André Benjamin is known primarily as André 3000, one-half of hip-hop duo Outkast, but this September, Benjamin will take on a new role: that of Jimi Hendrix in the film Jimi: All Is By My Side. The biopic covers one year in Hendrix's life, 1966-1967, as the then relatively unknown guitarist moves from New York City to London, eventually ending up at California's Monterey Pop Festival where he gives one of his most memorable performances.
There’s rock music. Then there's Jimi Hendrix. “All Is By My Side” captures the energy, the charisma, the mind-boggling talent of a legend whose musical influence still resonates around the world today. Based on actual interviews and archival materials, “All Is By My Side” brings authenticity and poignantly reveals a Jimi Hendrix behind the legend. At its heart a love story, “All Is By My Side” is about a man growing up, falling in love and becoming Jimi. One of the pleasures withheld is the sight of Hendrix playing "Hey Joe" or "Purple Haze," songs that marked his entry into the U.K. music scene. For that reason and others, the film isn't as commercial as one might expect for a project about one of the 1960s' most evergreen icons. What moviegoers do get is a film both thoughtful and convincing, sympathetic but not flattering to a man who had just three years after this period's end to make himself immortal.
The film, which has already screened at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival and this year's South By Southwest, has gained criticism for its portrayal of Hendrix by some of his former friends, including Kathy Etchingham who was Hendrix's girlfriend from 1966-1969. The criticism focuses primarily around what she says is "completely made up domestic violence". Jimi: All Is By My Side opens in theaters on Sept. 26.