Jimi Hendrix - The Guitar Hero DVD Review (Classic Artists) ~ BrooklynRocks: NYC Music Blog

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Jimi Hendrix - The Guitar Hero DVD Review (Classic Artists)

Jimi Hendrix - The Guitar Hero DVD ReviewClassic Artists have just released the latest title in their rock music series, Jimi Hendrix - The Guitar Hero. Rather than focusing on events surrounding Hendrix's death, this DVD spends most of its time documenting and detailing Hendrix's early days and rise to fame in the UK and later the US. Hendrix's story is told by people who knew and worked with him, which include Dave Mason (Traffic), Eric Clapton, Mick Taylor (Rolling Stones), Eric Burdon (The Animals), Stephen Stills (CSN), Ginger Baker (Cream), Jimi's brother Leon and one-time girlfriend Kathy Etchingham. Slash also makes a number of appearances amidst the historical reflections to talk about how Hendrix influenced his music and guitar playing style.

The disc starts its exploration of Jimi's life at early childhood with stories and anecdotes from his aunt and brother. Jimi seemed to have been forever haunted by the breakup of his parent's marriage as he idolized his mother and apparently didn't get along at all with his father. Leon tells the story of a young Jimi's early exploration into music as he learned to play different notes by hand-tuning a one-string ukelele. On the tragic side, Jimi's aunt Delores Hall tells the story of how Al Hendrix refused to give Jimi a ride to his mother's funeral. Given Jimi's rocky family situation and the climate of racial segregation/discrimination going on at that time in the US, it seems like a natural progression of events that Jimi was easily persuaded by Chas Chandler to move to UK.

The film spend a lot of time focusing on Jimi's arrival in London in 1966, the formation of the Experience and his first two years on the London/Europe scene. All of film's all-star talking heads spend a good bit of time talking about how the then unknown Hendrix made a significant impact when he arrived on the scene. Aside for a brief flashback to Jimi's time on the local and national "chitlin' circuit" (which included a tour with Little Richard), the film follows Jimi's life in detail from his arrival in the UK through his performance at Monterey Pop Festival in 1967. The filmmakers attribute this later performance to his ultimately breaking out in America. The break-up of the Experience, the formation of Band of Gypsys, performance at Woodstock and Jimi's untimely death all pass through the remainder of the film fairly quickly without a lot of time spent on any of these events.

As I'm not a Hendrix aficionado, I came away from this filming feeling like I learned something about Jimi Hendrix, his life and his influences. Long-time fans may be disappointed that there is just the bare minimum of performance footage and interviews (with Hendrix and the Experience) included on this disc. Evidently, the Hendrix estate considers this disc to be unofficial (which more than likely led to licensing issues) so there are just snippets of Jimi along with a complete performance of "Hey Joe" from the Marquee in London.

Jimi Hendrix
Classic Artists