While not nearly as prevalent as, say, superhero epics, musical biopics are rarely in short supply in Hollywood. Later this month, the director of The Help, for example, will bring soul singer James Brown to the screen in the musical biopic, Get On Up. And as you can tell from the trailer above, legendary left-handed guitarist Jimi Hendrix will be the focus of a silver-screen story titled Jimi: All Is By My Side
Andre Benjamin steps into the title role, and shows face – literally and figuratively – after the trailer establishes a few necessary shots of a gorgeous guitar.
It’s London 1966, and Jimi Hendrix hasn’t yet caught the music world on fire. He’s broke. He’s cool. He’s taking gigs at low-rent pubs, trying to make a name for himself. And we know that he eventually will. Jimi: All Is By My Side will attempt to show audiences how.
Do you know what is missing from this trailer? Signature Jimi Hendrix guitar licks. That’s because the Hendrix estate refused to lend the film the rights to any of the songwriter’s most memorable tunes. Hey Joe? Now about "Hey, no." All Along the Watchtower? Might as well cue up Bob Dylan’s version, because you ain’t getting any Hendrix here. Instead, we get lines like, "When the power of love takes over the love of power, that’s when things will change!" Yeah, that hasn’t happened yet, but it certainly establishes Jimi: All Is By My Side as a free-love, hippie rock epic.
Which is sad, because Andre Benjamin, a talented musician in his own right, nails the looks and feel of Jimi Hendrix with his performance. The cast rounds out with names like Imogen Poots and Hayley Atwell. Ashley Charles is playing a young Keith Richards in the film. Dannu McColgan has been cast as Eric Clapton (an early champion of Jimi Hendrix). Ger Duffy plays young Paul McCartney. At the very least, it will be fun to see Mod versions of these rock icons. The absence of the Jimi Hendrix musical catalogue will hurt, though.
Jimi: All Is By My Side hit the festival circuit last year, but didn’t generate much heat. If the movie doesn’t work for you, know that Anthony Mackie is hard at work on a different Jimi Hendrix biopic, as well. But seeing as how he is attached to hundreds of projects, we have no idea when that will open. At least we know Jimi: All Is By My Side reaches theaters on Sept. 26, 2014 Will you give it a try?