Most people don’t remember anymore, but rock legend Jimi Hendrix was a science fiction book junkie. We caught up with one the guitarist’s biographers to find out more about his science fiction bookshelf.
In the new book, Becoming Jimi Hendrix: From Southern Crossroads to Psychedelic London, the Untold Story of a Musical Genius, authors Steven Roby and Brad Schreiber take a deeper look at the guitarist.
According to Schreiber, Philip Jose Farmer’s Night of Light had a big influence on Hendrix. “Night of Light was a science fiction book that in 1966 inspired Jimi to eventually write ‘Purple Haze.’ Farmer’s story had to do with sunspots having a disorienting effect on a distant planet’s population. Jimi wrote pages and pages of lyrics for ‘Purple Haze,’ originally an epic tale of the history of warfare for the control of the planet Neptune,” he explained.
He added: “Producer Kim Fowley told us that when he met Jimi early in 1967 in the UK, Jimi had a trunk of books, all science fiction.”
Schreiber continued: “Jimi had been obsessed with science fiction as a boy in Seattle. He always went to see the actor Buster Crabbe in the serial Flash Gordon that played at the local theater. In fact, his nickname during youth was ‘Buster.’ Once, he literally jumped off the roof of his home, so taken was he with Flash’s ability to fly … One only need to pick up father Al Hendrix’s book, My Son Jimi, to see how much the boy Jimi drew and was obsessed by not only images of war and race cars but amazing planetscapes.”
He concluded: “Of course, ‘Third Stone from the Sun’ is a very sci-fi oriented song, also from his first album, ‘Are You Experienced.’ It deals with extraterrestrials destroying all the inhabitants of earth, save for the chickens, which the ETs think exhibit particular intelligence.”