When Jimi Hendrix arrived back in the states from England, he along with his new backup musicians, Noel Redding and Mitch Mitchell, came back as rock stars. In Britain, The Jimi Hendrix Experience recorded a series of singles including, Hey Joe and Purple Haze. In 1967, the Experience came to America and really hit it big at the Monterey Pop Festival with Hendrix famously setting his guitar on fire. After the festival, the band went on tour with the headlining teen pop group, The Monkees, which Hendrix nicknamed, the Plastic Beatles. It was an odd pairing to say the least. The crowds were mostly fans of The Monkees, young teenybopper girls and their mothers. The site of the psychedelic rock threesome with their wild clothes, permed hair and hard rock music must have shocked the mothers in the audience out of this house dresses. They must of thought the group ranked to the left of obscene.
Hendrix went on to record three albums with the Experience before splitting up. He then formed a new band, Band of Gypsy’s, consisting of Buddy Miles and Billy Cox. Jimi’s career was short, but in that period he became legendary and left behind a music legacy that still shines bright today. He died in September of 1970.
Most of what I wrote above is told in the nicely done 2010 documentary, Jimi Hendrix: Voodoo Child. The film is told completely from Jimi’s perspective, a combination of vintage interviews and voice over by Bootsy Collins as Jimi. Unlike many documentary’s there are no talking heads here; it’s all Jimi telling his own story. Most of the film is concert footage, lots of concert footage which are the real highlights: vintage TV shows, Monterey Pop, Woodstock and more.
Jimi comes across as a quiet and humble individual and that’s the impression the filmmakers want you to have. A sensitive artist who left us way too soon, and most of that is true. However, what is not told, or even hinted at in the film, is the drug use and the alcoholic use, the latter which sometimes led to violent outburst. This is most definitely due to one of the film’s producers having the last name of Hendrix. Most likely, the film was sanctioned by or at least had the blessing of the Hendrix Estate. There’s nothing wrong with that, other than it does not tell the complete story. But lets put that aside, Jimi Hendrix: Voodoo Child is, like I said, filled with plenty of performance footage and that is the real highlight. Watching one of rock and roll’s greats doing so much of his best work.
Today would have been Jimi’s 74th birthday. He’s long gone, but his music is here forever.
Jimi Hendrix: Voodoo Child is currently showing on Netflix.