Hendrix fans, rejoice! A clip from the Jimi Hendrix biopic, All Is By My Side, is finally here and it is the first chance people get to see Andre 3000 tackle a critical story from the guitarist’s life.
The film is set to premiere in the US at South by Southwest next week, and has come a long way to get there, having been a work-in-progress for seven years. It all began when writer/director John Ridley, who just won the Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar this past weekend for 12 Years a Slave, came upon an instrumental titled Sending My Love to Linda by Hendrix. Ridley learned that the Linda being referred to was Linda Keith, an ex of Rolling Stones’ guitarist, Keith Richards, and friend of Hendrix who helped inspire him to produce original material.
The role of Linda Keith is played by Imogen Poots of current Need for Speed fame, and Andre Benjamin (Andre 3000), formerly of the hip hop duo Outkast, plays Hendrix in the film that documents the musician’s time in London before he had achieved his immense fame. Benjamin was building an impressive resume as an actor starring in hit movies like Semi Pro, Four Brothers, Be Cool, and the musical Idlewild, which also starred his partner from Outkast, Antwan “Big Boi” Patton. Since 2008 though, he has been relatively absent from films, giving him ample time to be absorbed by the character of Hendrix.
To be able to successfully bring the late Hendrix to life, Andre 3000 says he sifted through a mountain of material and he “listened to hours of interviews.” “I watched films – watched his mannerisms,” says the actor. Producer of the film, Sean McKittrick talked about Benjamin’s performance, saying, “He speaks and walks like Jimi… The transformation has been amazing.”
There has been some controversy regarding the project, namely centered around music licensing. Experience Hendrix LLC is the company that oversees the Hendrix estate and controls the licenses on original material. That company is managed by Hendrix’s sister, Janie Hendrix, who has commented that no film that contains copyrighted Hendrix material can be produced without her and the company’s approval. The way that producers like McKittrick have gotten over this hurdle is not to use original work, but to use covers by Benjamin of The Beatles, Muddy Waters and others.
Representatives from the Hendrix estate have come out and said the producers want to make this movie “without Jimi Hendrix music.” Maintaining artistic integrity is quite easy though, considering the story fortunately spans ’66 and ’67, which was before Hendrix released his legendary debut, Are You Experienced, and so the producers avoided having to tangle over Hendrix’s classic, original work and there’s been no involvement by Experience Hendrix LLC in the film. Some of the songs that are expected to be in the movie include Wild Thing, Hound Dog, Bleeding Heart, and Mannish Boy.
If this clip from All Is By My Side is any indication, Benjamin transitions near seamlessly into the shoes of Hendrix, surely leaning on his own musical experience as Andre 3000 to bring the late guitarist to life in an impressionable way. Fans will surely be excited as the film looks to be one not to miss.
Editorial by Matt Stinson