After a year of researching, writing, finding rare photos for licensing and agonizing over being completely honest about the life of the greatest electric guitarist who ever lived, I'm pleased to tell you that on August 31, Da Capo/Perseus releases in stores in the US and UK the early years biography, BECOMING JIMI HENDRIX.
My coauthor, Steve Roby, a longtime Hendrix historian and author of BLACK GOLD: THE LOST ARCHIVES OF JIMI HENDRIX (Billboard), spoke to over 100 people in assembling the rough draft of this text and in rewriting, I emphasized certain aspects of his life that had not been explicated fully in previous works.
BECOMING JIMI HENDRIX emphasizes the Dickensian, horrifying childhood Jimi had, with alcoholism, a broken home, near starvation, four siblings given away to foster homes, being forced to protect his younger brother at an early age and somehow keep them both fed.
It explains how Jimi did everything in his power to get thrown out of the 101st Airborne at Ft. Campbell, Kentucky, after he was forced to join or go to jail for being a passenger in a stolen car.
It examines Jimi's coming face to face with racism in Clarksville, TN and a previously unknown arrest during an early civil rights demonstration in Nashville, as well as his being ripped off by promoters in early bands and even being homeless.
It follows his brilliance impressing but annoying many of the great R&B performers of the day, with whom he played. He performed with--and was fired by--names like Little Richard, The Isley Brothers, Ike Turner, Sam and Dave. Jimi studied and asked questions of greats he met on the road, like B.B. King, Albert King, Albert Collins.
BECOMING JIMI HENDRIX, following a timeline of 1962-66, also traces Jimi's split identity in New York, how he explored his blues expertise living in Harlem with black groupie Lithofayne Pridgon, while at the same time being encouraged to sing for the first time and play more free form guitar by white British model Linda Keith. She had just left The Rolling Stones' Keith Richards when she fell in love with Jimi--and actually became instrumental in his discovery, playing the tiny basement club Cafe Wha? in Greenwich Village.
We're very proud of this book's new revelations and I'll wrap up this post, until next time, with the promise that 11 of the 25 rare photos included have never been published, and there's 100 pages of back matter, including time line, discography, sessionography and even more for the obsessively minded.
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Wellstone Action! (Sen. Paul Wellstone, MN)