusing on some of the oft-arrogant musician's many love affairs. There's also the more audacious Lisztomania, which reaches the sensational heights of Rocketman, but alas, that's not streaming.

Streaming on Amazon Prime.


'Nico, 1988'

This portrait of the former Velvet Underground vocalist is a counterpoint to Rocketman. Instead of trying to cram in a life, or even fictionalize a chunk of it, this film opts to focus on a small, nonmusical section of the musician's life that says more about her work than any recreation of her songs could.

Streaming on Hulu.


'Miles Ahead'

Don Cheadles directs and stars in this achronological view of jazz musician Miles Davis' life, mimicking his freeform, improvisational style.

Streaming on Sony Crackle.

Whatever the subject, it's fascinating to see how biopics try to convey the depth and emotion of an entire life, especially those tied to music that attempts the same.