The Guardian of Forever: An interview with Janie Hendrix

By Harvey Kubernik

Janie Hendrix is not only the sister of legendary guitarist Jimi Hendrix. She’s also the CEO of Experience Hendrix, a company devoted to protecting the legacy of one of rock ’n’ roll’s greatest artists.

As such, Janie was heavily involved in putting together Valleys Of Neptune, the new posthumous album of Hendrix material that’s being released March 9.

How did Valleys Of Neptune emerge and how was it constructed?

JH: Well, I think kind of [by] history repeating itself. When we signed with Universal, we obviously put out the core albums that Jimi had already created. In addition, we put out First Rays. And during that timeline it was the same as Valleys Of Neptune was. And it was kind of keeping in the same theme that this is what he was working on prior to his death and marks the 40th anniversary of his death, and the thing is that mode of we’re starting with Electric Ladyland, moving into what he was working on next, combination of First Rays and Valleys of Neptune. All those songs were done around the same time. And, listening to “Valleys of Neptune” and “Bleeding Heart” in that album will make you cry.

And the concept of the new collection?

JH: Really, it’s John [McDermott] and I. We really are kind of our own team. We talk probably two or three times a day. We go through what the next release is going to be and when we’re in the vaults and going through things. “This would sound cool to put in there. This picture for the booklet.” So it’s John and I, and we bring the tapes to Eddie in the studio. He then gives us a history lesson, since most of the time he was there.

1969 was a tumultuous year for Jimi Hendrix. Lots of stress, business scenes, touring, duress. You feel that around the construction of Valleys of Neptune.

JH: Oh absolutely. You hear it in the music. You hear it in the moaning of the guitar.

Talk to me about the musical license and master recording requests you receive for soundtrack, movies, television usage and DVD products.

JH: Sometimes we get some deeper catalog requests. I think we get probably, honestly, about at least 25 requests a week, which is a lot and not all of them, obviously, go through.

It’s about awareness. It’s about helping people to be aware. We often get requests for “Fire.” We want “The Star Spangled Banner.” And, “All Along The Watchtower” and “Purple Haze.”

Then it’s like, for instance, I’ll say this, for the [movie] “City of Angels.” Originally, I said, “Why don’t you guys want to use ‘Angel?’” How appropriate. Or “Little Wing.” All the songs on that soundtrack were about angels. And they said, “Here’s the deal with this: We want ‘Red House,’” which was great, because nobody was taking “Red House” before as a synch license. And they said [it was] because (actress) Meg Ryan really likes the song “Red House.” So, we’re like, OK. Sounds great. And because the movie, the story line, the actors that were in it … we really felt it was going to do well and that was really the first soundtrack that we ever OK’d Jimi’s songs to be placed in.

Even though we get requests, we kind of feel like it kind of dilutes the catalog. Before downloading if your song is on a soundtrack, then they’re gonna buy that soundtrack and not going to buy your album. But it really proved to do well because it went quadruple platinum, maybe higher than that.

For more information, visit www.jimihendrix.com. For more information about Jimi Hendrix, please write Experience Hendrix P.O. Box 88070 Seattle, Washington 98138.

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