Jimi Hendrix was born 70 years ago today, on November 27, 1942. The Library and Archives’ collections showcase Hendrix as much as – if not more than – most inductees to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. His great rock and roll legacy is the basis for expansive collections that include books, magazine and journal articles, commercial and bootleg audio and video recordings; concert handbills, postcards and posters; record executive artist, business and subject files; promotional and concert photographs, and handwritten lyrics – all related to Hendrix’s meteoric career.
Library and Archives collections focused on Hendrix include those donated by Michael Goldstein, Ed Chalpin, and Jeff Gold. Goldstein is a New York City publicist who served as Hendrix's press manager and publicist from 1967 until Hendrix's death in 1970, and his collection contains clippings, printed ephemera, photographs and press releases related to Hendrix and other artists with whom Goldstein worked.
Ed Chalpin, an entrepreneur and record producer, signed a three-year recording contract with Hendrix and his New York-based R&B band, Curtis Knight and the Squires, in October of 1965. The contract gave Hendrix only one percent of any royalties that his recordings earned and the sum of "one dollar." After leaving Chalpin and Knight, many years of legal battles ensued regarding that first contract. The Ed Chalpin Collection contains, among other documentation of these disputes, a copy of the controversial contract and early photos of Hendrix with the Squires (see below).
Jeff Gold is a collector of rock and roll memorabilia and operator of the Internet-based store Recordmecca. Rolling Stone has called him one of the top five collectors of music memorabilia in the world, and he acts as a consultant for various cultural institutions, including the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum and the Experience Music Project in Seattle, Washington. Among other Hendrix-related materials, the Jeff Gold Collection contains the single largest set of international Jimi Hendrix records and sleeves in existence, encompassing all legitimate Hendrix releases prior to 1992 in every variation Gold could find. Spotlight items include: a copy of the rare “My Diary” by Rosa Lee Brooks, one of Hendrix’s first recording sessions as a backup guitarist; some spectacular 7-inch picture sleeves and international album covers; and rare bootleg records of live concerts.
One of the most prized items in the Library and Archives’ collections is Hendrix’s handwritten lyrics to “Purple Haze,” which appeared on the 1967 album Are You Experienced. Written on a small piece of lined yellow note paper that appears to have been crumpled into a ball by a frustrated or disappointed author, the lyrics are different than that of the “Purple Haze” we all know. These lyrics tell less of a story than the final version, evoking more of a visceral, emotional response through their poetic, stream of consciousness telling: Purple Haze … Beyond insane / is it pleasure or is it pain— / Down on the ceiling / looking up at the bed… / See my Body painted / Blue and red— / I see fetus unborn / pointing at the Time— / Rush through space… / My hair is Blowing in thier [sic] minds. / Through the Haze / I see 1,000 crosses / Scratched in the — scratched into what? We may never know. Perhaps there is a mate to this page out there somewhere, and someday the separated parts will be reunited back into a whole; or maybe this train of thought was abandoned altogether, and we may never know what those 1,000 crosses were scratched into in Hendrix’s mind — such is the mysterious and often serendipitous world of archival materials and research.
To celebrate Hendrix’s 70th birthday, the Library and Archives has created a new Jimi Hendrix research guide to help lead you on the journey through the numerous archival collections and library materials related to Jimi Hendrix. Enjoy!