Late Legend is Focus of PBS Documentary, DVD

by Stacy M. Brown
Special to the NNPA from The Washington Informer

Jimi Hendrix (Courtesy photo)

More than 43 years after his death and 46 years after the seminal “Purple Haze” recording, legendary musician Jimi Hendrix will be the subject of a television special on PBS next month.

The documentary, “Jimi Hendrix: Hear My Train A Comin’,” will also be released Monday, Nov. 4 on DVD and Blu-ray, and will feature a bevy of previously unseen footage, including concert performances, home movies and photographs of the Seattle, Wash., native who died on September 18, 1970 at the age of 27.

“As a music fan, it’s inconceivable to not have this as part of your collection,” said Will Hunter, a Northwest resident and disc jockey who said he witnessed Hendrix live at the famed Woodstock, N.Y. Music Festival in 1969.

“This guy died before people could realize his true talent,” said Hunter, 64. “He was an original. Without him, there’s no Prince, there’s no Sly Stone and greats like that.”

The two-hour documentary also includes the rare, “Jimi Hendrix Experience: Miami Pop Festival,” the first-ever release of one of the guitar virtuoso’s most sought-after performances, as originally recorded by Hendrix and his longtime sound engineer, Eddie Kramer.

The Miami event, the first major rock festival on the east coast, contains the first stage performance of, “Hear My Train A Comin’,” and “Tax Free,” while showcasing definitive live takes on such Hendrix classics as, “Fire,” “I Don’t Live Today,” and “Purple Haze.” The May 1968 festival jump-started the career of Michael Lang, who later organized Woodstock, the largest pop culture event of the decade.

Recently recovered film footage of Hendrix at the festival counts among the previously unseen treasures showcased in the new documentary and DVD release.

“I took to Jimi Hendrix right away, just as a man. Then he asked if he could jam, and he came up and did, ‘Killing Floor,’ and it blew me away,” said superstar guitarist Eric Clapton. “I was floored by his technique and his choice of notes, of sounds. I fell in love, straightaway. He became a soulmate for me and, musically, what I wanted to hear,” said Clapton, 68.

Widely recognized as one of the most creative and influential musicians of the 20th century, Hendrix pioneered the explosive possibilities of the electric guitar. His innovative style of combining fuzz, feedback and controlled distortion created a new musical form.

“Jimi couldn’t read or write, so his ascension to greatness was even more amazing when you consider that,” Hunter said.

Prince, Sly Stone, George Clinton and Miles Davis are among the many who said they were influenced in some way by Hendrix. However, Hendrix noted in past interviews that he had been influenced by B.B. King, the late Jimmy Reed, Albert King and R&B contemporary Curtis Mayfield.

Born Johnny Allen Hendrix on Nov. 27, 1942, in Seattle, Hendrix’s father later changed his son’s name to James Marshall Hendrix and, eventually, he became known as Jimi.

The younger Hendrix left home in 1961 to join the United States Army and, in November 1962, he earned the right to wear the “Screaming Eagles” patch for the paratroop division. While stationed at Fort Campbell, Ky., Hendrix formed his first band, “The King Casuals.”

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