Arts and Entertainment

Hendrix kin to play Port Orchard benefit

Leon Hendrix provides a living link to his brother Jimi, a guitar legend. - Charlie Bermant
Leon Hendrix provides a living link to his brother Jimi, a guitar legend.
— image credit: Charlie Bermant

There are two kinds of people who lived near the eye of the 1960s musical storm: Those who contributed in a significant way, and those who were close to someone else who contributed.

While Leon Hendrix falls into the second category, he provides a living musical link to one of the era’s most innovative and influential artists.

Hendrix will appear at Moodogs Too in downtown Port Orchard August 30, when he performs along with three other bands in a benefit to build a skating center in South Kitsap Community Park.

Moondogs Too owner Darryl Baldwin said the show is “an opportunity for the kids in Port Orchard to see some real music without having to go to Seattle or Tacoma.”

He added that Hendrix, with his connection to the past, has “a multi-generational appeal.”

Hendrix, 60, was six years younger than his brother, Jimi, and was a teenager when the elder Hendrix took the world by storm before dying of a reported drug overdose in 1970.

Like many people who saw Jimi play, Leon was intimidated by the force of his talent and knew he couldn’t ever compare — until years later, when Jimi appeared in a dream and told him that, “It was OK for me to pick up the guitar.

“I’m not following in his footsteps,” Hendrix said of his brother. “They’re too big. I’m an average guitar player doing my own thing. I’m not trying to be Jimi — I’m just trying to make a little corner for myself. I love playing guitar and writing songs, and a lot of people want to hear them.”

Hendrix leads a four-piece band playing guitar-based music that wouldn’t be out of place in the 1960s. He tours all around the world, playing to audiences seeking a connection with his late brother.

“I only play one or two songs by Jimi,” Hendrix said. “The rest are mine, and they are nothing like him.”

Even so, they are meant to evoke the Hendrix legend with titles like, “Song for Jimi,” “Voodoo River” and “Mission for My Mother” (he was able to get his mother , who died when he was 10, a proper headstone).

If he is vague about what makes his music special, Hendrix has a specific ire for his stepsister, Janie, who runs the corporation that handles the Jimi Hendrix estate.

When her name comes up his voice raises a pitch and he rattles off an angry litany: She hoodwinked Al Hendrix, Leon and Jimi’s father, into disinheriting his youngest son and dozens of blood relatives (Janie Hendrix is adopted and has no Hendrix blood connection), she has mishandled the estate and cut out the people who deserve the millions of dollars it generates each year.

Does this mean that any and all of Jimi’s relatives who never knew him deserve a slice of the pie, just because of the blood link?

“It’s what Jimi would have wanted,” Hendrix said. “Janie never knew him. She only met him twice. And when Jimi mentioned her in an an interview, he didn’t even know her name. Wait. Is this interview about Janie, or my music?”

Well, both.

Experience Hendrix, which Janie heads, has said that the distribution of funds reflect Al Hendrix’s legal wishes.

The courts have upheld this and granted final disposition in 2004.

Since then, Leon has been enjoined from using Jimi’s image on products like vodka and coffee.

Hendrix is unrepentant, saying “Jimi’s image is public domain.”

If he is cashing in he is still earning a living, traveling to places like South America, where, “I play (Jimi’s trademark) ‘Hey Joe,’ and they all go crazy.”

When not touring he divides his time between Seattle and Los Angeles and says he plays because he wants to — “and to put my kids through college.”

And even if Leon’s legal share of his brother’s legacy can be argued, there is one undisputed fact: This Saturday night, Port Orchard will get an authentic slice of Hendrix.

Leon Hendrix will take the stage at around 7 p.m.

He is sharing the spotlight with the Superheroes in Training (3 p.m.) and Snakebite (3:30 p.m.).

The evening’s headliner, Goldy McJohn and Friends (including the original keyboard player from Steppenwolf) will begin at around 9 p.m.

The $5 cover charge will help to build a skate facility at the South Kitsap Community Park.

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