Jimi: All is By My Side. Review. Starring Andre 3000, Hayley Atwell & Imogen Poots

The theatregoer hoping to get some insight into Jimi Hendrix and London in 1966/67 will leave the theatre disappointed.

Before seeing the film I was apprehensive, as I had been told that my character was portrayed in a derogatory and potentially defamatory manner. I had been told that Jimi had beaten me with a telephone in the film and after I had protested that this was not true the film makers had replied that it was true because they had “thoroughly researched” me.

In other words they were saying that they were telling the truth and I was not.

During the opening scenes I found it difficult to comprehend the way the story was unfolding, or what it was depicting. The editing was disjointed and dialogue was layered on top of alternate dialogue, seemingly from a parallel conversation.

The film progressed in a confusing and dull manner but there was one scene that gave me a momentary lift of anticipation. The scene depicts Jimi playing with Cream at the Polytechnic Students’ Union and should have set out to depict an absolutely epic event that I had witnessed. (I had been carrying Jimi’s guitar).

I hoped that they would do Jimi justice in their interpretation of what happened.

Unfortunately, once the music started, my heart sank. What a disappointment. Not only was it insulting to Jimi’s legacy, but I would say it was fairly insulting to Eric Clapton as well because the real Eric Clapton would never have been in awe of the unremarkable performance presented to viewers in this film.

The storyline progressed in an awkward and illogical way and was hard to comprehend.

The basis seemed to be that the dimwitted “Jimi” could not make up his mind between the good rock chick (Linda Keith) and the bad rock chick (Kathy Etchingham) who later goes bonkers and takes an overdose. (If I was the actress having to play this lousy part wearing those ugly clothes I may have taken an overdose too.)

Fictional characters were introduced that furthered the deluded political, racial and sexist agenda that John Ridley seemed to be pursuing. In particular Michael X was presented as a saintly black political guru whereas in truth he was a violent criminal con man who was executed for a gruesome murder. An “Ida” character is introduced who never existed in real life.

The biggest disappointment of this film was that after expecting at least some kind of depiction of Jimi’s humour and creativity and the amusing and creative times that were happening in London, instead we were shown a gloomy and depressing dark tale that pictured Jimi as some sort of moronic loser.

Instead of showing Jimi touring the UK and Europe, writing and performing the most innovative music of the century we are shown scenes of banal mumblings, fictitious gratuitous violence and fictitious mental breakdowns and overdoses.

My initial anxiety turned to scorn for the thoroughly bad screenplay and direction.

I became bored and impatient for the end of the film.

The fictional nature of the film left me feeling that the events I was watching were more akin to a made for DVD movie than a biopic. I felt that I wasn’t watching an interpretation of the real events from the time, but rather a stiff and poorly depicted mashup of trivia from events described in my book, sprinkled over Ridley’s racially driven fictional theme. Even the imaginary domestic violence and drug use that my character was involved in did not evoke the emotional response I expected, and I found myself feeling just as I have when watching other bad movies, impatient for it to just finish and spare me the indignity of having to watch another tiresome scene with wooden dialogue and disjointed editing.

 A short-sighted and somewhat offensive portrayal of Jimi and those around him at the time.

 Final verdict:

Fictional Movie – 2/10

Biopic purporting to be based in fact – 1/10 (for spelling all the names right)

All is By My Side, John Ridley and Send My Love to Linda

John Ridley has written the script of “All is By My Side” on the premise that “Send My Love to Linda” is about Linda Keith and assumed that she had been his mentor and muse in the early days.

Sadly, the truth is much more prosaic. Linda told Chas Chandler about Jimi and that was about it. Jimi had already developed his style and didn’t need any input from a nineteen year old model girl.

Jimi wrote these scribbled lyrics in 1969 in Brook Street and I objected to being named.

Just then my friend Linda, Rocky Dijon’s girlfriend, came up to the flat and said she felt sick. I found her a wastepaper bin that looked a bit like a bucket in case she threw up and suggested to Jimi to change the lyric to “Send My Love to Linda” to cheer her up.

Over the next year Jimi obviously tried out variations of the song but nothing really came of it.

Click on the image to enlarge it.

send-my-love_s2

Jimi Hendrix Biopic. All is By My Side. Hayley Atwell fashion disaster.

andre-benjamin-hayley-atwell-all-is-by-my-side1

 

 

 

 

 

I have seen some stills of the location scenes filmed in Dublin and practically everything about them is wrong. This photo is an example.

My clothes are wrong, the lamp posts are wrong for London, the police uniforms are wrong (they are dressed more like the Keystone Cops than the Met), and the characters are obviously much older than Jimi and I were at the time.

The actress playing me is wearing ugly garish clothes like a canary yellow skirt that I wouldn’t be seen dead in. The poor woman has been dressed as a clown. In other shots she seems to be mouthing obscenities and making offensive gestures.

It is very cruel of the director to make her act like this.

In early interviews she is reported to have said that she plays me as a “wild child”, “out of control”; who “swears in every line”. She apparently put on an unusual Northern English accent.

I was told by my informants in the film business who saw the early cuts that the film was “embarrassing”.

Naturally I complained to the film makers and they seem to have made some changes. My character has morphed into an Irish socialite! That sounds rather high-falutin’ but is really just as silly as being a working class Mancunian.

Maybe they have brought in a voice coach to change my character’s accent to an Irish one which is completely bizarre because my accent is, and was, a fairly bland and neutral British accent with just a tinge of Irish sometimes.

In interviews Hayley Atwell says the film is not a biopic.

Maybe it is a comedy.

All Is By My Side. Jimi Hendrix Biopic. Hayley Atwell and André Benjamin.

I have been rather quiet the last month or so because I have been waiting for news about the upcoming film. I have been asked by so many people about it that I can’t answer everybody.

Most people are asking whether I have anything to do with this film and the answer is a categorical “no”.

I have read that Hayley Atwell plays me and André 3000 is Jimi.

This film is advertised as the “true story” about Jimi’s early years in London, but how can it be a “true story” if the makers of the film have not asked any of Jimi’s London friends about what went on? The whole thing is very strange. Also I have never met Hayley Atwell and she has not contacted me for background information.

When I first heard about the film I wrote to the scriptwriter offering my help but he didn’t reply.

In recent interviews Hayley Atwell says that it is not a biopic and has a “… very interesting script,” “It’s not linear, it’s very bizarrely constructed,..”

I hope the film is not a wasted opportunity to do a good story about Jimi in London.

Madeline Bell

Madeline Bell and her boyfriend Tony had been asked by Chas to keep an eye on the flat in Upper Berkeley Street because he had heard rumours that I had been having noisy parties while they were away touring. My friend Barbara was staying there while Chas and Jimi were away and I must admit we did stay up late and invite people round.

Madeline was already an established singer but when she came to the apartment we became friends very quickly and she just joined in and partied as well.

MadBlessed

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is an excerpt from my book.

Over the following hectic weeks, Madeline became one of my best friends. She was a great cook and we were able to eat better than ever before and the flat turned into a regular hang-out for a lot of musicians like members of Procol Harum and the Move as well as people from the old crowd like Brian Jones and Keith Moon….

When it came time for Tony and Madeline to go there were a lot of tears and sad farewells. We didn’t know exactly when Chas and Jimi were due back, so they returned to their own place and Tony waited to be told the arrangements.

At six o’clock one morning the phone rang. Barbara and I were fast asleep. Struggling to come to the surface, having gone to bed only a hour or two before, I picked it up. It was Madeline.

‘I’ve just heard.’ She said, ‘they’re on a plane now, they’ll be home in about four hours.’ Mad asked was the place spick and span. I said no, there were empty bottles, full ashtrays and a bag of rotting chips we’d nicked from outside the Wimpy.

Half an hour later she, Barbara and I were dashing through the flat at a hundred miles an hour hoovering, polishing, dusting, binning the mountain of booze bottles and even cleaning the walls and windows. With just minutes to spare Madeline dashed home, Barbara left and I climbed back into bed so that I could give the impression of having just woken up when they walked in. I heard the door open and voices outside the bedroom.

Chas sounded surprised: ‘This place looks better than it did when we left. It’s a good job Tony and Madeline were here to look after it.’

 

Madeline visited Jimi and me at Brook Street quite frequently and she was there when Jimi thought he’s seen Handel’s ghost in the mirror.

Madeline and I are still friends and we meet up whenever we can. She still tours a lot around Europe and the world.

me and madeline

Recent photo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For a link to obtain the eBook click here

34 Montagu Square

Ringo owned the flat at 34 Montagu Square and rented it to us after we moved out of the Hyde Park Towers Hotel.

We were lucky to get it as Paul McCartney had just moved out of the flat before us. The neighbours weren’t too happy about having musicians in the flat. Paul had been using it as a recording studio and I’m sure it wasn’t very soundproof.

Paul and Ringo outside the flat

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The elderly lady who lived upstairs could be rather grumpy. She wouldn’t let us have the keys to the communal gardens when the photographer wanted to take some photos of Jimi in the gardens.

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the end we had to move out because of the complaints about noise, but after us John and Yoko Ono moved in and they were raided by the drug squad which was the last straw as far as the neighbours were concerned. Ringo had to sell up and no more musicians lived at 34 Montagu Square.

John outside the flat

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now there is a Blue Plaque to John Lennon on the house.

For a link to my book click here.

 

Jimi Hendrix at the Ice Rink

During our first weeks together we did a little shopping and sightseeing and I introduced him to friends. Because we didn’t have much money we went everywhere on the Underground.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There were two stations near the Hyde Park Towers Hotel. Queensway was the station for the Central Line to get to the West End. Bayswater was the station for the Circle Line to get to Notting Hill Gate for Portobello Road and then on to Sloane Square for Kings Road. We got off at South Kensington to get to the Cromwellian club. We used to get some funny looks on the Tube because of Jimi’s clothes and hairstyle.

The Queens ice rink was just by the Queensway station and one day we decided to have a go at skating.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Neither Jimi nor I had ever been skating before and Queensway ice rink was just around the corner. ‘Shall we try it?’ I asked Jimi one evening when we were at a loose end.

Sure.’ Jimi was always game for a new experience.

At the rink they had trouble finding a pair of boots big enough for Jimi’s size eleven feet. They managed it eventually and he tucked his flares in and we set off. Within seconds of hitting the ice we were lying in an hysterical heap, weak with laughter. The other skaters just had to make their way round us as we rolled around trying to pull ourselves up on one another, only to lose our footing and come crashing down again.

By the end of the session Jimi had got reasonably good and had actually managed to let go of the side and still stay upright, but every time I let go I went straight down again. My sense of balance had not improved since my ballet lessons at the convent. By the end my ribs were aching from laughter even more than my legs and bottom were from falling over.

Jimi enjoyed himself so much that we went back several times and by the end he was pretty accomplished, whizzing round the rink, attracting everyone’s stares with his hair waving in the breeze.

This is an extract from my book. To get the book click here.

Jimi Hendrix and the Two Telephones

Now most people seeing this picture would not have any idea of why Jimi is sitting on the floor with two phones.

We had started to get problems with unwanted visitors. People would just knock on the door and barge in uninvited and they would also phone us up at any time of the day or night. Jimi was so polite that he couldn’t say no until they got so annoying that he’d suddenly lose his temper with them.

Having two phones was my idea to stop people bothering us on the phone and it worked for a while until Jimi sabotaged the system in a moment of forgetfulness.

The telephone never stopped ringing so I decided to have two phones installed, one with a number which we gave out to people and one which we kept private. Then I would take the general phone off the hook. But Jimi started giving the other number to people in case they couldn’t get through on the first line, which completely defeated the object.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you’d like to read other stories like this, my book is available here

At the Scotch of St James

The Scotch of St James

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is the entrance to the Scotch of St James in Masons Yard off Duke Street where I was the DJ.

I had been DJing at the Cromwellian when I was poached by Rod Harrod, who had worked at the Cromwellian previously, and Louis Brown. They came to the Crom and asked me to move to the Scotch. Louis Brown was one of the owners of the Scotch and he also part-owned Le Kilt. The lovely Rod Harrod had gone to manage for him at the Scotch. I heard that Rod Harrod went to South Africa later and started a school and music academy for disadvantaged kids which I thought rather a good thing to do.

I think the reason I was hired was because of the sort of music I played. Everyone else was playing the top ten pop tunes of the day; I didn’t. I played the sort of music that the musicians who came late at night to the clubs liked, which wasn’t their own numbers that they were sick of hearing anyway. I often played Motown and R&B numbers that were virtually unknown in London at the time.
Louis Brown and Rod recognised this and I think they wanted to lure the “in-crowd’ away from the Cromwellian and into the Scotch. I started my shift quite late and used to have my dinner and hang around upstairs until after midnight. What I didn’t know before I started was that the DJ booth at the Scotch was a coach that I had to sit in like some sort of fairy princess. I found it quite embarrassing with people coming up and asking me if I had glass slippers and whether my coach turned into a pumpkin. Luckily Rod Harrod and friends protected me.

Various famous musicians started to come to the club.

Sonny and Cher

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sonny and Cher did an impromptu performance just in front of my coach singing “I’ve Got You Babe” staring meaningfully into each others eyes. Then they tried to get into my coach and choose from my records which annoyed me.

Inez and Charlie Foxx

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Inez and Charlie Foxx did the same sort of thing and Charlie dragged me out of my coach and danced with me which was a mistake as I’m not a very good dancer.

I got fed up with the late hours that interfered with my social life and I had just stopped working at the Scotch when I met Jimi on his first day in England.

He and Chas had dropped in at the house I was living in with Zoot and Ronnie Money but I didn’t get out of bed. That evening we went to the Scotch to see him play.

Jimi was playing when Angie, Zoot, Ronnie (Zoot’s wife) and I walked into the club and just as we settled down Chas stopped him and they came to back our table. Jimi was sitting with a dark haired model girl but when she went to the Ladies he beckoned me over to sit with him and whispered in my ear.

 

This is an excerpt from my book.

 

He kissed me on the ear and whispered, ‘I think you’re beautiful.’

It was a corny line but there was something so sweet and innocent about the way he said it. I liked him immediately. I felt flustered by his flattery and tried to cover it up with casual conversation.

So what were you doing in New York?’ I asked.

I was playing in the Cafe Wha, that’s where I met Chas.’

The dark haired girl came back from the loo and had to sit in my old seat next to Ronnie. I didn’t take much notice, assuming that she wasn’t his girlfriend or he wouldn’t be flirting so outrageously with me. A few minutes later Ronnie exploded into a torrent of Glaswegian abuse in response to something the girl had said to her about me. The girl grabbed Ronnie’s hair and pulled her head back, which anyone who knew Ronnie could have told her was a big mistake. Ronnie picked up a bottle of whisky and smashed it down on the marble-topped table, sending splinters of glass flying in all directions and attracting all eyes in the club. Everything went horribly quiet.

Let go of my fucking hair,’ Ronnie snarled, every inch the ferocious Scottish fighter. She pushed the jagged end of the broken bottle up to the beautiful girl’s exposed throat.

Jesus Christ,’ Chas looked panic-stricken as he turned to me, ‘get Jimi out of here for God’s sake, Kathy, he’s only on a visitor’s visa. Take him back to the Hyde Park Towers. Quick, before someone calls the police.’

OK,’ I hustled Jimi out into Mason’s Yard and on to the pavement. ‘Let’s get a taxi,’ I said, turning round just in time to see him stepping straight in front of a cab, looking the wrong way. I pulled him back as the driver screeched to a halt, opened the cab door and bundled him in.

I got Jimi back to his hotel and we chatted well into the night.

To get my eBook click here

The Wind Cries Mary

 

Jimi in the kitchen at Montagu Square

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is an extract from my book

Some of the rows between Jimi and me were quite dramatic, mainly because both of us operated on very short fuses and neither of us was ever willing to climb down, so we could only end them by one or other of us storming off – usually me. Once he was moaning about my cooking again and I felt I had put a lot of effort into whatever it was – mashed potatoes probably. I didn’t take kindly to being told they were disgusting, so I picked up the plate and smashed it on the floor.

Hell – what are you doing?’ he screamed at me, so I picked up a few more plates and threw them around the room as well, yelling back at him. Eventually I turned on my heel and stalked out, crossing the street to find a cab. He followed, trying to persuade me to come back, but I refused to listen. I found a taxi and jumped in, and without letting Jimi hear I told the driver to take me to Angie and Eric’s place in Jermyn Street. When I returned the next day, having cooled down, I asked him what he had done while I was away.

I wrote a song,’ he said and handed me a piece of paper with ‘The Wind Cries Mary’ written on it. Mary is my middle name, and the one he would use when he wanted to annoy me. I took the song and read it through. It was about the row we had just had, but I didn’t feel the least bit appeased.

To get my book please click here.