We’ve been hearing about Andre Benjamin’s desire to recreate Jimi Hendrix’s life on the silver screen for quite some time. But now, it seems the wheels are really turning on the biopic, which is — at last — currently in production. Photos from the set have surfaced, news about the production is leaking, and most recently, we’ve learned the film won’t include any of Hendrix’s music. (His estate has disallowed its use.)
The film, tentatively titled, All Is By My Side, is set in London between 1966 and 1967, when Hendrix was discovered as a back-up musician and where he set about the task of writing and releasing his debut album. The use of original music from that debut — iconic works like “Purple Haze” and “Hey Joe” — would have likely served to authenticate the film. (Try to think of a successful biopic about a musician that doesn’t include the work for which he’s best known. Imagine if Ray hadn’t been able to include the scene where Regina King killed “Hit the Road, Jack.”) But in the absence of the original music, Andre and company plan to record cover songs. That ought to be interesting …. The last times Andre forayed into film soundtrack territory, we got The Love Below (which was said to have been recorded for a romantic dramedy that never made it to production) and a portion of Idlewild. Great records, to be sure, but can Andre capture Jimi’s voice closely enough to make the payoff convincing?
To echo Tambay A. Obenson of Shadow and Act:
As for Andre as Jimi, I may be in the minority when I say that I’m very uneasy; hopeful, but concerned for how this is going to turn out. I’ve seen 3 of his performances — in Idlewild, Four Brothers, and Be Cool — and there’s really nothing about any of them that’s enough to make me feel less ambivalent about his ability to successfully embody Jimi Hendrix on film.
“Hopeful, but concerned” seems like a fair assessment at this point, especially if you’ve seen any of Andre’s previous performances. But hey, if Marlon Wayans is playing Richard Pryor (brilliantly, if reports on his screen test are to be believed), then perhaps Andre will pull a spectacular hat trick and come off onscreen like a reincarnation of Hendrix. (Of course, Wayans does have at least one previous knock-out performance in his arsenal that convinces us of his ability to do Pryor justice.)
What do you think? Are you a fan of Andre’s acting? Do you think the cover songs will work? Are you excited about All Is By My Side?