Janie Hendrix and John McDermott

Jimi Hendrix would now be 80 years old and remains at the top of the “What if they’d lived?” list of musicians. This lavish book by Jimi’s stepsister, Janie, and McDermott (who oversee official archival releases) is an illustrated biography heavy on photos including family snapshots, handwritten lyrics, postcards, handbills, and live images.

Interesting tidbits abound. Hendrix started on ukulele, then moved to a second-hand acoustic and, finally, electric – no lessons, just records and radio. Jimi is quoted regarding the influence of a blues pioneer, saying, “The first guitarist I was aware of was Muddy Waters. I heard one of his records when I was a little boy and it scared me to death because I heard all of these sounds. Wow! What is that all about? It was great.”

He also reflects on the Experience’s infamous (and brief) tour as the Monkees’ opening act, telling how he liked their members but, “[They] were like plastic Beatles.” Regarding Electric Ladyland, he was “…frustrated that the final mastering had compromised the elaborate mixes he and Eddie Kramer had labored over.”

Best of all, you’ll drool over photos of Jimi’s axes, from Jazzmasters and CBS Strats to his groovy psychedelic Flying V.

This article originally appeared in VG’s February 2023 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.

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