Did Jimi Hendrix Beat His Girlfriend? New Film Says Yes, Seattle Biographer Says No

May 20, 2014, 5:45 PM | Updated: May 21, 2014, 10:23 am
The Jimi Hendrix statue that stands in Seattle's Capitol Hill neighborhood. (Photo courtesy of CC images: David Hererra)
(Photo courtesy of CC images: David Hererra)

The new Jimi Hendrix biopic, “Jimi: All is By My Side,” seemed like a fitting film to open the Seattle International Film Festival. It celebrates one of Seattle’s most famous sons, plus it was written and directed by John Ridley, who just won an Oscar for the film “12 Years A Slave.”

But on the surface, the film has some major flaws. Like the fact that there isn’t a single lick of Hendrix’s music in the film, since his estate wouldn’t allow it. But now it seems the flaws might go even deeper.

The film is set in 1966 and 1967, when Jimi arrives in London.

“Jimi’s first 100 days in England were the most extraordinary days of his life. There has never been a performer in the history of music who became famous so fast. Nobody. Nobody’s had the time where they went from completely unknown to essentially superstar in three month’s time,” explains Charles R. Cross, author of the Jimi Hendrix biography, “Room Full of Mirrors.”

“For (the book) I interviewed 325 people. Everyone from four or five of his intimate family members to band members to girlfriends. Literally, the people who sat next to Jimi Hendrix in kindergarten.”

So what did Charles think of the new film?

“I hated it.”

He hated it because parts of the film portray Jimi Hendrix quite negatively.

“The most shocking thing is Jimi is shown beating a woman twice. That woman is named Kathy Etchingham, who was Jimi’s longtime girlfriend from London. He was with her for three years. She says that no domestic violence like that ever happened,” says Cross. “In interviewing over 300 people for my book, I never heard a story that is even close to that.”

In one scene, in a bar, Jimi yanks a payphone from Kathy’s hand and beats her with it until her face is black and blue, and bleeding.

“I just cannot say how offensive it is to me that an African American man is portrayed as a domestic violence creator, when this was not something that anyone ever told a story of Jimi Hendrix doing,” says Cross

On her website, the real life Kathy Etchingham says she reached out to filmmakers and the actress who played her, eager to tell them stories for the script, but her messages were never returned.

“Since the movie has come out, I’ve talked to Kathy Etchingham a number of times and she’s extremely upset about the way she is portrayed in this movie,” says Cross. “When you’re presented as if you’re a victim of domestic violence, that is potentially libelous even in and of itself.”

And Cross says the filmmakers just didn’t get Jimi’s personality right either.

“The portrait of Jimi, just in general, is a portrait of somebody who is somewhat detached and has these naggy women who were telling him what to do. That was not at all the way that Hendrix was,” he says. “Everyone who was friends with him purports to tell a story of Jimi as a very clear headed individual who simply did not have two naggy girlfriends who were telling him what to do and fighting over him. It simply never happened.”

He worries that fans, who know nothing about Jimi’s personal life, will take the movie as truth.

“What’s interesting about this movie is, you’ve had warring in the Hendrix family for years, since Jimi died, about who controlled the estate,” explains Cross. “On one side, you had Jimi’s stepsister, Janie, on the other side you had Leon Hendrix. This is one of the first things that has ever come out where everyone agrees that they hate. Everyone believes that this was not what Jimi was.”

Cross thinks adding domestic violence as a dramatic element wasn’t necessary, because the true, real life story of Jimi Hendrix defying racial and socioeconomic stereotypes during his time in London would have been a fascinating film all on its own.

  • listen to rachel belleTune in to KIRO Newsradio on weekdays to hear Rachel Belle.
Who is Rachel Belle?

Your Last Meal

Rachel Belle

mike's chili parlor...
Rachel Belle

City of Seattle honors 100 years of Mike’s Chili Parlor in Ballard

One hundred years ago, a Greek immigrant opened a chili cart in Ballard, and 100 years later the business is still thriving on the family's secret recipe. 
23 hours ago
no phone...
Rachel Belle

Comedians and musicians are adopting ‘no phone’ policies at their shows

Artists like Chris Rock, Dave Chappelle and Madonna are using a service called Yondr, that requires audiences lock up their phone in a pouch for the duration of a show. 
8 days ago
library...
Rachel Belle

Does checking out library books hurt authors and indie bookstores?

Do authors and bookstores miss out on sales when we check out books for free at the library? Seattle Public Library and publisher Sasquatch Books weigh in. 
18 days ago
seahawks...
Rachel Belle

What to eat at Seahawks games this season: new menu is local and diverse

Seahawks season officially kicks off tonight at Lumen Field, and if you like meatballs just as much as footballs, this report is for you. 
19 days ago
college clean...
Rachel Belle

Most college kids say they ‘were not prepared to clean’ their dorm or apartment

A new American Cleaning Institute survey revealed that 75% of college students landed on campus, unprepared to clean up after themselves.
24 days ago
hospice nurse...
Rachel Belle

Local hospice nurse says death is not what you see in the movies

Death is not always peaceful and never pretty, but hospice nurse Katie Bracken says their job is to prepare people for a loved ones death. 
29 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
Work at Zum Services...

Seattle Public Schools announces three-year contract with Zum

Seattle Public Schools just announced a three-year contract with a brand-new company to the Pacific Northwest to assist with their student transportation: Zum.
Swedish Cyberknife 900x506...

June is Men’s Health Month: Here’s Why It’s Important To Speak About Your Health

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, men in the United States, on average, die five years earlier than women.
...

Anacortes – A Must Visit Summertime Destination

While Anacortes is certainly on the way to the San Juan Islands (SJI), it is not just a destination to get to the ferry… Anacortes is a destination in and of itself!
...

Ready for your 2022 Alaskan Adventure with Celebrity Cruises?

Celebrity Cruises SPONSORED — A round-trip Alaska cruise from Seattle is an amazing treat for you and a loved one. Not only are you able to see and explore some of the most incredible and visually appealing natural sights on the planet, but you’re also able to relax and re-energize while aboard a luxury cruise […]
Did Jimi Hendrix Beat His Girlfriend? New Film Says Yes, Seattle Biographer Says No