Can you see me? A life through the lens, Blink Gallery, London
Have you ever seen Electric Ladyland?
Monday 28 January 2008
It may have been short, but the life of the creator of some of the greatest rock anthems of all time is a source of endless fascination. Now a new exhibition chronicles the life of Jimi Hendrix from the time he arrived in the UK in 1966 up until his tragic death in 1970 at the age of 27.
One of the 18 photographers whose pictures of Hendrix will go on show at London's Blink Gallery is Bruce Fleming, who shot the cover for Hendrix's first album, Are You Experienced. The memorable image shows Hendrix wearing a black cape with his arms outstretched, Dracula-style.
Many of Fleming's pictures were taking during 1967 and 1968 while he was working as Hendrix's official photographer. Fleming met Hendrix in a London office to photograph the then little-known American guitarist after he had been discovered by The Animals' bassist, Chas Chandler, who brought him to the UK.
"Chas said: 'I've got this terrific musician and we need some publicity pictures. Come and meet him'," says Fleming. What was his first impression of Hendrix? "Tall and very nice. It made a change because a lot of pop stars were a pain in the neck," says Fleming. "Jimi was very quiet. I was not prepared for what I saw when he played."
Fleming's relationship with Hendrix went further than hanging out with the star for photo-opportunities. "We went to hilarious and wild parties where there were an awful lot of girls," recalls Fleming. "Jimi came to my house for Christmas in 1967. He lived in Seattle and he didn't have the time to go home that year. He said he was going to spend Christmas in a hotel. I said: 'No you're not! You come and have dinner with my family and a bunch of hippies and friends.' We had a pretty amazing time and the party lasted well into the early hours of the next day. The trouble is we were having such a good time in those days that I lost two-thirds of the Hendrix negatives because I just threw them all in a box."
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