17th December, 2011

The Jimi Hendrix Experience

Marcus Hearn (© 2011, Titan Books) 

Biography book review by Les Davis

When I was first asked to review 'The Jimi Hendrix Experience', I was beyond excited! I’ve been a Hendrix fan since I first lost my mind to 'Purple Haze' at a youth disco in the 80s, and since then, I have been captivated by the man and the music. To me, he was the personification of a musical prophet that could chop a mountain down with the side of his hand.

 'The Jimi Hendrix Experience' is a new book by the great publishing house Titan Books. It is an extraordinary collection of over 130 photographs of his earliest shows in 1966, London, until his untimely death in 1970.

It was not until Hendrix came to London that he started to gain overwhelming recognition with the photographs in this book chronicling that time. All the photographs have been lovingly restored from original prints and negatives by Britain's leading press agency, Rex Features. The photographers followed Hendrix everywhere and you can really see him transform from an awkward pop star to a mature master of studio and stage.

What really strikes you about the book as you read through is that it is really about the photographs. The word count is at a minimum with a short introduction and just a few well-placed notes that give just enough information to know the time, place and key people in the shots.

Hendrix is a great subject – he really knows how to work the lens and the shots really capture his lightness of being and sense of humour and you can clearly see his open joy.

There are a lot of iconic shots, beautifully reproduced. Some with the contact sheets showing the story around images we know and love. From intimate images of having his hair done to private moments with Eric Clapton. Lovely double-page spreads and reproduced contact sheets makes the collection feel very personal and the more you go back to the book, the more you see.

It really is an impeccable job, I just would have liked to have seen a bit more thought put into the cover design to really make it something that stands out and makes you want to pick it up.

It is a wonderful collection of photographs - a must have for fans of portrait and press photography, as well as the great Jimi Hendrix..

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