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"I always like to take people on trips. That's why music is magic. I'm workin' on music to be completely, utterly a magic science, where it's all pure positive. I am a Cuban, man. I am from Mars. I don't want to be a clown anymore. And with the music we will paint pictures of earth and space, so that the listener can be taken somewhere." Jimi Hendrix from various interviews in the book.
For fans of Jimi Hendrix, this book is pretty indispensable. The editor, Steven Roby, has written two of the very best books on both Hendrix ("Becoming Jimi Hendrix"), and his music ("Black Gold: The Lost Archives of Jimi Hendrix"), that every fan should own. And the chance to have a number of telling interviews all in one book, by a respected writer/researcher, which few people (apparently) know about is a mystery. I'm a bit surprised that more attention hasn't been paid to this book.
This book lays out, in chronological order, articles and (mostly) interviews about and with Hendrix, all from both well known and lesser known magazines, and radio interviews. Beginning in Dec. of 1966, with a piece from "Record Mirror", ("Mr. Phenomenon"), all the way to Oct. 1970 ("The Last Interview"), also from "Record Mirror". In between are interviews that cover just about everything that people wanted to know about Hendrix and his music during this period. Hendrix talks about his beginnings, his years on the "Chitlin' Circuit", his guitars, his sound (s), touring, song writing, recording, music in general, his performance style, money, fame, and just about all areas of his life and music.
"I am just a man like everybody else, Alexander The Great or Napoleon." Jimi Hendrix.
An additional plus is that the articles/interviews (especially the very early ones) have a real feel for the era-from critics initial puzzlement over Hendrix himself ("who is this wild looking man with the loud guitar and all the antics?"), to what style of music he plays, to the sometimes innocent questions posed by interviewers. But alongside the innocent questions like this one from 1968, "How come you got caught up in the hippie scene?", there's also probing questions (from 1967) like, "How does the Experience get such fusion when you're basically a bluesman, Noel's a rock man, and Mitch a jazzman?". The feel of the era, from (largely) the various interviewers questions, along with some of Hendrix's answers, keeps these pieces from becoming a one after another, by rote, dry set of interviews.
"I am the bus driver, and you are my passengers." Jimi Hendrix.
The book includes a Preface, Acknowledgments, an Introduction, an Epilogue, quotes from Hendrix from various sources (four pages but pretty cool), an eleven page interview with Eric Burdon on Hendrix, and an Index. There's also a several b&w photographs throughout the book-but more would've been a nice addition. In some respects this book's approach and layout is based on another good book, "Coltrane On Coltrane", edited by Chris DeVito. The Coltrane book contains many good pieces on Coltrane, which fans of his music shouldn't be without.
With all the countless articles written about Hendrix after his death-both by people who knew him and people who only knew of him, along with biographies of the man, it's nice (and very satisfying) to read a collection of period, question and answer interviews and articles during the period when his music was so groundbreaking and exciting. There's no "what if's?", no suppositions, just straight questions and observations from writers who were there, and the (sometimes) straight answers from the only person who's really qualified to answer-Jimi Hendrix. Roby has put together a good collection of important pieces on Hendrix that shines a direct light on the person and his unique (to say the least) gift-his genius on the guitar, and that whole exciting period. This book can sit alongside Roby's other books on Hendrix, and every fan of Jimi Hendrix should have this in their library.
"I will not be around on this planet anymore, unless I have a wife and children, otherwise I have got nothing to live for." Jimi Hendrix.