Mirror IMIJ Experience - A Tribute to Jimi Hendrix
Byron Bordeaux Interview (12-3-04)
By Ronnie

Right: Byron, Ronnie, and the Mirror IMIJ Experience backstage at The Tabernacle 12-3-04

Upon hearing Byron Bordeaux's original songs from his website before the interview, the first thing I wondered is why he doesn't pursue a full-blown solo album? The four original songs presented are some of the best Hendrix-infused blues songs that I've heard in awhile. Having lived in Austin, I KNOW his songs would go over big there! But Byron is no mere Hendrix clone - his take on Hendrix is similar to Stevie Ray Vaughan in that there is just enough Hendrix influence, but Byron's songs bear his own style.

It was a pleasure to talk to Byron, he is very down-to-earth and sometimes soft-spoken - quite the opposite of the onstage Jimi Hendrix persona. I talked to Byron about his solo songs, his Hendrix tribute and his plans for the future. Byron's manager Larry also interjected some interesting comments about dealing with the Hendrix estate.

E.C.: I found the website with your original songs. Do you eventually want to promote your original material?

Byron: I don't know man; I'm beyond all that. If it happens it happens. If it don't, I'll just play guitar. That's what I did before anyway, I didn't do it to write songs.

E.C.: Tonight you hit those solos dead-on. How did you first know you had the knack to do a Hendrix show?

Byron: I connected with Jimi when I was just a little kid. Just years of playing the songs over and over and over…it developed into that.

E.C.: I read on your website how as a kid you would collect soda bottles to buy Hendrix albums…

Byron: Sure did, all day. I couldn't even afford a guitar then. I finally got a guitar, learned how to play eventually. And practiced for hours and hours and hours.

E.C.: So, did you have an affinity for Jimi's music? I mean, there was so much going on music-wise then.

Byron: I mean, I like it all but Jimi to me was the top.

E.C.: When it comes to movies or TV that want to portray Jimi, have you ever been approached by any of these projects that were looking for someone to play Hendrix in their films?

Byron: Oh no.

E.C.: How do you get into the role? Do you study the old films?

Byron: I used to…

Larry [manager]: What you've got to understand is that Byron has been playing guitar since he was eight years old. When you asked if he's been approached? We've had a couple of offers, but they've always been diffused by the actual Hendrix foundation. It used to be run by Jamie, his stepsister and she decided to turn it over to the family. So now the bank runs it. When she was running it, she had a tendency to be..I would say…to put it mildly…

Byron: A bitch? [laughs]

Larry [manager]: …a little greedy and a little preachy. Remember the show, "You're Big Break"? Well, we auditioned and everything was a 'go' - but Jamie wanted too much money to air it on national TV. We were also approached by a movie, and that was shut down by the same thing. So, it's really hard to be a Jimi Hendrix.

E.C.: With the current Jimi Hendrix estate?

Larry [manager]: It's because the world is greedy. When Jimi's father was running the estate, it was fine. And as soon as he died Jamie would take every old tape that he ever did and make a CD out of it to make money. She did really good for the estate, but she did it too well and really didn't cover her bases. And then the brother wanted a piece and said that he was stated in the will. He went to court and the court found out that the will was good that Jimi's father made and Jamie finally got sick and tired of the whole mess and turned it over to the family.

E.C.: Well, didn't Jimi state that he DIDN'T want to be buried in Seattle and they did it anyway?

Byron: He didn't want to go back there dead OR alive.

E.C.: How long have you been doing this?

Byron: Jimi? I've been doing Jimi all my life. And constantly…steadily for the last three or four years.

Right: Byron live as 'Jimi' at The Tabernacle 12-3-04

E.C.: About your original tunes…how often do you work on your own stuff?

Byron: Like, every time I get a chance. I ain't worked on anything since we did the EP [on the website] and that was it because I'm constantly working.

E.C.: Do you have your own style?

Byron: I would say my style is like Jimi Hendrix, Buddy Miles, Sly Stone and a whole bunch of people mixed together.

E.C.: Kind of like the direction that they say Jimi was heading before he died?

Byron: But nobody knows…Jimi was a gift from god. Like when you hear Jimi play "Machine Gun", that's like the voice of god coming through his guitar. He was just a channel, like everybody's a channel. If you get lucky enough, that channel will come through you, too.

To me, we still haven't caught up with Jimi…what he was doing back in 1968 or whatever. Jimi was like the starter of where Parliament and Funkadelic went.

E.C.: When it comes to the visual aspect of your show, you've been doing it for so long - do you have to keep studying?

Byron: I've been doing it for so long, it's like natural.

E.C.: Have you ever thought of trying to learn the guitar left-handed like Jimi?

Byron: Well, I'm right handed. I can play a couple of chords here and there left-handed, but as far as me taking all my time to learn to play over again…it ain't working. I'd rather be me.

I got to hang out with Eric Burden and he was telling me stories about Jimi. "He was a prick, but he was the coolest prick in the world".

E.C.: So, when other stars of the '60s see your show, what do they say?

Byron: They don't really compare me to Jimi, I mean that's like trying to be Mohammed Ali - ain't nobody ever gonna be able to do that over again.

E.C.: I always heard that when Jimi used to play, he was one of the original LOUD bands.

Byron: Here we actually turned down so that we could deal with the house. If we play outside and we have three Marhalls, it's cool. But a gig like this you don't want three Marshalls blasting their heads off.

E.C.: When you were a little kid and a Jimi fan, did you ever imagine this? Is this like a dream gig for you?

Byron: Oh yeah. I was like, "I wanna have some Marshall stacks and play just like Jimi. And the white Strat." It's like…this is the shit.

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