In the film, he's got four passions... three of them are flesh and blood, and one is wood and frets.
Perhaps the haziest of Jimi's girls is Ida, played by Ruth Negga. "Ida is based on a real person called Devon Wilson," says the actress. "She was quite happy to describe herself as a groupie. She was a super groupie, in fact." There's not much known about her, except that she was from Milwaukee and was hanging around the London music scene when she attached herself to the up-and-coming Jimi Hendrix. In the film, she's the voice of Black Power, and leads Jimi to meet a leader of the movement who tries to convince the guitarist to gear his songs toward their cause. Jimi declines, saying "Music is colors... not color."
Hayley Atwell plays Jimi's long-term love, Kathy Etchingham. "Kathy wrote an autobiography, Through Gypsy Eyes, sometime after Jimi's death," says the actress. "It was invaluable to me, and I took it wherever I went." But perhaps she's the only one who read that book. The real Etchingham reached out to the filmmakers, but was ignored.
In one rather brutal and unnecessary scene in the film, Jimi beats Kathy with a telephone until she's horribly bruised and bleeding. In the film, he does this in front of several witnesses. In real life, it never happened, in public or otherwise. I was quite shocked to see that in the movie, because I'm a Hendrix fan and I know a lot about him. I thought maybe new information had come to light, so I did some research and apparently it's not true at all. I understand and applaud artistic license, but there was no reason to use domestic violence for "entertainment purposes." Jimi's life was very interesting, no need for fabrication. Or to vilify him. To what end? Read this article in The Daily Mail about Kathy Etchingham and decide for yourself.
Linda Keith may not have been the love of Jimi's life, but she was the most influential woman, and the female who made the biggest impact. She believed in him early on, when no one else did. She was the girlfriend of Keith Richards at the time, and she even went so far as to "borrow" Richards' white Fender Stratocaster and give it to the young upstart to play onstage when he could not afford an instrument of his own. In the film she's played by Imogen Poots who says, "Linda's relationship with Jimi is very different to Kathy's. It wasn't purely sexual. She really fought and worked hard on Jimi’s behalf." Check out this recent article in The Guardian to learn more about Linda and Jimi.
Of course, the number one love of Jimi Hendrix's life was his guitar. In the film, Jimi's father is portrayed as uncaring, barely even knowing who his son is when he calls him on the phone from London. In reality, it was Jimi's dad who bought him his very first guitar. In fact, it was the very first electric guitar, ever, a white Supro Ozark 1560 S, purchased from Myers Music shop in Seattle in 1958. The guitar that figures most prominently in the film is the glorious white Fender Stratocaster belonging to Keith Richards. The film never shows Jimi smashing his guitars, or setting them on fire... things he did regularly throughout his stardom.
I was curious as to why a musician would destroy his most prized possession, so I asked Lisa S. Johnson, photographer and author of the hit book 108 Rock Star Guitars what her theory is. She said, "So that no one else can have her would be my guess. This can happen in real love too. They have played their blood, sweat, tears and guts out on that guitar and sometimes it's getting time to retire the guitar, so they just smash it up and release stored up emotional tension along with it and put on a damn fine show for their fans while they're at it." For more on Lisa's upcoming softcover book of guitar photographs and intimate rock star stories (featuring guitars belonging to Bruce Springsteen, Jeff Beck, Keith Richards, Jimmy Page, Eric Clapton and many more) check out the 108 Rock Star Guitars site.
So there you have it. Will you see Jimi: All Is By My Side for the cinematic aspect, or will you stay away because of the liberties taken with his true story?
Photo credit: Evening Standard /Stringer/Getty Images
And you'll see personalized content just for you whenever you click the My Feed .
SheKnows is making some changes!