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

Who am I?

I am an educator, author and Jimi Hendrix Historian who has been studying Jimi Hendrix for over 20 years, with a concentration on promoting him to the youth and people of color. One of my prime objectives is to ensure that Jimi's ENTIRE legacy is covered and given the proper respect. Once you incorporate my two books on Jimi (Nobody Cages Me, and Jimi Hendrix Black Legacy) and my forthcoming documentary into the research that already exists on Jimi, only then, can you get a fuller picture of the complexities of Jimi Hendrix. I had to sift through many books, magazine articles, and a wide variety of multi-media to try to get a grasp on the REAL Jimi Hendrix. I started seeing holes in what was being presented, so I decided to talk to people that were there. Many of these people didn’t appear extensively in these source documents. This list is just a start. In order to TRULY understand the genius of Jimi Hendrix, you must dig a lot deeper.

I wrote...

Jimi Hendrix Black Legacy (A Dream Deferred)

By Corey A. Washington,

Book cover of Jimi Hendrix Black Legacy (A Dream Deferred)

What is my book about?

Jimi Hendrix - Black Legacy (A Dream Deferred) is a deep exploration of Jimi Hendrix's subtle, yet ubiquitous footprint on Black culture. Often, Jimi Hendrix was seen by many to have transcended race, which is a slap in the face to his deep cultural roots, concerning not only his Black musical traditions, but simply growing up as a Black person in the '40s-'60s.

JHBL seeks to add to Jimi's overall legacy, by embracing Jimi's Black culture, including the well-known people in Jimi's life, as well as the voices that many do not get to hear from in your traditional Jimi Hendrix biographies. It was always a strong desire of Jimi Hendrix to garner a more diverse fan base. Although he never got to fully see the fruits of his labor, Jimi Hendrix - Black Legacy, will reveal that his wish, ultimately came true.

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The books I picked & why

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

Why did I love 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.)

By David Henderson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked 'Scuse Me While I Kiss the Sky as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Fusing blues, jazz and psychedelia with an outrageous personal style and image, Hendrix is still revered as the most important instrumentalist in the history of rock. He died aged 27 from drugs and alcohol. Capturing the essence of Hendrix's intense, apocalyptic and ultimately tragic life, the author covers Hendrix's boyhood in Seattle, his years in the US Air Force, his reputation as the best sideman around, his manic trip to London and superstardom, the songs, the concerts, the flaming guitars, the drugs, the booze, the women and most important, the incomparable legacy he left behind.

Book cover of Jimi: An Intimate Biography of Jimi Hendrix

Why did I love 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.)

By Curtis Knight,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Jimi as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Cover worn, owner's inscription. Shipped from the U.K. All orders received before 3pm sent that weekday.

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

Why did I love 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.

By Steven Roby, Brad Schreiber,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Becoming Jimi Hendrix as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

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…

Book cover of Room Full of Mirrors: A Biography of Jimi Hendrix

Why did I love 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.

By Charles R. Cross,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Room Full of Mirrors as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'Charles R. Cross has got as close to the truth as anyone yet in his exhaustive and ground-breaking account of the life of the greatest guitarist in the history of rock.' Observer

'Meticulously researched' Mojo

Jimi Hendrix continues to fascinate, and sell huge quantities of albums, even 35 years after his death. Quite apart from his influence on musicians and fans, a large part of the appeal of his sensational life story lies in the thrill of the era whose values he came to stand for. The Sixties still exert a massive pull over pop culture and this is genuinely…

Book cover of Starting at Zero: His Own Story

Why did I love 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.

By Jimi Hendrix,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Starting at Zero as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

It took just four years in the spotlight for Jimi Hendrix to become an international cultural icon. The sheer impact and originality of his music and his unique mastery of the guitar placed him for ever amongst musical giants. But what of the man behind the public image?

Modest and intensely private by nature, Jimi was shrouded in intrigue from the moment he first came into the public eye, and the mystery has only grown with time. Much has been written about him by experts, fans and critics, some of it true and some of it not. He did, however,…

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