Fifty years ago today, one of the most important and influential musicians of the 21st Century, Jimi Hendrix, died. All Is by My Side, the John Ridley-directed, loosely biographical movie about Jimi Hendrix’s early life, claims to tell the story of the guitarist and musical shape-shifter as he was on the cusp of becoming an international star. The film focuses on the 1966-67 years, when Hendrix came to London and was ‘discovered’ by Britain’s rock royalty, including Paul McCartney, Eric Clapton and Jeff Beck.
This article was originally published in September 2014.
Amid the endless retellings of this tale, there is a sense that Hendrix was a Halley’s Comet of rock guitar, a once-in-a-lifetime game-changer who arrived fully formed in London, long before his ground-breaking 1967 debut album, Are You Experienced? To hear the history books tell it, that album’s arrival was akin to tectonic plates shifting, the earth moving beneath a culture’s feet. We are told that there’s guitar before Hendrix, and there’s guitar after Hendrix. Few rock instrumentalists get treated so reverently, and fewer still created their own aura and era so definitively for all time. It didn’t hurt that Hendrix died in 1970, only three years after his arrival as a seemingly instant rock star.