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As we approach 18 September, the 50th anniversary of the death of Jimi Hendrix, when he was just 27 years old, fans of the acclaimed guitarist may want to play some of his music, pour one out and toast his memory, and generally muse on his massive contribution to rock and guitar history. If that’s not enough, there are tons of books about him and miles of archive footage of the star playing his hits, and even a biopic (Jimi: All Is By My Side) that received a mixed reception in which André 3000 dons the feathered fedora and the flares to play the man himself. But watching this tawdry documentary, a cheaply made mix of interviews and dumbshow dramatic recreations by actors scuttling about flimsy sets in gloomy lighting, would be an unpleasant and depressing way to mark the occasion.
Although a cursory rundown of Hendrix’s early life and career is provided in the first third or so, the bulk of the film focuses on the last days of his life in 1970, when he was passing through London after a tour of Germany and Scandinavia. Wrung out and exhausted, he did a gig at Ronnie Scott’s in Soho, where witnesses described him as out of it and tired-looking. Spending time with Monika Dannemann, a German woman who described herself as his secret fiancee, but whom others interviewed here describe as a “stalker”, he spent the last day of his life alternately partying and arguing with Monika, and ended up dying in his hotel, choking on his own vomit, with a large quantity of barbiturates in his system.
The stentorian voice of the narrator speculates as to whether Hendrix was murdered, either by a hitman ordered by his manager Mike Jeffrey, who the narrator claims could have been skimming off Hendrix’s earnings excessively, or by Dannemann who, he asserts, was jealous of Hendrix’s dalliances with other women. In the end, the verdict of the programme is as inconclusive and open as the coroner’s verdict at the time, and nothing has been proved except that there’s always a market for conspiratorial crime documentaries, especially if the victim is famous. Poor Jimi deserves better than this.
Source: The Guardian
Keyword: Hendrix and the Spook review – a poor way to honour Jimi | Film