JIMI HENDRIX: Voodoo Child of the Aquarian Age by David Henderson

JIMI HENDRIX: Voodoo Child of the Aquarian Age

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This bloated biography of the gifted singer-guitarist-composer and notorious ""wild man"" of the late Sixties suffers from two unfortunate mannerisms prevalent in recent pop-music biographies: pretentious, quasi-poetic prose; and a passion for transcribing every scrap of recorded chat and interview. Following Jimmy from Seattle teenage-band beginnings to his first plateau--top lead guitarist behind Little Richard and others--Henderson shifts between present and past tenses, presumes to be inside Jimmy's mind, and indulges in verbal gurglings that swamp some otherwise solid analysis: ""Close to the heavens. Up there where there's no fear. Only the earth a holy flowing orb and floating space. . . ."" This imagistic style is intermittently effective when Henderson is evoking Hendrix's musical performances, but it's a disastrous approach to a life that needs de-mythifying--especially when mixed with Henderson's other tone: a jivey street talk that uses ""weird"" as an all-purpose adjective and is as dated as most of Hendrix' acid-trippy lyrics (many reprinted here). Then, as Hendrix moves beyond Rhythm & Blues, beyond guitar-playing, to become the gyrating, haranguing ""No. I male sex symbol of London"" and the anti-hero of Monterey and Woodstock, Henderson depends more and more on reprinted newspaper pieces, meandering taped interviews. and gig-by-gig minutiae. In this flood of print--plus reflections on Jimi's drugs, women (bisexual Devon, Monique who ""knew sensuality as he knew guitar,"" etc.), and business problems (Henderson sees him as a victim)--it's difficult to keep track of the presumable reason for all the fuss: Hendrix's place in the history of rock music. And there's no attempt to trace the Hendrix influence beyond his overdose death in 1970 (dramatized here conjecturally, melodramatically). The raw material for a perceptive study of Hendrix probably lurks in this hard-working book--including a discography from the Hendrix Information Centre in Amsterdam--but the reader who wants to extract it will have to wade through a great deal of hyperbole, nonsense, trivia, and tedium.

Pub Date: Nov. 17th, 1978
Publisher: Doubleday