A Band Called Death

Drafthouse Films

The story of Death—three brothers from Detroit who formed what would be the first black punk band—surfaced a few years ago. In 2009, Drag City released …For the Whole World to See, a collection of songs that had been collecting dust in a basement since 1975. It’s some fantastic, no-frills rock ’n’ roll, years ahead of its time. Now we get a deeper look into the story in A Band Called Death, which comes on the heels of a couple of similar rock docs: Anvil! The Story of Anvil and Searching for Sugar Man. A Band Called Death centers around the Hackney brothers—David, Bobby and Dannis—who were born and raised in a city where Motown ruled, and found rock ’n’ roll via Alice Cooper and The Who. The eldest brother, David (who died of lung cancer in 2000), became the spiritual leader, and he’s very much present throughout the film. It was David who refused to change the band’s ominous name, a decision that would keep Death from getting a record deal with Columbia Records. It’s that individualism and their strong familial bond that really come out in this story. That’s life with Death.