When it was announced that André Benjamin -– better known as Outkast’s André 3000 -- would be portraying legendary guitarist Jimi Hendrix in a biopic, it put to rest years of rumors regarding who would play the psychedelic guitar god on the big screen.
The acclaimed rapper-actor-producer is attached to star in “All Is by My Side,” an upcoming biopic based on an original screenplay from John Ridley (“Red Tails,” “Three Kings”). Ridley will also direct the film, which is produced by Darko Entertainment, Subotica Entertaiment and Matador Pictures.
“All Is by My Side” is based on interviews and archival materials and “captures the energy, the charisma, [and] the mind-boggling talent of a legend whose musical influence still resonates around the world today,” read Thursday's official announcement.
Photographer Alfred Wertheimer’s image resonates like a classic Elvis song — a burst of emotion that leaves a dent long after the first impression has faded. The intimate 1956 photo captures a strikingly beautiful Presley snuggling with a woman backstage, lost within her face, his hair perfectly coiffed. In it, an entire emotional landscape reveals itself.
This image of Presley is one of more than 175 that will arrive at the Annenberg Space for Photography in Century City in June, when “Who Shot Rock & Roll: A Photographic History, 1955 to the Present” arrives in its West Coast premiere. The show, which originated at the Brooklyn Museum in 2009, features 100 photographers and some of the most vital and important images of the rock ’n’ roll era — including classic work by Diane Arbus, Jim Marshall, Annie Leibovitz, Pennie Smith and Ryan McGinley.
“Who Shot Rock” was curated by author Gail Buckland and arrives in L.A. for a four-month run after showing in a number of art museums the last two years. It’s the most comprehensive traveling show of rock photography ever assembled, and it reinforces the notion that image is as important as music when conveying the message of rock ’n’ roll.
Jansch was a member of the folk group Pentangle, which in the 1960s, along with the likes of Fairport Convention, helped revive public interest in traditional British folk music the way many British rockers had done for American blues.
His guitar work had a strong impact on a broad swath of musicians, from Jimmy Page, Paul Simon, Pete Townshend, Donovan and the Smiths' Johnny Marr on through successive generations of players such as Devendra Banhart, Pete Doherty and Beth Orton.
He had toured the States in recent years with Neil Young and in tandem with solo performances by Young’s wife, Pegi.
“That first record of his is epic,” Neil Young said in 1992 of Jansch’s 1965 debut album, “Bert Jansch.” “I was especially taken by ‘Needle of Death,’ such a beautiful and angry song.”
Fellow British guitarist-songwriter Richard Thompson said of his peer, “He could take the blues and jazz and traditional British folk music and blend those together into a style. I think that was the main influence of his playing. He was also a great songwriter.”
A full obituary appears online here, and will be in Thursday’s paper in the LATextra section.
Album review: Feist's 'Metals'
-- Randy Lewis
Photo of Bert Jansch at a 2006 performance in Los Angeles. Credit: Los Angeles Times.
Take the songs of Jerry Leiber, who died Monday at age 78, and his longtime songwriting partner, Mike Stoller, out of the book of early rock ‘n’ roll and you’d be left with a Grand Canyon-sized hole.
The New York-based songwriting and production team was responsible for dozens, if not hundreds, of hits over the first decade of rock’s history, and their legacy continues to be felt more than half a century later.
Just the Leiber-Stoller songs that Elvis Presley recorded would constitute a cornerstone of early rock: starting with “Hound Dog” and “Jailhouse Rock” on through “King Creole,” “Don’t,” “Loving You,” “Dirty, Dirty Feeling,” “She’s Not You,” “Treat Me Nice,” “Trouble,” “You’re So Square (Baby I Don’t Care),” “Bossa Nova, Baby,” and even “Santa Claus Is Back in Town.”
They crafted hits for the Coasters (“Charlie Brown,” “Yakety Yak,” “Poison Ivy,” “Searchin’,” “Along Came Jones,” “Young Blood”), the Drifters (“On Broadway,” “There Goes My Baby,” “Dance With Me”) , LaVern Baker (“Saved”), Ben E. King ("Stand By Me," "Spanish Harlem," “Gypsy,” “I [Who Have Nothing]”), The Clovers (“Love Potion #9), Peggy Lee (“Is That All There Is,” “I’m a Woman”) and Nancy Sinatra & Lee Hazlewood (“Jackson”).
As well-rounded musicians who also scouted and developed talent and produced recordings—well before the term “record producer” entered the lexicon—they landed what’s considered the first independent production deal with Ahmet Ertegun’s Atlantic Records. They were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987.
Michael Jackson’s iconic red leather jacket worn in the “Thriller” video will go up for auction later this month in Beverly Hills along with a large group of items from other pop musicians including Elvis Presley, the Beatles, Madonna, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Steven Tyler and Nirvana.
Jackson’s “Thriller” jacket has a pre-auction estimate of $200,000 to $400,000, and a portion of the proceeds from the sale will be donated to the Shambala Preserve in Acton, Calif., which houses the two Bengal tigers the singer kept at his Neverland Ranch.
Among the other music memorabilia in the auction to be held June 25 and 26 at Julien’s Auctions Gallery are the glove Jackson wore to an American Music Awards ceremony, estimated to sell for $20,000 to $30,000); a Presley TCB necklace ($20,000-$40,000); a denim jacket Bruce Springsteen wore during his “Born to Run” tour ($2,000-$4,000); the wool cape Ringo Starr wore in the Beatles film “Help!” ($6,000-$8,000); two pages of lyrics and other notes by Hendrix of a song titled “Here Comes the Sun” not related to the George Harrison song ($25,000-$30,000); and the broken neck of a guitar used by Kurt Cobain ($2,000-$3,000).
The items will be exhibited June 13-24 at the gallery at 9665 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 150, Beverly Hills. The catalog is viewable online at www.juliensauctions.com/auctions/2011/music-icons/index.html.
-- Randy Lewis
Photo from Michael Jackson's "Thriller" video. Credit: MJJ Productions.
U2, Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, Metallica special releases coming Nov. 26 for 'Back to Black Friday'
Continuing their efforts to reward music fans who still patronize independent record stores, a coalition of small retailers will be offering exclusive releases on Nov. 26 from rock, pop, R&B and country artists including U2, Metallica, Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, George Harrison, Jimi Hendrix and many others.
The special releases are part of indie retailers' "Back to Black Friday" promotion for the day after Thanksgiving, typically the heaviest shopping day of the year.
Many are being released on vinyl, which gives rise to the "back to black" theme. Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, Cee-Lo, Iron & Wine and Drive-By Truckers are among the other acts participating.
"These exclusive pieces not only create nice sales, but a lasting memory and connection between the customer, the store, the employee and the artist, whose importance can't be overstated," Mike Batt, who owns Silver Platters, a Seattle indie music store, said in a statement Thursday.
The store owners also seek to increase awareness of existing retailers each spring with National Record Store Day, which also has become something of a cause celebre among pop and rock stars.
"Many of the great indies have disappeared in recent years, but Record Store Day is giving us yet another chance to show appreciation to this wonderful endangered slice of Americana," Patterson Hood of Drive-By Truckers said in the same statement.
Among exclusive high-profile reissues coming to the indie stores for the holiday season are a special edition of Harrison's 1970 solo triple-album "All Things Must Pass" and a Hendrix holiday EP, "Merry Christmas & A Happy New Year."
-- Randy Lewis
In addition to offering vintage performance footage of such classic artists as Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix, the Who, Leonard Cohen, the Doors, Jethro Tull, Emerson Lake & Palmer and the Moody Blues, the 2010 Mods & Rockers Film Festival will be highlighting one name more than any other: Murray Lerner.
He’s the filmmaker behind several of the documentaries in this year’s festival, which opens Thursday and runs through Sunday at theaters in Hollywood and Santa Monica.
Lerner’s name is best known in pop music circles for "Message to Love," his film that captured the 1970 Isle of Wight Festival in the U.K., where Hendrix, the Doors, Tull, ELP and numerous others drew more than 600,000 fans about a year after Woodstock.
The celebrated “Woodstock” film is what inspired Lerner to move forward with an alternative view of that era in pop culture, even though the festival sponsors who hired him to document their event went broke and never came through with the financing for a film he’d been promised.
In Michael Wadleigh’s film about the famous “three days of peace and music” in upstate New York, “They were making the point that everything was hunky-dory -- peace and love, obviously,” Lerner once said. “And I don't believe it.”
Atlanta rapper-actor Ludacris is back atop the national sales chart with his latest, “Battle of the Sexes,” his third No. 1 album and the first rap collection to make it to the top since Jay-Z’s “Blueprint” logged two weeks there in September.
It’s a rebound of sorts for the rhymer born Christopher Bridges, after his 2008 album, “Theater of the Mind,” made it only as high as No. 5. “Battle of the Sexes” had first-week sales of 137,000 copies, putting it just ahead of the new Gorillaz effort, “Plastic Beach,” opening at No. 2 on sales of 112,000 copies.
In a strong week for new releases, with five debuting in the Top 10, the posthumous Jimi Hendrix collection “Valleys of Neptune” enters the chart at No. 4, on sales of 95,000 copies. That’s one notch higher than the peak position of his landmark 1967 debut album, “Are You Experienced?,” and right behind 1968’s “Axis: Bold as Love” and 1971’s “The Cry of Love,” both of which peaked at No. 3. The rock guitar hero scored his only No. 1 album in 1968 with “Electric Ladyland.”
The other new entries to the chart this week are from Southland-reared country singer Gary Allan, who debuts at No. 5 on sales of 65,000 copies of “Get Off the Pain,” and Broken Bells, the new group featuring producer Danger Mouse and Shins singer James Mercer. Their collaboration, also called “Broken Bells,” starts out at No. 7 with sales of 49,000 copies, according to Nielsen SoundScan.
-- Randy Lewis
Photo of Ludacris. Credit: Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times
Fans will be fascinated by these bluesy riffs with the Experience, but this album of unreleased material from the archives doesn't convey much that was unknown.
It's 2010. What could we still want from Jimi Hendrix? He's been gone so long. Yet the master guitarist, Afro-futurist and ultimate psychedelic freak still generates an aura of possibility stronger than what many still-breathing pop stars can maintain. He's the lost rocker most strongly associated with the question "What if?"
What if Hendrix had collaborated with Miles Davis, gotten into synthesizers, put together that big band he'd been planning at the time of his death? Would rock as we know it be different now? What would Hendrix have made of hip-hop? Would he have had a hand in inventing it? Something about his music points so strongly toward unimaginable next accomplishments that it's hard to consign him to the past.
Hendrix's estate was a mess for years, and many shoddy reissues tugged his spirit into dingy corners. With the release of "Valley of Neptune," a new phase begins. This album of previously unreleased studio material is the first in a new campaign from Experience Hendrix, the company led by the artist's stepsister Janie. Deluxe reissues of the three sets Hendrix made with his band the Experience will be released on the same day, and Janie recently said that there's enough unheard stuff in the vault to make for a decade of new releases.
That's a lot of "What ifs." "Valleys of Neptune," however, doesn't add much to that particular conversation. Consisting of tracks recorded with the Experience and a few other players as Jimi was growing disenchanted with the power trio format and preparing to form something else, "Valleys of Neptune" reinforces what fans know well about Hendrix: that he loved the blues; that he was a technical wizard who gained energy from extended jams but always came back to the killer riff; that the foundation he created informed the work of every godlike ax dude who followed, from his peers Jimmy Page and Eric Clapton to Prince, the Edge, Jack White and John Mayer.
This is a longer version of a story that appears on the front page of today's Los Angeles Times.
With the exception of James Dean, who made only three films, there might be no pop-culture icon who has done more with less than the late Jimi Hendrix. The ultimate guitar hero released just three studio albums before his death in 1970, but new generations of music fans keep plugging into his amplified legacy.
The volume of Hendrix’s music is about get turned up. Today, the Hendrix estate and Sony Music Entertainment will announce the March 9 release of a “new” Hendrix album, “Valleys of Neptune,” which will feature a dozen unreleased recordings.
The late star’s sister, Janie Hendrix, calls the material a “major revelation” about her brother’s musical directions at the time of his death, but the project and Sony’s intense interest in it also reveal plenty about the modern music marketplace — namely that proven stars of the past, even the dead ones, are growing more important to an industry facing an uncertain future.
At last week’s massive 2010 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Sony chairman and chief executive Howard Stringer opened his company’s presentation by talking about Sony’s Legacy Recordings and its licensing agreement with Experience Hendrix, the Seattle-based company that acts as steward of the estate.
That partnership was first announced last summer, but today marks the real rollout of Sony’s venture into the Hendrix vault. The company also will re-release familiar Hendrix albums bundled with new DVD documentaries, take the star into the online sector in a more aggressive way and look for synergy opportunities with a 17-city tour of an all-star Hendrix tribute that begins March 4 in Santa Barbara.
“It’s an auspicious start in fulfilling a shared vision for the Jimi Hendrix catalog going forward,” Legacy general manager Adam Block said of the partnership.
Perhaps, but it also offers insight into the mind set at the major record labels. There was a major scramble among Sony’s rivals to land the Hendrix deal for the simple reason that icons of the past are viewed as a particularly good investment at a time when CD sales of new music are in continued decline and up-and-coming acts represent limited upside amid the shifting profit realities of the digital-download era.
In other words, the rewind button looks like a safer bet these days.
Warner Music Group has undertaken a major Frank Sinatra revival that is both archival — with the release of vintage recordings — and entrepreneurial with new ventures in advertising, film and perhaps a Las Vegas casino. Michael Jackson was the bestselling artist of last year (8.2 million albums sold in the U.S. alone), and the Beatles came in third (3.3 million); country crossover singer Taylor Swift finished between the two with music that was actually recorded in this century. The Fab Four also hit the video game market with their Rock Band game, the latest of their seemingly seasonal encores as a pop-culture force.
And now, Hendrix is warming up as a 21st century enterprise...