It’s been nearly half a century since rock god Jimi Hendrix released his second studio album, Axis: Bold as Love, the cover art for which featured him and his band The Experience as various forms of the Hindu God Vishnu, but time has played no factor in the Malaysian government’s decision to ban the record.
The Malay Mail Online reports, the Malaysian Home Ministry announced last week that the nation’s censors would prohibit any such albums to enter the country and have already seized existing copies of the record after they deemed the cover to be offensive towards religious beliefs.
“We’ll definitely take action against anything that violates religious sensitivities, whether it’s Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism or Islam. We must respect each other,” an official told The Malay Mail Online.
According to the publication, the ban was triggered last month when a Hindu association objected to sales of posters featuring the album art. The group’s deputy president P. Murugiah is said to have urged Malaysian authorities to act on “unscrupulous importers, distributors and those involved in producing, printing or publishing and marketing of such materials” that offend people’s faith.
Not even Hendrix himself was pleased with the cover art when it debuted in 1967. It has been reported that Hendrix’s request for artwork inspired by his Native American-Indian heritage was misunderstood by the label.
The Ministry said that if the controversial cover was replaced, the 1967 album could still be sold in Malaysia. “We don’t care if Jimi Hendrix albums without cover art featuring Lord Vishnu come in,” explained the official, “but if it uses Lord Vishnu’s image, then of course we won’t allow it.”