Last night PBS premiered the latest addition to their American Masters series, Jimi Hendrix biopic Hear My Train A Comin’. Though the new film includes no stunning revelations about the man or his music it does an excellent job retelling the basics of his story with rare photos, family letters, drawings and unseen concert and home movie footage – highlighted by recently unearthed video of Jimi at Miami Pop Festival (tying in with a fabulous new live album). Its narrative is carried by (some old but mostly new) interviews with Jimi’s peers (Paul McCartney, Mitch Mitchell, Noel Redding, Billy Cox, Buddy Miles, Juma Sultan, Steve Winwood, Dave Mason, Billy Gibbons, Michelle Phillips, Ernie Isley, Ellen McIlwaine, others), industry insiders (Eddie Kramer, Chas Chandler, Chris Stamp, John Storyk, John Jansen, Gerry Stickells, Michael Goldstein, Bob Merlis, Lou Adler, Michael Lang, Neville Chesters, Jim Ladd, Bob Santelli), friends (Terry Johnson, Ace Hall, Paul Caruso), family (Al, Bob and Janie Hendrix), followers (Vernon Reid, Dweezil Zappa) and critics (David Fricke, Keith Altham, Chris Welch). Many of the most memorable quotes come from the women in his life: Faye Pridgon (who lived with Hendrix for four years in the early ’60s), British girlfriend Linda Keith (who introduced Jimi to his manager Chas Chandler), and Collette Mimram Harron (the fashion designer who influenced Hendrix’s look).
The new Hendrix documentary follows All By My Side, a biopic starring Outkast’s André Benjamin as Jimi. The latter premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival on September 7th, so far its only screenings.
UPDATE March 6, 2014 All Is By My Side will screen at SXSW on Wednesday, March 12th in Austin’s Paramount Theatre. For reviews from Toronto, more details on the American premiere at SXSW and to watch a one-minute clip showing from the film go here.