Today in history... September 18th, 1970, Jimi Hendrix died of a drug overdose in London, at just 27 years old.
In recent years, there’ve been numerous attempts to bring Jimi Hendrix’s life-story to the theatrical screen, but securing rights to the man’s story and his music has proven to be challenging via Experience Hendrix, the gatekeeper to the musician’s estate.
One of those attempts, which finally made it through production, and made its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) earlier this month, is the Andre Benjamin project that initially excited many (titled, All Is By My Side, helmed by John Ridley), but later disappointed when it was revealed that the project didn't have approval of Jimi Hendrix's estate to use any of the musician's original songs (Hendrix-written classics like Purple Haze or The Wind Cries Mary), with reps for the estate accusing the filmmakers of moving forward with the project without their official permission.
That didn't stop the production of the film, however, which shot in Ireland in the summer of 2012, and has seen mixed reviews since its TIFF debut. Zeba Blay reviewed the film for S&A, saying that while Benjamin's performance as Hendrix is good, the overall film isn't. Read her reactions HERE.
Open Road and XLrator picked up U.S. rights to the film after its TIFF premiere, but no ETA on delivery.
But while we wait for that film, you should know that a new two-hour documentary on the life of Jimi Hendrix, titled Jimi Hendrix: Hear My Train A Comin, will be released directly to the home video market on November 5, courtesy of Sony's Legacy brand.
The DVD package will be accompanied by a CD with a previously-unreleased 1968 concert recording by the Jimi Hendrix Experience at the Miami Pop Festival that year.
PBS will also broadcast the documentary as part of its American Masters series on the same day that the DVD version is released.
The documentary is directed by Bob Smeaton whose credits include several other music-themed films like The Beatles Anthology, Festival Express, as well as several Hendrix projects: Jimi Hendrix: Voodoo Child (2010) and Hendrix 70: Live at Woodstock (2012).
Regarding this new film, director Smeaton told the New York Times in an interview that:
“The biggest challenge was that having done a number of Hendrix projects in the past, I had to find a way of getting everything I wanted into the film without having it run six hours, and without having it turn into the same film I did in the past. You’ve got to hit certain points: when he came to London, when he played Monterey, certain albums, Woodstock, building his recording studio. But you also want to get a different take. And that’s the hardest thing – trying to stay fresh.”
Included in the doc are interviews with those close to Hendrix, whether personally or professionally, who knew him well and worked with him.
“In the past, I’ve interviewed mainly guys. And with guys, it always comes down to, ‘He was a great guitar player, he looked good on stage, he died too young.’ And that’s all true. But the women offer a different take. They say ‘He was shy,’ or ‘He was gentle.’ The women bring an interesting insight, and maybe for once we know more about him.”
By the way, Hear My Train A Comin' (aka, Getting My Heart Back Together Again) is a blues song written by Hendrix, recorded between 1967 and 1970, but was not released until after his death.
Look for Jimi Hendrix: Hear My Train A Comin on DVD (with a CD of a previously-unreleased 1968 concert recording) and on PBS, on November 5.
The release is all part of a multi-year celebration of Hendrix's 70th birthday (which would've been last year, 2012), which saw previous releases of unseen Hendrix material, amongst other things.
No trailer yet, but here's Hendrix performing the song that's also the title of the film: