Yellow Bandana

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Historical Fiction  |  House: Tell A Tale
Yellow Bandana, R J Dent's short story about an object stolen from Jimi Hendrix as he toured America.

Submitted: April 12, 2016

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Submitted: April 12, 2016



Yellow Bandana

by R J Dent



This is a Jimi Hendrix story you’ve never heard. It’s never been told until now.

I know it’s what everyone who says they knew him claims, but this time it’s true. It’s true because no one else knows it. And it’s only being told to you now because at last I know all of the pieces to it, whereas a month ago I didn’t.

Here it is.

During his ascendance to the throne of king of mighty rock music, and throughout his subsequent reign of musical power, Jimi owned a yellow bandana. Sometimes he wore it around his head or his neck, sometimes he tied it around his thigh, and sometimes he used it to polish his guitar. To this day, not many people – other than those who were a part of his entourage knew or know this fact, but it is so.

It was a piece of cloth the size of a man’s handkerchief. And when I say yellow, I really do mean yellow. This yellow cloth was brighter than the yellow of a perfect lemon. This was ultra-yellow. Acid yellow. Zest yellow. Sunshine yellow. This cloth was a yellow so yellow it hurt your eyes to look at it. And every day, in one way or another, Jimi used it.

In that good vibe jive story-spinning way of his, he once told me it had been given to him in his teens by his maternal Cherokee grandmother. It may well have been, but I’d not seen him with it right at the start, so I just thought it was him telling a watered-down musical equivalent of the Turin shroud story.

Other people have sworn he said the same to them, so, in order not to go down in history as the man who labelled Jimi a liar, let us assume the yellow bandana was given to Jimi by his maternal Cherokee grandmother.

He also said it had powerful magic woven into its weft and warp.

Let’s say it had.

He also said it was one of his most precious possessions – after his guitars.

Let’s say it was.

He always tucked it onto his Stratocaster case when he’d finished with it, so you can imagine how he was when we’d arrived at the next venue and he decided to continue polishing that white right-handed-but-upside-down-and-strung-in-reverse-for-a-left-handed player guitar – only to find that the bandana was gone.

“Hey! Where’s my yellow bandana”

Everyone looked around from setting up. I hurried over.

“Your bandana gone, Jimi?”

“Yeah, man. It was here when we set off from Detroit.”

“Are you sure?” I asked gently.

“Come on,” Jimi drawled irritably. “You think I don’t know where I put my own yellow bandana?”

“No,” I placated. “Of course not. I’m just making sure you’re sure, so I can decide what needs to be done. I’ll phone Bill at the hall and ask him if we left it there. If we did, I’ll send someone straight away to get it. Okay?”

“Okay,” Jimi sighed. He got up and ambled over to the guitar rack and hefted his Flying V. He strapped it on and plugged in.

A sonic roar started. Then, amidst the roar came the sweet and mellow tones of a cluster of those diminished thirds we all know and love.

He launched into Red House, then segued into the scorching wah wah notes of Still Raining, Still Dreaming. He stopped abruptly.

“Gerry!” he called. “Give me less volume, more clarity.”

Gerry flicked some toggles on the mixing desk.

Jimi started to play the slow, vampy blues intro to Voodoo Chile. He stopped again.

“Tonight we do one for Martin Luther King,” he said. “And one for my yellow bandana.”

I phoned the Detroit Hall, but Bill said there was nothing left behind from our visit. Some people stole Jimi’s things for kudos or money or whatever, but I don’t think Bill was lying. I told Jimi. He sighed again.

“Man, that bandana was given to me by my maternal Cherokee grandmother.”

“I know, Jimi,” I said.

“And it had some powerful magic woven into its weft and warp.”

“I know,” I repeated.

“What if it’s lost?” he asked plaintively.

I didn’t have an answer.

“It’ll be bad luck,” he supplied gloomily. “An unhappy ending.”

I offered the nearest bromide I could think of.

“It’ll be cool,” I muttered. “You’ll see. It’ll be cool.”

Jimi looked at me then and it was a look of total clarity that cut right through his spaced-out hip-tripping stoned-ness and bored deep into my skull.

“Nothin’ll ever be cool again, man. You’ll see. But tonight, I’m gonna set this place alight.”

He did.

I had the foresight to set up the little cine-camera I took around with me at the side of the stage. I knew we were in for something special because of King’s death, but I never expected the blistering set Jimi delivered that night. For me, the standout moments were Jimi dedicating Little Wing 'to the memory Martin Luther King, who was murdered today', and 1983… 'for something lost that I love dearly'.

Both songs were note perfect.

And I filmed the whole thing.

I never actually forget about the film of that particular gig, but after Jimi died, other things started happening and the thought of it got put to one side, the way certain no-longer-priority things sometimes do. I knew I had the film and that was enough.

Then, one day I realised that if I didn’t get a move on, there’d be no way I’d ever see that film. Years had passed, technology had moved on. The kind of cine-camera I’d used back then was now obsolete. Panicking a little, I hastily shopped around and found a guy working in Devon who was willing and able to transfer my ancient cine-film onto disc for a reasonable price. I sent it to him, paid the fee upfront and I got my film and a disc back from him within a week. Then I put them to one side for a day or two.

I knew that I had something either incredibly valuable or totally worthless in my possession. If it was good footage of Jimi in concert, then it was my pension – and if it was too dark, or out of focus, blurred, obstructed, or I’d simply forgotten to take the lens cap off, then it was a very long piece of valueless celluloid.

As it turned out, it was perfect.

The angle was right, the focus was right, the lighting was right – the everything was right. As I said – it was perfect. But I still watched it four times just to make sure.

I slid the disc out of the machine and thanked the gods of current technology that I could sit and view an event from all those years ago. As I went to put it back in its case, I noticed that the man in Devon had labelled it for me. CONCERT FOOTAGE was written in blue fibre-tipped pen on the disc. Beneath it was the word BACKSTAGE. I had no memory of filming any backstage activities. Intrigued, I re-inserted the disc and forwarded it to the end of the concert footage. Nothing. I let it play on. Still nothing. Then finally, after nearly twenty minutes of nothingness, a picture rolled into place. It was Jimi, looking into the cine-camera from about two metres away.

“Hey man,” he said excitedly. “I got my bandana back. Look.”

He disappeared out of the frame and the camera zoomed in on a young blonde girl.

“Say hello to the camera,” I heard Jimi say.

“Hello to the camera,” the girl said.

Jimi came back into the frame, grinning like mad.

“Yeah, man,” he crowed. “My yellow bandana came back. Show him,” he said to the girl.

The girl pulled her cheesecloth dress up and off. She was beautifully naked underneath except for a bright yellow pair of panties.

Jimi stood behind her and cupped her breasts.

“Now tell the camera what you told me.”

“I stole the bandana from out of a guitar case in Detroit Hall,” the girl said. “I knew it was Jimi’s and so I took it home and made these with it.” As she spoke she slid a finger into the waistband of the panties. Then she slipped her hand down inside them. After a few seconds it became obvious she was using her hand to arouse herself.

Behind her, Jimi slid the yellow underwear down her thighs. She stepped out of them.

Then Jimi and the girl made love.

I’m not going to get pornographic, but there were some things I saw on that film that were absolutely wonderful. Jimi and that girl did everything it is possible for two people to do. It was raunchy, sexy, erotic, beautiful. It was more than fucking. I was seeing two people making love.

And just to contribute further to the myth-pool – yes, Jimi did have a very big cock. The expressions on that girl’s face ran the gamut from ecstasy to agony to awe to wonder to delight.

At one point she whispered “Thank you” into Jimi’s ear.

Finally they collapsed into a sweaty heap.

Eventually Jimi got up and came towards the camera. He grinned and winked, then switched the camera off. The screen went blank.

Was it a happy ending?

It was as near to a happy ending as you ever get in the music industry.




Yellow Bandana

Copyright © R J Dent (2008 & 2016)


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