André Benjamin, also known as Andre 3000 from the hip-hop duo Outkast, is taking on a new musical alter ego.Benjamin channels guitar god Jimi Hendrix in Jimi: All Is By My Side, a biopic set during the years 1966 and 1967. The new trailer shows the Seattle-born guitarist decamping to London, where he would form his band the Jimi Hendrix Experience and record their first two albums. Imogen Poots co-stars as Linda Keith, then-girlfriend of the Rolling Stones’ Keith Richards, who was one of the first people to recognize and promote Hendrix’s talent. (The film was partially inspired by an obscure song that Hendricks wrote for Keith, “Send My Love to Linda.” )
Notice anything missing from the trailer? Writer-director John Ridley, who won an Oscar last year for his 12 Years a Slave screenplay, did not secure the rights to “Purple Haze,” “The Wind Cries Mary,” or any of Jimi’s original songs. But for the sake of this film, which charts the beginnings of Hendrix’s success, that didn’t prove to be an obstacle. “We never needed them,” Andre Benjamin told Esquirein 2012. “The story that we’re telling, we didn’t have to have [the songs]. We’re not leaning on just performances. We’re not trying to recreate YouTube moments. It’s the real Hendrix story — things you wouldn’t know about how he got to be this person, and people in his life that helped make him.”
Benjamin does sing and play a number of other songs in the film, including covers of “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band,” “Hound Dog,” and “Wild Thing,” the Troggs song that Hendrix covered at the Monterey Pop Festival before setting his guitar on fire. That dramatic performance, which finally brought Hendrix fame in the United States, is where All Is By My Side ends.
The film, which met with largely good reviews at the Toronto Film Festival last year and South by Southwest 2014, opens in theaters on Sept. 26.