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Jimi Hendrix: Room Full of Mirrors Review
by antiGUY

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Music journalist Charles R Cross finally arrives with the follow up to somewhat controversial Heavier than Heaven: A Biography of Kurt Cobain. The subject of study this time is another Washington State musical icon that died at the age of 27; Jimi Hendrix. 

Cross offers up something unique with this book that you will not find in most biographies of Hendrix because he focuses more on Hendrix the man than Hendrix the icon. Aside from the interviews with key people in Jimi's early life and rare glimpses at Hendrix correspondences, Room Full of Mirrors takes an unvarnished look at Jimi's troubled childhood from his alcoholic mother to his father's lack of attention which often left Jimi to fend for himself with the generosity of relatives and neighbors. 

Cross examines Jimi's troubled relationship with his father throughout the book and the specter of his mother. There is no sugarcoating Al Hendrix in this book; he appears flaws and all including the renunciation of his paternity to Jimi's siblings. But the picture painted of Al isn't wholly negative, Cross manages to portray a complex individual and how his actions or inactions influenced his son. 

Jimi's childhood is a central theme in this biography and Cross tries to convey Jimi's longing to come to terms with it including a failed speech at the high school he dropped out of and a late night tour of his childhood homes shortly before his death. The book also contains some startling revelations. The biggest one; Cross uncovered military records which revealed that Hendrix claimed homosexuality in order to get out of the Army. Jimi served in the famed 101st Airborne division. 

Where this biography falls short is with Jimi's professional life. After Jimi's initial success when he moved to "Swinging London," the book fails to deliver a comprehensive look at Jimi's musical career focusing instead of the personal issues including Jimi's aloof relationships with various women, drugs, and Jimi's dealing with the rigors of fame. 

At times Cross seems to interject his own conclusions into the narrative in much the same way that angered Kurt Cobain fans with Heavier Than Heaven, but in most cases, Cross does a masterful job at research and referencing his sources. 

If you are interested in learning about Jimi Hendrix the man and not Jimi Hendrix the guitar icon, Room Full of Mirrors is a compelling read filled with interesting facts about his life and some subjective looks at their influence on Hendrix. 

While Stephen Davis need not worry about being dethroned as the king of rock biography, Cross makes another impressive foray into the field with Room Full of Mirrors


Book Info and Links

Jimi Hendrix: Room Full of Mirrors
by Charles R Cross

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