Born: November 27, 1942 in Seattle WA
Died: September 18, 1970 in London, England
More than any other musician, the phenomenal six-string genius Jimi Hendrix influenced the future direction of both blues and rock guitar, resulting in a generation of Hendrix-influenced guitarists as well as outright mimics. Born in 1942 in Seattle, Washington Hendrix began to make a name for himself as a guitarist while stationed at Fort Campbell, Kentucky in the early-1960s. Hendrix and his Army buddy Billy Cox would slip away from camp on leave and sit in with bands playing the Jefferson Avenue soul clubs in nearby Nashville.
After his discharge from the Army, Hendrix earned his bones playing on the Southeast "chitlin' circuit" with R&B and soul giants like Little Richard, the Isley Brothers and King Curtis. By the mid-1960s, Hendrix moved to New York City and began playing with various musicians in local clubs. It was while performing in the Big Apple that Hendrix was spotted by Chas Chandler, bassist for British Invasion band the Animals. Chandler, who wanted to move from music to management, convinced the superstar-to-be to move to London to launch his solo career.
The Jimi Hendrix Experience
The Jimi Hendrix Experience was formed around Hendrix with bassist Noel Redding and drummer Mitch Mitchell. The trio quickly conquered the U.K. charts, placing their first three singles in the Top Ten during the first six months of 1967. A powerhouse debut album would follow, Are You Experienced setting the stage for an explosive performance at the Monterey Pop Festival in June 1967 that would win the band a loyal stateside audience. The album's mix of psychedelic rock and electric blues, combined with Hendrix's unheard-of six-string pyrotechnics, sounded unlike anything else released that year.
Two more studio albums would follow for the Jimi Hendrix Experience - 1967's Axis: Bold As Love, which showcased the guitarist's growth as a Dylanesque songwriter as well as the band's increased chemistry; and 1968's Electric Ladyland, a brave experimental effort that saw Hendrix pushing the boundaries of both his instrumental talent and the recording studio itself as the artist, working with engineer Eddie Kramer, used the studio as another instrument, and thereby revolutionized recording techniques. The former album included the classic Hendrix song "Little Wing" while the latter featured such future classic rock staples as "Crosstown Traffic" and "Voodoo Child."
Band Of Gypsies
Hendrix disbanded the Jimi Hendrix Experience in 1969 prior to his appearance at Woodstock. In turn, he put together another trio, which was called Band of Gypsies, with his old friend Billy Cox on bass, and drummer Buddy Miles. This line-up recorded a live album before Hendrix would re-form the Experience with Cox and drummer Mitchell. During this time, Hendrix continued to write and record material until his drug-related death in September 1970.
In the almost four decades since his death, Hendrix's legacy has continued to grow through a series of various compilations of studio material, live albums and radio broadcasts. In 1995, the rights to Hendrix's estate were won by his father Al Hendrix after a lengthy court battle. The result was a series of reissue and compilation CDs with vastly improved sound, the recordings taken from the original master tapes. Along with various dynamic live performances released for the first time on CD, the Hendrix estate brought the guitarist's legend and genius into the 21st century.
Recommended Albums: Considering the glut of dodgy and poor-quality Hendrix releases available, the new listener is advised to stick with the authorized "Experience Hendrix" releases like Are You Experienced or Live At Woodstock to hear the groundbreaking nature of Hendrix's talent.