Becoming Jimi Hendrix: From Southern Crossroads to Psychedelic London, the Untold Story of a Musical Genius

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Overview

Becoming Jimi Hendrix traces “Jimmy’s” early musical roots, from a harrowing, hand-to-mouth upbringing in a poverty-stricken, broken Seattle home to his early discovery of the blues to his stint as a reluctant recruit of the 101st Airborne who was magnetically drawn to the rhythm and blues scene in Nashville. As a sideman, Hendrix played with the likes of Little Richard, Ike and Tina Turner, the Isley Brothers, and Sam & Dave—but none knew what to make of his spotlight-stealing rock guitar experimentation, ...

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Becoming Jimi Hendrix: From Southern Crossroads to Psychedelic London, the Untold Story of a Musical Genius

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Overview

Becoming Jimi Hendrix traces “Jimmy’s” early musical roots, from a harrowing, hand-to-mouth upbringing in a poverty-stricken, broken Seattle home to his early discovery of the blues to his stint as a reluctant recruit of the 101st Airborne who was magnetically drawn to the rhythm and blues scene in Nashville. As a sideman, Hendrix played with the likes of Little Richard, Ike and Tina Turner, the Isley Brothers, and Sam & Dave—but none knew what to make of his spotlight-stealing rock guitar experimentation, the likes of which had never been heard before.
 
From 1962 to 1966, on the rough and tumble club circuit, Hendrix learned to please a crowd, deal with racism, and navigate shady music industry characters, all while evolving his own astonishing style. Finally, in New York’s Greenwich Village, two key women helped him survive, and his discovery in a tiny basement club in 1966 led to Hendrix instantly being heralded as a major act in Europe before he returned to America, appeared at the Monterey Pop Festival, and entered the pantheon of rock’s greatest musicians.
 
Becoming Jimi Hendrix is based on over one hundred interviews with those who knew Hendrix best during his lean years, more than half of whom have never spoken about him on the record. Utilizing court transcripts, FBI files, private letters, unpublished photos, and U.S. Army documents, this is the story of a young musician who overcame enormous odds, a past that drove him to outbursts of violence, and terrible professional and personal decisions that complicated his life before his untimely demise.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Published on the 40th anniversary of Jimi Hendrix's death at the age of 27, this uninspired chronicle of the evolutionary guitarist's formative years relies on previously available information and new interviews with surviving band members, friends, and former lovers to provide a dense, detailed glimpse into what is perhaps the least-explored period of Hendrix's short, eventful life. Revelations of Hendrix being sexually molested as a teenager may be news to some, but bawdy tales of drug use and epic sexual encounters will not. After being discharged from the Army in 1962, Hendrix played the blues and R&B circuit in the South, making his way to New York and London as little more than a backing musician whose penchant for stealing the spotlight cost him gigs before it made him famous. Roby (Black Gold) and Schreiber (Stop the Show!) are clearly fans, but write pedantic, stilted prose and include few direct quotes from their sources, rendering dull an exciting subject and period of American culture. To their credit, though, they end with an interesting and exhaustive account of Hendrix's sessions, discs, tours, and events between 1962 and 1966.
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
From the Publisher

New York Times Book Review, 10/17/10
“Hendrix’s career as a superstar has been well chronicled; the more interesting details of how he became one are told here…[Becoming Jimi Hendrix] makes a case for the preparation that every originator should go through: follow your passion obsessively, so that when you encounter the person or thing that will change your life, you’ll be ready.”

Steve Coates, New York Times, 10/15/10
“It’s a fascinating book for the story it tells, but I would pay the cover price just for its amazing photographs.”

Rolling Stone, 8/19/10
3 ½ out of 4 stars "Most important, the book shows how Greenwich Village was crucial to Hendrix's 1966 breakthrough: With Harlem unable to hold him, MacDougal Street provides the launching pad for Hendrix's psychedelic genius."

Classic Rock (UK), September 2010
“[A] unique and fascinating book…The most thorough account yet seen of the years during which a shy, spacey, chronically untogether young guitarist learned his craft…Tells us more, and more deeply, than any previous volume about exactly what went into his Becoming Jimi Hendrix.” (9 out of 10 stars)
 

Booklist, 9/15/10
“An insightful look at an iconic star.”
 
L.A.Weekly, 9/23
“A crucial rock bio.”
 
ChicagoSun-Times, 9/19
“Steven Roby and Brad Schreiber’s assiduously reported work illuminates the evolution of Hendrix from self-taught amateur to the guitar paragon whose stylings remain a rock hallmark… [They] seem to have tracked down almost everybody who crossed paths with Hendrix… [and] are to be thanked for a comprehensive bibliography, recommended listening, a sessionography including discography and TV appearances, and a chronology of 1961-1966 tours and events.”
 
Wolfgang’s Vault, Ben Fong-Torres
“A well-researched book loaded with great stories.”
 
Mojo, November 2010
“One of the most intelligent and revealing biographies of an unsurpassable giant.”
 

San FranciscoChronicle, 10/04/10
“A compelling account of an artist whose idiosyncrasies earned him both respect and scorn in the black music establishment and eternal superstardom in the rock arena…Roby and Schreiber provide an insightful account of an artist who perceived his craft differently from any guitarist before or since, and who finally aligned the rock world with that perception, but never fully reaped the rewards of his efforts.”

JimPress
, September 2010

“If you read only one new Hendrix book this year, make it this one...You will still be drawn in and fascinated to hear how Jimi became the showman and musician that he did.”
 

Internet Review of Books, 10/29/10
“A must read for hard-core Hendrix fans.”
 

Popmatters.com, 11/11/10
“The first major fleshing out of the formative period during which Hendrix discovered not only who he was, but who he wasn’t…Roby and Schreiber document a remarkably busy and pivotal stretch in Hendrix’s career and life. Their digging through files, interviews and news clippings puts meat on the bones of his pre-fame chronology.”

TheRoot.com, 11/4/10
“For a reader's first exploration into Hendrix's early years, Steven Roby and Brad Schreiber's well-researched book provides a solid start… What this book does well is bring a legend down to earth, if only so that readers can, 40 years after his untimely passing, better understand from whence he came.”
 
HoustonPress (“Get Lit” blog), 11/22/10
“The authors contribute plenty of valuable and insightful stories about the music, moods, and outlook of perhaps rock's most inventive guitarist.”
 

WaterburySunday Republican, 12/5/10
“A worthy addition to the growing shelf of books on the man who redefined the role of electric guitar in rock music.”

Curled Up with a Good Book, 12/21/10
“For hardcore Hendrix fans, it's worth reading.”

Blues Revue, February 2011
“Stories about the chitlin’ circuit experiences, about losing head cutting contests in Nashville to Johnny Jones, about not getting paid, and of course, about the young women who helped the sometimes-homeless Jimi to survive make this book come alive. The 25 black-and-white photographs offered here are fantastic and most of them never seen before…A very enjoyable book.”
 
MidwestBook Review, January 2011
“A key acquisition of any rock music history holding.”
 
Examiner.com, 2/9/11 “Well-written and chock full of the kind of new information and original interviews that make it a joy (and even a relief, given the regurgitated nature of so many recent books on Hendrix) to a Jimi-obsessive.”


LosingToday.com, 5/22/11
“Well researched and well written, and the authors do a tremendous job of bringing both the subject and the era back to life for a whole new generation. Highly recommended.”

Midnight to Six blog, 12/25/11 “While everyone knows the Hendrix that was the leading guitar player during the psychedelic era, most are unfamiliar with how he got there, and that’s why this book is so valuable. The authors paint a very vivid picture of Hendrix’s years of poverty as he bounced around from gig to gig, backing some of the day’s top R&B stars (don’t miss the wild stories from his stint in Little Richard’s band!), while trying to find a way to get into the spotlight on his own merits… Becoming Jimi Hendrix is both well researched and well written, and the authors do a tremendous job of bringing both the subject and the era back to life for a whole new generation. Highly recommended.”

David Kirby
Steven Roby and Brad Schreiber…don't impose a view the way a master like Greil Marcus or Peter Guralnick might, but in a brick-on-brick manner they describe the run-up to Hendrix's electrifying appearance on a world stage. Hendrix's career as a superstar has been well chronicled; the more interesting details of how he became one are told here.
—The New York Times
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780306819100
  • Publisher: Da Capo Press
  • Publication date: 8/31/2010
  • Pages: 304
  • Product dimensions: 6.36 (w) x 11.28 (h) x 0.79 (d)

Meet the Author

Steve Roby is the author of Black Gold: The Lost Archives of Jimi Hendrix, former editor of Experience Hendrix magazine, and teaches a course on Hendrix’s life and music.

Brad Schreiber is an award-winning journalist, screenwriter, and literary consultant. His books include Stop the Show!, What Are You Laughing At, and Death in Paradise.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments vii

Preface xiii

Introduction: Seattle-The Childhood That Never Was 1

Chapter 1 The Case Against Private Hendrix (January-June 1962) 13

Chapter 2 I Can Hear the Blues Callin' My Name (July-December 1962) 27

Chapter 3 I'd Rather Starve (January-June 1963) 41

Chapter 4 Nothing But Someone's Coat on His Back (July-December 1963) 53

Chapter 5 From One Family to the Next (January-June 1964) 71

Chapter 6 An All-Consuming Fire (July-December 1964) 85

Chapter 7 Life and Near Death on the Road (January-June 1965) 99

Chapter 8 How Would You Feel? (July-December 1965) 117

Chapter 9 Next Planet, Please (January-June 1966) 135

Chapter 10 Downtown and Underground (July-September 1966) 155

Epilogue 175

Bibliography 187

Recommended Listening 197

Sessionography/Discography and Television Appearances, 1962-1966 199

Chronology of Tours and Events, 1962-1966 217

Index 261

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 6, 2014

    Interesting book about Hendrix

    I thought this book was just OK. While the information it provides is interesting, it was somewhat amateurish in it's presentation. There are areas of Hendrix life that seem to be glossed over. I didn't understand if it was the author's unwillingness to further investigate or if information wouldn't have been available. Additionally, the author went through the later part of Hendrix life rather quickly, during the time Hendrix became famous. That was disappointing. I'm sure there are better books about Hendrix' life out there.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 27, 2014

    Not worth the read!

    Unfortunately, this book missed the mark. I enjoy biographies to understand how the person came to be who they are, which means reading about the details of their childhood. This book skims over Jimi's childhood leaving out great details. It jumps to Jimi's stint in the service and his discharge. Then the story becomes a series of bands Jimi joined merged with his concert appearances with no real personal detail about Jimi himself. There are some inaccurate facts and contradictions with other biographies written about Jimi. If you want a good biography of Jimi Hendrix, read the one his brother Leon Hendrix wrote; it's excellent!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 6, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews

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