Another day, another biopic about a famous, troubled singer whose life was cut far too short, far too soon. This time around, the film is focusing on Jimi Hendrix, the psychedelic god of rock whose legendary guitar skills ignited the electric guitar scene and scared thousands of grumpy white dads with crew cuts and khaki pants whose daughters wanted to listen to that devil music. The gifted songwriter, unparalleled guitar player and smooth crooner at the helm of The Jimi Hendrix experience’s brief life was an extraordinary one, and never dull, but John Ridley‘s JIMI: All Is By My Side is choosing to take a different approach to telling the legend’s story.
As the first trailer for the film shows, Ridley (who also crafted the screenplay for 12 Years a Slave) worked around a story of pre-fame Hendrix (André Benjamin, aka André 3000 from OutKast). This means a few things; while it’s still a film about a man with unfathomable talent and prowess with an axe and maybe the flyest wardrobe in the history of histories, we won’t get to see the meat of his full story. There won’t be that rise to the highest peaks of fame and success, when the songs that made him Hendrix crashed out of the Electric Lady and into a sea of mud and thrashing hippies at Woodstock. And there won’t be that tragic fall to the bottom either, when he asphyxiated on his own vomit after overdosing on sleeping pills in 1970 — joining that unlucky 27 Club.
Take a look (and a listen):
What the trailer does show is the younger, amateur Hendrix in his days in London. In 1966, the rocker headed overseas to find inspiration and success after struggling to make it on the R&B circuit in the United States. In the first moments of his career, Hendrix was a still a novelty, but an intriguing prospect for bands like The Who and Cream; here was this man playing guitar with his teeth and behind his back, pretending like it wasn’t even that special. It’s in London where Hendrix found his calling and teamed up with the rest of the Jimi Hendrix Experience to start making the music that we all know today.
And apparently, two ladies in his life, portrayed here by Imogen Poots and Hayley Atwell, had great influence on his life and career as well. It’s unclear what role they held, besides groovy ’60s babes, but through the power of their loving the trailer suggests that they’re almost responsible for shaping Hendrix into the performer he ultimately became. Or at least an altercation that occurred while walking around London with Poots attached to his hip spawned the “power of love” quote of a million ill-fated Facebook statuses and Freshman dorm room posters.
JIMI: All Is By My Side is in theaters September 26th.