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Hendrix’s voice comes to life in new collection

Jimi Hendrix's story is told through his own words in a new collection of interviews called "Hendrix on Hendrix," coming out Oct. 1. (AP image)

This week marked the anniversary of Jimi Hendrix’s death at the age of 27. While there’ve been plenty of books written about him, a new release called “Hendrix on Hendrix: Interviews and Encounters with Jimi Hendrix” is the first collection of interviews with the Seattle guitar virtuoso.

In an interview with Seattle Sounds, editor Steven Roby says he set out to create as close to an autobiography as possible, letting Hendrix’s words speak for themselves.

“This is the first book (about Hendrix) without an author’s agenda,” Roby says. “My role was to collect and present some of the best interviews Hendrix did at the peak of his career, starting with his first press interview shortly after arriving in England right up until his final interview given the week before he died. It occurred to me this has never been done before. I stood back and let Jimi do the talking in this book.”

Roby says what stood out for him most was a noticeable shift in Hendrix from when he first burst on the scene.

“There’s just this transformation where he’s kind of light and gentle in 1967, just kidding around and having fun. And then he gets really serious in some of the interviews, especially when he’s talking with female reporters, he really opens up about his horrible childhood there in Seattle and some of the tough times in the Army and being ridiculed.”

Roby says the interviews show many sides of Hendrix, but ultimately betray the many struggles he was facing at the time of his death at the young age of 27 in 1970.

“There’s just chaos and confusion,” Roby says. “Jimi has the band no more, yet there’s a European tour set up. There’s demand from the record company for new product, he hadn’t had a brand new studio album out for a year or so just a greatest hits package that came out a year before, so there’s a lot of pressure on him not knowing what new band to form, where he was going musically.”

In addition to a myriad of interviews spanning his career, the book also features a collection of notable Hendrix quotes. Among the most moving and perhaps prescient is a line from his last poem, “The Story of Life,” written just days before his death.

“The story of life is quicker than the wink of an eye. The story of love is hello and goodbye. Until we meet again,” Hendrix wrote.

Roby says he hopes the book brings a much greater understanding of and appreciation for Hendrix as much as a person as a performer.

“I hope it becomes a historical record,” he says. “This is the first time a collection like this has been put together.”

Hendrix on Hendrix: Interviews and Encounters with Jimi Hendrix goes on sale Oct. 1.

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