‘Jimi Hendrix: Interviews and Reviews 1967-71’ – Book Review

‘Jimi Hendrix: Interviews and Reviews 1967-71’ 

Edited by Ian Douglas

Published by Douglas Books

Ebook Download

Released October 2012

Jimi Hendrix needs no introduction but this new collection of interviews and reviews available as a kindle download, will offer something for anyone who has had even a passing interest in rock music over the past 45 years. 

Consisting entirely of original articles from NME, Rolling Stone, Hullabaloo and New York Times, we are able to trace the career of Hendrix from April 1967 in a Melody Maker interview with Chris Welch, through to the full transcript of his final interview with Keith Altham, an edited version of which appeared in Record Mirror, and his obituary in The Times.

In this media age, where everything we want to know is no more than a seconds long journey into cyber-space away, we can instantly find what we wish to know (and probably things we don’t) about our favourite artists. Douglas Books have harnessed this technology and curiosity to bring us some good old fashioned primary source material on one of the Twentieth Century’s greatest music icons.

So what do we get? We get a collection of interviews and reviews (as the title suggests) starting in April 1967 and taking us through to March 1971 with a review of ‘Cry of Love’, his final album.

Why do we need it? Because it is precisely what it says, interviews and reviews written at the time and therefore not coloured by any retrospective bias. I was four years old when Hendrix died and therefore everything I thought I knew about him is as a result of later analysis and commentaries. Now it is possible to trace his career through the media as it unfolded and without someone else’s commentary or editing. I have long regretted not being more careful with old copies of Sounds, NME and Record Mirror so look forward to the release of further Douglas Books compilations.

In Chris Welch’s first interview from April 1967 we meet a ‘happy, uncomplicated’ Hendrix with ‘the American affinity for showmanship which Britishers find hard to ….understand’. Hendrix is clearly unhappy at the treatment he is receiving from organisers of the package tour he is currently on with The Walker Brothers, Cat Stevens and Engleburt Humperdinck, due to allegations of an ‘obscene and vulgar’ stage act.

A month later in Keith Altham’s NME piece, ‘the real Jimi Hendrix begins to emerge’ with concerns about whether the US may be too ‘conservative’ to break apart from the West Coast and dismissing concerns about his appearance. A review from Detroit in August 1967 tends to dismiss his concerns as The Jimi Hendrix Experience is described as ‘the most exciting act I have yet seen in pop music’. Being able to piece such threads together yourself is one of the advantages of this collection as is seeing the backdrop of this unique period through the prism of the Hendrix career. In September, again with Altham, we see him jokingly dismiss flower-power (‘what’s next…weed speed?’) and transcendental meditation as ‘day-dreaming’, whilst also pondering on the nature of success and the happiness of childhood. March 1968 sees the New York Times reviewing his sell-out US tour and writing of his ambitions to retire young and invest in real estate and possibly turning the live show into a ‘play-type scene with people moving on stage …. and every song a story’. In July 1968 we find Hendrix in Majorca’ mesmerising George Best with his live act. Mitch Mitchell also reveals a need to tour the US soon for financial reasons, ‘there is still that feeling in Britain that when we play some places they want to make money out of us and that’s all…they treat us like dirt’. Again, the rapidly changing social background in the US only comes through in glimpses and encourages the reader to further research issues to put the career of Hendrix in context. It may also interest some to see a Guardian review that condemns ‘Electric Ladyland’ as ‘boring in places which may be more difficult to write today than it was then. Also, March 1969 sees a less than enamoured review of Hendrix’s appearance at The Royal Albert Hall from Chris Welch in Melody Maker with sound problems exacerbating a lack of showmanship and over-stretched improvisational ability.

The full transcript of the final interview with Keith Altham in September 1970 (a week before he died) is published for the first time and Hendrix talks on a range of subjects, although his answers sometimes lack the clarity of earlier interviews. The Times obituary tells that in ‘direct contrast to the violence and anarchy of his music, Hendrix was a gentle peaceful man whose only real concern was music’. It’s fair to say that this is the impression that can be gained from this collection of writings and it serves as an excellent document of the career of Jimi Hendrix as it unfolded and without any later hype and hysteria. For that reason alone it’s worth investing in.

Douglas aim to produce more e- books of this type in the near future on film and current affairs as well as music. With a determination to explore less well-trod musical paths than Hendrix in future, this is certainly an area to keep an eye on.

To download ‘Jimi Hendrix: Interviews and Reviews 1967-71’ follow this link



All words by Dave Jennings. More work by Dave on Louder Than War can be found here. 




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