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Ex-girlfriend of Jimi Hendrix slams truthfulness of new biopic at TIFF

Portrait of Jimi Hendrix from Jan. 1, 1967.

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Will the wind ever remember, the names it has blown in the past? John Ridley's biopic on Jimi Hendrix has stirred up a little fuss for its perceived haziness with the facts.

The film, All is By My Side, starring dapper rapper André Benjamin as the flamboyant guitarist, received its world premiere here. Reacting to a Globe article on the movie, Kathy Etchingham (a girlfriend of Hendrix, portrayed by Hayley Atwell) took issue with Ridley's claim that his work was historically accurate.

"This film, according to the reports I have had from Toronto, shows that the screenwriter/director has taken enormous liberties with the story," Etchingham wrote on an online comment. "The most objectionable and untrue portrayal is of Jimi as being violent toward me. This is completely untrue and a dreadful slur against Jimi."

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The scene in question has a jealous Hendrix bashing Etchingham in the head. It's possible some artistic licence was taken here: According to Charles Cross's book Room Full of Mirrors, a girlfriend of Hendrix's, Carmen Borrero, required stitches after he hit her above her eye with a vodka bottle during a drunken rage.

The film also portrays the prefame Hendrix as being somewhat unmotivated. But Etchingham, possibly the inspiration behind the song The Wind Cries Mary – Mary being her middle name – isn't buying the notion that the guitar-burning icon was indecisive or unambitious. "This is absolute nonsense," she wrote in her post, "Jimi was hard-working and level–headed from the start."

Hendrix, by his own admission (in the song Purple Haze ), was prone to "acting funny" without knowing why. According to the lyrics, the guitarist was unsure if he was "happy or in misery," but was certain that a girl had "put a spell on me."

We may never get to the bottom of this.

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About the Author

Brad Wheeler is an arts reporter with The Globe and Mail. More

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