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Book Review: Jimi Hendrix

Chris Adams - The Grail Guitar: The Search For Jimi Hendrix’s Purple Haze Telecaster (Rowman & Littlefield)

Chris Adams The Grail Guitar: The Search For Jimi Hendrix’s Purple Haze Telecaster book sleeve

The title is a little misleading: in the opening chapter, we learn that Chris Adams already owns the Olympic White ’64 Fender Telecaster, having bought it at Ivor Arbiter’s Sound City in January 1973 (where he was assured that “Hendrix’s roadies brought it in”).

The remaining 194 pages are spent in pursuit of provenance, with Adams turning over rocks, tracking down survivors and putting his guitar through forensic tests to establish whether it was indeed played on the Purple Haze sessions.

As a premise, it hardly sounds essential, but Adams is a punchy writer, chasing the truth like a terrier and crisply retelling Hendrix’s story along the way. Despite the woolly conclusion, you’ll enjoy accompanying him on this who-owned-it detective story.

Henry Yates is a freelance journalist who has written about music for titles including The Guardian, The Telegraph, NME, Classic Rock, Guitarist, Total Guitar and Metal Hammer. He is the author of Walter Trout's official biography, Rescued From Reality, a regular guest on Times Radio and an interviewer who has spoken to Brian May, Jimmy Page, Ozzy Osbourne, Ronnie Wood, Dave Grohl, Marilyn Manson, Kiefer Sutherland and many more.