|Birth name||Johnny Allen Hendrix|
November 27, 1942|
Seattle, Washington, US
|Died||September 18, 1970
Kensington, London, England
|Genres||Psychedelic rock, hard rock, blues rock|
|Occupations||Musician, singer, songwriter|
|Instruments||Guitar, vocals, bass, piano|
|Labels||Vee-Jay, RSVP, Track, Barclay, Polydor, Reprise, Capitol, MCA|
|Associated acts||The Isley Brothers, Little Richard, the Blue Flame, Curtis Knight, the Jimi Hendrix Experience, Band of Gypsys|
Gibson Flying V
James Marshall Hendrix (born Johnny Allen Hendrix; November 27, 1942 – September 18, 1970) was an American musician, singer and songwriter. Despite a limited mainstream exposure of four years, he is widely considered one of the most influential electric guitarists in the history of popular music and one of the most celebrated musicians of the 20th century.
After law enforcement authorities had twice caught Hendrix riding in stolen cars, he was given a choice between spending time in prison or serving in the US military: he chose the latter and enlisted in the Army in May 1961. Inspired musically by American rock and roll and electric blues, during his service Hendrix formed a band called the Casuals. In June 1962 he was granted an honorable discharge on the basis of unsuitability, and in 1963, he moved to Clarksville, Tennessee and formed the King Kasuals, playing numerous gigs on the Chitlin' circuit. By early 1964 he had moved to Harlem, where he earned a spot in the Isley Brothers' backing band. Later that year he found work with Little Richard, whom he played with through mid-1965. He then joined Curtis Knight and the Squires before moving to England in late 1966 after having been discovered by bassist Chas Chandler of the Animals. Following his initial success in Europe with the Jimi Hendrix Experience, he achieved fame in the US after his 1967 performance at the Monterey Pop Festival. He headlined the Woodstock Festival in 1969 and the Isle of Wight Festival in 1970, before dying from barbiturate related asphyxia at the age of 27.
Instrumental in developing the previously undesirable technique of guitar amplifier feedback, Hendrix favored overdriven amplifiers with high volume and gain. He helped to popularize the use of the wah-wah pedal in mainstream rock, and pioneered experimentation with stereophonic phasing effects in rock music recordings.
Hendrix was the recipient of several music awards during his lifetime and posthumously, and the Jimi Hendrix Experience was inducted into the US Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1992 and the UK Music Hall of Fame in 2005. Rolling Stone ranked his three non-posthumous studio albums, Are You Experienced, Axis: Bold as Love and Electric Ladyland among the 100 greatest albums of all time. Rolling Stone ranked him as the greatest guitarist of all time and the sixth greatest artist of all time.
Jimi Hendrix's mixed genealogy included African American, Irish, and Cherokee ancestors. His paternal great-great-grandmother Zenora was a full-blooded Cherokee from Georgia who married an Irishman named Moore. They had a son Robert, who married a black girl named Fanny. In 1883, Robert and Fanny had a daughter whom they named Zenora "Nora" Rose Moore, Hendrix's paternal grandmother.[nb 1] The illegitimate son of a black slave woman, also called Fanny, and her white overseer, Jimi's paternal grandfather, Bertran Philander Ross Hendrix (born 1866) was named after his biological father, a grain merchant from Urbana, Ohio, and one of the wealthiest white men in the area at the time. On June 10, 1919, Hendrix and Moore had a son they named James Allen Ross Hendrix (died 2002); people called him Al.
In 1941, Al met Lucille Jeter (1925–1958) at a dance in Seattle; they married on March 31, 1942. Drafted into the United States Army to serve in World War II, Al went to war three days after their wedding. The first of Lucile's five children, Johnny Allen Hendrix was born November 27, 1942 in Seattle, Washington. In 1946, due to being unable to consult his father Al at the time of birth, his parents changed Johnny's name to James Marshall Hendrix, in honor of Al and Al's late brother Leon Marshall.[nb 2][nb 3]
Stationed in Alabama at the time of Johnny's birth, Al was denied the standard military furlough afforded servicemen for childbirth and placed by his commanding officer in the stockade to prevent his going AWOL to see his infant son in Seattle. He spent two months locked-up without trial, and while in the stockade, received a telegram announcing his son's birth.[nb 4] During Al's three-year absence, Lucille struggled to raise their son, often neglecting him in favor of nightlife. During this period he was mostly cared for by family members and friends, especially Lucille's sister Delores Hall and her friend Dorothy Harding. Al received an honorable discharge from the U.S. Army on September 1, 1945. Two months later, unable to find Lucille, Al went to the Berkeley home of a family friend named Mrs. Champ, who had taken care of and had attempted to adopt Jimi, and saw his son for the first time.
After returning from service Al reunited with Lucille, but his difficulty finding steady work left the family impoverished. Both he and Lucille struggled with alcohol abuse, and they often fought when intoxicated. His parents' violence sometimes made Hendrix withdraw and hide in a closet in their home. Jimi's relationship with his brother Leon (born 1948) was close but precarious; with Leon in and out of foster care, they lived with an almost constant threat of fraternal separation. In addition to Leon, Jimi had three other younger siblings: Joseph, born in 1949, Kathy in 1950, and Pamela, 1951, all of whom Al and Lucille gave up to foster care and adoption. The family frequently moved, staying in cheap hotels and apartments around Seattle. On occasion, family would take Hendrix to Vancouver to stay at his grandmother's. A shy and sensitive boy, Hendrix was deeply affected by these experiences. In later years, he confided to a girlfriend that he had been the victim of sexual abuse by a man in uniform.
On December 17, 1951, when Hendrix was nine years old, his parents divorced; the court granted Al custody of Jimi and Leon. At thirty-three, Lucille had developed cirrhosis of the liver; she died on February 2, 1958 when her spleen ruptured. Instead of taking Jimi and Leon to attend their mother's funeral, Al gave them shots of whiskey and told them that was how men are supposed to deal with loss.[nb 5]
At Horace Mann Elementary School in Seattle during the mid-1950s, Hendrix's habit of carrying a broom with him to emulate a guitar gained the attention of the school's social worker. After more than a year of his clinging to a broom like a security blanket, she wrote a letter requesting school funding intended for underprivileged children insisting that leaving him without a guitar might result in psychological damage. Her efforts failed, and Al refused to buy him a guitar.[nb 6]
In 1957, while helping Al with a side-job, Jimi found a ukulele amongst the garbage that they were removing from a wealthy older woman's home. The woman told him that he could keep the instrument, which had only one string. Learning by ear, he played single notes, following along to Elvis Presley songs, particularly Presley's cover of Leiber and Stoller's "Hound Dog".[nb 7] In mid-1958, at age 15, Hendrix acquired his first acoustic guitar, for $5. Hendrix earnestly applied himself, playing the instrument for several hours daily, watching others and getting tips from more experienced guitarists, and listening to blues artists such as Muddy Waters, B.B. King, Howlin' Wolf, and Robert Johnson. The first tune Hendrix learned how to play was the theme from Peter Gunn.
Soon after he acquired the acoustic guitar, Hendrix formed his first band, the Velvetones. Without an electric guitar, he could barely be heard over the sound of the group. After about three months, he realized that he needed an electric guitar in order to continue. In mid-1959 his father bought him a white Supro Ozark, his first electric guitar. His first gig was with an unnamed band in the basement of a synagogue, Seattle's Temple De Hirsch. After too much showing off, the band fired him between sets. Hendrix later joined the Rocking Kings, which played professionally at venues such as the Birdland club. When someone stole his guitar after he left it backstage overnight, Al bought him a red Silvertone Danelectro.
Hendrix completed his studies at Washington Junior High School, but he did not graduate from Garfield High School. The school later awarded him an honorary diploma and in the 1990s they placed a bust of him in the school library.[nb 8]
Law enforcement authorities twice caught Hendrix riding in stolen cars and when given a choice between spending time in prison or joining the Army, he chose the latter and enlisted on May 31, 1961. After completing his basic training at Fort Ord, California, the Army assigned him to the 101st Airborne Division and stationed him at Fort Campbell, Kentucky.
In November 1961, fellow serviceman Billy Cox walked past the service club and heard Hendrix playing guitar inside. Cox, intrigued by the proficient playing, which he described as a combination of "John Lee Hooker and Beethoven", immediately checked-out a bass guitar and the two began to jam. Soon after, they began performing at the base clubs on the weekends with other musicians in a loosely organized band called the Casuals. On June 29, 1962, Captain Gilbert Batchman granted Hendrix an honorable discharge on the basis of unsuitability.[nb 9]
In September 1963, after Cox was discharged from the Army, he and Hendrix relocated to Clarksville, Tennessee and formed a new band called the King Kasuals. Hendrix had watched Butch Snipes play with his teeth in Seattle and by now Alphonso 'Baby Boo' Young, the other guitarist in the band, also performed this guitar gimmick. Not to be upstaged, it was then that Hendrix learned to play with his teeth, according to Hendrix: "the idea of doing that came to me in a town in Tennessee. Down there you have to play with your teeth or else you get shot. There's a trail of broken teeth all over the stage." Although they began playing low-paying gigs at obscure venues, the band eventually moved to Nashville's Jefferson Street, the traditional heart of Nashville's black community and home to a thriving rhythm and blues music scene. While in Nashville, they earned a brief residency playing at a popular venue in town, the Club del Morocco. For the next two years, Hendrix made a living performing at a circuit of venues throughout the South who were affiliated with the Theater Owners' Booking Association (TOBA), widely known as the Chitlin' Circuit. In addition to performing in his own band, Hendrix performed in backing bands for various soul, R&B, and blues musicians, including Wilson Pickett, Chuck Jackson, Slim Harpo, Tommy Tucker, Sam Cooke, and Jackie Wilson.
In January 1964, feeling he had outgrown the circuit artistically and frustrated by having to follow the rules of bandleaders, Hendrix decided to venture out on his own. He moved into the Hotel Theresa in Harlem, where he soon befriended Lithofayne Pridgeon, known as "Faye", she became his girlfriend. Pridgeon, a Harlem native with connections throughout the area's music scene, provided Hendrix with shelter, support, and encouragement. He also met the Allen twins, Arthur and Albert.[nb 10] In February 1964, Hendrix won first prize in the Apollo Theater amateur contest. Hoping to land a gig, he played the club circuit and sat in with various bands. At the recommendation of a former associate of Joe Tex, Ronnie Isley granted Hendrix an audition that led to an offer to become the guitarist with the Isley Brothers' back-up band, the I.B. Specials; Hendrix readily accepted.
In March 1964, Hendrix recorded the two-part single "Testify" with the Isley Brothers. Released in June 1964, it failed to chart. After touring with the band through the summer of 1964, he quit after a gig in Nashville.[nb 11] In September 1964, Hendrix joined Little Richard's touring band, the Upsetters.[nb 12] During a stop in Los Angeles, Hendrix recorded his first and only single with Richard, "I Don't Know What You Got (But It's Got Me)", written by Don Covay and released by Vee-Jay Records.[nb 13] In July 1965, on Nashville's Channel 5 Night Train, he made his first television appearance. Performing in Little Richard's ensemble band, Hendrix backed up vocalists "Buddy and Stacy" on "Shotgun". The video recording of the show marks the earliest known footage of Hendrix performing. He often clashed with Richard over tardiness, wardrobe, and his stage antics, so in late July 1965, Richard's brother Robert fired him. He then briefly rejoined the Isley Brothers, and recorded a second single with them, "Move Over and Let Me Dance" backed with "Have You Ever Been Disappointed".
Later that year, Hendrix joined a New York–based R&B band, Curtis Knight and the Squires, after meeting Knight in the lobby of a hotel where both men were staying. Hendrix performed on and off with them for eight months. In October 1965, he and Knight recorded the single, "How Would You Feel" backed with "Welcome Home" and on October 15 Hendrix signed a three-year recording contract with entrepreneur Ed Chalpin. While the relationship with Chalpin was short-lived, his contract remained in force, which caused considerable problems for Hendrix later on in his career.[nb 14] During his time with Curtis Knight and the Squires, Hendrix briefly toured with Joey Dee and the Starliters and worked with King Curtis on several recordings including Ray Sharpe's two-part single, "Help Me".
In mid-1966, Hendrix recorded with Lonnie Youngblood, a saxophone player who occasionally performed with Curtis Knight. The sessions produced two singles for Youngblood: "Go Go Shoes"/"Go Go Place" and "Soul Food (That's What I Like)"/"Goodbye Bessie Mae". Singles for other artists also came out of the sessions, including the Icemen's "(My Girl) She's a Fox"/ "(I Wonder) What It Takes" and Jimmy Norman's "That Little Old Groove Maker"/"You're Only Hurting Yourself".[nb 15] Hendrix earned his first composer credits for two instrumentals, "Hornets Nest" and "Knock Yourself Out", released as a Curtis Knight and the Squires single in 1966.
In early 1966, Hendrix formed his own band, the Blue Flame, which included Randy Palmer (bass), Danny Casey (drums), and a 15-year-old guitarist named Randy Wolfe.[nb 16] By June 1966, the Blue Flame had begun playing at several clubs in New York, but their primary venue was a residency at the Cafe Wha? on MacDougal Street in Greenwich Village. They gave their last concerts at the Cafe au Go Go, as John Hammond Jr.'s backing group.[nb 17]
In May 1966, Hendrix, struggling to earn a living wage playing the R&B circuit, briefly rejoined Curtis Knight and the Squires for an engagement at one of New York City's most popular nightspots, the Cheetah Club. During a performance, Linda Keith, the girlfriend of Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards noticed Hendrix. She commented: "[His] playing mesmerised me". She arranged for him to join her for a drink, and the two soon became friends.
Keith recommended Hendrix to Stones manager Andrew Loog Oldham, and producer Seymour Stein. They failed to see Hendrix's musical potential, and rejected him. She then referred Hendrix to Chas Chandler, who was leaving the Animals and interested in managing and producing artists. Chandler liked the song "Hey Joe" and was convinced he could create a hit single with the right artist. Impressed with Hendrix's version of the song, Chandler brought him to London on September 23, 1966, and signed him to a management and production contract with himself and ex-Animals manager Michael Jeffery.[nb 18] Chandler then helped Hendrix form a new band, the Jimi Hendrix Experience, with guitarist-turned-bassist Noel Redding and drummer Mitch Mitchell. Chandler also convinced Hendrix to change the spelling of his first name from "Jimmy" to "Jimi".
Chandler introduced Hendrix to Eric Clapton, who had recently co-founded Cream. On September 30, Chandler brought Hendrix to the London Polytechnic at Regent Street, where Cream was scheduled to perform, and it was then that Hendrix and Clapton first met. Clapton commented: "He asked if he could play a couple of numbers. I said, 'Of course', but I had a funny feeling about him." Halfway through Cream's set, Hendrix took the stage and performed a frantic version of the Howlin' Wolf song "Killing Floor". Clapton described the performance: "He played just about every style you could think of, and not in a flashy way. I mean he did a few of his tricks, like playing with his teeth and behind his back, but it wasn't in an upstaging sense at all, and that was it ... He walked off, and my life was never the same again".
In mid-October 1966, Chandler arranged for the Experience to accompany Johnny Hallyday as his support act for a brief tour of France. Their enthusiastically received 15-minute performance at the Olympia theatre in Paris on October 18 marks the earliest known recording of the band. In late October, Kit Lambert and Chris Stamp, managers of the Who, signed the Experience to their newly formed record label, Track Records, who released the Experience's first single on October 23. "Hey Joe", a cover of the Billy Roberts song, which included a female backing chorus provided by the Breakaways, was backed by Hendrix's first songwriting effort, "Stone Free".
In mid-November, they gave a showcase performance at London's newly opened nightclub the Bag O'Nails, with Clapton, John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Jeff Beck, Pete Townshend, Brian Jones, Mick Jagger, and Kevin Ayers in attendance. Ayers described the crowd's reaction as stunned disbelief: "All the stars were there, and I heard serious comments, you know 'shit', 'Jesus', 'damn' and other words worse than that." The performance's success earned Hendrix his first interview, published in Record Mirror with the headline: "Mr. Phenomenon". "Now hear this ... we predict that [Hendrix] is going to whirl around the business like a tornado", wrote Bill Harry, who asked the rhetorical question: "Is that full, big, swinging sound really being created by only three people?" Hendrix commented: "We don't want to be classed in any category ... If it must have a tag, I'd like it to be called, 'Free Feeling'. It's a mixture of rock, freak-out, rave, and blues". After appearances on the UK television shows, Ready Steady Go! and the Top of the Pops, "Hey Joe" entered the UK charts on December 29, 1966, peaking at number 6. Further success came in March 1967 with the UK number 3 hit, "Purple Haze", and in May with "The Wind Cries Mary", which remained on the UK charts for eleven weeks, peaking at number 6.
On March 31, 1967, while booked to appear at the London Astoria, Hendrix and Chandler discussed ways in which they could increase the band's media exposure. Chandler asked journalist Keith Altham for advice, who suggested that they needed to do something more dramatic than the stage show of the Who, which involved the smashing of instruments. Hendrix replied: "Maybe I can smash up an elephant", to which Altham replied: "Well, it's a pity you can't set fire to your guitar". Chandler immediately asked road manager Gerry Stickells to get them some lighter fluid. Hendrix gave an especially dynamic performance before setting his guitar on fire at the end of his 45-minute set. In the wake of the notable stunt, London's press labeled Hendrix the "Black Elvis" and the "Wild Man of Borneo".[nb 19]
Rolling Stone described the double-platinum Are You Experienced as Hendrix's "epochal debut", and they ranked it the 15th greatest album of all-time, noting his "exploitation of amp howl", describing his guitar playing as "incendiary ... historic in itself" and the songs as "soul music for inner space." The founding editor of Guitar World called it, "the album that shook the world ... leaving it forever changed".[nb 20] Released in the UK on May 12, 1967, Are You Experienced spent 33 weeks on the charts, peaking at number 2.[nb 21]
On June 4, 1967, Hendrix opened a show at the Saville Theatre in London with his own rendition of "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band", released three days earlier. Beatles manager Brian Epstein owned the Saville at the time, and both George Harrison and Paul McCartney attended the performance. McCartney described the moment: "It's still a shining memory for me ... The curtains flew back and he came walking forward playing 'Sgt. Pepper'. It's a pretty major compliment in anyone's book. I put that down as one of the great honors of my career." Released in the US in August by Reprise Records, Are You Experienced, reached number 5 on the Billboard Hot 100.[nb 22]
Although popular in Europe at the time, the Experience's first US single, "Hey Joe"/"51st Anniversary", released May 1, 1967, failed to reach the Billboard Hot 100 chart. Their fortunes soon improved when Paul McCartney recommended them to the organizers of the Monterey International Pop Festival. McCartney insisted that the festival would be incomplete without Hendrix, who he called "an absolute ace on the guitar", and he agreed to join the board of organizers on the condition that the Experience perform at the festival in mid-June.
Introduced by Brian Jones as "the most exciting performer [he had] ever heard", Hendrix opened with a fast arrangement of Howlin' Wolf's song "Killing Floor", wearing what author Keith Shadwick described as "clothes as exotic as any on display elsewhere ... He was not only something utterly new musically, but an entirely original vision of what a black American entertainer should and could look like." The Monterey performance also included "Hey Joe", a rendition of B.B. King's "Rock Me Baby", and Bob Dylan's "Like a Rolling Stone", as well as four original compositions: "Foxy Lady", "Can You See Me", "The Wind Cries Mary", and "Purple Haze". The set ended with Hendrix burning his guitar on stage, then smashing it before tossing pieces out to the audience. Filmed by D. A. Pennebaker, and later included in the concert documentary Monterey Pop, the performance helped earn Hendrix the attention of the US public. After the festival, the Experience played a series of concerts at Bill Graham's Fillmore, with Big Brother and the Holding Company, and Jefferson Airplane, before replacing the latter at the top of the bill after embarrassing the band by out-performing them musically.
Following their successful West Coast introduction, which included a free open air concert at Golden Gate Park and a concert at the Whisky a Go Go, they were booked as an opening act for the pop group the Monkees, on their first American tour. The Monkees asked for Hendrix because they were fans, but their young audience disliked the Experience, who left the tour after six shows. Chandler later admitted that he had engineered the Monkees tour to gain publicity for Hendrix.
The title track of the second Experience album, Axis: Bold as Love (1967), features the first recording of stereo phasing.[nb 23] Author Keith Shadwick described the song as "possibly the most ambitious piece on Axis, the extravagant metaphors of the lyrics suggesting a growing confidence" in Hendrix's songwriting. The album's opening track, "EXP", featured innovative use of microphonic and harmonic feedback. It also featured a stereo panning effect in which sounds emanating from Hendrix's guitar move through the stereo image, seeming to revolve around the listener.
A mishap almost delayed the album's pre-Christmas release: Hendrix lost the master tape of side one of the LP, leaving it in the back seat of a London taxi. With the release deadline looming, Hendrix, Chandler and engineer Eddie Kramer had to remix most of side one in a single overnight session, but they could not match the lost mix of "If 6 Was 9". They soon learned that bassist Noel Redding had a tape recording of this mix, which had to be smoothed out with an iron as it had gotten wrinkled. Hendrix used a familiar guitar technique during the verses of the song, doubling his voice with his guitar, which he played one octave lower. The founding editor of Guitar World described the LP as "a voyage to the cosmos". According to author Peter Doggett, the work "heralded a new subtlety in Hendrix's work". Mitchell commented: "Axis was the first time that it became apparent that Jimi was pretty good working behind the mixing board, as well as playing, and had some positive ideas of how he wanted things recorded. It could have been the start of any potential conflict between him and Chas in the studio."
Hendrix was disappointed that the album had to be re-mixed so quickly, and he felt that it could have been better had they been given more time. He also expressed dismay regarding the album cover art work, which depicts Hendrix and the Experience as various forms of Vishnu, incorporating a painting of them by Roger Law, from a photo-portrait by Karl Ferris. Hendrix stated that the cover would have been more appropriate had it highlighted his American Indian heritage. Track Records released the album in the UK on 16 December 1967, where it peaked at number 5, spending 16 weeks on the charts. In February 1968, Axis: Bold as Love reached number 3 in the US.
Electric Ladyland (1968) was Hendrix's third and final non-posthumous studio album. The double album was also the first Experience album to be mixed entirely in stereo. Recording began at the newly opened Record Plant Studios with engineers Eddie Kramer and Gary Kellgren and Chas Chandler as producer.
During recording sessions for the album, Chandler became increasingly frustrated with Hendrix's perfectionism and his demands for numerous re-takes that Chandler deemed unnecessary. Hendrix also allowed various friends and guests in join them in the studio, which contributed to a chaotic and crowded environment in the control room, leading Chandler to sever his professional relationship with Hendrix.
For this album Hendrix began experimenting with different combinations of musicians and instruments. It was the first Hendrix album to feature the use of a wah-wah pedal, such as on "Burning of the Midnight Lamp". During production, Hendrix appeared at an impromptu jam with B.B. King, Al Kooper, and Elvin Bishop.[nb 24] In November 1968, the album reached number 1 in the US, spending two weeks at the top spot. The LP peaked at number 6 on the UK charts, spending 12 weeks on the chart. The founding editor of Guitar World described the album as "Hendrix's masterpiece".
After a year based in the US, Hendrix temporarily moved back to London and into his girlfriend Kathy Etchingham's rented Brook Street flat, next door to the Handel House Museum, in the West End of London. During this time, the Jimi Hendrix Experience toured Scandinavia, Germany, and included a final French concert. They later performed two sold-out concerts at London's Royal Albert Hall on February 18 and 24, 1969, which were the last European appearances of this line-up of the Jimi Hendrix Experience. Gold and Goldstein filmed these shows; however, as of 2012, they have not seen an official release.
Redding formed his own band Fat Mattress, allowing him to play his preferred instrument, the guitar. He spent less time with Hendrix, which resulted in Hendrix playing many of the bass parts on Electric Ladyland. Fruitless recording sessions at Olympic in London; Olmstead and the Record Plant in New York that ended on April 9, which produced a remake of "Stone Free" for a possible single release, were the last to feature Redding. Hendrix then flew Billy Cox to New York and started recording and rehearsing with him on April 21 as a replacement for Noel.
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 Denver police using tear gas to control the audience as the band played "Voodoo Chile (Slight Return)". They narrowly escaped from the venue in the back of a rental truck which was partly crushed by fans trying to escape the tear gas. The next day, Redding quit the Experience and returned to London. He blamed Hendrix's plans to expand the group without allowing for his input as a primary reason for leaving.
After the departure of Noel Redding from the group, Hendrix rented the eight-bedroom 'Ashokan House' in the hamlet of Boiceville near Woodstock in upstate New York, where he spent some time in mid-1969. Manager Michael Jeffery, who owned a house in Woodstock, arranged the stay, with hopes that the respite would produce a new album. To replace Redding as bassist, Hendrix had been rehearsing and recording with Billy Cox, his old and trusted Army buddy, since April 21. Mitchell was unavailable to help fulfill Hendrix's commitments at this time, which included his first appearance on US TV – on the Dick Cavett show – where he was backed by the studio orchestra, and an appearance on The Tonight Show where he appeared with his new bass player Billy Cox, and session drummer Ed Shaughnessy sitting in for Mitchell.
Hendrix performed at the Woodstock Music Festival, along with many of the most popular rock bands of the time. The festival took place on farmland rented from Max Yasgur, in Bethel, New York, from August 15 to 18, 1969. Although much of Hendrix's music had been written for a power trio of guitar, bass, and drums, he wanted to expand his sound so he added rhythm guitarist Larry Lee and conga players Juma Sultan and Jerry Velez. With Mitch Mitchell, Hendrix called this new lineup, "Gypsy Sun and Rainbows". They rehearsed for less than two weeks before the festival, and according to Mitchell never really meshed. In addition, although Woodstock would become famous and mythologized through the documentary film of the same name, by the time of his performance, Hendrix had been up for three days, and his band was short on sleep as well, contributing a rawness to their filmed performance.
Before Hendrix arrived at the festival, he started to hear media reports that the crowds of kids showing up for the festival were swelling to biblical proportions, in addition to the emerging logistical problems being reported at the site. This gave Hendrix cause for concern since he did not like performing in front of very large crowds. Since he was considered an important draw for the festival, and because of his manager's negotiations, Hendrix was getting paid more than the other performers, (US$18,000, plus US$12,000 for rights to film him). As the scheduled time slot of Sunday night at midnight drew closer, Hendrix indicated that he would rather wait and close the show. A substantial rainstorm that day had delayed the schedule of performers, so when Hendrix insisted on being the closing headliner, it pushed back the time when they finally hit the stage – which ended up being 8:30 am Monday morning. The audience which had peaked at an estimated 400,000 people during the festival, was now reduced to about 30–40,000 by that point; many of whom merely waited to catch a glimpse of Hendrix before leaving during his show. This reflected the reality that by the third day attendees had been sleeping in muddy conditions with limited food.
Hendrix and his band were introduced by the festival MC, Chip Monck, as "the Jimi Hendrix Experience", but once on stage Hendrix clarified, saying, "We decided to change the whole thing around and call it Gypsy Sun and Rainbows. For short, it's nothin' but a 'Band of Gypsys'". He then launched into a two-hour set, the longest of his career.
An excerpt from the beginning of "The Star Spangled Banner", at Woodstock, August 18, 1969. The sample demonstrates Hendrix's cutting-edge use of feedback.
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Hendrix's rendition of the U.S. national anthem, "The Star-Spangled Banner" occurred about 3/4 into their set (after which he morphed into "Purple Haze"). The song had actually been part of his set for over a year and he had already performed it at at least 28 different concerts and recorded a studio version. During the number, Hendrix used feedback and sustain on his guitar to recreate the sound of wails and falling rockets. Although pundits quickly branded the song as a political manifesto against the Vietnam War, Hendrix himself never explained its meaning other than to say at a press conference three weeks later, "We're all Americans ... it was like 'Go America!'... We play it the way the air is in America today. The air is slightly static, see". The song would become "part of the sixties Zeitgeist" as it was captured forever in the Woodstock film; Hendrix's image performing this number during the day wearing a blue-beaded white leather jacket with fringe and a red head scarf, has since been regarded as a defining moment of the 1960s.[nb 25]
Hendrix performed "Hey Joe" as the encore to finish off their set which concluded the 3½ day Woodstock Music Festival. Upon leaving the stage, Hendrix collapsed from exhaustion. After Woodstock, this particular lineup of the band appeared on only two more occasions. The first was a street benefit in Harlem where, in a scenario similar to the festival, most of the audience had left and only a fraction remained by the time Hendrix took the stage. Within seconds of Hendrix arriving at the site two youths had stolen his guitar from the back seat of his car, although it was later recovered. The band's only other appearance was at the Salvation club in Greenwich Village, New York. After some studio recordings, Hendrix disbanded the group. Some of this band's recordings can be heard on the MCA Records box set The Jimi Hendrix Experience and on South Saturn Delta. Their final session together before Lee and Velez left the band took place on September 16.
An excerpt from the beginning of the guitar solo. The sample demonstrates Hendrix's cutting-edge use of high gain and overdrive to achieve an aggressive, sustained tone.
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In 1968, a contractual dispute arose in relation to a previous agreement Hendrix had entered into with producer Ed Chalpin. The resolution for the dispute included Hendrix having to record an LP of new material for Chalpin's company. For the agreed upon album, Hendrix chose to record the live LP, Band of Gypsys.
Against the backdrop of widespread social upheaval in the United States that included the African-American Civil Rights Movement, the escalation of the Vietnam War, the growing Black Power movement, and several notable assassinations, Hendrix created a new all-black band with Billy Cox and drummer Buddy Miles (formerly with Wilson Pickett, the Electric Flag and the Buddy Miles Express). Critic John Rockwell described Hendrix and Miles as jazz-rock fusionists and their collaboration as pioneering.
Hendrix had been recording with Cox since April and jamming with Miles since September. He wrote and rehearsed material which they then performed at a series of four concerts over two nights, New Year's Eve and New Year's Day at Fillmore East. Recordings of these concerts became the material for the Band Of Gypsys LP, produced by Hendrix. The album contains the track, "Machine Gun", described by musicologist Andy Aledort as the pinnacle of Hendrix's career, and "the premiere example of Hendrix's unparalleled genius as a rock guitarist ... In this performance, Jimi transcended the medium of rock music, and set an entirely new standard for the potential of electric guitar."
Some have thought that the creation of the band was Hendrix's efforts to appease overtures from the Black Power movement and others in the black communities asking him to become more militant in using his fame to speak up for civil rights. In 1967, Hendrix told Open City, a Los Angeles-based underground newspaper: "Quite naturally I don't like to see houses being burnt", referring to the Watts Riots that had occurred in 1965. He clarified: "I don't have much feeling for either side right now ... Maybe I'll have more to say later, when I get more political."
The Band of Gypsys album was the only official live, complete LP of Hendrix's music released during his lifetime. A couple of tracks from Woodstock and one side of an LP of tracks from his Monterey show were also released, later, in his lifetime. The album reached the top ten in both the US and the UK in April 1970. The band also released a single "Stepping Stone", which was given no publicity and failed to sell, and recorded three other studio songs slated for Hendrix's future LP. In 1999, the tapes from the four Fillmore concerts were remastered and additional tracks and edits were released as Live at the Fillmore East. Litigation with Chalpin ended in 2007 after the "singularly uncredible witness" was fined nearly US$900,000 for failure to abide by contractual limitations and failure to pay Experience Hendrix L.L.C. its court ordered royalties.
On January 26 and 27, 1970, Mitch Mitchell and Noel Redding flew into New York and signed contracts with Jeffery for the upcoming Jimi Hendrix Experience tour. The next day, a second and final Band of Gypsys appearance occurred at a twelve-act show in Madison Square Garden which was a benefit for the anti-Vietnam War Moratorium Committee, titled the "Winter Festival for Peace". Similar to Woodstock, set delays forced Hendrix to take the stage at an inopportune 3 am, only this time he was obviously in no shape to play. He played "Who Knows" before snapping a vulgar response at a woman who shouted a request for "Foxy Lady". He played a second song, "Earth Blues", he then told the audience: "That's what happens when earth fucks with space—never forget that". He then sat down on the drum riser for a minute and then walked off stage. Various unverifiable assertions have been proffered to explain this bizarre scene. Buddy Miles claimed that manager Michael Jeffery dosed Hendrix with LSD in an effort to sabotage the current band and bring about the return of the Experience lineup, but none of Hendrix's other close associates verifies his statement.
A week after the botched Band of Gypsys show, Hendrix, Mitch Mitchell and Noel Redding gave an interview to Rolling Stone for the upcoming tour dates as a reunited Experience. However, Redding never made the time to rehearse, as Hendrix continued to work with Billy Cox. Noel was not told he was not going to be playing until the pretour rehearsals. Fans refer to this final "Jimi Hendrix Experience" lineup as the "Cry of Love" band, named after the Cry of Love Tour to distinguish it from the original. Billy Cox has countered on several occasions that this lineup considered themselves "the Jimi Hendrix Experience" before they even went on tour and that any other title is bogus. Billing, adverts, tickets etc. on the tour used "Jimi Hendrix Experience" or occasionally, as previously, just "Jimi Hendrix".
Two of his later recordings were the lead guitar parts on "Old Times Good Times" from Stephen Stills hit eponymous album (1970), and on "The Everlasting First" from Arthur Lee's new incarnation of Love, not so successful and aptly named LP False Start both tracks were recorded with these old friends on a fleeting and unexplained visit to London in March 1970, following Kathy Etchingham's marriage.
Hendrix spent the next four months of 1970 working on his next LP tentatively titled First Rays of the New Rising Sun, recording during the week and playing live on the weekends. The Cry of Love tour, launched that April at the L.A. Forum, was partly undertaken to earn money to repay the Warner Bros. loan for completing his Electric Lady Studios. Performances on this tour featured Hendrix, Cox, and Mitchell playing new material alongside older audience favorites. The American leg of the tour included 30 performances and ended at Honolulu, Hawaii, on August 1, 1970. A number of these shows were recorded and produced some of Hendrix's most memorable live performances. At one of them, the second Atlanta International Pop Festival (1970), on July 4, Hendrix played to the largest American audience of his career.[nb 26]
In 1968, Hendrix and Jeffery had invested jointly in the purchase of the Generation Club in Greenwich Village. Their initial plans to reopen the club were changed when the pair decided that the investment would serve them much better as a recording studio. After the exorbitant studio fees incurred during the lengthy Electric Ladyland sessions, Hendrix was seeking a recording environment that suited him. In August 1970, Electric Lady Studios was opened in New York.
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 Hendrix'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 two and a half months recording in Electric Lady, most of which took place while the final phases of construction were still ongoing. Following a mastering session at Sterling Sound on August 26, they held an opening party later that day for Electric Lady Studios. Hendrix left for London after the party and never returned to the newly finished studio. He boarded an Air India flight for London with Billy Cox, joining Mitch Mitchell to perform at the Isle of Wight Festival.
When the Experience commenced the European leg of their tour, Hendrix, longing for his new studio and creative outlets, was not eager to fulfill the commitment. In Aarhus, Hendrix abandoned the performance after only three songs, remarking: "I've been dead a long time". On September 6, 1970, his final concert performance, Hendrix was greeted with some booing and jeering by fans at the Isle of Fehmarn Festival in Germany, due to his non-appearance at the end of the previous night's bill (due to the torrential rain and risk of electrocution). Several acts played after he left the stage; later, part of the stage was burnt during the first stage appearance of Ton Steine Scherben. Billy Cox quit the tour and headed home to Memphis, Tennessee, reportedly suffering paranoia after taking LSD or being given it unknowingly, earlier in the tour. A live recording of the concert was later released as Live at the Isle of Fehmarn.
Hendrix returned to London, where he reportedly spoke to Chas Chandler, Eric Burdon, and others about leaving his manager, Michael Jeffery. Hendrix's last public performance was an informal jam at Ronnie Scott's Jazz Club in Soho with Burdon and his latest band, War. Much of this was recorded on a Sony cassette recorder by Bill Baker, of Shepherds Bush, London, then aged 20, who was present throughout the entire performance. Two Hendrix tracks from this recording, "Mother Earth" and "Tobacco Road", were later included, without permission from Baker, on a bootleg LP, Can You Please Crawl Out Your Window?, produced in the 1970s, and on an audio tape of poor quality. In 2009, the entire recording entered general circulation within the collecting community. Remastered in California in December 2010, it includes tracks from the same night's performance by Eric Burdon's War. It is Hendrix's last known recording; he died less than 48 hours later.
Although the details of his last day and death are unclear and widely disputed, Hendrix had spent much of September 17 in London with Monika Dannemann, the only witness to his final hours. Dannemann said she prepared a meal for them at her apartment in the Samarkand Hotel, 22 Lansdowne Crescent, Notting Hill, sometime around 11 p.m., when they shared a bottle of wine. She drove Hendrix to the residence of an acquaintance at approximately 1:45 a.m., where he remained for about an hour before she picked him up and drove them back to her flat at 3 a.m. Dannemann said they talked until around 7 a.m., when they went to sleep. She awoke around 11 a.m., and found Hendrix breathing, but unconscious and unresponsive. She called for an ambulance at 11:18 a.m.; they arrived on the scene at 11:27 a.m. Paramedics then transported Hendrix to St Mary Abbot's Hospital where Dr. John Bannister pronounced him dead at 12:45 p.m., on September 18, 1970.
To determine the cause of death, coroner Gavin Thurston ordered a post-mortem examination on Hendrix's body, which was performed on September 21 by Professor Robert Donald Teare, a forensic pathologist. Thurston held the inquest on September 28, and concluded that Hendrix aspirated his own vomit and died of asphyxia while intoxicated with barbiturates. Citing "insufficient evidence of the circumstances", he declared an open verdict. Dannemann later stated that Hendrix had taken nine of her prescribed Vesparax sleeping tablets, 18 times the recommended dosage.
On September 29, Hendrix's body was flown to Seattle, Washington. After a service at Dunlop Baptist Church on October 1, he was interred at Greenwood Cemetery in Renton, Washington, the location of his mother's gravesite. Hendrix's family and friends traveled in twenty-four limousines. More than two hundred people attended the funeral, including several notable musicians such as original Experience members Mitch Mitchell and Noel Redding, as well as Miles Davis, John Hammond and Johnny Winter.
Widely associated with the use of psychedelic drugs, particularly lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), Hendrix had never taken psychedelic drugs until the night he met Linda Keith, but had smoked cannabis. Hendrix also used amphetamines, especially during tours. Friends and bandmates reported that Hendrix would often become angry and violent when he drank too much alcohol. Though illicit drugs alone did not seem to produce a significant negative effect on him, when he mixed them with alcohol, he would often become incendiary. Hendrix friend, Herbie Worthington, explains: "You wouldn't expect somebody with that kind of love to be that violent ... He just couldn't drink ... he simply turned into a bastard." A girlfriend of Hendrix's, Carmen Borrero, required stitches after he hit her above her eye with a vodka bottle during a drunken, jealous rage.
In January 1968, the Experience travelled to Sweden for a one-week tour of Europe. During the early morning hours of the first day, Hendrix became engaged in a drunken brawl in the Hotel Opalen in Stockholm, smashing a plate-glass window and injuring his right hand, for which he received medical treatment. The incident culminated in his arrest, though the authorities released him pending a court appearance on the 16th. The remainder of the tour was uneventful, though Hendrix had to spend some time in Sweden awaiting his trial, which resulted in a large fine. After the burglary of his house in Benedict Canyon, California, while under the influence of drugs and alcohol, he punched his friend Paul Caruso and accused him of the theft. Hendrix then chased Caruso away from the residence while throwing stones at him.
On May 3, 1969, while checking through Canadian customs at Toronto Pearson International Airport, authorities arrested Hendrix for drug possession after finding a small amount of heroin and hashish in his luggage. After being released on a CAN$10,000 cash bail the same day, only four hours before his show was scheduled to begin, the Experience performed at Maple Leaf Gardens that night. The courts required Hendrix to appear before a judge at a later date. In his trial defense Hendrix claimed that a fan had slipped the drugs into his bag without his knowledge; he was acquitted of the charges.
Hendrix's recordings were originally released in North America on Reprise Records, a division of Warner Communications, from 1967 until 1993 and were released internationally on Polydor Records. Capitol Records released the Band of Gypsys album in the US and Canada. British releases of his albums up to and including The Cry of Love were first issued on the independent label Track Records, which was originally created by the managers of the Who. Polydor later absorbed the label.
In 1994, the Hendrix family prevailed in its long standing legal attempt to gain control of his music, and subsequently licensed the recordings to MCA Records (later Universal Music) through the family-run company Experience Hendrix. In August 2009, Experience Hendrix announced that it had entered a new licensing agreement with Sony Music Entertainment's Legacy Recordings division which would take effect in 2010.
Reports that Hendrix's tapes for a concept album Black Gold had been stolen and lost from the London flat, are incorrect. Hendrix gave those tapes to Mitch Mitchell at the Isle of Wight Festival three weeks prior to his death.[better source needed] They are now in the possession of Experience Hendrix LLC.
Hendrix's unfinished album was partly released as the 1971 title The Cry of Love. The album was well received and charted in several countries. However, the album's producers, Mitchell and Kramer, would later complain that they were unable to make use of all the tracks they wanted. This was due to some tracks being used for 1971's Rainbow Bridge and 1972's War Heroes for contractual reasons. Material from The Cry of Love was rereleased in 1997 as First Rays of the New Rising Sun, along with the rest of the tracks that Mitchell and Kramer wanted to include.
Many of Hendrix's personal items, tapes, and many pages of lyrics and poems are now in the hands of private collectors and have attracted considerable sums at the occasional auctions. These materials surfaced after two employees, under the instructions of Mike Jeffery, removed items from Hendrix's Greenwich Village apartment following his death.
In 2010, Legacy Recordings and Experience Hendrix LLC launched the 2010 Jimi Hendrix Catalog Project, starting with the release of Valleys of Neptune in March. Legacy has also released deluxe CD/DVD editions of the Hendrix albums Are You Experienced, Axis: Bold As Love, Electric Ladyland and First Rays of the New Rising Sun, as well as the 1968 compilation album Smash Hits.
As an adolescent during the 1950s, rock and roll artists such as Elvis Presley, Little Richard and Chuck Berry earned Hendrix's interest. In 1968, he told Guitar Player magazine that electric blues artists including Muddy Waters, Elmore James and B.B. King influenced him during the beginning of his career, he also cited Eddie Cochran as an early influence. In 1970, he told Rolling Stone that he was a fan of western swing artist Bob Wills, and while he lived in Nashville, the television show, the Grand Ole Opry. Of Muddy Waters, the first electric guitarist of which Hendrix became aware, he said: "I heard one of his records when I was a little boy and it scared me to death because I heard all of these sounds."
Band of Gypsys bassist, Billy Cox, stated that during their time serving in the US military, he and Hendrix listened to mostly southern blues artists such as Jimmy Reed, B.B. King and Albert King. According to Cox, "Albert King was a very, very powerful influence" on Hendrix. Howlin' Wolf also influenced Hendrix, who performed Wolf's "Killing Floor" as the opening song to the set of his US debut at the Monterey Pop Festival. Soul guitarist Curtis Mayfield also significantly influenced Hendrix.
In early 1967, when asked what he thought about the music of the Beatles, Hendrix replied: "Oh, yes. I think its good. They're one group you can't really put down because they're just too much." During the same interview, when asked if he had ever seen Pink Floyd perform, Hendrix replied: "I've heard they have beautiful lights but they don't sound like nothing." In 1970, during his final interview he commented: "They're doing a different type of music. They're doing more of a space type of thing, I mean inner space".
Hendrix owned and used a variety of guitars during his career. However, his guitar of choice (and the instrument that became most associated with him), was the Fender Stratocaster. He started playing the model in 1966 and thereafter used it prevalently in his stage performances and recordings. The original Fender Stratocaster Sunburst that Hendrix burnt onstage at the Astoria in 1967 was restored by him and kept as a souvenir. The next year Hendrix subjected the guitar to fire again at the Miami Pop Festival in 1968. It was in Miami that a Hendrix roadie gave the guitar to Frank Zappa. Once in Frank Zappa's hands, Zappa had it restored again and used it himself. As well as playing it, it was this guitar that Zappa chose to be photographed with for the cover of the January 1977 edition of Guitar Player. Zappa commented: "I had it hanging on the wall in my basement for years until last year when I gave it to Rex [Brogue] and said, 'Put this sucker back together,' because it was all tore up," the late Zappa told journalist Steve Rosen in a feature interview inside the magazine. "The neck was cracked off, the body was all fired, and the pickups were blistered and bubbled. That's the one that's got the Barcus-Berry in the neck. A lot of people thought I had Hendrix's guitar from Monterey, but it was from Miami; the one at Monterey was white and this one is sunburst." As the years passed, Zappa only remembered having it after his son, Dweezil Zappa, found it dismantled near his father's studio in the early 1990s.
"It's a very inspiring guitar," Dweezil Zappa told BBC News, "because it has such a unique history, one that can never be recreated." Subsequent to having it carefully restored by the late master guitar maker, Rex Brogue, Dweezil Zappa put the guitar up for auction in 2002. The highest bid for the restored guitar was £300,000, but Zappa changed his mind and kept it.
Hendrix used right-handed guitars, turned upside down and restrung for left-hand playing. This had an important effect on his guitar sound: because of the slant of the Strat's bridge pickup, his lowest string had a bright sound while his highest string had a mellow sound, the opposite of the Stratocaster's intended design. Heavy use of the tremolo bar necessitated frequent tuning; Hendrix often asked the audience for a "minute to tune up", as heard on many live bootlegs of his performances.
In addition to Stratocasters, Hendrix was also photographed playing Fender Jazzmasters, Duosonics, two different Gibson Flying Vs, a Gibson Les Paul, three Gibson SGs, a Gretsch Corvette he used at the 1967 Curtis Knight sessions and miming with a right-strung Fender Jaguar on the Top of the Pops TV show, as well as several other brands. Hendrix borrowed a Fender Telecaster from Noel Redding to record "Hey Joe" and "Purple Haze", used a white Gibson SG Custom for his performances on The Dick Cavett Show in the summer of 1969, and the Isle of Wight film shows him playing his second Gibson Flying V. While Jimi had previously owned a Flying V that he had painted with a psychedelic design, the Flying V used at the Isle of Wight was a unique custom left-handed guitar with gold plated hardware, a bound fingerboard and "split-diamond" fret markers that were not found on other 1960s-era Flying Vs.
On December 4, 2006, one of Hendrix's 1968 Fender Stratocaster guitars with a sunburst design was sold at a Christie's auction for US$168,000. Described as the first guitar Hendrix set fire to, another of his Stratocasters was sold at an auction for a record price in London two years later in 2008. Daniel Boucher, an American collector from Boston, paid £280,000 ($497,500) for the guitar. This guitar was set aflame at the end of the Astoria concert in March 1967. Hendrix's action "sent roadies rushing to put out the flames and left Hendrix needing treatment for minor burns." Rescued by Hendrix's press officer, Tony Garland, it was his nephew who came forward in 2007 and put the guitar up for auction. The guitar had been forgotten in Tony Garland's parents' garage for some forty years. In 2009, some experts in Hendrix's guitars questioned whether the guitar Boucher bought was in fact an elaborate forgery.
Hendrix was a catalyst in the development of modern guitar effects pedals. His high volume and use of feedback required robust and powerful amplifiers. For the first few rehearsals he used Vox and Fender amplifiers. Sitting in with Cream, Hendrix played through a new range of high-powered guitar amps being made by London drummer turned audio engineer Jim Marshall, and they proved perfect for his needs. Along with the Stratocaster, the Marshall stack and amplifiers were crucial in shaping his heavily overdriven sound, enabling him to master the use of feedback as a musical effect, and he created a "definitive vocabulary for rock guitar".
Hendrix most likely first heard a wah-wah pedal used with an electric guitar in Cream's "Tales of Brave Ulysses", released in May 1967. In July, while playing sets at the Scene club in New York City, Hendrix met Frank Zappa, whose Mothers of Invention were playing the adjacent Garrick Theater. Hendrix immediately became fascinated by Zappa's use of a wah-wah pedal and Hendrix used one later that evening while recording overdubs in a studio.
Although Hendrix typically used the Dallas Arbiter Fuzz Face and a Vox wah-wah pedal, he also experimented with other guitar effects. He had a fruitful association with engineer Roger Mayer who later went on to make the Axis fuzz unit, the Octavia octave doubler and several other devices based on units Mayer had created or tweaked for Hendrix. The Japanese-made Uni-Vibe, designed to simulate the modulation effects of the rotating Leslie speaker, provided a rich phasing sound with a speed control pedal, and is heard on the Band of Gypsys track "Machine Gun", which highlights use of the Uni-Vibe, Octavia and Fuzz Face.
The Hendrix sound combined high volume and high power, feedback manipulation, and a range of cutting-edge guitar effects. He was also known for his trick playing, which included playing with only his right (fretting) hand and using his teeth or playing behind his back and between his legs. Hendrix had large hands and characteristically used his thumb to fret bass notes, leaving his fingers free to play melodic lines on top. A clear demonstration of this thumb technique can be witnessed in the Woodstock video; during the song "Red House" there are closeups of Hendrix's fretting hand.
Hendrix's usual signal flow for live performance involved first plugging his guitar into a Vox Wah-Wah pedal, then into an Arbiter Fuzz Face, and then into a Uni-Vibe, before connecting to a Marshall amplifier.
His Rock and Roll Hall of Fame biography states: "Jimi Hendrix was arguably the greatest instrumentalist in the history of rock music. Hendrix expanded the range and vocabulary of the electric guitar into areas no musician had ever ventured before. His boundless drive, technical ability and creative application of such effects as wah-wah and distortion forever transformed the sound of rock and roll." Musicologist Andy Aledort described Hendrix as "one of the most creative musicians of all time."
Instrumental in developing the previously undesirable technique of guitar amplifier feedback, Hendrix favored overdriven amplifiers with high volume, gain and treble. He helped to popularize use of the wah-wah pedal in mainstream rock, which he often used to deliver tonal exaggerations in his solos, particularly with high bends, complex guitar playing,[page needed] and use of legato. On most of his recordings, Hendrix rejected the standard barre chord fretting technique in favor of fretting the low 6th string root notes with his thumb. He pioneered experimentation with stereophonic phasing effects in rock music recordings. Rolling Stone comments: "Hendrix pioneered the use of the instrument as an electronic sound source. Players before him had experimented with feedback and distortion, but Hendrix turned those effects and others into a controlled, fluid vocabulary every bit as personal as the blues with which he began." Hendrix also played keyboard instruments on several recordings, including piano on "Are You Experienced?", "Spanish Castle Magic" and "Crosstown Traffic", and harpsichord on "Bold as Love" and "Burning of the Midnight Lamp".
Hendrix synthesized many styles in creating his musical voice and his guitar style was unique, later to be abundantly imitated by others. Despite his hectic touring schedule and notorious perfectionism, he was a prolific recording artist and left behind numerous unreleased recordings. Hendrix did much to further the development of the electric guitar's repertoire, establishing it as a unique sonic source, rather than merely an amplified version of the acoustic guitar. Likewise, his feedback, wah-wah and fuzz-laden soloing moved guitar distortion well beyond mere novelty, incorporating other effects pedals and units specifically designed for him by his sound technician Roger Mayer (such as the Octavia and Uni-Vibe) with dramatic results.
He 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 great 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; John Frusciante, former member of the Red Hot Chili Peppers; and Jesse Johnson of the Time. His influence even extends to many hip hop artists, including Questlove, Chuck D of Public Enemy, Ice-T (who covered "Hey Joe" with his heavy metal band Body Count), El-P and Wyclef Jean. Miles Davis was also deeply impressed by Hendrix and compared his improvisational skills with those of saxophonist John Coltrane, and Davis would later want guitarists in his bands to emulate Hendrix. Hendrix's guitar style also had significant influence upon Texas guitar legend Stevie Ray Vaughan, and later on Metallica guitarist Kirk Hammett and Pearl Jam's Mike McCready, among others. Hendrix's influence is also evident in the musical styles of many prominent bassists such as Stanley Clarke, Jaco Pastorius, Billy Sheehan, and Les Claypool.
His career and death grouped him with Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison and Brian Jones as one of the 27 Club, a group including 1960s rock performers who suffered drug-related deaths at the age of 27 within a two-year period, leaving legacies in death that have eclipsed the popularity and influence they experienced during their lifetimes.
"Electric Church" was Hendrix's quasi-spiritual belief that electric music brings out emotions and creative ideas in people, and encourages spirituality. On the Dick Cavett Show in 1969, Hendrix said that he designed his music so that it would be able to go "inside the soul of the person, and awaken some kind of thing inside, because there are so many sleeping people". Promoting his third album Electric Ladyland, Jimi Hendrix said "the influence the psychedelics have on one is truly amazing, and I only wish more people appreciated this belief and genre". When asked why he didn't name the album "Electric Church" instead of "Electric Ladyland", Hendrix said some women were "electric too".
Hendrix was well known for his sense of fashion and wardrobe and his Dylan-esque hairstyle; a set of hair curlers was one of the few possessions that he took with him to England in 1966. When his first advance check arrived, Hendrix immediately took to the streets of London in search of clothing at famous boutiques like I Was Lord Kitchener's Valet and Granny Takes a Trip; both specialized in vintage fashion. He bought at least two army dress uniform jackets including "his famous Crimean War-era Royal Hussars regimental coat" or pelisse, adorned with tasseled ropes. A group of policemen once ordered him to remove the other, a Royal Veterinary Corps dress jacket, saying it was an offense to the men who had worn it.
With their mutton-chop sideburns, droopy moustaches and flowing hair, English rock stars were effectively spoofing the Victorian officer class whose finery they donned. But a grinning, crazy-haired Hendrix in hussar's jacket suggested something else entirely—a redskin brave showing off the spoils of a paleface scalp, perhaps, or a negro "buffalo soldier" fighting on the side of the anti-slavery Yankee forces in the US Civil War. —Neil Spencer, Editor, NME (1978–1985)
Many photographs of Hendrix show him wearing various scarves, rings, medallions, and brooches, and in the early days occasionally badges (pins or buttons) that professed his support for the hippie movement or his fascination with Bob Dylan. He initially wore a dark suit and plain silk shirts that progressively became "louder" and more psychedelically patterned. He later favored a bright blue velvet suit, then a bright red one, antique military dress jackets, a very broadly striped suit, psychedelically patterned silk jackets, various exotic waistcoats and brightly colored flared trousers. At Monterey, he wore a silk jacket hand-painted by Mick Jagger's brother Chris and a bright pink feather boa. In late 1967 he started to wear a wide-brimmed Western style hat. It was adorned with a narrow purple band and various brooches, as shown in the original Jimi Plays Monterey film. This hat was stolen in 1968, and replaced later with another, crowned variously with a longer purple scarf, a star-like brooch in front and a set of silver bangles, sometimes with an angled feather, though he went hatless for protracted periods after this.
From late 1968 he began tying scarves to one leg and one arm, and in mid-1969 he gave up the hat for bandanas. He started wearing increasingly fantastic custom-made stage costume with long trailing sleeves, culminating in his African-styled "Fire Angel" outfit that he wore throughout most of his final "Cry Of Love" tour, until it began to come apart during the Isle of Wight concert. He appeared in this outfit only once more (in just the jacket) at the disastrous concert in Aarhus, Denmark. His only non-work-related vacation was a two-week trip to Morocco in July 1969 with friends Colette Mimram, Stella Benabou (the then-wife of producer Alan Douglas), and Deering Howe. Upon his return Hendrix decorated his Greenwich Village apartment with Moroccan objets d'art and fabrics. Mimram and Benabou created some of Hendrix's most memorable later attire, the shortened blue kimono-style jacket that he wore in three TV appearances and the white fringed jacket, ornamented with blue glass beads, he wore at the Woodstock Festival.[better source needed]
Al Hendrix died of congestive heart failure in 2002. In his will, he 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 Hendrix'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, Al's adopted daughter, was improperly handling the company finances. The suit argued that Janie and a cousin of Jimi's, 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 yet profitable, and that their salary and benefits were justified given the work that they put into running the company. Leon charged that Janie tricked 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.
On October 5, 2011 the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments in a case Golan v. Holder concerning the 1994 U.S. federal law that protected foreign copyrights. At stake in the outcome of this case is whether previously unprotected foreign works could be suddenly copyrighted and withdrawn from public domain. In a hypothetical argument Justice John Roberts asked "what about Jimi Hendrix?" and if Hendrix's rendition of the "Star Spangled Banner" at Woodstock violated copyright protection or was protected under public domain. Solicitor General Donald Verrilli, who defended the 1994 law, stated "maybe Jimi Hendrix could claim fair use".
Hendrix performed in Sweden frequently throughout his career, and his only son James Daniel Sundquist was born there in 1969 to a Swede, Eva Sundquist, recognized as such by the Swedish courts and paid a settlement by Experience Hendrix LLC.
In 1987, Leon Hendrix commissioned the James Marshall Hendrix Foundation. This foundation is based in Renton, Washington. Though run for some time by Jimi's brother Leon Hendrix, in August 2006 Leon asked a childhood friend of Jimi Hendrix – James Williams, to take control of the Foundation.
In September 1967, readers of Melody Maker voted Hendrix the Top World Musician. The award was the first of many Hendrix received during his lifetime, but many more were given posthumously. Although he received neither a Grammy Award or nomination during his lifetime, posthumously, he and the Jimi Hendrix Experience received a collective total of seven Grammy awards (see table below) including one Hendrix received for Lifetime Achievement.
Rolling Stone ranked his three non-posthumous studio albums, Are You Experienced (1967), Axis: Bold as Love (1967) and Electric Ladyland (1968) among the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. They ranked Hendrix number one on their list of the 100 greatest guitarists of all time, and number six on their list of the 100 greatest artists of all time. Guitar World's readers voted six of Hendrix's solos among the top 100 Greatest Guitar Solos of All Time: "Purple Haze" (70), "The Star-Spangled Banner" (52; live version from Live at Woodstock), "Machine Gun" (32; live version from Band of Gypsys), "Little Wing" (18), "Voodoo Child (Slight Return)" (11) and "All Along the Watchtower" (5). Rolling Stone placed seven of his recordings in their list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time: "Purple Haze" (17), "All Along the Watchtower" (47) "Voodoo Child (Slight Return)" (102), "Foxy Lady" (153), "Hey Joe" (201), "Little Wing" (366), and "The Wind Cries Mary" (379). Additionally, they included three of Hendrix's songs in their list of the 100 Greatest Guitar Songs of All Time: "Purple Haze" (2), "Voodoo Child" (12), and "Machine Gun" (49).
Hendrix was the recipient of several prestigious rock music awards during his lifetime and posthumously. The Jimi Hendrix Experience was inducted into the US Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1992, and the UK Music Hall of Fame in 2005. A star for Hendrix on the Hollywood Walk of Fame was dedicated on November 14, 1991, at 6627 Hollywood Boulevard. In 1999, readers of Rolling Stone and Guitar World ranked Hendrix among the most important musicians of the 20th century. In 2005, his debut album, Are You Experienced, was one of 50 recordings added that year to the United States National Recording Registry in the Library of Congress, "[to] be preserved for all time ... [as] part of the nation's audio legacy." The English Heritage blue plaque that identifies his former residence at 23 Brook Street, London, was the first the organization ever granted to a pop star.
It was a direct result of Kathy Etchingham's efforts, Hendrix's former girlfriend who lived with him at the flat. She wrote to English Heritage first in 1992 and her request, along with all those received from other writers, was declined. She persisted and asked others to write. Finally the Committee gave its approval. There "had been talk of carrying it out in purple," Sue Ashworth, one of the plaque makers remembers, but it was eventually done in the traditional blue. "We needed a guitar player to do this," Pete Townshend said, at the plaque's unveiling in September 1997. Noel Redding, and Kathy Etchingham, looked on with several other rock luminaries and hundreds of other people in the street. "And I'm so proud to be able to pull this bit of string [to unveil the plaque]. I have to tell you, I am so proud," Townshend added.[better source needed]
|1968||Artist of the Year||Billboard|
|1968||Pop Musician of the Year||Melody Maker|
|1968||Performer of the Year||Rolling Stone|
|1968||Rock Album of the Year||Rolling Stone|
|1968||Key to the City||City of Seattle|
|1969||Performer of the Year||Rolling Stone|
|1969||World Top Musician||Disc & Music Echo newspaper (London, UK)|
|1970||Rock Guitarist of the Year||Guitar Player|
|1983||Lifetime Achievement||Guitar Player|
|1992||Lifetime Achievement Award||Grammy|
|1999||Are you Experienced? (Reprise, 1967)*||Grammy Hall of Fame (Rock, Album)|
|1999||Electric Ladyland (Reprise, 1968)||Grammy Hall of Fame (Rock, Album)|
|2000||Purple Haze (Reprise, 1967)*||Grammy Hall of Fame (Rock, Single)|
|2001||All Along the Watchtower (Reprise, 1968)*||Grammy Hall of Fame (Rock, Single)|
|2005||Are you Experienced||National Recording Registry, Library of Congress|
|2006||Axis: Bold as Love (Reprise, 1968)*||Grammy Hall of Fame (Rock, Album)|
|2009||The Star-Spangled Banner (Cotillion, 1970)||Grammy Hall of Fame (Rock, Track)|
Asterisk in the table indicates the award was for the Jimi Hendrix Experience.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Jimi Hendrix|
|Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to: Jimi Hendrix|
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