"A Band Called Death" opens this Friday in 14 cities.
Dannis Hackney used to call Death -- the mid-70s protopunk band he formed with brothers David and Bobby Hackney -- "the greatest band that never was." But as "A Band Called Death," a documentary about the Detroit trio's history and late 00s rediscovery, hits theaters this week, Death is very much a living proposition.
Directed by Jeff Howlett and Mark Covino and shown at the Los Angeles and South By Southwest film festivals, "A Band Called Death" chronicles the Hackney's journey and misadventures as a raw, all-black rock band that had nearly ever single door closed in its face, from record labels to rock clubs. There's tragedy in oldest brother David's death from lung cancer in 2000 but a happy ending as a 2008 discovery of Death's obscure, self-released single "Politicians in My Eyes" set in motion a chain of events that led to the release of two Death albums -- "...For the Whole World to See" in 2009 and the demos collection "Spiritual*Mental*Physical" in 2011, both by Drag City Records -- and the rebirth of Death as a touring concern with Bobbie Duncan, who's also the guitarist Bobby and Dannis Hackney's reggae band Lambsread in Vermont, where they now reside.