Hendrix Gets the Rough Guides Treatment

Perfect for music tourists in need of a map.

Rock-'n'-roll biographies aren't often as enjoyable as they should be. Writers can pontificate to the point where books are too academic, too long, or too analytical to enjoy. Now that the folks at Rough Guides, the makers of one of the world's most popular travel-guide series, have ventured into music—first by starting a record label and recently by creating a wing for music tomes—they're vowing not to fall into similar traps. In the past, they've commissioned authors to write about legendary figures like Bob Dylan, the Velvet Underground, and Led Zeppelin, and on June 1, Richie Unterberger's The Rough Guide to Jimi Hendrix (Rough Guides/Penguin, $18.99) lands in stores, attempting to add to the Seattle rocker's legacy in an easy-to-follow format.While Unterberger's 256-page book doesn't pull any punches about Jimi's love/hate relationship with our city, it does highlight his time at Garfield High School, and lets readers know where to see various Hendrix landmarks throughout Seattle. In that sense, the book works like any other Rough Guides book: It's essentially written for music tourists who need a simple yet detailed map of Hendrix's life.Hendrix's pre-stardom years on the chitlin circuit playing road gigs backing up the Isley Brothers and Little Richard are covered, as well as his major gigs: the Monterey Pop Festival, Woodstock, and his famed BBC appearances. There are also numerous mini-chapters on subjects ranging from his quarrels with the Monkees to his relationship with the Black Power movement. It's all done in an easily consumable fashion, which is the book's real strength.jcunningham@seattleweekly.com

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