Well, I guess that’s one way around the problem…
The problem I’m referring to being that the Andre 3000 Jimi Hendrix project that many of you have been excited about, didn’t have approval of Jimi Hendrix’s estate to use any of the musician’s original songs, with reps for the estate accusing the filmmakers of moving forward with the project without their official permission.
That didn’t stop the production of the film, which is currently shooting in Ireland, and you’ll recall my question about how one can make a film on the life of Jimi Hendrix and not use any of Hendrix’s music – especially when the film will center on the making of Hendrix’s first album.
I wondered if maybe both sides would eventually work out a mutually-acceptable deal.
And it looks like that’s not happening, as indicated in a Rolling Stone piece I read this morning that included the following:
The film will not, however, include any songs written by Hendrix, the rights to which are controlled by the late guitarist’s estate. Instead, the film – set in London in 1966 and 1967 – will include Benjamin’s new versions of covers that Hendrix performed during those years, shortly before the release of his landmark debut, Are You Experienced. Audiences will see Benjamin singing “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” (which Hendrix famously performed in a London club with members of the Beatles in the audience), “Wild Thing,” “Hound Dog,” Muddy Waters’ “Mannish Boy” and Elmore James’ “Bleeding Heart,” plus two songs, “Future Trip” and “Driving South,” that Hendrix played as a backup musician for Curtis Knight and the Squires.
So, no Hendrix-written classics like Purple Haze or The Wind Cries Mary. Unfortunate; not sure how I feel about this move, but I suppose they’re doing what they have to do to get the film made.
But what’s really interesting about all this is that, according to the Rolling Stones piece, the producers actually never approached the Hendrix estate for permission to use hs songs because their plan was to set the film in “Hendrix’s pre-fame era.“
“This is the story of Jimi being discovered as a backup musician and how he went to London and became Jimi Hendrix,” says the producer. McKittrick says that focusing on early stories about Hendrix – like the times he jammed with Cream and met Eric Clapton – is preferable to a biopic about Hendrix’s full life story. “That would be like making a movie about Kurt Cobain,” he says. “We all know how that story ends.”
And in response to that, a rep for the Hendrix estate replied:
“They want to make a Jimi Hendrix movie without Jimi Hendrix music… It would be like making a movie about Lincoln without being able to use the Gettysburg Address.”
But the production is apparently legally in the clear to license the non-Hendrix cover songs that Andre will be singing in the film.
Further, the Rolling Stones piece says that principal photography should end this week, and producers are planning to take the film to Sundance Film Festival in 2013, hoping for a release soon after that festival.
Also, a soundtrack album featuring the Andre Benjamin covered songs is a possibility.
The feature film is written and directed by John Ridley (primarily a screenwriter; this will be his second feature film directorial effort).
I don’t know if I’m excited about this project; not only because of today’s news, but, from the get-go, I’ve been uncertain about Andre’s ability to truly embody Hendrix.
But let’s see wait and see what that first trailer looks like.