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Before he became the most innovative and influential rock and roll guitarist ever, James Hendrix was just another struggling musician trying to get by. The arc of those difficult early years is told in remarkable detail in a new partial biography that unfolds as, "The Untold Story of a Musical Genius."

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During his brief military stint, Hendrix was part of a paratrooper corps. In addition to learning to jump, notes Becoming Jimi Hendrix co-author and archivist Steven Roby, the young guitarist also found sonic inspiration in his skydiving experiences, which he was later able to translate onto his first major recordings.

In addition to the narrative of James Hendrix's personal history between his time in the Army and his eventual musical success, Becoming Jimi Hendrix contains exhaustive listings of all the live performances and recording sessions he was part of during those years. Compiling all that data, says Roby, was a sometimes tedious but ultimately important task.

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By the time he reached New York, in 1965, Jimi's talents were being recognized by various small-time hustlers and producers who thought they could profit from them. One such arrangement found Hendrix leading a small session band (playing both bass and guitar) behind bombshell actress Jayne Mansfield. "Suey," a sultry novelty, was one side of the resulting single.

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clapton-hendrixSoon after arriving in London, Roby recounts, Hendrix became one of the few musicians ever to jam with the newly formed Cream, where he made a dramatic impression in a short time.

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Steven Roby is a respected Jimi Hendrix historian/archivist and author of the bestseller Black Gold: The Lost Archives of Jimi Hendrix. Roby was editor of Straight Ahead: The International Jimi Hendrix Fanzine (1989-1996), editor of the family authorized fanzine Experience Hendrix, has written feature articles and reviews for Guitar Word, Goldmine, and is a frequent contributor to the Italian Hendrix fanzine Univibes. He has been credited for his research in six Jimi Hendrix biographies, and two Hendrix CDs.

 

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