Jimi: All Is By My Side looks at the life of Jimi Hendrix, a unique performer who died at the age of 27 but whom is one of a number of artists, including The Doors with Jim Morrison, I wish I’d been able to see live… even though he passed away before I was even born.
He’s brought to the screen by André Benjamin, best known as the lead singer of Outkast, who themselves are probably best known in the UK for the song, “Hey Ya!”, which made No.3 in November 2003. Their first single, Ms Jackson, reached No.2, almost three years earlier in March 2001, but it’s the former which is still played regularly in clubs.
We first see Jimi perform on June 4th 1967, at the Saville Theatre in London, doing rather well for himself, and then the rest is told in flashback as we go back a year to 1966 in the Cheetah Club, where he’s just starting out and showing his great talents. Imogen Poots stars as groupie Linda, who becomes a friend and clearly fancies him, yet is dating (if that’s the right word) Keith Richards (Ashley Charles) from The Rolling Stones. She sees something in Hendrix, though, and helps him on the way, even partaking in imbibing whatever it was that green liquid was which they put on a sugar cube.
Being managed by Brian “Chas” Chandler (Andrew Buckley), from The Animals, it’s interesting to note that, back then, when Chas tells Hendrix that he wants to manage him and extolls his virtues, but that it’ll be three months before he can take leave from his work with The Animals, it’s not a problem in that world… whereas, today, everything’s far more instant, so if someone’s going to end up big news, it feels like they’re on Youtube one minute and then on daytime TV and X-Factor the next.
While he always has an eye for the ladies, the main love of his life is Kathy Etchingham (Hayley Atwell), but their fiery tempers and clashing personalities lead to her ending up on the wrong side of his fist on occasion, as well as whatever else he can bring to hand.
There’s interesting direction to this film, splicing in footage, movies, TV shows and pictures from back in the day, plus footage shot for the film but which is *made* to look like it was shot back in the day. And there’s also moments when, for example, Hendrix is playing at a gig while also shown talking to Linda beforehand. Even the sound is muted briefly in one scene, just to highlight the intimacy of fthe situation. And there’s also a strange filming process used which slightly stretches people’s faces on occasion. I guess it’s to evoke the period of the piece, not that anynoe had stretched faces back in the ’60s Well, perhaps Liberace.
Hendrix was clearly quite a shy and self-effacing individual – coming alive only on stage, and André Benjamin’s portrayal of the great man is certainly how I would’ve imagined him building his career. Hendrix was also quite the philosophical chap at times, such as with the observation: “When the power of love takes over the love of power, that’s when things will change.”
With a brief turn from Burn Gorman as Michael Jeffery, manager for The Animals, plus Danny McColgan, again briefly, as guitar god Eric Clapton, Jimi: All Is By My Side is entertaining and it feels a very comfortable film to get into, and is an easy watch, really making you feel like you’re watching it happen. But… and there’s a great big but coming…
Go to page 2 for more thoughts on this film and an interview from Kathy Etchingham on Rich Davenport’s Rock Show.
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.