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Steven Roby and Brad Schreiber - Becoming Jimi Hendrix (2010)

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Steven Roby and Brad Schreiber's Becoming Jimi Hendrix

Steven Roby and Brad Schreiber's Becoming Jimi Hendrix

Photo courtesy Da Capo Press

The Bottom Line

Jimi Hendrix's artistic contributions to the evolution of the electric guitar are unmatched in the 40 years since his death, his impact on rock music immeasurable. While dozens of books have been written about Hendrix's rapid rise to stardom, too-short career, and tragic death, few have provided an in-depth overview of the artist's blues and R&B roots. Based on over 100 interviews with people who were there at the beginning of Jimi's career, many of whom have never previously spoken on the record, authors Steven Roby and Brad Schreiber provide great insight into the guitarist's early years with Becoming Jimi Hendrix.

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Pros

  • Authors' in-depth research sheds valuable light on Hendrix's artistic evolution
  • Discography and chronology provides comprehensive timeline of the early days of Hendrix's career

Cons

  • None, really...this is an important addition to the Hendrix canon

Description

  • 304 pages, 6" x 9" trade paperback
  • Over two-dozen unpublished vintage B&W photos of the classic rock legend
  • Includes detailed sessionography and discography

Guide Review - Steven Roby and Brad Schreiber - Becoming Jimi Hendrix (2010)

One of the most enduring legends in rock 'n' roll, the legacy of guitarist Jimi Hendrix continues to grow four decades after his death. A steady flow of authorized reissues and archive material, vetted by the Experience Hendrix family trust, has continued to reinforce the importance of Jimi's stylistic and artistic contributions to rock music while introducing his immense talents to new generations of fans.

While there have been countless books that delve into one aspect of Hendrix's life or another, few have spent much time or energy in telling the story of where Jimi came from (Charles Cross's Roomful of Mirrors the notable exception). Authors Steven Roby and Brad Schreiber correct this oversight with Becoming Jimi Hendrix, an in-depth and informative look back at the guitarist's early years. Focusing their research on the pre-fame years of 1962-1966, the authors have used over 100 interviews with friends, bandmates, and others, along with Hendrix's military records, FBI files, and other documents to outline the early career of a man obsessed with music and his guitar.

Contrary to the popular narrative, Jimi's rapid rise to stardom did not happen overnight. Offering but a fleeting glimpse of Hendrix's troubled childhood and early fascination with music, they hook up with the future legend during his brief, ill-conceived military career as an Army paratrooper. Stationed in Fort Campbell, Kentucky – a short 90-minute drive from the clubs of Nashville's Jefferson Street – Hendrix would spend more time playing his guitar with fellow G.I. Billy Cox than in following military protocol. His ambition was evident even in 1962, even if his unorthodox playing style lost him as many gigs as it earned.

After spending several years on the Southern soul "chitlin' circuit" backing up artists like Little Richard, Ike & Tina Turner, and the Isley Brothers, Hendrix landed in New York City in the mid-1960s. While his musical ideas were rebuffed by the staid R&B artists that provided him a meager living, Hendrix found an appreciative audience among the young, white patrons of Greenwich Village folk clubs. It is here that Roby and Schreiber hand off the story to other authors, as Jimi flies off to England and music history.

Becoming Jimi Hendrix does a fine job revealing Hendrix's evolution as a talented guitarist. The authors don't shy away from describing the racism that Jimi experienced, his fleeting relationships, or the poverty he endured. What the reader takes away from the book is the sense that Jimi Hendrix was an artist that, even at an early age, couldn't be constrained by stylistic limitations, his musical ambition that of molding blues, rock, jazz, and soul into a form that he would call "electric church music." The rest, as they say, is history.... (Da Capo Press, published August 31, 2010)

Guide Disclosure: A review copy of this CD, DVD, or book was provided by the record label, publisher, or publicist. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.

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