BY DEAN ROBBINS
Hard to believe, but in the four decades since Jimi Hendrix died, no one has made a great documentary about him. Jimi Hendrix: Hear My Train a Comin’ on American Masters fixes that problem (8 p.m. Tuesday, PBS). It capably tells the story of Jimi’s rise from impoverished Seattle youth to rock star to drug casualty — an extraordinary journey of just 27 years.
The film is a trove of rare photos, previously unseen concert footage, letters and home movies. Hendrix’s colleagues (including a star-struck Paul McCartney) describe a shy young man who utterly transformed when he walked onstage. Indeed, it’s hard to connect the quiet Jimi in interviews with the strutting psychedelic god who slashes through “Purple Haze” and “Foxy Lady.” None of the commentators adequately explain the power of his music, whose mix of the earthy and the ethereal still raises hairs on the back of your neck.
I can’t explain it either. Stop reading this review and watch Hendrix in action.