Jimi Hendrix

Jimi Hendrix was born as Johnny Allen Hendrix on November 27, 1942 in Seattle. His father Al and mother Lucille married young, and divorced early after. He changed his name to James Marshall Hendrix on September 11, 1946. He got his first electric guitar when he was twelve.

Jimi did all right in school, but got kicked out when he was sixteen, for holding a white girls hand, as he recalls. He played some rock and roll in some bands before enlisting in the army when he was only seventeen. He was with the 101st Airborne when on his 26th jump, he broke his ankle and was discharged after 14 months. This is when he caught up with

Billy Cox, a friend who Jimi would play bass with him later on.

After the experience in the Army, Jimi entered the music field, and started playing blues in the Village, and then played backup guitar for Little Richard, Wilson Pickett and the Isely Brothers. Jimi Hendrix started Jimmy James & the Blue Flames in late 1965. Chas Chandler bass player and rock producer, saw Jimi perform in July 1966, and noticed his incredible talent and charisma. He told Hendrix that if he will go to England, he'll make him a star. And so, Jimi and Chas arrive in England on September 24, 1966, the day of his first performance in England. The Jimi Hendrix Experience is set up around

Jimi with Noel Redding on bass and Mitch Mitchell on drums on October 5, 1966. The newly formed group recorded Hey Joe and Purple Haze in the next few months to go on their first album, Are you Experienced?

Less than a year after his start in England and already a star in Europe, Jimi returned to America on June 18, 1967 to play the Monterey Pop Festival. This is important because this is when the band debutes in America ven before the American release of Are you Experienced? Jimi was to play the last day of acts, coming right after The Who, who seemed to dominate the audience with their maniacal destruction of the stage. Like responding to this challage, he played “Wild Thing,” picking his guitar strings with his teeth and playing behind his back all while pouring a magnificent rock tune from his big

white strat. The audience seemed hypnotized. Finally, to end it all, Jimi Hendrix laid his guitar between his knees in front of him, jammed his tremolo bar and burned his guitar on stage. He then totally destroyed the set and his guitar, the audience clearly his now. This performance is easily the most memorable not only in the Monterey Pop Festival, but in live concerts in general.

The Jimi Hendrix Experiences second album, Axis: Bold as Love was released on Oct 30, 1967. This album puts more emphasis on the voice tracks and the drums than the first albums guitar rock theme. On this album you will find Jimi’s most beautiful and poetic songs. With more stress on voice and less on guitar, the hidden lyrics to some of these ballads such as Little Wing, Castles Made of Sand, and Bold as Love hold doors to other sides of Jimi’s talent. The songs seem to be more mellow, not as hard driven as thos on his first album. Jimi takes us for a mystical ride on his guitar with the introduction to Little Wing, riddles us with irony in the lyrics of Castles Made of Sand, and “blows everyone’s mind” with the colorful explosions of Bold as Love. Jimi actually seems to be able to convey colors and emotions with his guitar on the last


For their next album, The Jimi Hendrix Experience worked hard - touring, traveling and recording what he could. The group fell into the habit of block booking the studio for a night, traveling down to the bar or local spot, jam a while, and bring the crew back to the studio and record. One creation birthed this way was called Voodoo Chile. The track is a 15 minute long marathon jam session with Steve Winwood fron Traffic on a Hammond organ and Jimi on his guitar. A stream of energy seems to flow from one to the other as the two weave the blues selection with no chord sheets, lyrics or anything. None of the

people there even knew it would be on the album.

By this time, The Jimi Hendrix Experience had changed so much because this was the third album, entitled Electric Ladyland. “My initial success was a step in the right direction, but it was only a step, just a change. Now I plan to get into many other things.” Jimi said in before the Oct. ‘68 release of Ladyland. This album also revealed Jimi’s talent on the mixing board with such works as 1983...(A Merman I Should Turn To Be). Jimi had the same fondness for the fantasy and powers of the mind that started it for him with Purple Haze.

Also apparent at this time was Jimi’s fondness for his gateway to this fantasy world in his own mind. He had found LSD, by this time a fashionable new drug everyone was trying. He is rumored to have cut his forehead and place a hit of acid on the cut and wore his headband over it before playing concerts. While never openly condoning drug use, Jimi was never secretive about it. He was arrested in Montreal for drug charges, but later aquitted although having admitted possesion. This side of Jimi’s life may have given us some of his deepest works, but it also cost him his life on September 18th, 1970. He

died in his sleep from inhalation of vomit (in the same manner John "Bonzo" Bonham from Led Zeppelin would die) following barbiturate intoxication.

We will never know how much farther his influence would have gone, but we do know that modern day hard rock bands show something of Jimi’s work, with the emphasis of volume, feedback and riffs. At the same time, however, they do not show a fraction of Jimi’s subtleness or imagination. He also pioneered the wide spread use of various pedals, sometime going so far

as to change the types of transistors and other circuitry in order to get a certain sound.

The life of Jimi Hendrix was not very long, and his music career was rather short too. Most of the things he acomplished, those that we know and love, on about 4 years. But rarely does an artist change so much in such a short period of time, like Hendrix. His music is still played on the radio, in the movies, and by his thousands of surviving fans everywhere. His techniques are used by many modern artists as well. The memory of Jimi Hendrix and his life live on in many ways, but mostly by his beautiful music.