All Is By My Side: From Jimi to Andre 3000
Outkast’s Andre “3000” Benjamin stars as Jimi Hendrix in the telling biopic “All Is By My Side”, directed by Academy-Award winning director John Ridley. The film spans the years of 1966-1967 revealing his life as background guitarist in New York’s Cheetah Club, his tumultuous relationship with Kathy Etchingham, and his breakthrough in the London music scene.
The film is only 1hr. 58mins so don’t expect an in-depth back story about Hendrix, but what the film brilliantly does is peel back the layers of his enigmatic aura, and showcase the colors of his persona. The film depicts Hendrix as: cerebral, comedic, shy, and sometimes insecure.
His cerebral approach to his art is displayed when friend and mentor Linda Keith (played by Imogen Poots) sets up a meeting with former “Animals” member Chas Chandler (played by Andrew Buckley). Hendrix explains to Chas that he wants the colors of his music to be seen the same way he sees it, and admitting “I want my music to go into the soul of a person.” His cerebral approach to his art is echoed through the film as he continuously denounces musical labels that he feels are constricting; while simultaneously striving to stay true to his musical tastes.
The film also delves into the racial tensions that boiled under the surface of Britain’s prim and proper society. Hendrix was made aware of Britain’s prejudices when he and Kathy were harassed by the police on a London street. The police asked Kathy was she being disturbed by Hendrix, and when she responded “No”; they continued their harassment, which ended up with Hendrix giving up his vintage military-style jacket because the police claimed, “he was a disgrace to every soldier who wore that coat”. Scenarios such as this made Hendrix realize that labels do exist, but gave him the resolve not to conform to them.
Although the Hendrix estate refused to approve the release of his original music for the film, Benjamin does an excellent job making Hendrix relatable to a crowd that may not be familiar with Jimi’s work. Benjamin loses himself in Jimi’s soft, melodic speech while projecting an artist that is introverted yet flamboyant; iconic yet enigmatic-both traits Benjamin shares with Hendrix.
Viewers may find “All Is By My Side” disappointing if you want to see a traditional “from birth to death” biopic. However, if you see the film with an open mind and a desire to know a little more about the life and personality of Jimi Hendrix, we think you will thoroughly enjoy this film.