The best books that start to reveal the genius of Jimi Hendrix

The Books I Picked & Why

'Scuse Me While I Kiss the Sky: Jimi Hendrix: Voodoo Child

By David Henderson

'Scuse Me While I Kiss the Sky: Jimi Hendrix: Voodoo Child

Why this book?

This book was really the first serious biography on Jimi Hendrix. The author, David Henderson, was a contemporary of Hendrix and wrote the book as a favor to him. Henderson was a founding member of the Umbra Poets, an influential collective of poets and writers who were central to the Black Arts Movement. Clocking in at over 400 pages, this book offers a very detailed look at the total life of Hendrix, from his formative years in Seattle, to his life as a musical superstar, rubbing elbows with musical luminaries in London and NYC. This is the Jimi bio that I use to compare all other Jimi bios. (This bio has stood the test of time! There have been many pressings and updates to this book. Originally published in 1978, its latest reprint was in 2009.)


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Jimi: An Intimate Biography of Jimi Hendrix

By Curtis Knight

Jimi: An Intimate Biography of Jimi Hendrix

Why this book?

I mentioned that David Henderson’s book was the first SERIOUS biography on Jimi Hendrix. It was not to take a dig at this book, which was the first biography written on Jimi Hendrix (1974). It was written by his friend and early musical collaborator, Curtis Knight, who was really the first person to let Jimi spread his wings musically. Jimi was his bandleader and shared the spotlight with Curtis. Since this bio was written so early, you can’t really say that Curtis was trying to cash in on the Hendrix craze that exists now. At that time, there was no market for a Jimi bio. I have always respected that. This was the first Jimi bio that I read.

(Sidenote: With Curtis’ second published book on Jimi Hendrix in 1992 called Starchild, he was the only author to have written TWO books on Jimi Hendrix. This is until I came along. I wrote my first book on Jimi called Nobody Cages Me in 2010 and my second book in 2019 called, Jimi Hendrix Black Legacy. I’m honored to share this distinction with Curtis Knight.)


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

By Steven Roby, Brad Schreiber

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

Why this book?

The most emphasized aspect of Jimi Hendrix’s life has always been his turn as a meteoric Rock guitar phenomenon. His exploits in Europe and his triumphant return to the US usually captures most of the ink regarding his existence on this earth. Many people thought that Jimi Hendrix came out of thin air and was manufactured in London. However, this book sheds light on Jimi’s musical foundation as an itinerant sideman on the Chitlin’ Circuit. This was where he honed his craft and developed his chops.

You can’t leave this aspect out and jump straight to Purple Haze and All Along the Watchtower. This book leaves no stone unturned, as far as it relates to his formation as a skilled guitarist. The colorful cast of characters Jimi encountered on the dusty roads of the South and everywhere in between, will have you amused and laughing out loud.


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Room Full of Mirrors: A Biography of Jimi Hendrix

By Charles R. Cross

Room Full of Mirrors: A Biography of Jimi Hendrix

Why this book?

Some people consider this the second serious biography about Jimi Hendrix after David Henderson’s bio. Charles Cross had a great budget and the benefit of being based in Seattle. Since it was published in 2006, it also had the huge advantage of a treasure trove of updated information, culled from decades of numerous people doing research on Hendrix, who had a huge renaissance in the late ’90s, when his family won the rights back to his catalog. This Jimi bio was just a tune-up for his more successful bio on another Seattle Rock legend, Kurt Kobain, which was entitled, Heavier Than Heaven.


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Starting at Zero: His Own Story

By Jimi Hendrix

Starting at Zero: His Own Story

Why this book?

What better way would there be to get into the mind of Jimi Hendrix, other than reading a book comprised of his words? These words were taken from various interviews and quotes that he made over the years. Originally, the idea was to do a documentary of Jimi, where he is self-narrating the whole movie. Due to wrangling with the Estate of Jimi, this idea was shelved for many years. Eventually, the concept was translated into a literary form. Before Alan Douglas and Peter Neal could get this book out, the Hendrix Estate decided to put out a similar DVD called Voodoo Child, which featured Bootsy Collins narrating using Jimi’s words. Of course, this led to a lawsuit from the producers of this book.


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