Steven Roby’s book is invaluable for the Hendrix researcher, as it compiles interviews with the classic guitarist from 1966, when he’d just arrived in London, to a final interview done four days before his death in 1970.
It’s a fascinating collection of material, though some interviews are so short you wonder why they merit inclusion. The interviews are presented chronologically, making the book something of a biography as well, as you watch Hendrix’s career develop. With the right interviewer, Hendrix was happy to talk at length, and on a variety of subjects besides his music. In press conferences and on television shows he’s not nearly as interesting; the transcript of his appearance on The Tonight Show, being interviewed by Flip Wilson, is pretty dull, though he fares better on Dick Cavett’s show.
There’s also a too short excerpt of testimony from a 1968 deposition over a lawsuit regarding his pre-fame recordings, showing, if nothing else, that he didn’t have much of a head for business. There are also excerpts (which again could have been longer) from his 1969 drug trial in Toronto. It’s also interesting that as early as 1969 he didn’t expect to have a long life: “I don’t think I’ll be around when I’m eighty. There’s things to do besides sitting around waiting for eighty to come along.”
The great benefit of books like these is that you hear the artist in their own words, without the benefit of hindsight. Which ends up giving you a greater insight into their character.