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Celebrate the Life of Jimi Hendrix with These 8 Electrifying Reads

by  | September 18
Retro records illustration

On the 50th anniversary of the great Jimi Hendrix’s death, we look back at his life and the amazing music he created. With his music and his platform, Jimi Hendrix influenced an entire generation and those that followed. We may not be able to experience his Woodstock performance or stand front row at a concert, but we can celebrate his life and legacy through the eyes of those who knew him. The photographs, stories, and interviews included in the books below show that while Jimi Hendrix may be gone, his influence is eternal.

'Scuse Me While I Kiss the Sky

'Scuse Me While I Kiss the Sky

by David Henderson

Originally published to great acclaim in 1978 and updated in 2009, ’Scuse Me While I Kiss the Sky was written by poet, scholar, and Hendrix's friend David Henderson as a personal favor to Jimi.

It includes more of Jimi’s personal writing, more details about his romantic relationships and sexual encounters, and more in-depth research by the author into Jimi’s music and creative life. At once a grand adventure and a vivid record of 1960s culture and politics, ’Scuse Me While I Kiss the Sky shows Hendrix as a member of the Flower Power and the Black Power movements. With new access to old documents—once covered up by legal barriers—Henderson writes about Jimi’s opposition to the Vietnam War and his controversial support of the New York Panther 21. Hendrix is a rock immortal and this is the only book to tell his whole story.

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The Birth of Loud

The Birth of Loud

by Ian S. Port

In the years after World War II, music was evolving from big-band jazz into rock ’n’ roll—and these louder styles demanded revolutionary instruments. When Leo Fender’s tiny firm marketed the first solid-body electric guitar, the Esquire, musicians immediately saw its appeal. Not to be out-maneuvered, Gibson, the largest guitar manufacturer, raced to build a competitive product. The company designed an “axe” that would make Fender’s Esquire look cheap and convinced Les Paul—whose endorsement Leo Fender had sought—to put his name on it. Thus was born the guitar world’s most heated rivalry: Gibson versus Fender, Les versus Leo.

This one-of-a-kind narrative masterfully recreates the rivalry between the two men who innovated the electric guitar’s amplified sound—Leo Fender and Les Paul—and their intense competition to convince rock stars like the Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, and Eric Clapton to play the instruments they built.

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The Experience

The Experience

by Richie Unterberger

In 1967, British photographer Gered Mankowitz had the opportunity to photograph the Jimi Hendrix Experience in two sessions at Mankowitz’s legendary Masons Yard studio. Hendrix had just recorded his BBC sessions, taking London by storm, and was on his way to establishing himself as the most influential and charismatic rock star of the decade. Considered by many as the finest photographs ever taken of Hendrix and The Experience, these extraordinary images, both solo portraits of Hendrix as well as group shots, capture the musician and his band at the defining moment in their brief but spectacular career. As a testimony to their enduring quality, Mankowitz’s images were selected as the covers for all of Jimi Hendrix’s classic recordings. The Experience: Jimi Hendrix at Masons Yard is the first complete collection of Mankowitz’s two Masons Yard sessions with Hendrix and The Experience. Accompanied by essays from journalist rock historian Richie Unterberger, The Experience is a complete and necessary look at Hendrix during the peak of his revolutionary career.

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The Haight

The Haight

by Joel Selvin

Legendary photographer Jim Marshall visually chronicled California’s Haight-Ashbury as perhaps no one else did. Renowned for his powerful portraits of some of the greatest musicians of the era, Marshall covered this area with the same unique eye that allowed him to amass a staggering archive of rock-and-roll photography and Grammy recognition for his life’s work. In this one-of-a-kind book, the full extent of Marshall’s Haight-Ashbury work is stunningly displayed: live concerts, powerful candids, intimate sessions with icons of the day, street scenes, crash pads, alleyways, and the human be-in, all culminating in the definitive photographic record of a watershed moment in time.

Featuring hundreds of images of everyone from Bill Graham, Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, and Jefferson Airplane to Donovan, The Beatles, Allen Ginsberg, and Timothy Leary, The Haight tells the complete and comprehensive story of the street, creative, cultural, and revolutionary aspects of the day. Written by bestselling San Francisco music journalist Joel Selvin, the story behind each and every one of these incomparable images is disclosed through an intimate and revealing narrative, lending the images a fascinating context and prospective.

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Woodstock 1969

Woodstock 1969

by Jason Lauré

Photojournalist Jason Lauré followed his unerring instinct for being in the right place at the crucial moment. He and coauthor Ettagale Blauer trace the historic events that preceded the Woodstock music festival and then envelop the reader with photographs of the headliner rock stars that performed during the landmark three-day concert including The Who, Janis Joplin, Grace Slick of Jefferson Airplane, and Santana.

Threading his way back and forth from the stage, through a sea of happy audience members, Jason Lauré photographed the communal life that was an essential part of the phenomenon that was Woodstock. Never intrusive, yet working close-up, he managed to capture these innocent moments in the pond and in the woods with the same compassion and intimacy he brought to his coverage of all the crucial events of the era. After Woodstock, he photographed such legends as Jimi Hendrix, Tina Turner, and Jim Morrison of the Doors.

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Rock Gods

Rock Gods

by Robert M. Knight

In 1968, a young photographer named Robert M. Knight arrived in Seattle with a camera and a single roll of film to shoot local legend Jimi Hendrix. The photographs Knight took seized the uncanny energy of Hendrix and documented his primal performance and adrenaline-driven solos that tantalized audiences. The iconic images Knight produced immortalized Hendrix and propelled Knight on a life-long pilgrimage as the photographic herald of rock and roll.

Rock Gods: Fifty Years of Rock Photography is the rich visual universe of Robert M. Knight's work, replete with visions of guitar gods, monumental performances, and earth shattering solos that chronicle the greatest moments in the evolution of rock music and culture. His remarkable photographs define generations of rock stars from the Rolling Stones and Led Zeppelin to Run DMC and Green Day. With Rock Gods, Knight captures the grueling riffs of Jimmy Page, the flamboyant solos of Elton John, Slash's steel resolve, and Eric Clapton's soulful blues. With his intimate access and friendships with many of his subjects, Knight's photography fashions a unique perspective on the world of rock stars, creating some of the most compelling and evocative portraits of popular musicians witnessed to date.

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Back to the Garden

Back to the Garden

by Pete Fornatale

Back to the Garden celebrates the music and the spirit of Woodstock through the words of some of the era’s biggest musical stars, as well as those who participated in the festival. From Richie Havens’s legendary opening act to the Who’s violent performance, from the Grateful Dead’s jam to Jefferson Airplane’s wake-up call, culminating in Jimi Hendrix’s career-defining moment, Fornatale brings new stories to light and sets the record straight on some common misperceptions. Illustrated with black-and-white photographs, authoritative, and highly entertaining, Back to the Garden is the soon-to-be classic telling of three days of peace and music.

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The Jimi Hendrix Experience

The Jimi Hendrix Experience

by Jerry Hopkins

In The Jimi Hendrix Experience, bestselling author and rock aficionado Jerry Hopkins delves into the legendary life and career of the greatest man to ever pick up a guitar. With a consistent mix of greatness and madness, this book explores why the man who only released three studio albums during his life could forever transform not only music, but also a generation. While he’ll always be remembered for his incredible performance at Woodstock in 1969, Hopkins shows the true side of Hendrix: from his early childhood and the beginning of his career to his early death and the controversial battle of control over his estate that still wages on.

With incredible photographs depicting Hendrix’s rise to the top, The Jimi Hendrix Experience is the ultimate biography of the “Voodoo Chile.” Hendrix’s legacy and music will live on for generations to be enjoyed by and to live on with fans of all ages. And now, thanks to Hopkins, his life can be relived through this incredible biography.

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