My informant in Toronto sent me a descriptive review of the film and I have now had the benefit of hearing from someone who saw a recent screening in Los Angeles.
The film starts with Linda (Keith Richards’ girlfriend) taking a liking to Jimi at various gigs in New York. She is impressed by his potential and brings many music industry pros to see him play with the intention to get him on a trajectory to some success.
She likes Jimi, you can tell– and he her, but more of a conquest thing than a relationship thing. She does not return his lust, but there is a ‘ what-if’ quality to her refusal. She introduces Jimi to acid in a sugar cube.
She is stylish and knowledgeable about the music business and persuades the naïve and unambitious Jimi to change his hairstyle and image, and advises him how to play the guitar.
Ultimately she connects Chas Chandler to the new, improved Jimi and she takes Jimi to London.
Right after she gets Jimi to London, they are at a house party together and someone runs upstairs to a bedroom in which we find the still sleeping Kathy character.
Kathy is roughly woken up and her first move after sitting up in the bed is to gulp down the wine on her bedside table (How did Mr Ridley know that this is my morning habit? KE joking), and then quickly gets downstairs; she notices Jimi right away, there is an empty space on the couch next to him – at this point the Linda character has gone somewhere else in the room.
Linda returns to discover what we, the audience have been watching, Jimi and Kathy are in deep rapport. Linda does not like this, senses what is going on and freaks out at both of them. Kathy stands her ground- well! She stays with Jimi while Linda leaves.
The relationship between Kathy and Jimi blossoms, they are always together and you can feel she really does care for him and vice versa – as much as he can.
Kathy is presented as low class. She has red hair, wears colourful 60s clothes, and is clearly besotted with Jimi. However she smokes, likes to drink and smokes dope too in the film. She is more presented as just representative of ‘that type of girl for that specific time’ – a general portrayal more than a particular character – I did not get an autobiographical sense of her in the film and there is very little back story on her. She is a rather two dimensional character.
There is a scene at a club where Jimi’s performance is stalled due to bad tuning; Kathy gets on a pay phone to someone and when he sees this, while in this ‘non-performance” circumstance, he freaks, grabs the phone and viciously hits her on the temple. This results in an ambulance to the hospital scene eventually with the both of them in the hospital room. His contrition is serious while his ability to be sincere and accepted as such is bruised by the reality of the episode. Their closeness is both enhanced and jeopardized. (Absolute invention KE)
There is a tense scene that follows where he is invited to and plans to attend Monterey. Kathy begs to go with him and he refuses. (ditto KE)
That doesn’t sit well with her and we as the audience are interested in this turn; why not take her? What has happened? The film ends. It does not quite make sense. The relationship survives after all.
Kathy’s character is not un-sympathetic to the audience. We like her, we believe she likes Jimi for more than the mere physical attraction; that there is a person there and this person cares for this other person — and he her. However, the story makes it clear that she is possibly masochistic in her relationship and hints at prescription drug use.
One interesting scene is with a black political activist (This must be Michael X. KE)
Jimi and Kathy were together and there was another girl there too – a black girl who brought some drugs to the scene, hung with Jimi and introduced him to the black activist, who was politically astute – where black power/black politics are concerned. They rolled and smoked a joint and this man (and girl) tried to influence Jimi to be more of a black role model, as they pointed out reviews for white rockers were positive in tone and language while those for Jimi and other black artists were negative, racist and used more primitive, darker language – with a more ‘dangerous’ perspective. Jimi refuses and rebukes them stating he just wants to make good music. He and Kathy then leave. (Toronto screening report). The LA screening report is that Kathy is not present in this scene.
What can we make of these reports?
In my opinion the writer has taken scenes from my book “Through Gypsy Eyes” and twisted the facts to fit his own warped agenda.
My book tells the truth about what happened and is a true reflection of what things were like in 60s London.
The times were fun and amusing.
Mr Ridley has taken the story and turned it into a dull as ditchwater work of fiction while claiming it is a “true story”.
He has form when it comes to this sort of thing. Look at the reviews of his script in the film “Red Tails”.
In the opinion of many, if not most, reviewers he took a good true story about the brave airmen of the African American Mustang US squadron and made a very dull work of cinematographic fiction.
He has traduced the 60s London music scene by implying Jimi was up against racism all the time and could not make it until he went to Monterey. This is a complete reversal of the truth.
London allowed Jimi to develop without the racist attitudes of the USA.
He was at his most creative there because of his freedom from racism.
We had the occasional brush with it but it was nothing like as bad as the USA.
Ridley has presented my character as a cartoon-like low class drug-addled alcoholic white groupie and Jimi as a violent black simpleton who had to be coached in how to do his hair and play his music by a teenaged model girl. Both these characterisations are offensive and inaccurate.