6 February 2012
Charles Shaar Murray
256 pages, Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin; first edition (October 15, 1991)
Twenty years after his death at age 27, Hendrix's stature as an Afro-American musical innovator continues to grow. But until now discussion of his contributions has been limited to either biographical accounts or purely technical analyses. British Pop journalist "Shaar Murray"'s multifaceted study rectifies this by attempting to unravel the cultural contradictions that the guitarist embodied as a black performer with a white audience, who excelled in a genre that was popularized by whites yet rooted in a black musical tradition.
"Jimi Hendrix"'s catholicity crossed barriers within black culture as well: his sonic explorations with feedback and distortion paralleled developments in the Free Jazz movement but he could suddenly shift into the deepest, most primitive Delta Blues, a language pointedly neglected by his black contemporaries.
Clearly, Hendrix's achievements are broad-based and central to his era, as well as a daunting challenge to those wanting to digest his work whole.
"Shaar Murray" augments solid musical scholarship with astute social and historical commentary, and meets the challenge admirably.