Post 58: The question of race 2
I was really interested in the reaction I got for my recent blog 55 about Jimi’s ethnicity and whether it has any relevance or needs addressing in the exhibition. Some commented on the page itself and a number of people got in touch directly about the post. It is fantastic to be able to illicit various views and opinions early in the exhibition design process through the blog and it is going to be a technique I’ll use again.
There are a couple of things that I need to set straight. Kathy Etchingham has very kindly taken the time to confirm that they did in fact stay in The Black Boy hotel in Nottingham along with rest of the Experience and others and that Jimi was amused by it. The reference to the wild man of Borneo was a joke by Ronnie Money and referred to his hair and presentation not his race. Jimi was keen to encourage the image of being a wild man of rock. However the Borneo phrase was picked up by various tabloid papers and I wonder how they intended it – I doubt we will ever know.
The other point that Kathy and others have made and was clear from the comments posted are that the matter of race really isn’t relevant to their view of Jimi and his music. Moreover their view is that it wasn’t relevant to him, indeed someone sent me a recording of a post gig interview with Jim and the Experience where Jimi was directly asked if he had found a great deal of prejudice and he replies “I haven’t seen too much myself.” So perhaps this is not an area that we need to spend time considering. It may be that what we do need to do is explain this position – I imagine less knowledgeable Hendrix aficionados might not understand why being a black man in 1960s London wasn’t a problem!