He was called Johnny Allen Hendrix or James Marshall Hendrix but was most popular known around the world to his fans as Jimi Hendrix. Hendrix was born in Seattle on November 27, 1942 and passed away in Sep 1970 putting him in the “27 Club”. The Club’s creation were the deaths of a seemingly unusual number of prominent 27-year-old musicians within a two-year period of time, exactly. These musicians include Brian Jones, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin and Jim Morrison.
Jimi Hendrix, even until now is well regarded as one of the most influential guitarist singer in the history of rock and roll music.
Hendrix first became well known in England, and then became famous worldwide after he played at the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967. He was a self taught guitarist and was usually seen performing with his Fender Stratocaster. As the hendrix was left-handed, he would play the guitar upside down with the strings attached in reverse order. In the year 2003, some three decades after he passed away, the Rolling Stone magazine named him the Greatest Guitarist Of All Time.
Hendrix had a hard childhood life as he grew up in a poor family and saw his parents divorced when he was only nine years of age. His mother passed away when he was only 16.
His love for guitar playing was so passionate that when he was 15, he finally managed to own a proper acoustic guitar for $ 5 from his father’s friend. His first electric guitar was a white Supro Ozark that his father had bought him. Since Jimi cannot afford to have proper guitar lessons, he picked up his guitar playing skills by watching the legendary greats like of Chuck Berry and Elvis Presley.
The Jimi never got to complete High School education and he told reporters in the late 1960’s that he had failed High School because people were racist there and did not like him because he was an African-American, although some people think that it was just because Jimi did not get good enough grades to continue his education.
The young was a Elvis Presley fan and he. He watched “The King” Elvis played life at Sick’s Stadium in Seattle on September 1, 1957. His admiration for Elvis stayed with him until his adult days. Even as an adult, he still loved Elvis.
Jimi also liked other musicians and bands such as Muddy Waters, Bo Diddley and Lightning Hopkins. The young Hendrix even managed to get a gig to play alongside R&B star Little Richard. Unfortunately, Hendrix and Richard couldn’t get along and so, they fell out after onlyu a brief stint.
After being arrested for stealing cars two occasions, Jimi had to choose between going to prison for two years or joining the US Army and he chose the latter and entered military services on May 31, 1961. While in the army, his officers complained that he was often caught sleeping on duty and needed to be watched at all times. But it was his tenure in the army that he met another soldier and bass guitarist called Billy Cox to formed the band The King Kasuals.
Jimi’s unique style of left handed playing on a guitar made for right-handed people made him a delight to watch. He later joined a band called The Velvetones, who played at the Yesler Terrace.
After leaving the army, Hendrix and Billy Cox moved together to Clarksville in Tennessee where they played in their group, The King Kasuals. They performed in small clubs and bars but they did not make much of an impact and so they moved to on to play in Nashville.
After the Nashville stint, Jimi moved on to Northern New York City to ply his trade. In 1964, he moved to Harlem where he played at bars and clubs there. He eventually won first prize in an amateur guitar contest at The Apollo Theatre.
In 1966, Hendrix formed his own band, Jimmy James and The Blue Flames instead of joining other bands. In 1966, he became friends with the girlfriend of Keith Richards, the lead guitarist for The Rolling Stones, Linda Keith. She liked Hendrix’ music and introduced him to Chas Chandler, the manager for The Animals. Chandler told Hendrix to write a rock version of the song “Hey Joe”. Subsequently, Chandler brought Hendrix to London to sign a contract with him and Jimi’s new band, The Jimi Hendrix Experience was borned.
The Jimi Hendrix Experience made its first album, “Are You Experienced?” in the year 1967. In June 4, 1967, The Jimi Hendrix Experience played their last concert in London before going to on to perform in America. Jimi has already hit big time and his audience in America included big guns in the music industry such Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Eric Clapton, Jack Bruce and Brian Epstein.
Jimi launched his second album “Axis : Bold As Love” in 1967. The album had famous songs in it, most famous being “Little Wing”. There have been several other versions of the song by other musicians like Stevie Ray Vaughan, Henry “Hank” Marrion, Metallica, Eric Clapton, Sting and Pearl Jam. The album reached number 3 in the US charts and number 5 in the UK charts.
In 1969, August 18, Hendrix played at the famous Woodstock concert taking the stage with world famous singers and musicians. Hendrix was supposed to play on Sunday evening, but did not arrive until Monday morning, which was unfortunate because of the half a million people who had paid to see him play, around one third had already left.
Hendrix then went on to play a two-hour concert that was described as awful. His band had not practiced enough and could not keep up with Hendrix’ fast guitar playing. But to make up for all of this, Hendrix played a version of Star Spangled Banner. He played this anthem with heavy distortion and screams from his guitar that people thought that he was being anti-American and was making fun of their anthem and country.
September 18, 1970, Jimi Hendrix was found dead in a basement of the Samarkand Hotel in London on September 18, 1970. It was said that he died after drinking too much and taking too many sleeping pills. He choked on his vomit and did not regain consciousness. He was buried in Renton, Washington in Greenwood Memorial Park on October 1 1970.
Related Eric Clapton Articles