Jimi Hendrix



James Marshall "Jimi" Hendrix (November 27, 1942 – September 18, 1970) was an American musician, singer, songwriter, guitarist, innovator, and cultural icon. Lauded by music fans and critics alike, Hendrix was one of the most influential and talented electric guitarists in rock music history. He achieved worldwide fame in 1967 playing at the Monterey Pop Festival, then headlined the iconic 1969 Woodstock Festival before his sudden death in 1970, at the age of 27.

A self-taught musician, the left-handed Hendrix played a right-handed Fender Stratocaster guitar turned upside down and re-strung to suit him. As a rock guitarist, Hendrix exploited the sonic tools of feedback and distortion to an extent that previous pioneers (such as The Kinks' Dave Davies, The Yardbirds' Jeff Beck and The Who's Pete Townshend) never achieved. He built upon the innovations and influences of blues stylists such as B.B. King, Albert King, Buddy Guy, T-Bone Walker, and Muddy Waters, and derived his musical style from rhythm and blues and soul guitarists such as Curtis Mayfield and Cornell Dupree, as well as the traditions of jazz. Hendrix was also inspired by rock pioneer Little Richard, having toured in Richard's back-up band "The Upsetters" before forming his own rock group in 1966.

Hendrix sought to combine what he called "earth", a blues, jazz, or funk driven rhythm accompaniment, with "space", the high-pitched psychedelic sounds created by his guitar improvisations. He also integrated instruments rarely used in rock, such as the harpsichord, recorder, and glockenspiel. As a record producer, Hendrix was also an innovator in using the recording studio as an extension of his musical ideas: he was notably one of the first to experiment with stereophonic and phasing effects during the recording process. Hendrix was also an accomplished songwriter whose compositions have been performed by numerous artists.

Jimi Hendrix was inducted into the United States Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1992 and the UK Music Hall of Fame in 2005. His star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, at 6627 Hollywood Blvd., was dedicated in 1994. In 2006, his debut album Are You Experienced was inducted into the United States National Recording Preservation Board's National Recording Registry. In 2003, Rolling Stone magazine named Hendrix number one on their list of the "100 greatest guitarists of all time".

Jimi Hendrix was born Johnny Allen Hendrix, the son of Al Hendrix and Lucille Jeter Hendrix, in Seattle, Washington on November 27, 1942. As a toddler and young boy he was known as Buster, a family nickname inspired by the early 20th century comic strip character Buster Brown. In 1946, Al changed the legal name of his son to James Marshall Hendrix, which it remained until his death. As a school-age boy and young adult, he was simply known as Jimmy or James. In his early career, Hendrix used the stage name Maurice James and later Jimmy James. He did not assume the moniker Jimi until after his discovery in 1966, but most writings refer to him as Jimi throughout the timeline of his life for the purpose of consistency.

Hendrix grew up as a shy and sensitive boy, deeply affected by the conditions of poverty and neglect that he was raised in, and by the troubling family events of his childhood - namely his parents' divorce when he was nine, and the death of his mother in 1958.

Young Hendrix was particularly fond of Elvis Presley and Little Richard. His early exposure to Blues music came from listening to records by Muddy Waters and Lightnin Hopkins with his father. Another impressionable image came from the 1954 western Johnny Guitar, in which the hero carries no gun but instead wears a guitar slung behind his back.

At about age fourteen, Jimi acquired his very first guitar, a severely battered acoustic with one string that he retrieved when another boy had thrown it away. Young Jimi proudly slung his guitar behind his back like the hero in Johnny Guitar, and tried to coax every sound possible from its one string. His first electric guitar was a white Supro Ozark that his father purchased for him. He learned simply by practicing and watching others play, and he emulated the flashy moves of T-Bone Walker and the duck walk of Chuck Berry.

His first gig was with an unnamed band in the basement of a synagogue. After too much wild playing and showing off, he was fired between sets. The first formal band he played in was The Velvetones, who performed regularly at the Yesler Terrace Neighborhood House without pay. His flashy style and left-handed playing of a right-handed guitar were already drawing attention. When his guitar was stolen (after he left it backstage overnight), Al bought him a white Silvertone Danelectro which Jimi promptly painted red and emblazoned with the words Betty Jean, the name of his high school girlfriend.

After getting into trouble with the law over a stolen car, Hendrix traded a two-year jail sentence for enlistment in the U.S. Army and was stationed at Fort Campbell, Kentucky. At the post recreation center, he met fellow soldier and bass player Billy Cox, and forged a loyal friendship. The two would often play with other musicians at venues both on and off the post as a loosely organized band named The Kasuals.

After less than a year he was discharged for "behavior problems." For decades, Hendrix's statement to reporters that he received a medical discharge after breaking his ankle during a parachute jump was perceived as fact, but his discharge papers (uncovered in 2005) reveal that he was deemed an incompetent soldier, more interested in his guitar than in his duties.

The 2005 biography Room Full of Mirrors by Charles Cross claims that Hendrix faked being homosexual in order to be discharged. According to Cross, Hendrix was an avid anti-communist and did not leave the Army as a protest to the Vietnam War, but simply wanted out so he could focus on playing guitar.

After leaving Ft. Campbell, Hendrix and Billy Cox moved to nearby Clarksville, Tennessee and re-formed their band as The King Kasuals. The group toiled in low-paying gigs at obscure venues, eventually moving to Nashville. There they played and sometimes lived in the clubs along Jefferson Street, the traditional heart of Nashville's black community, and home to a lively rhythm and blues scene. In November 1962, Hendrix participated in his first studio session, where his wild but still undeveloped playing found him cut from the soundboard.

For the next three years, Hendrix made a precarious living on the Chitlin Circuit, performing in black oriented venues throughout the South with both the King Kasuals and in backing bands for various soul, R&B, and blues musicians including Chuck Jackson, Slim Harpo, Tommy Tucker, Sam Cooke, and Jackie Wilson. The Chitlin Circuit was an important phase of Jimi's career, since the refinement of his style and blues roots occurred there. Unfortunately his work garnered him little fame or profit, and the extremes of racism and poverty that he endured left an indelible mark of hardship on his memories of this era.

Frustrated by his experiences in the South, Hendrix decided to try his luck in New York City. In January 1964, he moved to Harlem, where he quickly befriended girlfriend Lithofayne "Faye" Pridgeon and the Aleem twins, Taharqa and Tunde-Ra. The Aleem twins quickly became loyal friends who kept Hendrix out of trouble in New York and later helped him foster his relationship with the black community and deal gracefully with radical groups like the Black Panthers. The twins also performed as backup singers on some of his recordings, most notably the funk anthem "Freedom". Pridgeon, a beautiful Harlem native with connections throughout the area's music scene, provided Hendrix with shelter, support, and encouragement during the poorest and most desperate years of his life. In February 1964, Hendrix won first prize in the Apollo Theater amateur contest—the win was encouraging, but in general he found the New York scene difficult to break into.

After only two months in New York, Hendrix earned a spot as the new guitarist for the The Isley Brothers band and joined their national tour, which ironically included the southern Chitlin Circuit. Hendrix played his first successful studio session on the two-part Isley Brothers hit "Testify". In Nashville, he left the Isleys to tour with Gorgeous George Odell. In Atlanta, he earned a spot in the backing band of Little Richard known as The Upsetters. Although Hendrix idolized Richard (he was once quoted as saying, "I want to do with my guitar what Little Richard does with his voice"), he clashed frequently with the star over tardiness, wardrobe, and above all, Hendrix's flashy stage antics. For a short while, Hendrix quit and toured with Ike and Tina Turner, but was quickly fired for playing wild guitar solos and returned to Little Richard's band. Months later, he was banished from The Upsetters after missing the tour bus in Washington DC. Around this time he refined his flamboyant guitar stage style, much of which was influenced by Johnny "Guitar" Watson.

In the fall of 1965, Hendrix joined a New York-based band, Curtis Knight and the Squires, after meeting Knight in the lobby of a seedy midtown hotel where both men were living at the time. Hendrix then toured for two months with Joey Dee and the Starliters before rejoining the Squires in New York. On October 15, 1965, Hendrix signed a 3-year recording contract with entrepreneur Ed Chalpin, receiving $1 and 1% royalty on records with Curtis Knight. The relationship with Chalpin was short-lived, and Hendrix moved on to other opportunities. However, from a legal point of view, his contract remained in force, which caused considerable problems for Hendrix later on in his career. The result was a legal dispute which was eventually settled.

As 1966 dawned, Hendrix toiled in the New York club scene and dreamed of breaking out on his own as a bandleader. Unfortunately, black audiences in Harlem were not receptive to his progressive style. Hendrix would find a much better reception with the eclectic mix of patrons in the clubs of Greenwich Village.

In the summer of 1966, Hendrix formed his own band, Jimmy James and The Blue Flames, composed of various friends he would casually meet at Manny's Music Shop, including a 15-year old runaway from California named Randy Wolfe. Since there were two musicians named "Randy" in the group, Hendrix dubbed Wolfe "Randy California" and the other "Randy Texas". Randy California would later co-found the band Spirit with Ed Cassidy.

Hendrix and his new band quickly gained local fame and played throughout New York City, but their primary spot was a residency at the Cafe Wha? on MacDougal Street in the West Village. During this period Hendrix met and worked with singer-guitarist Ellen McIlwaine and guitarist Jeff "Skunk" Baxter, who was an employee at Manny's. Hendrix also met iconoclast Frank Zappa during this time. Zappa is credited as having introduced Hendrix to the newly-invented wah-wah pedal. Although the wah-wah was initially considered and used as a "gimmick" effect, Hendrix soon mastered it and made an integral part of his sound, and he is still widely regarded as the greatest exponent of wah-wah guitar.

In 1965, guitar pioneer and producer Les Paul watched Hendrix audition for a nightclub gig in Greenwich Village, NYC, and was awestruck by his performance. An errand forced Les Paul to leave the club before he had the chance to speak with Hendrix. When he returned later to contact and sign Hendrix, Les Paul found that the club owner had turned him down for being too loud and crazy, and that Hendrix had disappeared.

Early in 1966 at the Cheetah Club on West 21st Street, Linda Keith, then girlfriend of Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards, befriended Hendrix and could not believe that he had not been discovered. She recommended Hendrix to Stones manager Andrew Loog Oldham and then to producer Seymour Stein, but neither man took a liking to Hendrix's music and they both passed. She even brought the members of the Rolling Stones to a Blue Flames show, but the effort did not yield any results. She then referred Chas Chandler, who was ending his tenure as bassist of The Animals and looking for talent to produce. Chandler was enamored with the "folk" song "Hey Joe" and was convinced that he could create a hit single by remaking it into a rock song. When Hendrix launched into his own rendition of "Hey Joe", at the Cafe Wha?, Chandler became so excited that he spilled a drink on himself.

Chandler brought Hendrix to London (reportedly convincing him to come with the promise of introducing him to his idol Eric Clapton) and signed him to a management and production contract with himself and ex-Animals manager Michael Jeffrey. Chandler then helped Hendrix form a new band, The Jimi Hendrix Experience, with guitarist-turned-bassist Noel Redding and drummer Mitch Mitchell.

After a number of blockbuster European club appearances, word of the new star spread through the London music community. His showmanship and dazzling virtuosity made instant fans of reigning guitar heroes Eric Clapton and Jeff Beck, as well as members of The Beatles and The Who, whose managers signed Hendrix to The Who's record label, Track Records.

Jimi's first single was a cover of "Hey Joe", crafted after folk-singer Tim Rose's slower revision of the song and adapted to Hendrix's emerging style. Backing the first single was Jimi's first songwriting effort, "Stone Free". Further success came with the original "Purple Haze", with a heavily distorted guitar sound, and the soulful ballad "The Wind Cries Mary". The three singles were all UK Top 10 hits. Onstage, Hendrix was also making a huge impression with fiery renditions of the BB King hit "Rock Me Baby" and an ultra-fast revision of Howlin Wolf's blues classic, "Killing Floor".

Established as a star in the UK, Hendrix and his girlfriend Kathy Etchingham moved into a flat at 23 Brook Street in central London. The adjacent building at 25 Brook Street was once the home of baroque composer George Frideric Handel. Hendrix, aware of this musical coincidence, bought Handel recordings including Messiah and the Water Music. The two houses currently comprise the Handel House Museum, where both musicians are celebrated.

The first Jimi Hendrix Experience album, Are You Experienced, was released in the UK on May 12, 1967. It contained no previous UK singles or any B sides ("Hey Joe/Stone Free," "Purple Haze/51st Anniversary" and "The Wind Cries Mary/Highway Chile"). Only The Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band prevented Are You Experienced from reaching No. 1 on the UK charts.

At this time, the Experience extensively toured the United Kingdom and parts of Europe . This allowed Hendrix to develop his stage presence, which reached a high point on March 31, 1967 when he set his guitar on fire. Later, after he had caused damage to amplifiers and other stage equipment at his shows, Rank Theatre management warned him to "tone down" his stage act. On June 4, 1967, the Experience played their last show in England, at London's Saville Theatre, before heading off to America. The Sgt. Pepper's album had just been released days prior, and two Beatles (Paul McCartney and George Harrison) were in attendance at the show, along with a roll call of other UK rock stardom: Brian Epstein, Eric Clapton, Spencer Davis, Jack Bruce, and pop singer Lulu. In a courageous and brilliant display, Jimi chose to open the show with his own rendition of "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band", crafted minutes before taking the stage.

Months later, Reprise Records released the US version of Are You Experienced, removing "Red House," "Remember" and "Can You See Me" to make room for the first three UK single A-sides. Where the UK album kicked off with "Foxy Lady," the American one started with "Purple Haze". The UK and US versions both offered a startling introduction to the Jimi Hendrix Experience, and the album was a blueprint for what had become possible on the electric guitar.

Although quite popular in Europe at this time, the Experience had yet to crack America. Their chance came when Paul McCartney recommended the group to the organizers of the Monterey International Pop Festival. This proved to be a great opportunity for Hendrix, not only because of the large audience present at the event, but also because the performances were filmed by D. A. Pennebaker and later shown in movie theaters throughout the country as the concert documentary Monterey Pop, which immortalized Hendrix's iconic burning and smashing of his guitar at the finale of his performance.

Following the festival, the Experience played a short-lived gig as the opening act for pop group The Monkees on their first American tour. The Monkees asked for Hendrix because they were fans, but their mostly teenage audience did not warm to his outlandish stage act and he abruptly quit the tour after a few dates. Chas Chandler later admitted that being "thrown" from The Monkees tour was engineered to gain maximum media impact and publicity for Hendrix. At the time, a story circulated claiming that Hendrix was removed from the tour because of complaints made by the Daughters of the American Revolution that his stage conduct was "lewd and indecent". Australian journalist Lillian Roxon, accompanying the tour, concocted the story. The claim was repeated in Roxon's 1969 Rock Encyclopedia but she later admitted it was fabricated.

Meanwhile in England, Hendrix's wild-man image and musical gimmickry (such as playing the guitar with his teeth and behind his back) continued to bring publicity, but Hendrix was already advancing musically and becoming frustrated by media and audience concentration on his stage tricks and hit singles.

Hendrix adapted the Howlin' Wolf blues classic "Killing Floor" into this wild and fast paced revision, and throughout the first year of his fame these became the first notes concertgoers would hear when witnessing a live Hendrix show. This sample is from the Experience's raucous entrance at the Monterey Pop Festival on June 18, 1967. The Monterey performance included an equally lively rendition of the BB King hit "Rock Me Baby", Tim Rose's "Hey Joe" and the Bob Dylan hit "Like a Rolling Stone". The set ended with Hendrix burning his guitar onstage, then smashing it to bits and tossing pieces out to the audience. The show instantly catapulted Hendrix into US stardom. Today, the charred remnants of Hendrix's psychedelicly painted Stratocaster can now be found at the Experience Music Project in Seattle.

The Jimi Hendrix Experience's second 1967 album, Axis: Bold as Love continued the style established by Are You Experienced, but showcased a profound sense of melody along with his well-known technical virtuosity with tracks such as "Little Wing" and "If 6 Was 9". The opening track "EXP" featured a stereo effect in which a ruckus of sound emanating from Jimi's guitar appeared to revolve around the listener, fading out into the distance from the right channel, then returning in on the left. It should also be noted that this album marked the first time Jimi recorded the whole album with his guitar tuned down one half-tone, to Eb, which he used exclusively thereafter.

A mishap almost prevented the album's release: Hendrix lost the master tape of side 1 of the LP, leaving it in the back seat of a New York City taxi. With the release deadline looming, Hendrix, Chandler and engineer Eddie Kramer remixed the missing side from the multitracks in an all-night session. Kramer and Hendrix later admitted that they were never entirely happy with the results.

Hendrix was also somewhat disappointed with the album's cover art. Although he appreciated the symbolic design, he had requested cover art that showcased his "Indian" heritage. The British art designers who created the cover assumed that he meant India the South Asian country, not Native Americans in the United States, and thus created cover art that depicts Hendrix and his Experience bandmates as the Vedic deities Durga and Vishnu.

Upon the album's release, the Jimi Hendrix Experience continued to pursue an extremely demanding touring schedule, which involved performing in front of ever-larger audiences. This, combined with the influence of drugs, alcohol and fatigue, led to a trouble-plagued tour of Scandinavia that culminated with the arrest of Hendrix in Stockholm after trashing his hotel room in a drunken rage.

Hendrix was well known for his unique sense of fashion, and strived to perfect his hairstyle and wardrobe almost to the point of obsession. A set of hair curlers was one of the few possessions that traveled with him to England upon his discovery in 1966. When his first advance check arrived, Hendrix immediately took to the streets of London in search of clothing at obscure fashion haunts like I Was Lord Kitchner's Valet, where he purchased an ages old British military jacket adorned with tasseled ropes. A traffic warden once ordered him to remove the jacket, citing it as an offense to the Queen. Many photographs of Hendrix show him wearing various rings, medallions and brooches, and Hendrix often peppered his attire with pins that professed his support for the hippie movement or his fascination with folk singer Bob Dylan. His only vacation, a month-long excursion to Morocco with friends Colette Mimram and Deering Howe, deeply affected his sense of art and style, and upon his return Hendrix filled his Greenwich Village apartment with Moroccan art and decor. Mimram and Stella Douglas, (the wife of producer Alan Douglas), created some of Hendrix's most memorable attire: a Bowler style derby adorned with either an angled feather or a set of silver bangles; a Trilby hat crowned with a purple scarf and adorned with various brooches; the blue dashikis he wore on the Dick Cavett Show, and the blue on white fringed jacket that he wore at Woodstock.

Hendrix's third recording, a double album, Electric Ladyland (1968), was a departure from their previous efforts.

As the album's recording progressed, Chas Chandler became so frustrated with Hendrix's perfectionism and with various friends and hangers-on milling about the studio that he decided to sever his professional relationship with Hendrix. Chandler's professional and musical education was very business-oriented, and it taught him that songs should be recorded in a matter of hours, and written with a view to releasing them as singles. His influence over the Experience's first two albums is clear in light of the facts that very few of the tracks are more than four minutes long, that both albums were recorded in short times, and that most of the songs on both albums conformed to the structure of a typical pop song. However, as Hendrix began developing his own vision and started to assert more control over the artistic process in the studio, Chandler decided to move to other opportunities and ceded overall control to Hendrix. Chandler's departure had a clear impact on the artistic direction that the recording took.

Jimi began tinkering with different combinations of musicians and instruments, and modern electronic effects. For example, Dave Mason, Chris Wood and Steve Winwood from the band Traffic, drummer Buddy Miles and former Dylan organist Al Kooper, among others, were all involved in the recording sessions. This was one of the other reasons that Chandler cited as precipitating his departure. He described how Hendrix went from a disciplined recording regimen to an erratic schedule, which often saw him beginning recording sessions in the middle of the night and with any number of hangers-on.

Chandler also expressed exasperation at the number of times Hendrix would insist on re-recording particular tracks - the song "Gypsy Eyes" was reportedly recorded 43 times. This was also frustrating for bassist Noel Redding, who would often leave the studio to calm himself, only to return and find that Hendrix had recorded the bass parts himself during Redding's absence.

The effects of these events can clearly be identified in the album's musical style. On a purely superficial level, the tracks no longer conformed to the standard pop song format, often lacked easily identifiable patterns or sections, and would sometimes lack even a recognizable melody. More particularly, however, the themes that the songs addressed, and the music that Hendrix set out to record, went far beyond anything that he had attempted to achieve before.

Electric Ladyland includes a number of compositions and arrangements for which Hendrix is still remembered. These include "Voodoo Child (Slight Return)" as well as Hendrix's rendition of Bob Dylan's "All Along The Watchtower". Hendrix's version was a complete departure from the original, and includes one of the most highly praised guitar arrangements in modern music.

It was around this time that Jimi Hendrix lived with his girlfriend Kathy Etchingham at her Brook Street home, now the Handel House Museum, in the West End of London.

Throughout the four years of his fame, Jimi often appeared in impromptu jams with various musicians. A recording exists of Hendrix playing in March 1968 at Steve Paul's Scene Club, with blues legend Johnny Winter followed by Electric Flag drummer Buddy Miles in which a very intoxicated Jim Morrison grabbed an open microphone and contributed a growling, obscenity laced vocal accompaniment. The band continued to play behind him, and Hendrix can be heard on the tape announcing Morrison's presence and offering him a better microphone. The recording, circulated among Hendrix and Doors collectors, is titled Morrison's Lament. Albums of the recording were sold under various titles (originally Sky High, then Woke Up this Morning) falsely claiming the presence of Johnny Winter's band.

The Jimi Hendrix Experience performed at London's Royal Albert Hall February 18 and February 24, 1969, two sold-out concerts which became the last British appearance of the band. A Gold and Goldstein-produced film titled "Experience" was also recorded at these two shows, but remains to this day unreleased.

Noel Redding felt increasingly frustrated by the fact that he was not playing his original and favored instrument, the guitar. In 1968, he decided to form his own band "Fat Mattress", which would sometimes open for the Experience which Hendrix would jokingly refer to them as "Thin Pillow". Redding and Hendrix would begin seeing less and less of each other, which also had an effect in the studio, with Hendrix playing many of the basslines on Electric Ladyland.

Redding was also increasingly uncomfortable with the hysteria surrounding Hendrix's performances. The last Experience concert took place on June 29, 1969 at Barry Fey's Denver Pop Festival, a three-day event held at Denver's Mile High Stadium that was marked by rioting and tear gas. The three bandmates were smuggled out of the venue in the back of a rental truck which was crushed by a mob of fans. The next day, Noel Redding announced that he had quit the Experience.

Throughout 1969, Hendrix also encountered a number of legal difficulties. Firstly, a contractual dispute arose in relation to an unfavorable agreement that Hendrix had entered into with Ed Chalpin, a producer, long before he became successful. The dispute was resolved when the parties agreed that Hendrix would record an album specifically for Chalpin and that it would be released under his auspices. This was the genesis of the live album entitled Band of Gypsys. Then on May 3, 1969 Hendrix was arrested at Toronto's Pearson International Airport after heroin and hashish were found in his luggage. Hendrix argued in his jury trial defense that the drugs were slipped into his bag by a fan without his knowledge, and he was acquitted on that basis.

After the departure of Noel Redding from the group, Hendrix moved into a rented eight-bedroom mansion near the town of Shokan in upstate New York for the duration of the summer of 1969. Manager Michael Jeffery paid for and arranged the stay, with hopes that the respite would produce a new album. To replace Redding, Hendrix immediately tracked down Billy Cox, his old and trusted Army buddy. The trio of Hendrix, Cox, and Mitch Mitchell fulfilled his last commitment at the time, which was an appearance on The Tonight Show. In an effort to expand his sound beyond the power trio format, Hendrix added Larry Lee, another old friend from his R&B days, on rhythm guitar with percussionists Juma Sultan and Jerry Velez. He dubbed the new band Gypsy Sun and Rainbows, although this was never formally announced by Jimi's management. The cohesion of the group in the relaxed, country atmosphere of the Shokan house inspired fresh material like "Jam Back at the House", "Shokan Sunrise", "Villanova Junction", and the funk driven centerpieces of Hendrix's post-Experience sound: "Message to Love" and "Izabella".

Hendrix's popularity eventually saw him headline the Woodstock music festival on August 18, 1969. Although a number of the world's most talented and popular musicians were invited to the festival, including The Who, The Grateful Dead, and Jefferson Airplane, Hendrix was considered to be the festival's main attraction. The band's $18,000 stipend was the highest of all Woodstock performers, and the group was given the top-billing position, scheduled to perform last on Sunday night.

Due to enormous delays caused by bad weather and other logistical problems, he did not appear on stage until Monday morning, by which time the audience, which had peaked at over 500,000 people, had depleted to at most 180,000 - many of whom merely waited to catch a glimpse of Hendrix before leaving. The group was introduced at the festival as The Jimi Hendrix Experience, but Hendrix quickly conveyed the correct name of the band as Gypsy Sun and Rainbows and launched into a two hour set (the longest of his career) that was plagued with technical difficulties. Besides suffering microphone level and guitar tuning problems, it was also apparent that Jimi's new, much larger band was not rehearsed enough, and at times simply could not keep up with him. Despite this, Hendrix managed to deliver a historic performance, which featured his highly-appreciated rendition of the Star Spangled Banner, a solo improvisation which became a defining moment of the 1960s.

The controversial nature of Hendrix's style is epitomized in the sentiments expressed about his renditions of the "Star Spangled Banner", a tune he played loudly and sharply accompanied by simulated sounds of war (machine guns, bombs and screams) from his guitar. His impressionistic renditions have been described by some as anti-American mockery and by others a generation's statement on the unrest in U.S. society, oddly symbolic of the beauty, spontaneity, and tragedy that was endemic to Hendrix's life.

Hendrix claimed that he did not intend for his performance of the national anthem to be a political statement. His comments imply that he simply intended it as a different interpretation of the anthem. When taken to task on the Dick Cavett Show regarding the "unorthodox" nature of his performance of the song at Woodstock, Hendrix replied, "I thought it was beautiful," which was greeted with applause from the audience. His latter-career live favorite "Machine Gun" however, was clearly a protest song against war.

Woodstock was not the first time Hendrix played the Star Spangled Banner in concert. It was in fact a setlist staple from fall 1968 through the summer of 1970, and studio recordings of the song exist as well.

Even after achieving worldwide success as a musician, Hendrix could not avoid experiences of racism, which was omnipresent whenever he returned to the Southern United States. While on tour with the Experience in the South, Hendrix would often wait in the car or bus during highway restaurant stops, sending Mitch Mitchell or a roadie in to purchase food for the group. His eccentric wardrobe and white friends compounded the offense that some Southern whites took from his mere presence. At one of his shows in the deep South, police officers hired for concert security drew their guns on Hendrix when he walked into the venue arm-in-arm with a tall blond woman. Before the show began, the entire security force walked off the job in protest.

Jimi was also shunned by much of the black community for playing "white music" and for having white musicians in his band. Weeks after Woodstock, his performance at a Harlem block party became a harrowing experience: Within seconds of arriving at the site, his guitar was stolen from the back seat of his car by two Harlem thugs. When he appeared stageside to watch the early acts with his girlfriend Carmen Borrero (a Puerto-Rican model), the crowd assumed she was white and verbally harassed the pair. When he appeared onstage wearing white pants, he was pelted with bottles and eggs from the crowd. After the show, drummer Mitch Mitchell and roadie Eric Barrett were physically assaulted while dismantling their set.

Hendrix was also constantly harassed by various civil rights oriented activist and extremist groups who wished to use his fame to further their own message or cause. The Black Panthers even went as far as posting signs for his appearance at a benefit concert that Hendrix never even knew existed. Jimi tried to handle these experiences in stride and with as much finesse as he could muster, but this usually meant pandering to whatever was pulling at him at any given time. He would speak in a "jive" tone with his black friends, but in the company of whites, his speech and mannerisms would seem more like those of a British sophisticate.

It has been equally difficult for biographers to discern Hendrix's political views because his opinions on social and political topics varied in step with the company that he kept. To a crowd of hippies, Hendrix would speak about social change and against the Vietnam War; in Europe, however, he would rant in disgust to his British friends about witnessing anti-war protesters riot in Paris.

In September of 1969, Hendrix was apparently kidnapped and held for two days in New York City by men who appeared to be New York mobsters. The standoff ended when associates of manager Michael Jeffery appeared and peacefully regained custody of the rock star. No police or media reports of the incident exist, but Hendrix himself retold the story often when confiding with friends or associates about his management problems. He believed that Jeffery staged the kidnapping to bolster his role as manager or as a threat of some kind. The incident did occur at a time when Hendrix was at odds with Jeffery over the direction of his career.

The Gypsy Sun and Rainbows band was short-lived: after two post-Woodstock shows, some studio time, and an appearance on The Dick Cavett Show, Hendrix disbanded the group, but retained bassist Billy Cox. After attending to the successful defense of his drug possession charges in Toronto, Hendrix added drummer Buddy Miles and formed a new trio: the Band of Gypsys. Rehearsing for ten days at Juggy's sound studio, the group gelled quickly and produced a surprising amount of original material, including the lively "Earth Blues", which featured The Ronettes on background vocals. Four memorable concerts on New Year's Eve 1969-70 at Bill Graham's Fillmore East in New York captured several outstanding pieces, including one of Hendrix's greatest live performances: an explosive 12-minute rendition of his anti-war epic Machine Gun. The release of the Band of Gypsys album—the only official live recording sanctioned by Jimi—brought to an end the contract and legal battles with Ed Chalpin.

The second and final Band of Gypsys appearance occurred one month later (January 28, 1970) at a twelve-act show in Madison Square Garden dubbed the Winter Festival for Peace. Similarly to Woodstock, set delays forced Hendrix to take the stage at an inopportune 3am, only this time he was obviously high on drugs and in no shape to play. He belted out a dismal rendition of "Who Knows" before snapping a vulgar response at a woman who shouted a request for "Foxey Lady". He lasted halfway through a second song, then simply stopped playing, telling the audience: "That's what happens when earth fucks with space—never forget that". He then sat quietly on the stage until staffers escorted him away. Various angles exist around this bizarre scene—Buddy Miles claimed that manager Michael Jeffrey dosed Hendrix with LSD in an effort to sabotage the current band and bring about the return of the Experience lineup. Blues legend Johnny Winter said it was Hendrix's girlfriend Devon Wilson who spiked his drink with drugs for unknown reasons.

Jeffrey's reaction to the botched Band of Gypsys show was swift and firm: He immediately fired Buddy Miles and Billy Cox, then rushed Mitch Mitchell and Noel Redding over from England to begin press for the upcoming tour dates as a reunited Experience. Before the tour began however, Jimi nixed Redding from the band and reinstated Billy Cox. Fans and collectors refer to this final Hendrix/Cox/Mitchell lineup as the Cry of Love band, named after the tour.

Most of 1970 was spent recording during the week, and playing live on the weekends. The "Cry of Love" tour, begun in April at the LA Forum, was structured to accommodate this pattern. Performances on this tour were occasionally uneven in sound quality, but featured Hendrix, Cox and Mitchell playing new material alongside extended versions of older recordings. The tour included 30 performances and ended at Honolulu, Hawaii on August 1, 1970. A number of these shows were professionally recorded and produced some of Hendrix's most memorable live performances.

August of 1970 saw the opening of Electric Lady Studios in New York. Two years prior, Hendrix and Jeffery had invested jointly in the purchase of the Generation Club in Greenwich Village. Their initial plans to reopen the club were scrapped when the pair decided that the investment would serve them much better as a recording studio. The studio fees for the lengthy Electric Ladyland sessions were astronomical, and Jimi was constantly in search of a recording environment that suited him.

Designed by architect and acoustician John Storyk, the studio was made specifically for Hendrix, with round windows and a machine capable of generating ambient lighting in a myriad of colors. It was designed to have a relaxing feel to encourage Jimi's creativity, but at the same time provide a professional recording atmosphere. Engineer Eddie Kramer upheld this by refusing to allow any drug use during session work.

Hendrix spent only four weeks recording in Electric Lady, most of which took place while the final phases of construction were still ongoing. An opening party was held on August 26, and the following day Hendrix created his last ever studio recording: a cool and tranquil instrumental known only as "Slow Blues". He then boarded an Air India flight for London (with Billy Cox in tow), joining Mitch Mitchell to perform at the Isle of Wight Festival.

The group then commenced on a tour of Europe designed to earn money to repay the studio loans, temper Jimi's mounting back taxes and legal fees, and fund the production of his next album, tentatively titled First Rays of The New Rising Sun. Longing for his new studio and creative outlets, the tour was a requirement by Jeffery that the already restless Hendrix was not eager to perform. Audience demands for the older hits and stage trickery that he had long tired of performing only served to worsen his mood. In Copenhagen, Hendrix abandoned his show after only two songs, remarking: "I've been dead a long time".

On September 6, 1970, his final concert performance, Hendrix was greeted with booing and jeering by fans at the Isle of Fehmarn Festival in Germany in a riot-like atmosphere reminiscent of the failed Altamont Festival. Shortly after he left the stage, it went up in flames during the first stage appearance of Ton Steine Scherben. Billy Cox quit the tour and headed home to Memphis after reportedly being dosed with PCP.

Hendrix retreated to London, where he reached out to Chas Chandler, Eric Burdon, and other friends in a renewed attempt to divorce himself from manager Michael Jeffery. He caught up with Linda Keith, an old flame that he still admired, and gave her a brand new black Fender Stratocaster as a token of his appreciation for her discovery efforts years earlier. Included in the guitar case was a stack of letters - all of their mutually written correspondence. Jimi's last public performance was an informal jam at Ronnie Scott's Jazz Club in Soho with Burdon and his latest band, War.

In the early morning hours of September 18, 1970, Jimi Hendrix was found dead in the basement flat of the Samarkand Hotel at 22 Lansdowne Crescent in London. Hendrix died amid circumstances which have never been fully explained, and the exact details of his death will probably never be confirmed. He had spent the night with his German girlfriend, Monika Dannemann, and likely died in bed after drinking wine and taking nine Vesperax sleeping pills, then asphyxiating on his own vomit. For years, Dannemann publicly claimed that Hendrix was alive when placed in the back of the ambulance; however, her comments about that morning were often contradictory and confused, varying from interview to interview. Police and ambulance reports reveal that not only was Hendrix dead when they arrived on the scene, but he had been dead for some time, the apartment's front door was wide open, and the apartment itself empty. Following a libel case brought in 1996 by Hendrix's long-term British girlfriend Kathy Etchingham, Monika Dannemann allegedly took her own life.

A sad poem written by Hendrix that was found in the apartment has led some to believe that he committed suicide. More speculative is the belief that Hendrix was murdered—forcibly given the sleeping pills and wine, then asphyxiated with a scarf by professionals hired by manager Michael Jeffery. The most accepted and credible theory, however, is that he simply misjudged the potency of the sleeping pills, and asphyxiated in his sleep due to an inability to regain consciousness when he vomited.

Reports that Hendrix's tapes of the concept album Black Gold had been stolen from the London flat are in fact wrong: the tapes were handed to Mitch Mitchell by Jimi at the Isle of Wight Festival three weeks prior to his death. Hendrix's Greenwich Village apartment, however, was indeed plundered by an unknown series of vandals who stole numerous personal items, tapes, and countless pages of lyrics and poems, some of which have resurfaced in the hands of collectors or at auctions.

Although Hendrix had verbally requested to be buried in England, his body was returned to Seattle and he was interred in Greenwood Memorial Park, Renton, Washington. Al Hendrix created a five-plot family burial site to include himself, his second wife Akayo June, his adopted daughter Janie, and son Leon. The headstone for Jimi contains a drawing of a Stratocaster guitar, though it is depicted as the instrument of a traditional right-handed player.

As the popularity of Hendrix and his music grew over the decades following his death, concerns began to mount over fans damaging the adjoining graves at Greenwood, and the growing extended Hendrix family further prompted Al to create an expanded memorial site separate from other burial sites in the park. The memorial was announced in late 1999, but Al's deteriorating health led to delays. He passed away two months before its scheduled completion in 2002. Later that year, the remains of Jimi Hendrix, his father Al Hendrix, and grandmother Nora Rose Moore Hendrix were moved to the new site.

The memorial is an impressive granite dome supported by three pillars under which Jimi Hendrix is interred. Jimi's autograph is inscribed at the base of each pillar, while two stepped entrances and one ramped entrance provide access to the dome's center where the original Stratocaster adorned headstone has been incorporated into a statue pedestal. A granite sundial complete with brass gnomon adjoins the dome, along with over 50 family plots that surround the central structure, half of which are currently adorned with raised granite headstones. To date, the memorial remains incomplete: brass accents for the dome and a large brass statue of Hendrix were announced as being under construction in Italy, but since late 2002, no information as to the status of the project has been revealed to the public.

Due to his tireless creative habits and untimely death, Hendrix left behind countless hours of unreleased material in the form of personal recordings, impromptu jams, studio takes, and unfinished or abandoned songs in various stages of completion. His death also led to an immense interest in recordings of his live performances. In addition, Hendrix wrote vast quantities of lyrics and poems on notepads, envelopes, scraps of paper, and hotel stationery. Decades have passed since his death, yet on a regular basis, new material is still discovered in tape vaults, auction houses, dusty attic shoeboxes, or swap meets, and previously unreleased material still reaches the public via trade among collectors or official release by various record companies. Unfortunately, most posthumous Hendrix releases consist of a few new songs or performances peppered in with re-releases of songs available on other albums. To date, no comprehensive catalog is available and collectors often purchase dozens of albums with redundant material in attempts to obtain Hendrix's complete oeuvre.

Control over the Hendrix musical legacy has changed hands numerous times, and legal issues further complicate the story of his posthumous catalog. The control and material released is typically categorized into three distinct eras:

The Michael Jeffery era (1970-1973)

This first era produced music that was sanctioned by Al Hendrix as the heir to Jimi's estate and created by the same personnel that Hendrix was working with at the time of his death: drummer Mitch Mitchell, engineer Eddie Kramer, and manager Michael Jeffery. The LP Cry of Love (1971) was the first posthumous Hendrix release and was crafted to represent Jimi's intended fourth studio album.

The soundtrack to the Rainbow Bridge movie also became available on LP in 1971, featuring several tracks that were not in the film: "Dolly Dagger", "Earth Blues", "Room Full of Mirrors", and a stellar version of "Star Spangled Banner" mixed at the Record Plant. The Rainbow Bridge album is highlighted by a 10-minute electric version of "Hear My Train A-Comin.", which saw the song transformed almost beyond recognition; like "Machine Gun", it showcased the classic elements of the Hendrix electric sound and featured some of his most inspired improvisation.

Another LP to emerge from this era was the live compilation Hendrix In The West, consisting of top-shelf American and British live recordings from 1969 and 1970, including an outstanding rendition of the concert favorite "Red House" recorded at the San Diego Sports Arena, plus "Johnny B. Goode", "Lover Man", and "Blue Suede Shoes" (soundcheck) at the Berkeley Community Theater. The album also included "Little Wing", "Voodoo Child" (recorded at the Royal Albert Hall, London), "God Save the Queen", and "Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" which was recorded at the Isle of Wight Festival.

In 1973, British producer Joe Boyd produced a film documentary on Hendrix's life, titled simply Jimi Hendrix, which included live performances from the Monterey, Berkeley, and Isle of Wight concerts interspersed with interview footage. The film played in art-house cinemas around the world for many years, and a double-album soundtrack was also released.

This era ended in 1973 when Michael Jeffery perished in a mid-air plane collision. Hendrix family lawyer Leo Branton then arranged the sale of Hendrix's music rights to overseas companies under his control, without informing Al Hendrix of the implications or conflict of interest involved.

The Alan Douglas era (1974-1996)

The second era is defined by the period of control held by producer Alan Douglas, who managed the Hendrix legacy after the Leo Branton deal took place. Douglas reconstructed selections of studio material by hiring session players to overdub portions that were incomplete. The resulting LPs, Crash Landing and Midnight Lightning, contain several important tracks but are generally considered to be of substandard quality. Intending to "refresh" Hendrix's sound with the funk driven grooves of the era, they achieved only marginally successful sales, and the use of replacement musicians (including lead guitar work) was viewed by fans as sacrilege.

Interest in Jimi's music waned during the 1980s as his genre evolved into classic rock and was avoided by American and British youth in favor of new wave, pop, and metal acts. With the advent of the compact disc, Polygram and Warner-Reprise reissued many Hendrix recordings on CD in the late 1980s and early 1990s. The earliest Polygram reissues are of a poor standard - Electric Ladyland suffered particularly, being evidently a direct transfer from the existing LP masters, with tracks placed out of their correct order. This reflected the original LP running order, an artifact of the days when double-LPs were pressed with sides 1 and 4 on one LP and sides 2 and 3 on the other, so that the records could be placed on an automatic changer and played in sequence by turning the entire stack over. Polygram subsequently released a superior-quality double boxed set of eight CDs with studio tracks in one four-disc box and the live tracks in another. This was followed by an excellent four-disc set of live concerts on Reprise. An audio documentary, originally made for radio and later released on four CDs, also appeared around this time and also included previously unreleased material.

Douglas also supervised the re-release of Jimi's three Experience-era albums in the early 1990s, without their original artwork. Subsequent versions issued since the Hendrix family took control of Jimi's catalogue have featured the original artwork.

The Experience Hendrix era (1997-present)

The third, and arguably most successful, era of the Hendrix legacy began in 1995 when Al Hendrix regained the rights to Jimi's music after a two-year court battle funded by Microsoft executive Paul Allen. This ligitation had been prompted by Al Hendrix learning through the media that MCA records had purchased the rights to Jimi's catalogue. For nearly three decades, poor legal advice provided by individuals associated with Jimi's manager, Michael Jefrey, had led Al to believe that he alone retained ownership of all master tapes. Following a successful lawsuit, Al placed his adopted daughter Janie in charge of the newly formed company, Experience Hendrix, LLC. Working in collaboration with engineer Eddie Kramer, biographer John McDermott and bandmates Billy Cox and Mitch Mitchell, Experience Hendrix embarked on an extensive reissue program designed to showcase restore Hendrix's musical legacy.

Their first order of business was to rebuild CD releases of Are You Experienced, Axis: Bold As Love, and Electric Ladyland using the original studio tapes, since previous CD releases were substandard conversions of LP masters. These new releases featured much improved sound quality and reproduced all the album's original artwork. In 1997, the company released its version of Hendrix's planned fourth studio album, titled First Rays of the New Rising Sun. The release was compiled using track listings hand written by Hendrix and consisted of songs previously released on Cry of Love, Rainbow Bridge, and War Heroes. A "definitive" greatest hits album followed in 1998, and an epic four-disc box set filled with selections of live and studio performances was released in 2000. Experience Hendrix also released concert soundboard recordings and other rare finds under the auspices of "official bootlegs" through its Dagger Records label. To date, Experience Hendrix has made more than $44 million from the recordings and associated merchandising. Press commentary from the company has revealed that it intends to produce a documentary feature of its own in the near future, followed by a scripted biographical feature film.

Recorded in 1967 during sessions for Are You Experienced, this song was conceived by Hendrix and this base track performed, only to be abandoned so the group could concentrate on other tasks. Hendrix never returned to the song again. Decades later, it was selected for inclusion in The Jimi Hendrix Experience, a four-disc box set produced by Experience Hendrix, LLC. The song's name was derived from the entry Hendrix made in the session log that day, naming each untitled song after its place in the log.

A separate category of posthumous work includes material recorded before Hendrix signed with Chas Chandler and Michael Jeffery in 1966. Various producers from Hendrix's early days have re-released music that Hendrix played little or no part in, but which features his name as top billing. The music released by Curtis Knight through Ed Chalpin is a prime example. Ironically, some of the Knight tracks include session work that Jimi performed for Knight and Chalpin at the onset of his fame in 1967, part of a failed attempt by Hendrix to charm the pair into releasing their material without using his name. Most Hendrix fans consider such works to be exploitative and tend to disassociate them from their view of an "official" Hendrix discography. Regardless of their opinions however, some fans still collect, review, and enjoy early works where Hendrix's playing is actually present.

Despite the extremely prolific recording career of Hendrix and the staggering volume of published content (estimated at over 500 unique releases), there are still items in the Hendrix vaults (and elsewhere) that have yet to pass through the eyes and eardrums of even ardent collectors. Some of the tie-ups involve legal disputes or lost tapes, while others are simply being held by Experience Hendrix for release at intervals that the company deems worthy according to its long term plans.

The two sold-out Jimi Hendrix Experience concerts performed at London's Royal Albert Hall on February 18 and February 24, 1969 became the last British appearance of the band, and were known as brilliant performances, the latter of which ended with the crowd rushing onto the stage and carrying Hendrix off in celebration. The shows were filmed by musical directors Gold and Goldstein and intended for worldwide release as a concert film (to be titled Experience), but undetailed legal issues have prevented the film's release for over 35 years.

Hendrix and his Experience bandmate Noel Redding were known to carry an 8mm movie camera on tour and create footage of the group off-stage, on the road, and sightseeing in the many countries they visited while touring. Rumors persist that some of the films include footage of their bedroom exploits with groupies, but while no risqué footage has surfaced publicly, some of the 8mm scenes can be seen in various documentaries on Hendrix where the Experience band is mentioned. It remains unclear just how much of the 8mm footage still exists or who owns it, but fans point out that this may be a source of unreleased footage that reveals Hendrix and his entourage in a more relaxed and casual setting.

In early 1970, Hendrix recorded a suite of songs in his Greenwich Village apartment intended to serve as a demo for a concept album that he titled Black Gold. The tapes consist of sixteen songs, all created by a solo Hendrix armed only with his voice and a Martin acoustic guitar. Near the end of the collection lies an embryonic two-part rendition of his now infamous superhero themed funk-rock tune "Astro Man", in which Hendrix sings lines from the 1950's Mighty Mouse cartoon theme and makes humorous yet derogatory references to Superman. Other songs from the Black Gold sessions were also further developed in the studio and thus have surfaced elsewhere in the Hendrix catalog (namely "Stepping Stone", "Machine Gun", and "Drifting"), but at least nine of the songs are known to be unique to the tapes.

Months later, at the Isle of Wight Festival, Hendrix gave the tapes to his drummer Mitch Mitchell to have him listen and comment on the necessary rhythm section requirements for recording the songs. After Hendrix's untimely death in September 1970, Mitchell simply forgot about the tapes, apparently unaware that they were one of a kind masters. For twenty two years, the Black Gold tapes sat unmolested in a black Ampex tape box that Hendrix himself tied shut with a headband and hand labeled with the letters "BG".

It was not until 1992 that avid Hendrix collector and biographer Tony Brown interviewed Mitchell and learned that the mythical Black Gold tapes, thought to have been stolen from Jimi's apartment by vandals who ransacked it for collectibles upon his death, were in fact lying in Mitchell's home in England. By coincidence, Mitchell also possessed the Martin guitar that was used to create the material. Brown was invited to review the tapes and published a summary of his account, but to date the material has not been released and is not available to Hendrix collectors. A bootleg compilation onerously titled "Black Gold" often circulates among online file traders, some of who are duped into believing that they have obtained the actual Black Gold suite. Only Brown and a handful of friends close to Mitch Mitchell have listened to the real tapes.

Because of the label markings and conventions used by Hendrix to identify the tapes, and the fact that the themed Black Gold songs were the most embryonic of his late catalog, Hendrix aficionados maintain that this demo represents a proposed fifth studio album and predict that the material will reveal the broadest extensions of Hendrix's intended musical direction. Because of this, many consider Black Gold the 'holy grail' of Hendrix collectibles. Mitch Mitchell's recent association with Experience Hendrix, LLC is an indicator that Black Gold may someday see worldwide release.

When Al Hendrix died of congestive heart failure in 2002, his will stipulated that Experience Hendrix, LLC was to exist as a trust designed to distribute profits to a list of Hendrix family beneficiaries. Upon his death, it was revealed that Al had signed a revision to his will which removed Jimi's brother Leon Hendrix as a beneficiary. A 2004 probate lawsuit merged Leon's challenge to the will with charges from other Hendrix family beneficiaries that Janie Hendrix was improperly handling the company finances. The suit argued that Janie and a cousin (Robert Hendrix) paid themselves exorbitant salaries and covered their own mortgages and personal expenses from the company's coffers while the beneficiaries went without payment and the Hendrix gravesite in Renton went uncompleted.

Janie and Robert's defense was that the company was not profitable yet, and that their salary and benefits were justified given the work that they put into running the company. Leon charged that Janie bilked Al Hendrix, then old and frail, into signing the revised will, and sought to have the previous will reinstated. The defense argued that Al willingly removed Leon from his will because of Leon's problems with alcohol and gambling. In early 2005, presiding judge Jeffrey Ramsdell handed down a ruling that left the final will intact, but replaced Janie and Robert's role at the financial helm of Experience Hendrix with an independent trustee. To date, the gravesite of Jimi Hendrix remains incomplete.

Hendrix owned and used a variety of guitars during his career. His guitar of choice however, and the instrument that became most associated with him, was the Fender Stratocaster, or 'Strat'. He bought his first Stratocaster in 1965 and thereafter used it almost exclusively for his stage performances and recordings.

Hendrix's emergence coincided with the lifting of postwar import restrictions (imposed in many British Commonwealth countries), which made the instrument much more available, and after its initial popularizers Buddy Holly and Hank B. Marvin, Hendrix arguably did more than any other player to make the Stratocaster the biggest-selling electric guitar in history. Before his arrival in the UK, most top players used Gibson and Rickenbacker models, but after Hendrix, almost all of the leading guitarists, including Jeff Beck and Eric Clapton, switched to the Stratocaster. Hendrix bought dozens of Strats and gave many away as gifts, including one given to ZZ Top guitarist Billy Gibbons. Many others were stolen, and a few were destroyed during his notorious guitar-burning finales.

The Strat's easy action and narrow neck were also ideally suited to Hendrix's evolving style and enhanced his tremendous dexterity—Hendrix's hands were large enough to fret across all six strings with his thumb, and he could reputedly play lead and rhythm parts simultaneously. Another remarkable fact about Hendrix is that he was left-handed, yet used right-handed Stratocasters, playing them upside-down. Hendrix restrung his guitars so that the heavier strings were in their standard position at the top of the neck. He preferred this layout because the tremolo arm and volume/tone controls were more easily accessible above the strings, but it also had an important effect on the sound of his guitar: because of the design of the pickups, his lowest string had a bright sound while his highest string had a mellow sound—the opposite of the Strat's intended design.

A new Stratocaster model (with a wide headstock) was launched in late 1968, and as the cohesion of the Experience began to deteriorate, Hendrix wished to vary his playing and his repertoire with this new design. Choosing Stratocasters with a light-tone maple fretboard (giving a "brighter" sound than the "darker" rosewood), he wanted to balance the high-power play with further versatility and velocity, so in early 1969, he opted for high-gauge strings tuned a half-tone down from the normal pitch. This enhanced the possibilities offered by the interlaced rhythm and solos during the Olmstead Studios sessions of April 1969. Later on tour, this stringing caused the drawback of more frequent losses in tuning after pushing down (or pulling) the tremolo bar - Hendrix would often ask the audience for a "minute to tune up" several times during the same concert.

In addition to Fender Stratocasters, Hendrix was also photographed playing Fender Jaguars, Duosonics and Jazzmasters and Gibson SGs. Jimi used a white Gibson SG Custom for his performance on the Dick Cavett show in the summer of 1969, and the Isle of Wight film shows him playing a Gibson Flying V. While Jimi owned a number of Flying V's throughout his career,(included a black model with designs hand-painted by Hendrix), the Flying V used at the Isle of Wight was a unique left-handed guitar. Custom ordered from Gibson, Jimi's example featured gold hardware,a bound fingerboard and "spilt-diamond" fret markers that were not found on other 60's-era Flying Vs.

Hendrix was a catalyst in the development of modern guitar amplification and guitar effects. His high-energy stage act and the blistering volume at which he played required robust and powerful amplifiers. For the first few months of his touring career he used Vox and Fender amplifiers, but he soon found that they could not stand up to the rigors of an Experience show. Hendrix soon discovered a new range of high-powered guitar amps being made by London audio engineer Jim Marshall and they proved perfect for his needs. Along with the Strat, the Marshall stack and Marshall amplifiers were crucial in shaping his heavily overdriven sound, enabling him to master the creative use of feedback as a musical effect, and his exclusive use of this brand soon made it the most popular amplifier in rock music.

The sound of Hendrix's recordings seemed to have progressively changed from the "sharp edge" of 1966 and 1967 to the warmer sounds of 1969 and 1970. The first two albums were recorded in England with his British-made Marshall amps operating at 240 volts/50 Hertz. He then recorded in the US (beginning in May 1968 on Electric Ladyland) - under 110 volts/60 Hertz. The evolution in the Stratocasters used (pre-68 v.s. post-68 models) may have contributed to this change as well. Weather conditions may also have had an effect on his amps: the warm sound of Woodstock contrasts to the "edgy" sound of the Isle of Wight recordings.

Hendrix also constantly looked for new guitar effects. He was one of the first guitarists to move past simple gimmickry and to exploit the full expressive possibilities of electronic effects such as the wah-wah pedal. He had a fruitful association with engineer Roger Mayer and made extensive use of several Mayer devices including the Axis fuzz unit, the Octavia octave doubler and especially the UniVibe, a unit designed to electronically simulate the modulation effects of the Leslie speaker.

The Hendrix sound combined high volume and high power, feedback manipulation and a range of cutting-edge guitar effects, especially the UniVibe-Octavia combination, which can be heard to full effect on the Band of Gypsys' live version of "Machine Gun." He was also known for his trick playing, which included playing with only his right (fretting) hand, using his teeth or playing behind his back, although he soon grew tired of audience demands to perform these tricks.

It is claimed that the Marshall Super 100 amp, purchased by Hendrix on October 8, 1966, was the first he ever bought. Rich Dickinson of Thrupp, near Stroud, Gloucestershire, bought the second-hand Marshall amp in 1971 for just £65. In a local news story, Dickinson said that he had to part with the beloved amp because insuring it would cost thousands. "I'm not in any rush to sell it and will wait for the best price, not just jump at whoever offers the first silly money," he said. Dickinson believed that it would fetch more than £1 million.

Prior to his death in 1970, Hendrix gave one of his black Stratocasters to Al Kooper as a gift. Kooper later used the instrument while helping Del Shannon record "Runaway" for the Crime Story soundtrack.

The burnt and broken parts of the Stratocaster he destroyed at the 1968 Miami Pop Festival were given to Frank Zappa, who later rebuilt it and played it extensively during the 1970s and 1980s. In May 2002, Zappa's son Dweezil put the guitar up for auction in the U.S., hoping it would fetch $1 million, but it failed to sell.

The legendary white 1968 Strat that Hendrix played at Woodstock spent years in the collection of drummer Mitch Mitchell, who restrung the guitar for right handed use and allowed friends and visitors to play it. The guitar sold at Sotheby's auction house in London in 1990 for £174,000. It was again sold in 1993 for £750,000 to collector Gabriele Ansaloni, known in Italy as radio celebrity Red Ronnie. In 1996, Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen purchased the guitar from Ansaloni for an undisclosed amount. It now resides in a permanent exhibit at the Experience Music Project in Seattle, along with a shard of the burnt and broken Monterey guitar.

The last guitar that Jimi ever played, a black 1968 Stratocaster, was kept by Monika Dannemann after Hendrix died in her London flat. Years later, Dannemann lived as the common law wife of Scorpions guitarist Uli Jon Roth - upon her suicide in 1996, ownership of the guitar was transferred to Roth. Univibes contributor Len Jones documented and photographed the instrument in 1993.

Hendrix is widely known for and associated with the use of hallucinogenic drugs, most notably LSD. A common opinion is that Jimi's use of LSD was an integral part of his creative process. He had never taken hallucinogenics until the night he met Linda Keith, but likely experimented with other drugs in years prior. Various forms of sleeping pills and speed fueled his "stop and go" lifestyle throughout his career, and pictures exist of Hendrix smoking marijuana.

Jimi was also notorious among friends and bandmates for becoming angry and violent when he drank alcohol. Kathy Etchingham spoke of an incident that took place in a London pub in which an intoxicated Hendrix beat her with a public telephone handset because he thought she was calling another man on the payphone. Alcohol was also cited as the cause of Hendrix's 1968 rampage that destroyed a Stockholm hotel room and led to his arrest there. Carmen Borrero revealed that while drunk, Jimi once threw a glass vodka bottle at her, which shattered when it struck her face. Musician Paul Caruso's friendship with Hendrix ended in 1970 when Jimi punched him during an alcohol-fueled argument.

The most controversial topic however, concerns his alleged abuse of heroin. The Hendrix family, along with a portion of his friends and biographers, emphatically maintains that Hendrix was never a heroin user, citing his irrational fear of needles. Known today as trypanophobia, this condition was never medically diagnosed in Hendrix, and snorting or smoking heroin were available (though less common and less effective) methods of heroin use in Hendrix's day. An equally strong number of associates and writers (including former bandmate Noel Redding) insist that Hendrix did use heroin. Some even hint that he was in a withdrawal period when he died of asphyxiation in September 1970. A toxicology report prepared shortly after his death found no heroin in his body, nor were there any marks from needles.

Jimi Hendrix is reportedly the father of two children: Tamika Laurice Carpenter James of Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA and James Daniel Sundqvist of Stockholm, Sweden. Hendrix never met or publicly acknowledged paternity of either child.

Tamika was born in 1966 after a brief relationship between Jimi and her mother Diana Carpenter took place in New York City. An unreleased Hendrix song named "Red Velvet Room" mentions a child named "Tami". In June of 1970, a paternity suit began in Minneapolis, which turned into a probate claim after Jimi’s death months later. The suit challenged Al Hendrix’s claim to the estate and sought to install Tamika as the sole heir to Jimi’s estate. The New York surrogate court in charge of Jimi’s estate proceedings denied this claim. Years later, Tamika would reconcile and reunite with Al Hendrix, who seemed to accept that the young woman was indeed his granddaughter.

James Sundqvist was born on October 5, 1969. His mother, Eva Sundqvist, met Jimi in May 1967 at the Stureplan train station in Stockholm when he asked her for directions to the Konserthuset. She later noticed his face on a record store album cover and began courting him during his subsequent Stockholm concerts (January 1968 and January 1969), leaving him love notes and flowers backstage. Jimi would oblige these advances by taking her along with him on his post-concert social engagements, the latter of which ended in an overnight stay at the Hotel Carlton. When James was born, Eva at first did not reveal Jimi as the father of her child. She filed a paternity suit against Jimi after child welfare services demanded the action as a requirement of her maintenance payments. This also evolved into a probate claim against Jimi’s estate, although the judgments made in favor of the Sundqvist family were only achieved in Swedish courts. In December 1978 the case was settled and the Sundqvist family received four million Swedish kronor (almost $1 million) from Jimi’s estate.

Hendrix's style was unique. He synthesized many styles in creating his musical voice, and his guitar playing was truly inimitable and breathtakingly exciting. Despite his hectic touring schedule and notorious perfectionism, he was a prolific recording artist and left behind more than 300 unreleased recordings.

His astonishing career and ill-timed death has grouped him with Janis Joplin and Jim Morrison as one of contemporary music's tragic "three J's", iconic 60's rock stars that suffered drug-related deaths at age 27 within months of each other, leaving legacies in death that have eclipsed the popularity and influence they experienced during their lifetimes.

Musically, Hendrix did perhaps more than any other performer to further the development of the electric guitar repertoire. It is without question that he moved the instrument to a higher level, establishing it as more than merely an amplified version of the acoustic guitar. Likewise, his feedback and fuzz-laden soloing moved guitar distortion well beyond mere novelty, popularizing effects pedals and units (most notably the wah-wah pedal) dramatically. Hendrix affected popular music with similar profundity; along with earlier bands such as The Who and Cream, he established a sonically heavy yet technically proficient bent to rock music as a whole, significantly furthering the development of hard rock and paving the way for heavy metal. He took blues to another level. His music has also had a profound influence on funk and the development of funk rock especially through the guitarists Ernie Isley of The Isley Brothers and Eddie Hazel of Funkadelic, Prince and Jesse Johnson of The Time. His influence even extends to many hip hop artists, including Chuck D of Public Enemy, Ice-T (who did a remake of Hey Joe), and Wyclef Jean. Hendrix was listed as number 3 on VH1's list of 100 Best Hard Rockers of all time behind Black Sabbath at the second spot, and Led Zeppelin who were ranked number one. He was ranked number 3 on VH1's list of 100 Best Pop Artists of all time behind the Rolling Stones and the Beatles. He has been voted by Rolling Stone, Guitar World, and a number of other magazines and polls as the best guitarist of all time.

* During a brief 1965 excursion to Vancouver, Hendrix played in a Motown band named Bobby Taylor & the Vancouvers with Taylor and then aspiring musician Tommy Chong of Cheech and Chong fame.

* The first tour that the Jimi Hendrix Experience participated in was throughout Europe as the opening act for French pop legend Johnny Hallyday, considered by many to be the Elvis Presley of France.

* At the height of his own fame in 1969, Hendrix contributed two songs ("Purple Haze" and "If 6 was 9") to the soundtrack of the counterculture themed biker film Easy Rider. Inspired by watching the completed movie upon its release, Hendrix created a rollicking road-themed song titled "Ezy Rider" and planned to release it on his fourth studio album First Rays of the New Rising Sun. Because the song was in an advanced stage of completion at the time of Hendrix's death, it has been included on many of his posthumous releases.

* Heavy Metal legend Lemmy Kilmister worked as a roadie for The Jimi Hendrix Experience before founding his own band, Motörhead.

* The Finnish broadcasting company YLE recorded Jimi's only concert appearance in Finland, but the footage was lost when it was overwritten since it was not considered valuable. After the show, Hendrix and his bandmates tried enter to a fine restaurant called Kalastajatorppa, but they were refused because of their "weird" appearance.

* The legendary rock groupie Cynthia Albritton, known today as Cynthia Plaster Caster, credits Hendrix and Noel Redding as the first two subjects in her decades long art project of creating plaster molds of rock stars' genitals.

* Hendrix claimed that during a layover in Paris while returning from his only career break (a month-long respite to Morocco), he had a one night stand encounter with actress Brigitte Bardot.

* In 2006, Experience Hendrix LLC revived two iterations of Jimi's former bands, over 35 years after they last played with Hendrix. The Gypsy Sun Experience features Mitch Mitchell on drums and Billy Cox on bass, and the Band of Gypsys (featuring Cox and drummer Buddy Miles) was revived for an album titled Band of Gypsys Return.

* The first annual Jimi Hendrix Awareness Week will be held from August 13 - 19 at Le Fevre High School in South Australia.

* Premiering in 2000, Wood Harris played Jimi Hendrix in a made-for-TV biopic on the rock star's life entitled "Hendrix", directed by Leon Ichaso and co-starring Billy Zane and Vivica A. Fox.Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, with no Front-Cover Texts, and with no Back-Cover Texts.
Virtual Magic is a human knowledge database blog. Text Based On Information From Wikipedia, Under The GNU Free Documentation License. Copyright (c) 2007 Virtual Magic. Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.1 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts and no Back-Cover Texts. A copy of the license is included in the section entitled "GNU Free Documentation License".

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