Jas Obrecht – Stone Free: Jimi Hendrix In London | Book Review

Jas ObrechtStone Free

Jimi Hendrix In London September, 1966June, 1967

The University Of North Carolina Press

www.jasobrecht.com

244 pages Hardcover

Readers of Guitar Player magazine will recognize the name Jas Obrecht, who served as Editor of the publication for twenty years. During that time, Obrecht authored numerous cover articles on some of the best known guitarists on the planet. His work has also appeared in other publications like Rolling Stone and Living Blues magazines. Additionally, he has a handful of books on the market, several that compile material from Guitar Player, others that focus on ground-breaking blues guitar players.

With his extensive background in the world of guitar, it would be hard to find a more appropriate person to author a book on Jimi Hendrix, who left a legacy that still reverberates on stages throughout the world every day. Instead of doing another overview of the Hendrix career, Obrecht chronicles a ten month period that saw Hendrix seemingly transform overnight from a shy sideman to acclaimed star status.

In the mid-1960s, Hendrix had been working in bands backing the Isley Brothers, Little Richard, King Curtis, and Curtis Knight. He was also playing in Greenwich Villages clubs in New York City in order to be able to eat, fronting the Blue Flames under the “Jimmy James” stage name. The arc of history began to change the night Chas Chandler, producer and former bass player for the Animals, heard Hendrix perform at the Cafe Wha? Hearing the guitarist do “Hey Joe,” Chandler was stunned by what he heard, and later was even more surprised to learn that no one had yet signed Hendrix to a record deal. In short order, Chandler convinces the guitarist to join him in London and the flight into history leaves on September 23, 1966.

Over the next nine chapters, each one covering a month, Obrecht chronicles the process that turned an unknown musician into an international rock star, starting with the auditions that lead to Noel Redding and Mitch Mitchell becoming the Experience. Under Chandler’s guidance, Hendrix begins playing London clubs, generating plenty of buzz. Soon the audiences at his shows are populated by a who’s-who of the British rock scene, with Eric Clapton as well as members of the Rolling Stones, Beatles, and the Who checking out the flamboyont guitarist. The author takes you through a frantic pace that found the band driving hundreds of miles to the next show if they weren’t spending hours waiting to tape another appearance on British radio & TV shows, or holed up in a recording studio trying to capture the magic of the Hendrix live show on tape. There are also points where Obrecht covers the onerous details of the contracts Hendrix signed with his managers, often without legal representation.

The final chapter documents Hendrix’s triumphant return to the USA and the band’s legendary appearance at the Monterey International Pop Festival that moved him into the top rank of stardom. It is a fascinating tale that holds your interest due to Obrecht’s in-depth research and his deep understanding of his subject. At various points, he describes details that made the Hendrix guitar style unique and innovative, even to modern times In less than a year, Jimi Hendrix conquered the world. Thanks to Jas Obrecht, readers can revel in the story-line of who, what, and how that transformation occurred. An amazing story, expertly told, and highly recommended!

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