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.
Hendrix's R&B Roots
After discharge from the Army, Hendrix earned his bones playing the Southeast "chitlin' circuit" with soul giants like Little Richard, the Isley Brothers, and King Curtis. By the mid-1960s, Hendrix had moved to New York City. 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.
The Jimi Hendrix Experience was formed 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. Their debut album, Are You Experienced set the stage for an explosive performance at the Monterey Pop Festival in June 1967. The album's mix of psychedelic rock and electric blues, combined with Hendrix's unheard-of guitar pyrotechnics, sounded unlike anything else released that year.
Two more studio albums would follow - 1967's Axis: Bold As Love, which showcased the guitarist's growth as a Dylanesque songwriter; and 1968's Electric Ladyland, a brave experimental effort that saw Hendrix pushing the boundaries of his talents instrumental talent and the recording studio itself as the artist, working with engineer Eddie Kramer, using 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 prior to his appearance at Woodstock. He put together another trio, Band of Gypsies, with bassist Billy Cox and drummer Buddy Miles. This line-up recorded a live album before Hendrix reformed the Experience with Cox and drummer Mitchell. 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: The new listener is advised to stick with authorized "Experience Hendrix" releases like Are You Experienced or Live At Woodstock, reissued in 2010 and 2011 by Sony Legacy, to truly hear the groundbreaking nature of Hendrix's talent. In 2010, Sony released West Coast Seattle Boy, an impressive four-CD/one-DVD box set covering Hendrix's early years up through his rock stardom while in 2013 the label released what could be the final studio collection by the guitarist, People, Hell and Angels.
Jimi Hendix - Select Discography
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- Are You Experienced (Warner Reprise, 1967/Sony Legacy, 2010)
- Axis: Bold As Love (Warner Reprise, 1968/Sony Legacy, 2010)
- Electric Ladyland (Warner Reprise, 1968/Sony Legacy, 2010)
- Smash Hits (Warner Reprise, 1969/Sony Legacy, 2010)
- Band of Gypsies [live] (Capitol Records, 1970)
- Cry of Love (Warner Reprise, 1971)
- Rainbow Bridge (Warner Reprise, 1971)
- War Heroes (Warner Reprise, 1972)
- Hendrix In The West [live] (Sony Legacy, 2011)
- Crash Landing (Warner Reprise, 1975)
- Midnight Lightning (Warner Reprise, 1975)
- Nine To The Universe (Warner Reprise, 1980)
- Radio One (Rykodisc, 1988)
- Jimi Hendrix: Blues (MCA Records/Experience Hendrix, 1994)
- First Rays of the New Rising Sun (MCA Records/Experience Hendrix, 1997)
- South Saturn Delta (MCA Records/Experience Hendrix, 1997)
- BBC Sessions (Sony Legacy, 2010)
- Live At Woodstock (MCA Records/Experience Hendrix, 1999)
- Valleys of Neptune (Sony Legacy, 2010)
- West Coast Seattle Boy box set (Sony Legacy, 2010)
- Winterland (Sony Legacy, 2011)
- People, Hell and Angels (Sony Legacy, 2013)