Stone Free: Jimi Hendrix in London, September 1966-June 1967
In many respects, Jimi changed the sound of rock far more than the Beatles. You know, they brought songwriting to rock and roll, but Jimi changed the sound of the guitar.
— Pete Townshend
This is a great book for most any Jimi Hendrix fan, it focuses on the nine month period of time when he went to London and really changed the entire trajectory of his career. He worked his behind off developing everything from his wardrobe, his performing skills, expressing himself vocally, etc. Making use of every moment he morphed himself from a backup player to the headlining star he was meant to be. He got a bass player and a drummer, Noel Redding, and John “Mitch” Mitchell, and formed a trio, Jimi Hendrix and the Experience, and they rehearsed some songs until they felt they were ready to go on stage as an opener for another group. This is how he developed himself into a full act, moving from the back of the stage to the front. Then Chas Chandler, formerly of the group The Animals, along with Animals manager Mike Jeffery, who’d gotten Hendrix to go to London in the first place, and were co-managing him, got the band some work in France, Germany and in England to give them the experience they needed.
In October 1966 Chandler also got the band their first studio recording session for “Hey Joe”. Hendrix was still uncertain about his singing voice and wanted to bury the vocals under the music. Chandler wouldn’t allow it though and made Jimi turn the volume back down. Once he got that song down, they needed a song for the B side and Jimi was told he needed to write his own songs in order to get publishing royalties. So, no problem, Hendrix transitions from player to player/songwriter, boom. “He had attempted writing songs before, but the true flowering of Jimi Hendrix, composer, occurred after his move into Hyde Park Towers.” “Stone Free” was his first official composition for the Experience, written in the Hyde Park Towers a day or two after the initial “Hey Joe” session. Soon after, he was playing it in clubs and recording it. Other songs soon followed. Jimi also jammed with lots of other artists, many of whom were world famous names like Eric Clapton, The Rolling Stones, etc. His very shy, polite manner made him easy to get along with.
The book follows him through that whole period of time, as he transforms from a veritable unknown to someone everyone has heard of and are eagerly awaiting his show back in the US. My thanks for the electronic copy that was provided by NetGalley, author Jas Obrecht, and the publisher for my fair review.
University of North Carolina Press 256 pages
Pub: Nov 12th, 2018
RATED: 4/5 Stars
The Author– Jas Obrecht is an award-winning music journalist and former editor of Guitar Player magazine. He has written for Rolling Stone, Living Blues, and many other publications. His many books include Talking Guitar: Conversations with Musicians Who Shaped Twentieth-Century American Music. He lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan.