Categories

Jimi Hendrix

James Marshall “Jimi” Hendrix (November 27, 1942 – September 18, 1970) was an American guitarist, singer and songwriter. He is often considered to be one of the greatest electric guitarists in the history of rock music by other musicians and commentators in the industry, and one of the most important and influential musicians of his era across a range of genres. After initial success in Europe, he achieved fame in the United States following his 1967 performance at the Monterey Pop Festival. Later, Hendrix headlined the iconic 1969 Woodstock Festival and the 1970 Isle of Wight Festival. Hendrix often favored raw overdriven amplifiers with high gain and treble and helped develop the previously undesirable technique of guitar amplifier feedback. Hendrix was one of the musicians who popularized the wah-wah pedal in mainstream rock which he often used to deliver an exaggerated pitch in his solos, particularly with high bends and use of legato. He was influenced by blues artists such as B.B. King, Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, Albert King, Buddy Guy, and Elmore James, rhythm and blues and soul guitarists Curtis Mayfield, Steve Cropper, as well as by funk and some modern jazz. In 1966, Hendrix, who played and recorded with Little Richard’s band from 1964 to 1965, said, “I want to do with my guitar what Little Richard does with his voice.”

As a record producer, Hendrix also broke new ground in using the recording studio as an extension of his musical ideas. He was one of the first to experiment with stereophonic and phasing effects for rock recording.

Hendrix won many of the most prestigious rock music awards in his lifetime, and has been posthumously awarded many more, including being inducted into the US Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1992 and the UK Music Hall of Fame in 2005. An English Heritage blue plaque was erected in his name on his former residence at Brook Street, London, in September 1997. A star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame (at 6627 Hollywood Blvd.) was dedicated in 1994. In 2006, his debut US album, Are You Experienced, was inducted into the United States National Recording Registry, and Rolling Stone named Hendrix the top guitarist on its list of the 100 greatest guitarists of all-time in 2003. He was also the first person inducted into the Native American Music Hall of Fame.

Early Life

Born Johnny Allen Hendrix on November 27, 1942, in Seattle, Washington, the first of five children to James Allen “Al” Hendrix (10 June 1919, Vancouver, British Columbia – 17 April 2002, Renton, Washington) and Lucille Jeter (12 October 1925, Seattle, Washington – 2 February 1958, Renton, Washington). His father was a soldier in the United States Army stationed at Fort Sill, Oklahoma at the time of his birth, before he was shipped to France in World War II. When he was two years old, his mother placed him in the temporary care of friends in the San Francisco Bay Area. His father received an honorable discharge from the U.S. Army on September 1, 1945, and retrieved his eldest son and legally changed his name to James Marshall Hendrix in memory of his late brother, Leon Marshall Hendrix. He was known as “Buster” to friends and family, from birth. After his return, Al reunited with Lucille. He found it difficult to gain steady employment after the Second World War, and the family was impoverished.

Hendrix had two brothers, Leon and Joseph, and two sisters, Kathy and Pamela. Joseph was born with physical difficulties and was placed in foster care at age three. His two sisters were also both placed in foster care at a young age. Kathy was born blind and Pamela suffered lesser physical difficulties.

On December 17, 1951, when Hendrix was nine years old, his parents divorced. The divorce was caused by Lucille’s alcoholism; she developed cirrhosis of the liver and died on February 2, 1958 when the state of her liver caused her spleen to rupture. On occasion, he was placed in the care of his paternal grandmother in Vancouver, British Columbia because of the unstable household, and his brother Leon was placed in foster care temporarily. Hendrix was a shy and sensitive boy, deeply affected by the poverty and family disruption he experienced at a young age. Unusual for his era, Hendrix’s high school had a relatively equitable ethnic mix of African Americans, European Americans, and Asian Americans. At age 15, around the time his mother died, he acquired his first acoustic guitar for $5 from an acquaintance of his father. This guitar replaced both the broomstick he had been strumming in imitation, and a ukulele which his father had found while cleaning a garage. Hendrix learned to play by practicing for several hours a day, watching others play, getting tips from more experienced players, and listening to records. In mid-1959, his father bought Hendrix a white Supro Ozark, his first electric guitar, but there was no available amplifier. According to fellow Seattle bandmates, he learned most of his acrobatic stage moves, a major part of the blues/R&B tradition, including playing with his teeth and behind his back, from a fellow young musician, Raleigh “Butch” Snipes, guitarist with local band The Sharps. Hendrix himself performed Chuck Berry’s trademark “duck walk” on occasion. Hendrix played in a couple of local bands, occasionally playing outlying gigs in Washington State and at least once over the border in Vancouver, British Columbia.

Hendrix was particularly fond of Elvis Presley, whom he saw perform in Seattle, in 1957. Leon Hendrix claimed in an early interview that Little Richard appeared in his Central District neighborhood and shook hands with his brother, Jimi. This is unattested elsewhere and vehemently denied by his father. Hendrix’s early exposure to blues music came from listening to records by Muddy Waters and B.B. King which his father owned. Another early impression came from the 1954 western Johnny Guitar, in which the hero carries no gun but instead wears a guitar slung behind his back.

Hendrix’s first gig was with an unnamed band in the basement of a synagogue, Seattle’s Temple De Hirsch. 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. He later joined the Rocking Kings, who played professionally at such venues as the Birdland. When his guitar was stolen (after he left it backstage overnight), Al bought him a white Silvertone Danelectro. He painted it red and had “Betty Jean” emblazoned on it — the name of his high school girlfriend.

Hendrix completed junior high at Washington Junior High School with little trouble but did not graduate from Garfield High School. Later he was awarded an honorary diploma, and in the 1990s a bust of him was placed in the school library. After he became famous in the late 1960s, Hendrix told reporters that he had been expelled from Garfield by racist faculty for holding hands with a white girlfriend in study hall. Principal Frank Hanawalt says that it was simply due to poor grades and attendance problems.

Discography

Studio Albums

1967 Are You Experienced – http://www.bopping-elf.co.uk/jimi-hendrix-are-you-experienced/

1967 Axis: Bold as Love – http://www.bopping-elf.co.uk/jimi-hendrix-axis-bold-as-love/

1968 Electric Ladyland – Coming soon 01/11/2017

Compilations

Voodoo Chile – The Singles Collection – http://bopping-elf.co.uk/jimi-hendrix/jimi-hendrix-voodoo-chile-the-singles-collection/

Unofficial Live Albums (Bootlegs)

Live In America - http://www.bopping-elf.co.uk/jimi-hendrix-live-in-america/

Leave a Reply