A new documentary about Jimi Hendrix featuring previously unseen concert footage and home movies is being released.
The two-hour DVD takes the viewer from Hendrix’s humble childhood in Seattle, to his rise to fame and his sudden death at the age of 27 from a sleeping pill overdose.
“We’ve done a bunch of Hendrix films in the past which have been specifically about when he played at Woodstock or when he played at Monterey or at the Isle of Wight. This is the first documentary of this type where it goes from his birth in Seattle in 1942 right up to his death in London in 1970, so it’s the whole story from beginning to end,” says the film’s director Bob Smeaton.
The film talks about how Hendrix was discharged from the army, reportedly for injury. Other sources say his superiors got tired of Hendrix’ lack of commitment and obsession with his guitar. In the end, the army’s loss was rock music’s gain.
“He joined the service so he’d get three square meals a day, have a roof over his head and learn a trade,” says Smeaton. “So he went in as a paratrooper, injured his ankle, so that was it. You can’t be a paratrooper with a broken ankle. But rather than go home to Seattle, he went out and got work as a side-man. And he did that playing with Little Richard, the Isley Brothers, for three years. And amongst those sort of artists he had a reputation as a great guitar player.”
A pioneering electric guitarist, Hendrix only enjoyed four years of mainstream exposure and recognition but his influential music and riveting stage presence left an enduring legacy.
“American Masters: Jimi Hendrix – Hear My Train A Comin” is out now.