Author: Jas Obrecht | Publisher: University of North Carolina Press
From the cover and spiel for Stone Free: Jimi Hendrix in London, September1966 – June 1967 I was expecting something akin to a coffee table book. Stone Free is actually, first and foremost, a biography. Though the photographs are fantastic. You could be forgiven for buying it for those alone…
“[When we begin, Hendrix is] an under-sung,under-accomplished sideman struggling to get by in New York City. At [the]conclusion, he’s the toast of London and the brightest star of the MontereyInternational Pop Festival.”
Now doesn’t that already sound like a great premise for a book?
Stone Free is not only a biography of an interesting man,but feels both timeless and timely. The issues Hendrix faced, the personal, professional, and societal challenges of his life, resonate with us in our own times.
The photographs and images Jas Obrecht chose are lovely, and an excellent illustration for his masterful and playful prose. I particularly liked the use of older sources and the placement of quotations from other artists (Pete Townshend and Carlos Santana, for example). A combination of style, illustration, and a strong subject make Stone Free very readable, even gripping, and the narration is clearly that of an expert on his subject. In fact, Jas Obrecht worked with Hendrix’s father on his biography, My Son Jimi.
The book focuses on not only Hendrix’s music, but more broadly on the man and his life and times. It’s always a danger with music biographies that they lean too far towards technical musical exposition. And that’s where they lose me, because I’m not a musician and I simply don’tunderstand past a certain point. Stone Free carefully straddles the line between pleasing the techi music aficionado, and providing the rest of us with a good story.
When I first began imagining Stone Free, my concept wasclear: create a you-are-there narrative detailing the most extraordinary9-month journey in rock and roll history.
Stone Free is an extraordinary book, with an extraordinary subject, and I would highly recommend it for both Hendrix fans, and fans of the music biography genre.