I am a fan of Jimi Hendrix (since 1966!), and have also read widely about him; I am currently writing my own book which explains factors about him that have been over-idealised. Given the BBC’s record in mangling history, I therefore looked forward with some trepidation to a BBC Radio 4 programme broadcast earlier this week about this musical genius by the lefty singer-turned- broadcaster Tom Robinson. As I feared, it was mostly a car crash. Robinson spent a good deal of time telling us that Jimi was a supporter of the Black Panthers, and his overall message was that he was at heart a leftist sympathiser and sometime activist who supported – albeit sometimes covertly – every liberal cause around in the 1960s, including being resolutely against the Vietnam war. There were some qualifications to this picture, but the overall thrust was very clear: he was lefty icon and hero. Mr Robinson also disgracefully told us that the Black Panthers were virtually an unmitigated force for good, carefully omitting any reference to their many acts of violence.

The reality of Jimi’s life is very different and much more complex. I believe he did not condemn the Vietnam war outright because at the very least, he was ambivalent about it, having served as a member of 101 Airborne, and he had chums like thbe bassist Billy Cox who were also ex-servicemen. Nor was he a rabid supporter of the Black Panthers; the reality was that he knew that if he crossed them they would make his life hell in that they specialised in creating crowd troubles at selected events. Charles Cross, Hendrix’s most recent biographer, makes this very clear, and in fact mentions the Panthers only seven times in his 500-page analysis, virtually as footnotes. The real evidence suggests that if anything, Jimi – despite his showmanship – was by instinct a social conservative. But at any rate, his powers of analysis and capacity to become involved in any movement were severely limited by his drug addiction.

I could go on, but I think I have made the point. Yet again, here was a full-scale BBC effort to tailor historical reality to fit their own extreme world view – and to cheer, en route, for the Black Panthers. Shameful.

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  1. Barry Wood says:

    The real evidence suggests that if anything, Jimi was by instinct a social conservative, but at any rate, his powers of analysis and capacity to become involved in any movement were severely limited by his drug addiction. “

    Beyond parody


  2. hippiepooter says:

    Be sure to let us know when your bio on Jimi comes out.  His music is truly awesome.

    From the top of my head, he had Mitch Mitchell and some other white guy as his band, but after criticism of not having a black band he ditched them for some black guys.  I think this alone does give credence to your view he was intimitadated by the Black Panthers.

    The BBC has its very own ‘T’ Party: The Terrorist and Tyrant’s Party.


    • AndyUk06 says:

      I think he ditched them for a whole load of other complicated contractual reasons that had nothing to do with the Black Panthers.


    • Tony_E says:

      Jimi had already signed a record contract in 66, but conveniently forgot about this when signing with Chas Chandler. The original company sued so Jimi had to make an album – hence the Band Of Gypsies album which he put together with Miles & Cox, two old buddies from his days in the 101st.

      There is some truth to the idea that putting a black band together would get certain people off his back in the States at the time, but more realistically he had run into trouble due to drug abuse during the sessions for ‘Electric Ladyland’ and his English band (Mitchell & Noel Redding)had partially disintigrated at this stage anyway.


  3. David vance says:

    They love the Black Panthers….


  4. Grant says:

    Did Tom Robinson point out that Jimi was most definitely not gay ?  😉


  5. cjhartnett says:

    Don`t take counsel from a man who was gay for years before deciding that it paid more to be straight-well I know no better !
    Jimis` misogyny and drug induced death were no doubt good rebellions to our Beeb wannabies and any nastiness would no doubt be seen as ironic to them as well. Typical patronising of the defenceless dead and creative history as peddled now by “your ” BBC.


  6. Roland Deschain says:

    But at any rate, his powers of analysis … were severely limited by his drug addiction.”

    This may explain much about the BBC in general.


  7. AndyUk06 says:

    The bit about Hendrix being against the Vietnam war is bollocks. He was discharged from the army for being a disinterested, below-par soldier, no other reason.  Hendrix was never anti- this or that.

    Unlike many in the music biz, Hendrix never really got on his soapbox about anything political such as Vietnam or the civil rights movement, his music probably crowded out everything else.  He did benefit gigs for peace and stuff, but then who didn’t in the sixties ( an era that always seems much kinder and gentler than it actually was).

    Black Panthers were renowned for their intimidation and extortion, so it’s extremely unlikely Hendrix would have allied himself too much with assholes such as these.  Besides, Hendrix was not truly ‘black’ himself, but part Cherokee, so they would have made uneasy bedfellows.


    • john smith says:

      Not truly black?

      Same as one Barack Obama……….

      (Why do the left bang on about black presidents. Never ever about having a native American president…………)


  8. matthew rowe says:

    I find it sad that the beebs try to lift him up as some great left wing activist and thinker ! it’s is betraying his legacy,he was a messed up brilliant musician/human  who played some great tunes and burned out far too young and to the  beeb  if he didn’t say it when he was alive don’t make it up now he’s dead ! !.


  9. Grant says:

    “Voodoo Chile “,  ” All along the watchtower”  etc.  are musical classics and I say this as someone whose favourite musician is Mozart.
    I am going to dig out my Hendrix vinyl LPs and listen again after many years . And I still have a turntable, so much better sound quality than CDs  !


  10. Maturecheese says:

    The BBC has become TASS.  This is nothing new and we all know how the BBC thinks by now.  If its left wing,black,muslim,gay or disabled, then its good, if its right wing, patriotic, responsible, indigenous, and basically normal, then its bad.


  11. Millie Tant says:

    Sounds like another manifestation of that well-known BBC Syndrome: Black Man Worship. Doesn’t matter to BBC if he was a druggy or degenerate. He’d still be a suitable vehicle for the required worship. Just because someone is musical doesn’t make him a hero or even a worthy person. We have plenty of examples to illustrate that. Still, Beeboids have a weekly quota of black hero worship to fill, no doubt.


  12. David Preiser (USA) says:

    All Hendrix was interested in was music, drugs, and talking about Peace and Love™, just like all the other drugged-up rockers of his era.  He hung out with all of them so of course he’ll be on record as supporting one extreme Left cause or other.  It’s meaningless.  Little Richard has said more profound things about racial politics.


  13. gordon-bennett says:

    I had similar trepidation about this programme. I noticed that the trailer featured the line about “white collar conservative walking down the street” as did the programme but neither made the point that it was conservative with a small “c”. They just tried to leave the impression that JH was anti-Tory. Typical beeb “subtlety”.


    • Tony_E says:

      You’d have thought a trail would tend to use something that the average listener would recognise, ‘Star spangled banner/Voodoo Chile (slight  return)/ all along the watchtower e.t.c., rather than a snippet from the meanderings in the bridge of ‘If 6 was 9’. That alone rather tends towards the idea someone was making a point! (Though I’m not sure what point?)


  14. RGH says:

    The Charleston Gazette, page 14, May 17, 1969, interview with Jimi Hendrix;

    “Music is stronger than politics,” he said. “I feel sorry for the minorities, but I don’t feel a part of one. And I think the answer lies in music”.

              One of the worst statements people are making is ‘no man is an island.’ Every man is an island and music is about the only way we can really communicate.

    Forget about the mass love scene. That’s not where it is. It’s not building understanding. And I wish I could say this so strongly that they’d sit up in their chairs.


  15. davejanfitz says:

    Can’t wait for a show about Cat Stevens,that will be a bag of fun….


    • john smith says:

      You said cat and bag, and failed to make a funny.

      I love Cat Stevens. When I found out he had converted it made me feel very uncomfortable. I feel a bit ashamed about that.


  16. Grant says:

    You mean Yussuf Islam , or is it Islam Yussuf  ?  Problem is that he is a “whitey”.   Look forward to a BBC doc on Bob Marley. 


  17. Grant says:

    PS.  The BBC doc on Bob Marley could investigate the interaction between Rastas and muslims, that would be a laugh !


  18. AndyUk06 says:

    This whole thing about documenting Hendrix’s every utterance is really overblown. It is kind of pathetic that people like Tom Robinson spend so much of their time analysing a genuine talent like him. Big Bad Jimi was about the spirit of things not the letter of the law.


  19. Barry says:

    Personally, I think his neighbour has more to offer.


  20. TrueToo says:

    Though Hendrix’ version of All along the Watchtower was superb, like so much of his stuff, I believe the original was Dylan’s.

    And The wind cries Mary sent a chill up my spine very time I listened to it.


  21. John Anderson says:

    I heard the programme today – what a ridiculous mess.  I wanted to hear about the man’s music,  some analysis with examples of his undoubted skill.  That is really the only thing that counts about him,  he never seemed to be a political figure. 

    The last part was Robinson banging on about the Black Panthers as if they were the Salvation Army – and telling obvious lies about Hendrix’s political leanings.

    It became truly bizarre when Robinson asserted that Hendrix playing Star Spangled Banner was some sort of leftie protest !   Pure fantasy on Robinson’s part.