Out of a Purple Haze

Source: Out of a Purple Haze – Washington Post, May 15, 2005

JIMI HENDRIX: The Man, The Magic, The Truth – Reviewed by Mary Ishimoto Morris

Hendrixwp Who is Sharon Lawrence, and why did she wait so long to write this new memoir/biography of Jimi Hendrix, who died at the age of 27 in 1970, but still topped Rolling Stone magazine’s 2003 list of the "100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time"?

Lawrence was not one of Hendrix’s girlfriends. Rather, as a young UPI entertainment reporter, she was introduced to the hot new star in 1968 by his publicist, Leslie Perrin, before a sold-out show at the Anaheim Convention Center. Familiar with his "somewhat terrifying image" from the British music press, she was surprised to find him "a shy, polite human being." After chatting with him for several minutes, she went out front to take in his show, and "the subdued fellow I’d just met [turned] into the most lascivious, outrageous, spectacular performer" she’d ever seen.

Hendrix phoned her a week later, and Lawrence became "a confidante, a sounding board, an actual friend who wasn’t involved in his career," someone who "felt that it was important to remember everything he said about his troubled formative years, his disappointments, his dreams, his goals, and his joy in and passion for music." She waited for years to write this book, thinking that time and experience might make her "see Jimi from a different point of view," but found instead that her sense of who he was remained the same.

Lawrence’s insightful rendering of Jimi Hendrix the human being is the first written by someone whom Hendrix apparently trusted with his deepest thoughts and feelings — about his music, family and career. Her Hendrix laughs, worries, shouts, cries, smokes, shares cherished photographs, talks about problems with his family, irons a shirt, flings furniture.