Friday, May 10, 2013

Is Anybody Excited for "All is by my Side"?


How many times have we heard things like "Hendrix is God." Too many to count. Often, Jimi is thought of as a demi-god, but anybody that has read a great deal about his life would realize that he is a very complex person with a rich background. He spent time in the military, bounced around between family households, had a homeless brother that lived down the street, had an abusive father,  and the list goes on and on. The one constant for Jimi was always music. His entire life was a life dedicated to music. However, most people only think of Jimi's days of fame and fortune, but really, that is not the best part of the story.

The new Jimi Hendrix biopic, "All is by my Side," has been in the works for what seems like a long time. All I hear is negativity from every journalist that is covering the subject. Yes, I know that none of Hendrix' original songs are going to be in the film. Yes, I know that there are a lot of bad biopics out there. But, I do think this film could have great potential because Hendrix pre-fame life was so interesting and dynamic.

One reason that "All is by my Side" could be good is that Jimi was involved in all of the great movements of the 60s. Being an African-American, Jimi was forced to live in a very racist world. What is even more interesting about Jimi is that he was pushed away by both sides. Early in his life, Jimi was just another black guy from the street and faced the well documented persecution of African-Americans of the time. Eventually, Jimi moved his way up through the African-American music scene, but because of his rock n roll tendencies, he developed into an outsider in thAfrican-American world as well. Little Richard kicked him out of his band for a number of reasons, including wardrobe and his performance style. Also, in a memorable piece of journalism from Charles Cross biography, "A Room Full of Mirrors", Miles Davis expressed his displeasure with Jimi being a "white musician." While being cast out by his own race, Jimi embraced and was embraced by the "white" rock n roll community. He loved Bob Dylan, and during his time in New York, he would walk around with a Dylan record at all times. Jimi's time in New York could be a very fascinating study of racial dynamics during the 60s. For, Jimi would frequent caucasion, rock n roll clubs in Greenwich Village while other African-Americans were in jazz clubs miles away. Truly, there are a plethora of stories that could be used for "All is by my Side."

During a time that was filled with hostility concerning Vietnam, Jimi was doing time in the military. Jimi was a real soldier, for he spent more than a year in the army. During his time there, he went through training, was shipped around, and even had a sweetheart that he always wrote letters to. In all of his spare time, Jimi practiced his guitar and jammed frequently with Brian Cox (Cox would reunite years later to play at Woodstock and be a part of the Band of Gypsys). Eventually, Jimi was discharged because he claimed that he had homosexual tendencies, which was a story he invented to avoid military life and the Vietnam War. Jimi's time in the military could easily add to Jimi's life story being a representation of the 60s.

Then there is the music. The 60s is synonymous with music, and Jimi traveled the country and played with some of the world's biggest acts before he even wrote any of his own music. Some were even touting him as the greatest guitar player before he was even "discovered" by the mainstream music scene. While Jimi was frequenting New York's Greenwich Village scene, he was having countless run-ins with other famous musicians, including Keith Richards who will be featured heavily in "All is by my Side." That story will be very interesting! Jimi stole Richards' girlfriend at the time, Kathy Etchingham, and Richards scoured all of the bars, so he could kick Jimi's ass. I won't ruin the ending to that story, but it will play nicely on the screen.

One thing I do want to say is that the Experience Hendrix foundation is a joke. I can't stand those people up there. The Experience Hendrix foundation is run by Janie Hendrix, Jimi's half sister. Jimi only met Janie one time while he was alive, and she was just a child. Through technicalities, she gained control of his estate and has kept his closest relatives (especially brother Leon) out of the loop. Currently, she is refusing to work with producers on the film and won't let them use any of his original music. However, like I said, Jimi had such a great background that a great film could still be done.

Jimi Hendrix lived an exciting life in his pre-fame years. I am excited to see what will be brought to the screen by the writers, producers and actors (especially Andre Benjamin). For everybody that has lost excitement concerning the film, I just wanted to emphasize what a dynamic story/film this could be. Whether or not this will happen is another story.

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