B-Sides & Rarities: “All Is By My Side”, The Jimi Hendrix Biopic

"All By My Side" premiered this week at TIFF

By: sarah phillips

The Jimi Hendrix biopic “All Is By My Side” starring Andre 3000 premiered at TIFF last Saturday night. The film is a sometimes-unflattering portrait of the artist as a young man – though Jimi is forever young. It’s narrowly focused on Jimi’s nascent and lesser known years just before he made it big, 1966-1967.

When we first see Jimi, he’s Jimmy James, which is his stage name. He’s performing as a back up guitarist in a bar in New York in a cheetah print shirt and hair that is more James Brown than Angela Davis. He is discovered by Linda Keith (who was Keith Richards’ girlfriend at the time) and introduces him to Chas Chandler, from The Animals, who becomes his manager.

The film doesn’t play out Jimi’s greatest hits, or the moments that are typical of the biopic genre (childhood flash backs, first big performances, etc). In fact the movie ends before Jimi’s rise to fame. Woodstock hasn’t happened yet and there isn’t a single piece of tie-dyed anything on anyone in the film, instead they’re all still firmly in the mod scene. Most obviously absent from the film is Jimi’s music.

According to some articles posted just after the premiere, Jimi’s music is missing because Experience LLC, which owns the rights to Jimi’s music and is largely controlled by his living family, denied Ridley the rights for use in the film. But according to this Rolling Stone article, Ridley never approached Experience LLC, and it was his intention all along to focus only on Jimi’s early years as he went from back-up singer to forming the Jimi Hendrix Experience.

Inspired by Ridley’s decision to eschew the hits, I went on a hunt for lesser known Jimi Hendrix footage and recordings.

This video claims to be Hendrix’s first television performance as a back-up musician for Buddy & Stacy, performing “Shotgun” on Night Train in 1965. He’s the guitarist in the top left in the first frames of the video:

An intimate acoustic rendition of “Hound Dog”:

This one is a recording of the song that inspired the film, “Send My Love To Linda”. It’s rumoured to be about Linda Keith, who helped Jimi get his start and as it’s told in the film, the two seemed to have an unrequited love for each other.

This last one, while more well known, is worth another viewing. Ridley recreates this image of Jimi, by having Andre play the “12 String Blues” in widescreen at the end of the film.

Still want more Jimi? Check out this page put up by Rolling Stone Magazine. It’s a compendium of Hendrix photos, recorded shows, playlists and writings about him by other artists like Tom Morello and John Mayer.