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Midnight Lightning: Jimi Hendrix and the Black Experience Hardcover – July 1, 2003

2 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

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


“Must read for any hardcore Hendrix fan, classic rock enthusiast or budding music listener.” —Black Beat

“An excellent variation on the hindsight conjecture found in much of the existing material on Hendrix. Recommended for all libraries.” —Library Journal

“A jumpy, fast-talking take on Jimi Hendrix. . . . Tate is smart and playful.” —Kirkus

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 157 pages
  • Publisher: Chicago Review Press; 1 edition (July 1, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1556524692
  • ISBN-13: 978-1556524691
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 2.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,335,231 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Jimi Hendrix rarely if ever appears in any Black History books. If he IS mentioned, it is a few fleeting lines (usually
misinformation) and then passed over. I had hopes that this book
might take a few steps in the direction of changing all of that.
Unfortunately... it did not. In fact, I don't know WHAT this
book was about. It blathers on and on and offers nothing that even the casual Hendrix fan doesn't know.
Overly wordy in it's descriptions (if you read David Henderson's book, "Voodoo Child of the Aquarian Age" you will know what I mean), it was very difficult to read. The various
narratives by Black musicians, friends and so forth offer little.
I don't know what the author's intent was, but if this book was supposed to be a Hendrix primer for Black folks (as
advertised) it fails miserably. The last two chapters, Appendix
A, in which the author (in his words) tries to write some lines
in an imagined Hendrix penned novel, and Appendix B, an astrologer interprets what the stars say about Jimi Hendrix,
made me angry. SUCH CRAP (and a waste of paper....a tree had to DIE for this?) I have read all of the Hendrix books over the years and this one sits at the BOTTOM of the heap, right next to the drivel written by Curtis Knight in his Jimi bio years ago.
It seems that the book that will give Jimi Hendrix his
rightful place in Black History has yet to be written.
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Format: Hardcover
The chronicling of Jimi Hendrix's life and career has often been told from White writers who have failed to consider how his experiences on the chitlin circuit and in Harlem helped shape his style. Hendrix worked on the circuit for years but this period is often given short shift aside from swipes at Jimi's R&B colleagues for their apparent failure to appreciate his talent.
So I was hoping that Greg Tate's work would provide that perspective. Unfortunately, Tate's book reads like a hap hazard stream of consciousness with psuedo intellectual pretensions. I wasn't looking for a straight biography but I hoped that the author would present a clearer look of Hendrix's somewhat complex relationship with Black America during his lifetime and after death. He only touches briefly on how Black audiences seem to have a greater appreciation for Jimi's Band of Gypsies period than do White fans and writers. Why did Hendrix feel the need to hook up with Billy Cox and Buddy Miles? Why did he return to Harlem and re-establish contact with old friends? Was he trying to change his musical direction? The book doesn't go into these questions deeply enough.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is not interesting at all, but it's OK. BUT the book I purchased was a discarded one by a public library. Is this allowable at Amazon?
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Format: Hardcover
Jimi Hendrix is an African American musician who excelled at his craft; he was discovered by several would be managers and producers who obviosly didn't know what to make of him. The last to 'discover' him was graced by luck on having Hendrix relocate to another muisic, and cultural, climate. This gave Hendrix the 'void' he needed to be heard. In the US, New York, in particular, Hendrix confronted the gatekeepers of 'Black Music'(blues, jazz, R&B) tradition (the way it is, the way it works)and philosophy (how a certain music should be played)- nothing bad in and of itself it gave us Howlin' Wolf, Coltrane, James Brown, and others. Unless he was playing in the tradition and philosophy of guitarist Charlie Christian or Wes Montgomery, Hendrix was told there was no room for him to be heard. He was to far removed (advanced, different, or what have you) for them to understand.
The relocation to England where there was no blues, jazz, or R&B gate-keepers to be confronted with proved successful for his being heard. However this incident, a stroke of fate, has caused more misunderstanding and mis-interpretation (some deliberate) of Hendrix than one could imagine.
It is this misunderstanding and mis-information that Greg Tate tackles head-on - The Race Issue and Jimi Hendrix.
This is the first serious indept effort at this explosive subject. Tate makes it very clear that a plane ride to Europe did not transform Hendrix from that of an African American (a Black man), with American-made racial baggage, to something other. Interestingly, if not unwittingly, he demonstrates how it is that White people changed if only to let Hendrix in.
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