News that a Jimi Hendrix biopic is in pre-production was greeted, naturally, with some ear-melting feedback. The film, All By My Side, starring Outkast's Andre 3000 as the guitar hero, will reportedly portray the period during which Hendrix's 1967 debut, Are You Experienced?, was recorded.
Unfortunately, it seems none of that album will be allowed to appear on its soundtrack. Yesterday the axe-wielder's estate released a statement saying "no such film, were it to include original music or copyrights created by Jimi Hendrix, can be undertaken without its full participation."
Most musical biopics are tedious and predictable. Some musician has some issues, which manifest themselves in music, and probably in self-destructive drug use. Said musician achieves redemption via the love of a good woman and/or some more music (or, alternatively, dies young). As in the very worst of stage musicals, the filmmakers conspire to insert his or her most famous songs at various crassly apt points in the action. Martin Scorsese's films about Bob Dylan and George Harrison, and Kevin MacDonald's recent Marley, prove documentary to be a vastly superior vehicle for understanding the relationship between a recording artist and his art.
On the other hand, one of the best musical biopics of recent times was Nowhere Boy, Sam Taylor-Wood's take on John Lennon's teens. It contained no Beatles music. The young John never clangingly exhorted the young Paul to twist or shout; nor did he, noodling on his guitar, inadvertently pick out the opening bars of "All You Need is Love". I'd like to see Scorsese or MacDonald make a Hendrix documentary someday, but meantime, in the case of All By My Side, separating the musician from the music might be for the best.
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