In his introduction to Hendrix on Hendrix: Interviews and Encounters with Jimi Hendrix, editor Steven Roby says he hopes this volume will become a "valuable reference for years to come." It's difficult to believe this isn't exactly what will happen.
On one level, Roby has compiled a treasure trove of previously published interviews Hendrix gave to a wide variety of periodicals between 1966 and 1970. Putting all these together under one cover is more than valuable on its own.
But beyond these out-of-print interviews, Roby also transcribed radio and television conversations that haven't been readily available elsewhere since their original broadcasts.
Into this mix, Roby also provides previously unpublished court transcripts in which Hendrix defended himself in his drug and record contract cases.
Altogether, there are over 50 interviews from the in-depth to the short publicity knock-outs.
On another level, this collection shows the arc of Hendrix's public presence from his British debut to his post-Woodstock fame. It begins with the early days when Hendrix introduced himself to music fans by talking about his childhood, his time as a paratrooper, and how he came to England to become a star.
It ends with a conspicuously tired musician who had to leave the Dick Cavett set early, cut one concert short due to exhaustion, and expressed uncertainty about his future musical direction.
While it's easy to assert what we read in between comes as close as we'll ever get to having a Hendrix autobiography, it's important to remember the guitar player was answering questions responding to whatever agenda interviewers had.
For example, in the early interviews, not surprisingly, there's considerable repetition as Hendrix discusses his formative years and telling and retelling how the Experience came together. In the aftermath to Monterey, Hendrix is repeatedly asked about burning his guitar and the onstage visual antics that came to be a dominat topic in many of the interviews. It becomes very apparent Hendrix is annoyed with being asked about that subject over and over.
In fact, there were many more questions Hendrix answered about his concerts than his studio work. Early on, he gets a chance to talk about songwriting, as in "The Wind Cries Mary." He gets a chance to discuss some of the work for Electric Ladyland and how Band of Gypsies was thrown together to fulfill a record contract.