Watch Friday, February 12, 2016 at 11pm on WMHT-TV
A pioneering electric guitarist, Jimi Hendrix (Nov. 27, 1942-Sept. 18, 1970) had only four years of mainstream exposure and recognition, but his influential music and riveting stage presence left an enduring legacy. THIRTEEN’s American Masters series traces the gone-too-soon guitar great’s remarkable journey from his hardscrabble beginnings in Seattle, through his stint as a U.S. Army paratrooper, unknown sideman to R&B stars such as Little Richard, Joey Dee and the Isley Brothers, and his discovery and ultimate international stardom.
Hear My Train A Comin’ unveils previously unseen performance footage and home movies taken by Hendrix and drummer Mitch Mitchell while sourcing an extensive archive of photographs, drawings, family letters and more to provide new insight into the musician’s personality and genius. Recently uncovered film footage of Hendrix at the 1968 Miami Pop Festival is among the previously unseen treasures featured in American Masters:Jimi Hendrix – Hear My Train A Comin’. A CD and limited edition vinyl set of Jimi Hendrix Experience: Miami Pop Festival, the first-ever release of one of the guitar virtuoso’s most sought-after performances, will also be released November 5. The first-ever major rock festival staged on the East Coast, the May 1968 Miami Pop Festival at Gulfstream Park in Hallandale, Fla., was the first event promoted by Woodstock organizer Michael Lang and Ric O'Barry (dolphin trainer for Flipper TV series), who were inspired by the June 1967 Monterey Pop Festival, where Hendrix made his U.S. debut and famously set fire to his guitar.
Presented as part of a year-long celebration around Hendrix’s 70th birthday year, American Masters:Jimi Hendrix – Hear My Train A Comin’ uses Hendrix’s own words to tell his story, illustrated through archival interviews and illuminated with commentary from family, well-known friends and musicians, including Paul McCartney, band members Noel Redding, Mitch Mitchell and Billy Cox, long-time sound engineer Eddie Kramer, Steve Winwood, Vernon Reid, Billy Gibbons, Dweezil Zappa and Dave Mason. The film also features revealing glimpses into Hendrix and his era through interviews with the three women closest to him: Linda Keith (the girlfriend who introduced Jimi to future manager Chas Chandler), Faye Pridgon (who befriended Hendrix in Harlem in the early 1960s) and Colette Mimram (one of the era’s most influential fashion trendsetters who provided inspiration for Hendrix’s signature look and created such memorable stage costumes as the beaded jacket Hendrix famously wore at Woodstock). Hear My Train A Comin’ details the meteoric rise of the Experience, the creation of his groundbreaking music, the building of Electric Lady Studios, his state-of-the-art recording facility in Greenwich Village, and concludes with poignant footage from his final performance in Germany in September 1970, just 12 days before his death at age 27.
“I’m thrilled that Jimi Hendrix is joining the American Masters library,” said Susan Lacy, creator and executive producer of American Masters.“Hendrix has been on my series wish list since the beginning. Working with Experience Hendrix’s incredible archive we are able to finally do his story justice.”
Two-time Grammy-winning director Bob Smeaton, whose credits include Jimi Hendrix: Voodoo Child, Hendrix: Band of Gypsys, Hendrix 70: Live at Woodstock, Festival Express and The Beatles Anthology, shows a side of Hendrix less frequently explored in American Masters:Jimi Hendrix – Hear My Train A Comin’. Smeaton explains, “Jimi loved two things: women and playing guitar and that’s what Linda, Faye and Colette all told us. These women shed a totally different light on him than the guys who saw him onstage.”
“Hear My Train A Comin’ is an in-depth look at the life and legacy of Jimi with his own words as well as the words and memories of those that knew him well and were close to him. His impression on the world through his genius, music and talent continue to magically touch the lives of ensuing generations,” commented Janie Hendrix, president and CEO of Experience Hendrix LLC and Jimi’s sister, who is interviewed in the film.