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Book Review: Jimi Hendrix FAQ by Gary J. Jucha

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Jimi Hendrix FAQ attempts to provide “all that’s left to know” about Hendrix. It does an excellent job of this as far as providing information about all the albums, singles, and bootleg versions of Hendrix’ music. It is also full of interesting black and white illustrations.

However, when it comes to the messy and controversial life and death of Hendrix, including his relationships with band members, managers and women, things get murky. Even the back of the book states that: “It’s hard to find the man under all the falsehoods told by friends, business associates, and even Jimi himself.”

Since Gary J. Jucha was only a high school freshman when Hendrix died, he did not know Hendrix or any of his associates. Therefore, he had to use some of the copious material written about Hendrix and a few interviews with surviving people who were close to him for the information in the book. This is, of course, common practice for nonfiction based on famous people, especially if they died over 40 years ago, as Hendrix did.

However, Jucha’s information is often based on accounts by people close to Hendrix who had their own biased perspectives, and who provide conflicting information about various events and Hendrix’ personality and habits. Some of the alleged facts also come from obscure sources such as small rock magazines of the time, whose accuracy cannot be verified. This may be inevitable, but it does require an objective and unbiased eye from the author.

Jucha, however, is anything but unbiased. He is often quite insulting to various people who surrounded Hendrix, especially his women, without providing much evidence for his statements.

He suggests, for instance, that Monica Dannemann, who was with Hendrix the day he died, was crazy and that she probably exaggerated her relationship with Hendrix, and calls her book about Hendrix abysmal without stating any reason why that is true. He also claims that after Hendrix’ death Mick Jagger “misrepresented” the Stones’ relationship with Hendrix, when possibly Jagger just remembered things differently than some other people Jucha relies on for facts.

Also, Jucha has a very obvious bias against the hippies of Hendrix’ time and this colors his interpretation of many of the song lyrics and film representations he references in the book, and this reporter, who was there and in the South at the time, feels that he needs to provide more concrete evidence for the racism he states surrounded Hendrix’ band because he was black and his fellow band members were white.

Despite of this, Jimi Hendrix FAQ is an interesting resource for fans and students of the man and his music and if you can read with a healthy skepticism and an eye out for second- and third-person information and biased reporting, you will find it both useful and, often, fascinating.

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About Rhetta Akamatsu

I am an author of non-fiction books and an online journalist. My books include Haunted Marietta, The Irish Slaves, T'ain't Nobody's Business If I Do: Blues Women Past and Present, and Sex Sells: Women in Photography and Film.