Kubernik: True Stories of Music’s Unsung Heroes

In September, AXS-TV announced programming of a collection of acclaimed documentaries in the new Into the Spotlight: True Stories of Music’s Unsung Heroes weekly special event—airing every Wednesday at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT, which started September 29.

AXS TV is a general entertainment cable television network that is carried by the major operators and providers. It’s a partnership between Anthem Sports and Entertainment, network founder Mark Cuban, and Anschutz Entertainment Group.

This decade I’m personally delighted by the constant slew of new music documentaries being developed and existing product acquired for broadcast on cable television and streaming services: catalog products, worldwide premiers along with record label and film studio joint ventures.

The consumer market, viewership and distribution outlets for these award-winning music documentary films have certainly expanded since 2004 when I initially wrote Hollywood Shack Job: Rock Music In Film and on Your Screen,” published by University of New Mexico Press.

     Into the Spotlight is a celebration of the little-known background figures that had a big impact on music and the hit parade, from unheralded session musicians and supporting vocalists.

Three of these heralded documentaries slated for broadcast for Into the Spotlight: True Stories of Music’s Unsung Heroes are examined at length in my 2020 book Docs That Rock, Music That Matters, published by Otherworld Cottage Industries.

AXS-TV’s special event begins on Sept. 29th with the winner of the 2014 Oscar® for Best Documentary, Twenty Feet From Stardom, a revealing  profile of the backup singers who provided unforgettable harmonies on classic songs that defined a generation. Director Morgan Neville’s expedition includes interviews with vocalists Darlene Love, Claudia Linnear, Judith Hill, Merry Clayton, and Lisa Fischer, as well as Mick Jagger, Sheryl Crow, Sting, and Bruce Springsteen.

AXS-TV has also scheduled on October 13th 2015’s The Wrecking Crew from director Denny Tedesco. The Wrecking Crew musicians provided the groundwork for classic hits by Frank Sinatra, the Crystals, the Beach Boys, the Mamas & the Papas, the Righteous Brothers, Nancy Sinatra, Sonny & Cher, and many others.


Photo by Gene Aguilera
At Allport Prodictions Studio. September 2021
Author and music/film historian Harvey Kubernik with Keyboardist/arranger Don Randi is featured in "The Wrecking Crew" from director Denny Tedesco
Singer Little Willie G of the legendary group Thee Midniters is spotlighted in director Jon Wilkman's "Chicano Rock! The Sounds of East Los Angeles," winner of the 2009 Best Documentary at the Reel Rasquache Festival of the U.S. Latino Experience in Film and Art.

The event closes on Nov. 3rd with 2002’s Standing in the Shadows of Motown, a musical odyssey directed by Paul Justman which sheds light on Detroit-based studio musicians the Funk Brothers whose signature sound fueled hits by the Four Tops, the Supremes, the Temptations, Stevie Wonder, the Miracles, Smokey Robinson and dozens of Motown artists.

 Into the Spotlight: True Stories of Music’s Unsung Heroes Programming Lineup

Sept. 29 – Twenty Feet From Stardom


Oct. 13 – The Wrecking Crew

Nov. 3 – Standing in the Shadows of Motown


Harvey Kubernik is the author of 20 books, including Leonard Cohen: Everybody Knows, Neil Young: Heart of Gold, Canyon Of Dreams: The Magic and The Music Of Laurel Canyon and Turn Up The Radio! Rock, Pop and Roll In Los Angeles 1956-1972.  

    Sterling/Barnes and Noble in 2018 published Harvey and Kenneth Kubernik’s The Story Of The Band: From Big Pink To The Last Waltz. For October 19, 2021 publication the duo wrote Jimi Hendrix: Voodoo Child for Sterling/Barnes and Noble.

Otherworld Cottage Industries in July 2020 published Harvey’s book, Docs That Rock, Music That Matters, featuring interviews with D.A. Pennebaker, Chris Hegedus, Albert Maysles, Murray Lerner, Morgan Neville, Dr. James Cushing, Curtis Hanson, Michael Lindsay-Hogg, Andrew Loog Oldham, Dick Clark, Ray Manzarek, John Densmore, Robby Krieger, Travis Pike, Allan Arkush, and David Leaf, among others.

During 2020 Harvey Kubernik served as a Consultant on the 2-part documentary Laurel Canyon: A Place in Time directed by Alison Ellwood which debuted on EPIX television.