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Jimi's Rainbow: Live, From The Asteroid Belt

Chuck Wein discusses 'Rainbow Bridge,' his new movie that includes an appearance from Jimi Hendrix

October 26, 1972
'Rainbow Bridge'
'Rainbow Bridge'
Everett Digital

NEW YORK – The Wizard, an Aquarius, leaned back, exposing a split seam along the right leg of his deep purple satin trousers. He was relaxed as he reminisced about a departed friend. He had lived with him, explored the universe with him and toward the end recorded him on film. A Sagittarius with Capricorn rising and moon in Cancer: Jimi Hendrix.

"Jimi started getting into the occult because it was a mirror of what he was experiencing around him. A month before we started filming in Hawaii I introduced him to a chick who was into color-sound healing. She was also an Arabian horse costume designer. In fact, she bought a horse with Jimi that is never to be ridden, who is called AXIS BOLD AS LOVE, and has a purple haze for a third eye. She trained the horse to respond to color and sound.

"And she helped us plan the concert in the film. Everyone at the concert at Olowalu Volcano Crater was seated by their astrological signs so that Jimi could tune in on pockets of their energy. This chick helped me get it together with the colors and she got the shirt Jimi was wearing which was a turquoise and black medicine shirt from the Hopi reservation. She carried around a 300-page book of decoded Jimi Hendrix music. By that I mean she was into the molecular structure of the sounds.

"She and Jimi would get together and talk about beaming out sounds over 5000 square miles and what effect it would have on people's consciousness. He told her that he felt he had come from an asteroid belt off the coast of Mars, and that he was tuning people to energy that had just arrived here."

* * *

Upon first encounter the Wizard appears unstuck in time. A living, breathing piece of late-Sixties Southern California acid strip memorabilia, landed unscathed (except for the ripped satin seam) in New York's neurotic nouveau fall of '72. Slowly the presence of this characterization fades, leaving the Wizard simply unstuck, as if from no particular time at all. His name is Chuck Wein, and his trade is directing and sometimes being in movies. Why he is called the Wizard is one of a number of questions he leaves unanswered, in the film called Rainbow Bridge, which he completed shooting in the summer of '70, five weeks before Jimi Hendrix, who appears in the film, died. On the strength of that alone, Rainbow Bridge has become the most notable of the four films for which he has received a director's credit. (The first three, My Hustler, Poor Little Rich Girl, and Prison, were done by Andy Warhol's Factory.)

"'There was no time at which I had a script in my back pocket, no point at which I said, 'I can get Hendrix to do this and Molly Bee to do that, and then all I have to do is go out to Old Mo Ostin [of Warner Reprise] because he's a sucker for Hendrix and wants a little more music so he can make another million dollars, and Alan Jeffries [executive producer] won't say no because he wants to make another million dollars, and Jimi won't say no . . .' because, well, if you read the old Jimi Hendrix song book where they ask him what his favorite color was and all that, he says what he wants to do is be on the silver screen. What he wanted from Rainbow Bridge was to be in the film without his guitar. He was like a little kid about that, sometimes saying, 'Oh you just want me for my guitar.'

"I had known Jimi from New York and The Scene and I was living with [Pat] Hartley and Devon, who was Jimi's girlfriend and the real Dolly Dagger. I was into reading Tarot cards and one night over at Jimi's apartment I read the cards for Jimi and Mitch Mitchell and Billy Cox: Jimi started to tell me about being from an asteroid belt off the coast of Mars, so I said, 'Stop and I'll tell you about it because it's a place I've seen three or four times clear as a bell.' And that's the point that the deal got on, which was that there was something manifesting that had to be worked out. And that something eventually became Rainbow Bridge."

Even a wizard, if he happens to be a filmmaker, needs front money to work out manifestations. Wein admits that having Hendrix doing the sound track helped. But there was more to be done.

"A group of people meditated together for many months and traveled out of our bodies to many people who we wanted to contact to support the venture, and we prayed that they would realize the purpose of it and join in the activity. And this worked on the inner plane and spiritual level. Then when we went to see them we didn't have that physical plane and emotional opposition. Our lower selves seemed to be transmuted, and theirs did too. Things went smoothly; people just popped up all over the place."

Warners popped up to the tune of $450,000. They were pleased with the sound track, but not with the picture. The Wizard remembers. "Warners was expecting some kind of political revolution and they wanted to be the documentors of that. They were pretty spaced out on that and it was hard for us to express what we were doing. A major purpose of ours was to remove the mass paranoia against the arrival of the Space Brothers, who are very universal beings, they're totally loving, they would rather disintegrate their own form than change anything by force on Earth. But Warners wasn't listening and so eventually we had to make a deal where we could own the film by getting them the front money back and letting them have the album."

This was accomplished for the most part from $250,000 given by Buzzy Bent, a La Jolla surfer and vegetarian who had worked himself up from busboy to the owner of a chain of surfer restaurants which specialize in meat dishes.

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