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Jimi: Sounds Like a Rainbow

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Many musicians are considered hands-off subjects to affix to children’s picture books. The reason behind this is the ongoing fear that exposing a child to the negative aspects of life will rub off on them as they grow older. Though this may be the case for some situations, if we ignore these subjects and choose not to introduce kids to personally disturbed figures in music, how will they learn who Kurt Cobain, Janis Joplin, and Jimi Hendrix were? As musicians and music lovers ourselves, these are exactly who we want our children to know. Despite their unfortunate demises, their stories are the backbone of music, leading rock in the direction it’s gone towards, and where it currently stands.

For Jimi Hendrix, his demise at the tender age of 27 made him a musical martyr. Growing up in Seattle, his very first guitar (at the age of 15) for only $5 was the beginning of the legend that we know today, and is the focal point in this children’s book by Gary Golio about history’s most talented guitarist.

In Jimi: Sounds Like a Rainbow, Golio displays Hendrix’s life through descriptive prose and colorful illustrations, courtesy of Javaka Steptoe, that any younger guitar player will come to appreciate. Golio beautifully articulates how Hendrix viewed and interpreted the world: “A truck engine backfired, pounding like a bass drum, as a neighbor’s rake played snare against the sidewalk….The sounds of life were calling out, and Jimi Hendrix wanted to answer them.” Only a delicious biography with choice descriptions like these will appease your child’s yearning for music knowledge.

Here’s “Killing Floor” from The Jimi Hendrix Experience at Stockholm Sweden:

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