My Rating ~ Four stars
RELEASE DATE: 25 August 2020
Publisher: Hachette Australia
Almost 50 years after his lonely death, Hendrix is the abiding symbol of musical genius cut tragically short. WILD THING will be the first biography to bring together the splendour and sadness of his brief life, and to attempt to unravel the circumstances of his death.
Hendrix revolutionised classic rock, inventing a whole new vocabulary for the guitar. Onstage he pushed the boundaries of Sixties permissiveness, fellating the strings of the guitar with his tongue, lying it flat and straddling it, even setting fire to it. Yet in private he was polite, shy and sweet-natured. Norman will explore these contradictions in a narrative that takes us from Hendrix’s roots in Seattle to his louche and glamorous life in Mayfair, when London was the world’s most ‘swinging’ capital and then back to the US with the series of historic outdoor rock festivals that rounded out the decade.
WILD THING will be a celebration of matchless artistry, and a gripping chronicle of those now mythical times. But it will also investigate the peculiar conditions of his death, part whodunnit as it tells the most cautionary of rock ‘n’ roll parables. After all these years of rumour and speculation, Jimi’s ghost may finally be laid to rest.
Thankyou to Hachette Australia for providing me with a copy of this book, in exchange for an honest review.
Wild Thing takes us through Jimi’s short life – from his difficult and troubling childhood, with a father he was always trying to impress, to his struggles to break into the music industry, the challenges he faced touring as a black man, his triumphs and his ultimate tragic end. I have always loved Jimi Hendrix’s music so I found all the little things I never knew about him to be fascinating. This book really brought home to me the racial prejudice and discrimination he would have experienced during those years. It’s hard to imagine a rock star of his legendary status having to search for places to eat on the road, because so many eateries served ‘whites only’. Realising his entire music history was a constant uphill battle, in ways that other musicians didn’t experience, made me respect him even more than I already did.
We’re treated to glimpses into the lives of other well known celebrities, as they related to Jimi’s story, and I was surprised to learn of the connections between some of them. The world needed Jimi Hendrix, but it destroyed him too. The sheer number of different people trying to influence his life and pull him into their orbit was staggering. It was clear, from the stories in this book, he left a lasting impression on almost everyone he met.
The information surrounding his death, and the questions that have been long unanswered, was chilling. Knowing the mystery will likely never be solved is both sad and disappointing. Fifty years later, we might have enjoyed the Jimi Hendrix experience, but we still don’t have the complete Jimi Hendrix story.
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