These 3 Movies Will Make You Love Jimi Hendrix All Over Again
Jimi Hendrix - TheSoaringSixties / Youtube
The life and death of Jimi Hendrix remain one of rock’s most profound “what ifs”. Jimi, often hailed as one of the greatest guitarists ever, burst onto the scene in the 1960s, redefining rock music in ways few could imagine.
Hendrix’s early years were marked by struggle and perseverance. He faced racism and poverty while honing his guitar skills. But once he hit the stage, his virtuosity was undeniable. His innovative use of feedback, distortion, and whammy bars set him apart, and his flamboyant stage presence electrified audiences.
In 1967, he formed the Jimi Hendrix Experience and released Are You Experienced? – an album that revolutionized rock. Songs like “Purple Haze” and “Hey Joe” showcased his unparalleled talent, earning him legions of fans and critical acclaim.
But tragically, Hendrix’s life was cut short at just 27 years old. In 1970, he died of asphyxiation due to barbiturate intoxication. His death left the music world in shock and mourning.
The “what if” factor looms large. What could Hendrix have achieved with more time? His potential was limitless. His groundbreaking approach to the guitar hinted at a future of uncharted musical territory.
In honor of the remarkable career and life of a visionary, pay homage to Hendrix today by checking these three films about him.
1. Jimi Hendrix (1973)
WHAT IS IT ABOUT?
Jimi Hendrix, or A Film About Jimi Hendrix, is a rock documentary directed and produced by Joe Boyd, John Head, and Gary Weis, focusing on the life of Jimi Hendrix. It was released in 1973, a few years after Jimi’s death.
The film features concert footage spanning from 1967 to 1970, including memorable performances at the Monterey Pop Festival, the 1970 Isle of Wight Festival, Woodstock, and a concert at Berkeley.
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More importantly, this documentary also includes interviews with Hendrix’s contemporaries, family, and friends that added depth to the film.
Notable figures appearing in the documentary include Paul Caruso, Eric Clapton, Billy Cox, Alan Douglas, Germaine Greer, James A. “Al” Hendrix (Hendrix’s father), Mick Jagger, Eddie Kramer, Buddy Miles, Mitch Mitchell, Juggy Murray, Little Richard, Lou Reed, and Pete Townshend.
Noel Redding, the third man from the Experience triumvirate with Hendrix and Mitchel, notably was not in the film due to his pending lawsuit against the Hendrix Estate at the time.
WHY WATCH IT?
It is a must for any Jimi Hendrix fan. This groundbreaking rockumentary features some of the best, if not the best, live performances in rock and roll history. Jimi Hendrix is an intimate portrayal of its subject, delving into the perspectives of those who cherished him.
In contrast to many music biopics that shy away from fully immersing viewers in the music, this documentary provides extended segments of Jimi’s performances, allowing the audience to experience entire songs without interruption.
The film primarily showcases his outstanding performances at The Monterey Pop Festival, widely regarded as one of the pinnacle moments in Jimi’s career.
2. Jimi: All Is by My Side (2013)
WHAT IS IT ABOUT?
It’s a Jimi Hendrix film minus the famous songs that made the guitarist known. But there’s a reason why that was the case.
Jimi: All Is by My Side is a biographical drama film released in 2013, written and directed by John Ridley. The movie portrays Hendrix’s early career, from his arrival in London to the formation of The Jimi Hendrix Experience and the initial stages of his rise to fame, leading up to his iconic performance at the Monterey Pop Festival.
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It had its premiere in the Special Presentation category at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival and was also featured at the South by Southwest Film Festival. The film was later released in the UK on August 8, 2014, and screened at the New Zealand International Film Festival (NZIFF) on July 26, 2014.
Notably, the film does not incorporate any of Hendrix’s original songs, as the filmmakers’ request to use his music was denied by Experience Hendrix LLC, which manages Hendrix’s estate.
Instead, since the movie is set in London during the years 1966 and 1967, it features the songs that Hendrix performed during that period, just before the release of his debut album, Are You Experienced?.
WHY WATCH IT?
Because André 3000 is phenomenal as Jimi Hendrix. The Outkast rapper, known also as Andre Benjamin, has long dreamed of playing as his idol, and he did an outstanding job of capturing the essence of the man.
While the previous item from 1973 featured the best of Jimi’s music and performances, this 2013 offering severely lacked those; but fret not, All Is by My Side manages to make you feel like you’re not missing out on the music at all.
Benjamin and the filmmakers adeptly capture Hendrix’s essence, allowing you to sense the music’s presence, even though you never actually hear it. With Andre having expressed his desire to portray Jimi for a decade, he had ample time to immerse himself in the role, and it truly reflects everything you’ve heard about Hendrix.
3. Music, Money, Madness… Jimi Hendrix In Maui (2020)
WHAT IS IT ABOUT?
Now this one’s quite weird, made weirder by the fact that the iconic guitarist sidelines as Jimi the extra in a controversial indie film.
Music, Money, Madness… Jimi Hendrix In Maui documents the memorable trip of the Jimi Hendrix Experience to Maui, recounting their involvement with the ill-fated Rainbow Bridge movie, a 70s counter-culture movie that flopped hard.
This film was the brainchild of Jimi’s manager, Michael Jeffery, who harbored ambitions that exceeded his capabilities, including building a studio and entering the film industry. Worse, he’s mired in financial troubles.
The manager joined forces with Andy Warhol’s Factory disciple Chuck Wein. Jeffery somehow managed to secure nearly half a million dollars from Warner Brothers, with a promise of securing the company a soundtrack album from Jimi. But the rockstar did not agree to it, and he didn’t even want to participate in the film.
🎸Television Premiere 🎸
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What Jimi wanted was a two-week vacation in Hawaii along with his bandmates. The inexperienced filmmakers filmed this vacation and convinced Hendrix to perform a free concert in a dormant volcano crater. They marketed the whole thing as a concert film.
It honestly could’ve been good, but it contained only 17 minutes of a jumbled mess of a concert, which only shown at the latter part of Rainbow Bridge. Jimi also did not get to create a soundtrack because he died less than three weeks later, so Wein used trashy live recordings that resulted in the subpar quality of the “movie soundtrack”.
Now, the disaster was re-released with added scenes, incorporating previously unreleased original footage and fresh interviews. Yay.
WHY WATCH IT?
Rainbow Bridge, although it was a convoluted mess, is a major part of the Hendrix lore: the rockstar’s heavily edited performance at the end of the film (i.e. no complete songs) was Jimi’s penultimate American concert and the last one filmed.
The world’s loss of Jimi Hendrix was made palpable in the movie. Even with the purported drug-related issues, he appeared in high spirits and delivered an outstanding performance in Maui.
And the clips were breath-taking, and impressive even if they were not professionally shot (in contrast to Jimi’s performance footage, particularly Monterey).
Thanks to this 2020 documentary, fans of the late guitarist can now enjoy his Maui magic without going through the headache-inducing Rainbow Bridge.