Midnight Lightning: Jimi Hendrix and the Black Experience

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9781556524691: Midnight Lightning: Jimi Hendrix and the Black Experience
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Jimi Hendrix's social meaning, his sexual mystery, and his scientific explorations in the field of sound are addressed here from a black perspective. This unique introduction to a man who, despite his popular appeal, has never made it into the pantheon of 20th-century black icons, incorporates extensive interviews with black Americans who shed light on Hendrix’s complicated racial relationships. Midnight Lightning explores how Hendrix exploded the complacently segregated world to emerge as an icon for white boys, why his songs were not heard on black radio, and why black people once viewed him as a hippie Uncle Tom. Also explored are his connection to the Black Power movement, how he electrified soul music and made the electric guitar supplant the human voice, how he revolutionized the use of technology in popular music, and how black his music really was. This biography discusses his sex appeal especially for black women how he redefined rock fashion, why nobody was really mad at him for sleeping with white women (at the same time as Sammy Davis, Jr. was being harassed and threatened for kissing a white woman onstage), and how he was marketed as a white performer. Explained are the ways in which Hendrix subverted and destabilized black masculine stereotypes, changing the way black music and black identity are perceived.

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About the Author:

Greg Tate has been a staff writer at The Village Voice since 1986. He has also contributed to The New York Times, Rolling Stone, Washington Post, Premiere, Downbeat, and Artforum. He is the author of Flyboy in the Buttermilk and the forthcoming Everything but the Burden: What Whites Are Taking from Black Culture. A producer, founding member of the Black Rock Coalition, and a working musician, Tate's band Burnt Sugar has been acclaimed by The New York Times, Rolling Stone, and JazzTimes among others. He lives in New York City.

From Booklist:

Village Voice staffer Tate says this is a "book bent on making philosophical judgment calls regarding [rock guitarist Jimi Hendrix's] race, his romance, his tools"; a book "obsessed about the Blackness of Hendrix." So Tate and his informants munch on the "social meaning," "sexual mystery," and "scientific inquiries of Jimi Hendrix" to produce a "Jimi Hendrix Primer for Blackfolk." Whitefolk needn't feel left out, though, for Hendrix's adoration by whites is at the center of much of the discussion. Tate's own spiel runs out in 70-odd pages, after which he yields to various "witnesses" offering their insights and memories. Record producer Craig Street demonstrates forthrightness by remarking of Hendrix-influenced Led Zeppelin, "none of them are particularly strong on their own, but here are four guys who . . . form something powerful": straight talk, indeed, to Jimmy Page's and John Bonham's head-banging devotees. Though a little slapdash in places, this is thinking persons' rock criticism, commendably committed to understanding Hendrix's ongoing hold on his audience, and it should enliven any collection. Mike Tribby
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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