Thursday, March 21, 2013

SRV: Cold Shot

SRV by Jonnie Signed, a photo by Jonnie Miles on Flickr. © Jonnie Miles. From a series of photos taken backstage at Colgate University on April 29, 1988. 

Photographer Jonnie Miles and I were on a road trip as I recall, and the memory is vivid with me as if it were being replayed on some cosmic movie projector.

I was first introduced to the genius of Stevie Ray Vaughan by the writer Bill Milkowski, who championed the plumed genius from Austin in dispatches for this little old magazine I edited called Guitar World. Once he got signed to Epic Records, the SRV Peanut Gallery was taken over by his indefatigable under assistant promo man, Charlie Comer.

Fast-forward to 1988 and by the gracious auspices of Stevie's road manager Skip Rickert, I was standing in the driveway of the upstate New York college waiting for a tour bus to roll in. I was there to greet the man, have a chat and then basically hang out and watch the concert as Jonnie Miles and Milkowski did the reportage heavy lifting. The privileges of editorship.


I climbed up onto the bus and went inside to shake the man's calloused hand. Stevie was gentle and humble, emanating a spiritual equanimity that was not too far from the vibe I'd felt from encounters with some acidheads I'd known who'd been born again. Except the pre-enlightenment breakfast of this champion had been a cocktail of whiskey and cocaine.

SRV looked through me with a clear-eyed gaze. He was proud to tell me of his sobriety, and that is what we talked about for a few minutes more before he went to soundcheck.

The University's people had set up a sort of craft services table in the cafeteria of the Student Union building for the band and crew. I lined up with the band members with my plastic tray to pick up my plate of meatballs and spaghetti. Just ahead of me was Stevie's bass player, a hulking six-footer named Tommy Shannon. As he approached the student volunteer who was ladling out the comestibles, Tommy had a question: "Does this meat sauce have any alcohol in it?"

Only once he was assured that it did not, did he heap his plate with Italian-style food. Everybody in the band, he told me, was on the wagon with SRV, and that extended to even trace amounts of alcohol in food items.

SRV by Jonnie Signed-B&W-Back••_51

That night's concert was the last time of many that I saw Stevie Ray Vaughan perform, drunk or sober. Of course, it was perfect.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

The Jimi Hendrix Biopic Experience: Perpetual Haze

My article in Daily Variety, March 7, 2013:

This is one case where the overly micromanaging Janie Hendrix should have held off. A proper film about Jimi might have resulted. The previous production that she scared off would have been directed by Paul Greengrass (“The Bourne Ultimatum”), a respected and respectful director, and produced by Thomas Tull "(It Might Get Loud"), who would not go forward without the proper music.

That one is now just a castle made of sand.

Noe Gold: Jimi Hendrix Biopic | Variety_3-7-13

03.07.13 | 04:00AM PT

The Jimi Hendrix Biopic Experience: Perpetual Haze

'All Is By My Side' treads careful path on rights issues, real-life personalities

By Noë Gold

The road to mounting a Jimi Hendrix biopic has been long and winding, frequently stalled by the roadblock that stood in the way — Experience Hendrix LLC, the estate’s tightly controlled rights and marketing organization, whose CEO is Janie Hendrix, the adopted daughter of Hendrix’s late father — without whose cooperation no Hendrix-penned music can be used in a film.

As the saying goes, be careful what you wish for.

“All Is By My Side,” shot last summer in Ireland and current in post, is doing exactly that. With Andre Benjamin (aka Andre 3000) starring as Hendrix, Hayley Atwell as his live-in London love Kathy Etchingham and Imogen Poots as Linda Keith, the film focuses on Hendrix’s pre-stardom period in swinging London. The biopic has not received permission from the Hendrix estate to use any of his music, and some of the guitarist’s associates are fuming that they were left out of the loop.


• André Benjamin with Hayley Atwell (who plays Kathy Etchingham) in a still from "All Is By My Side."

With the help of music supervisor Danny Bramson, who is also a producer, the film is using its cover as an origins story to feature music not written by Hendrix but rather songs by artists including the Beatles, Muddy Waters and Chip Taylor (“Wild Thing”), which Benjamin has recorded for the soundtrack.

You won’t be hearing “The Wind Cries Mary” in this film, and the woman for whom that song was written, Etchingham, is not pleased by the prospect of the film’s release or about how she is portrayed in it. She said she was not consulted about the storyline.

Etchingham said she contacted the filmmakers and offered help but did not get a reply. “I later read in the Independent that Hayley Atwell was playing my character and that I would be portrayed as a ‘wild child’ who swore in every line. I felt that it would not be an accurate portrayal.”


• Jimi & Kathy Etchingham in the flat on Brooke Street, London where they lived and which is from her book, "Through Gypsy Eyes"

The article she cites describes Atwell’s account of the movie, in which she commented on playing Etchingham as a working-class Mancunian who was a “chain-smoking wild child” with a “tempestuous relationship with Jimi.”

Etchingham’s reaction: “Firstly, I am not from Manchester. I am actually Irish … my father’s family were prosperous Irish landowners and owned property in Dublin and Wexford. They could not be described as working-class. I am not prone to swear all the time. I was not a ‘wild child’ like other ‘rock chicks.’ My friends used to tell me how sensible I was.

“I don’t know where the screenwriter got this misinformation from. I’m sure a good film could be done about his London days, but it would probably be better in collaboration with people who actually knew Jimi personally, like me and Roger Mayer, Madeline Bell, etc.”

Mayer, the former British Navy engineer and close Hendrix personal friend who has been credited with co-creating the guitarist’s signature sound, noted that scenes in the film seem to depict Hendrix as a domestic abuser. “It seems these naughty filmmakers haven’t researched anything properly,” he said.

It has been 43 years since Jimi Hendrix died at the age of 27. To date, only documentaries, such as 1973’s “Jimi Hendrix,” which features the real personalities and live performances of the people in Hendrix’s life, including his father, Al Hendrix, Mick Jagger, bassist Billy Cox and Eric Clapton, have been produced.

Laurence Fishburne was close to mounting a biopic in 1993 based on the David Henderson biography, “‘Scuse Me While I Kiss the Sky” with himself in the title role. But since he could not use Hendrix’s music, the pic never got made. Since then, prospective projects featuring Eddie Murphy, Will Smith and even Prince have failed to cohere.

The most recent project to have tried and failed was a Legendary Pictures effort in 2011 with director Paul Greengrass (“The Bourne Ultimatum”) attached. But because the estate would not give Legendary topper Thomas Tull its blessing to use Hendrix songs such as “Foxy Lady,” “Voodoo Child” and “Purple Haze,” Tull opted not to proceed.

Janie Hendrix had this to say at the time: “When we do the Jimi Hendrix feature film bio, we will be involved and in control from the beginning.”

Representatives from Experience Hendrix did not respond to requests for comment.


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Kathy Etchingham BBC interview:

Kathy Etchingham book:

To read about Montagu Square click on the link below.

Roger Mayer's page:

To read more about Roger - click on the link below.