Hendrix scores a gig at Altamont - 38 years late

Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

The worst part about being a departed celebrity (besides the whole "departed" thing, we suppose) is the inability to come back and throttle the clowns who have licensed your legacy for something like dancing with a Dirt Devil (Fred Astaire) or contorting yourself to the tune of AC/DC's "Back in Black" for the Gap (Audrey Hepburn).

Since going to the great gig in the sky, guitar god Jimi Hendrix has been employed as a posthumous pitchman on merchandise including spirits (Hendrix Electric Vodka) and handbags, but Hendrix himself probably would have approved of the latest merch to make it to market: a limited-edition line of ring-spun cotton T-shirts and hoodies called Jimi Hendrix for Altamont.

Skater and Hendrix fan Andrew Reynolds of the fledgling Southern California skate-street label Altamont Apparel (which takes its name from the infamous 1969 concert at the Altamont Speedway) became friends with Jimi's "baby sister" Janie Hendrix, and she authorized the company to emblazon four T-shirts and two hooded sweatshirts with rarely seen hand-drawn doodles and sketches from Hendrix's personal tour and studio journals.

No cheesy "Foxey Lady" or "Purple Haze" shout-outs here; the shirts and zip-fronts feel more like a stolen intimate look behind the guitar-burning, acid-tripping facade than an overt money grab over a dead celebrity. Designs include a creepy psychedelic rooster, an ominous monk with a glowing halo, a pencil sketch of a long-tressed woman against a scattered backdrop of stars and something that looks like a melting stained-glass window sketched while on LSD.

Prices are $35.95 for T-shirts and $83.95 for hoodies, and each design is limited to 300 pieces. The collection is available at a variety of shops locally, but an Altamont rep says the Active Ride shops in Burbank and Santa Monica will have the most stock in the L.A. area. Also available online at www.activemailorder.com.

adam.tschorn@latimes.com

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