James Marshall Hendrix (called Johnny Allen Hendrix by his
mother for a time, and generally known as Jimi Hendrix) (November 27,
1942 – September 18, 1970) was an American guitarist, singer and songwriter
whose guitar playing was a considerable influence on rock music.
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.
The Jimi Hendrix
Experience - Live At Monterey [DVD] 
"I've been a Hendrix music fan for a good while but I'd never actually seen him play a full set like you do on this DVD, I'd only ever seen brief clippings from documentaries etc before. Why?! Jimi
at the Monterey is one of the best musical PERFORMANCES I've ever seen and
anybody with even a passing interest in rock music (not just its history) should
be forced to watch it, man if he played like that at every gig he played it's no
wonder his rise to fame was so meteoric"
Becoming Jimi Hendrix:
From Southern Crossroads to Psychedelic
London, the Untold Story of a Musical Genius
By Steven Roby, Brad Schreiber
"Before he was famous, by 1966, Jimi Hendrix had performed with Little Richard, Ike and Tina Turner, and the Isley Brothers. This book is about a man who was consumed by his passion for music, practiced day and night, and who endured harsh criticism and frequent rejection by band leaders intolerant of guitar feedback from a shy yet cocky kid."
Jimi Hendrix <<Video
Click on pics to see more
Hendrix helped develop the
technique of guitar feedback with overdriven amplifiers.
He was influenced by blues artists such as B.B. King, Muddy Waters, Albert
King, and Elmore James,
rhythm and blues and soul guitarists Curtis Mayfield, Steve Cropper, as well
as by some modern jazz. In
1964, Hendrix's father told pioneering R&B producer Robert "Bumps" Blackwell
that his son idolized Little Richard and desired to play in his band,
although he was playing B.B. King-style blues at the time.By
1966, following playing and recording with Little Richard, Hendrix stated,
"I want to do with my guitar what Little Richard does with his voice."
Carlos Santana has suggested that Hendrix's music may have been
influenced by his Native American heritage.
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 best guitarist on their list of the 100 Greatest
Guitarists of All Time in 2003.
Hendrix was born on November 27, 1942, in Seattle, Washington, USA, while
his father was stationed at an Army base in Oklahoma. He was named Johnny
Allen Hendrix at birth by his mother, 17 year old Lucille Hendrix née Jeter.
She had put him in the temporary care of friends. On his release from the
Army his father, James Allen "Al" Hendrix (1919–2002), retrieved him, and
changed his name James Marshall Hendrix in memory of his deceased brother,
Leon Marshall Hendrix.
He was known as "Buster" to friends and family, from birth.
Shortly after, Al reunited with Lucille. He found it hard to gain steady
employment after the Second World War, and the family experienced financial
hardship. Hendrix had two brothers, Leon and Joseph, and two sisters, Kathy
and Pamela. Joseph was born with physical difficulties and at the age of
three was given up to state care. His two sisters were both given up at a
relatively early age, for care and later adoption, Kathy was born blind and
Pamela had some lesser physical difficulties. Hendrix's parents divorced
when he was nine years old, and his mother died in 1958. On occasion, he was
sent to live with his grandmother in Vancouver, British Columbia because of
the unstable household, and his brother Leon was put into temporary welfare
care for a period. Hendrix
grew up as a shy and sensitive boy, deeply affected by the conditions of
poverty and neglect he experienced. In a relatively unusual experience for
African Americans of his era, Hendrix' high school had a relatively
equitable ethnic mix of African, European (including Jews) and Asian
(Japanese, Filipino and Chinese) 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 of older musicians and the
one-stringed ukulele his father had found while cleaning out a garage, on
which Jimi reportedly managed to play several tunes.
He learned by practicing almost constantly, watching others play, through
tips from more experienced players, and by listening to records. In the
summer of 1959, his father bought Hendrix a white Supro Ozark, his first
electric guitar, but there was no available amplifier. That same year his
only failing grade in school was an F in music class. 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,
who was a guitarist with local band (The Sharps), and also performed the
Chuck Berry's trademark "duck walk". 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 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
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 already made him a
standout. 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 which he
painted red and emblazoned with the words "Betty Jean" (Morgan), the name of
his high school girlfriend.
Hendrix had completed middle school with little trouble but didn't
graduate from Garfield High School, although he would later be awarded an
honorary diploma, and in the 1990s, a bust of Hendrix 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. However, Principal
Frank Hanawalt says that it was simply due to poor grades and attendance
In the Army
Hendrix got into trouble with the law twice for riding in stolen cars. He
was given a choice between spending two years in prison or joining the Army.
Hendrix chose the latter and enlisted on May 31, 1961. After completing boot
camp, he was assigned to the 101st Airborne Division and stationed in Fort
Campbell, Kentucky. His commanding officers and fellow soldiers considered
him to be a sub-par soldier: he slept while on duty, had little regard for
regulations, required constant supervision, and showed no skill as a
marksman. For these reasons, his commanding officers submitted a request
that Hendrix be discharged from the military after he had served only one
year. Hendrix did not object when the opportunity to leave arose.
Hendrix would later tell reporters that he received a medical discharge
after breaking his ankle during his 26th parachute jump. The 2005 biography
Room Full of Mirrors by Charles Cross claims that Hendrix faked being
homosexual -— claiming to have fallen in love with a fellow soldier -— in
order to be discharged, but has never produced credible evidence to support
At the post recreation centre, he met fellow soldier and bass player
Billy Cox, and forged a loyal friendship that would serve Hendrix well
during the last year of his life. The two would often play with other
musicians at venues both on and off the post as a loosely organized band
named The King Kasuals.
As a celebrity in the UK, Hendrix only mentioned his military service in
three published interviews, one in 1967 for the film See My Music Talking,
(much later released under the title Experience) which was intended
for TV to promote his recently released Axis: Bold As Love LP, in
which he spoke very briefly of his first parachuting experience: "...once
you get out there everything is so quiet, all you hear is the
breezes-s-s-s..." This comment has later been used to claim that he was
saying that this was one of the sources of his "spacy" guitar sound. The
second and third mentions of his military experience were in interviews for
a magazine, "Melody Maker", in 1967 and 1969, where he spoke of his dislike
of the army. In interviews
in the US, Hendrix almost never mentioned it, and when Dick Cavett brought
it up in his TV interview, Hendrix' only response was to verify that he had
been based at Fort Campbell.
After his Army discharge , Hendrix and army friend Billy Cox moved to
nearby Clarksville, Tennessee, where they formed a band called "The King
Kasuals", Jimi had already seen Butch Snipes play with his teeth in Seattle
and now Alphonso 'Baby Boo' Young the other guitarist in the band was
featuring this. Not to be
upstaged, it was then that Hendrix learned to play with his teeth properly,
according to Hendrix himself: "... 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..."
They played mainly in 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 lively rhythm and blues scene.
There, according to Cox and Larry Lee, who replaced Alphonso Young on
guitar, they were basically the house band at "Club del Morrocco".
Hendrix and Cox shared a flat above "Joyce's House Of Glamour".
Hendrix' girlfriend at this time was Joyce Lucas. Bill 'Hoss' Allen's memory
of Hendrix's supposed participation in a session with Billy Cox in November
1962, which he cut Hendrix's contribution due to his over the top playing,
has now been called into question; a suggestion has been made that he may
have confused this with a later 1965 session by Frank Howard And The
Commanders that Hendrix participated in.
For the next two years, Hendrix made a precarious living with the King
Kasuals and on the Theatre Owners' Booking Association (TOBA) or Chitlin
Circuit otherwise known as "Tough On Black Asses," performing in
black-oriented venues throughout the South with both Bob Fisher and the
Bonnevilles, 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.
Frustrated by his experiences in the South, Hendrix decided to try his
luck in New York City and in January 1964 moved into the Hotel Theresa in
Harlem, where he soon
befriended Lithofayne Pridgeon (known as "Faye",
who became his girlfriend) and the Allen twins, Arthur and Albert (now known
as Taharqa and Tunde-Ra Aleem). The Allen twins became friends and kept
Hendrix out of trouble in New York. The twins also performed as backup
singers (under the name Ghetto Fighters) on some of his recordings, most
notably the song "Freedom". Pridgeon, a Harlem native with connections
throughout the area's music scene, provided Hendrix with shelter, support,
and encouragement. In February 1964, Hendrix won first prize in the Apollo
Theater amateur contest. The win was encouraging, but in general he found
breaking into the New York music scene difficult.
In the spring 1964 in Atlanta, Hendrix (then calling himself Maurice
James) was hired by Little Richard to record and perform on the road with
his backing band, "The Royal Company".He
played guitar on at least 12 Little Richard recordings (tracks) from 1964 to
1965. During a stop in Los
Angeles while touring with Little Richard in 1965, Hendrix played a session
for Rosa Lee Brooks on her single "My Diary". This was his first recorded
involvement with Arthur Lee of the band "Love".
While in LA, he also played on the session for Little Richard's final single
for VeeJay "I Don't Know What You've Got, But It's Got Me".
He later made his first recorded TV appearance on Nashville's Channel 5
"Night Train" with "The Royal Company" backing up "Buddy and Stacy" on
"Shotgun". Hendrix clashed
with Richard, over tardiness, wardrobe, and, above all, Hendrix's stage
antics. For a short while,
Hendrix quit and played briefly with Ike and Tina Turner, but quickly
returned to Richard's band. Months later, he was either fired or he left
after missing the tour bus in Washington, D.C.According
to Little Richard's brother, Robert Penniman, who was Richard's road
manager, it was he, not Richard, that released Hendrix for ongoing tardiness
in mid-1965, after convincing his brother that this was necessary. At the
time, Hendrix was still known to Little Richard's staff as Maurice James.
Although they parted ways, Little Richard's influenced on Hendrix was
profound, as evident by Hendrix's statement (see above) in 1966..
Hendrix was then hired as the new guitarist for the Isley Brothers' band
and joined their national tour, which included the southern Chitlin'
circuit. Hendrix played his first successful studio session on the two-part
Isley Brothers single "Testify".
In Nashville, he left the band to work with Gorgeous George Odell on an R&B
package tour, that had Sam Cooke as the headliner.
Later in 1965, Hendrix joined a New York-based band, Curtis Knight and
the Squires, after meeting Knight in the lobby of the Hotel America, off
Times Square, 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 three-year recording contract with entrepreneur Ed Chalpin,
receiving $1 and 1% royalty on records with Curtis Knight. While the
relationship with Chalpin was short-lived, his contract remained in force,
which caused considerable problems for Hendrix later on in his career. The
legal dispute has continued to the present day.
During a brief excursion to Vancouver in 1965, it was reported that Hendrix
played in the (much later in 1968 Motown) band Bobby Taylor & the Vancouvers
with Taylor and Tommy Chong (of Cheech and Chong fame). Chong, however,
disputes this ever happened and that any such appearance is a product of
In 1966, Hendrix seemed to be quite in demand, playing on sessions with
King Curtis and Ray Sharpe; Lonnie Youngblood; The Icemen; Jimmy Norman;
Billy Lamont. he got his first composer credit on the Curtis Knight and The
Squires's instrumental single "Hornets Nest".
He formed his own band, Jimmy James and The Blue Flames, composed of Randy
Palmer (bass), Danny Casey (drums), a 15-year-old guitarist who played slide
and rhythm, named Randy Wolfe and the occasional stand in about this time.
Since there were two musicians named "Randy" in the group, Hendrix dubbed
Wolfe "Randy California" (as he had recently moved from there to New York
City) and Palmer (a Tejano) "Randy Texas". Randy California would later
co-found the band Spirit with his step father, drummer Ed Cassidy. It was
around this time that Hendrix's only (officially claimed and partly
recognized) daughter Tamika was conceived with Diana Carpenter (aka Regina
Jackson), a teenage runaway and prostitute that he briefly stayed with. She
was acknowledged indirectly as his daughter by both Hendrix, when Diana
started a paternity suit prior to his death, and unofficially by his father
Al after his death. Her claim has not been recognized by the US courts
where, after death, even if she could legally prove he was her father she
may not have a claim on his estate.
Hendrix and his new band played several at several places in New York,
but their primary venue was a residency at the Cafe Wha? on MacDougal Street
in Greenwich Village. The street runs along "Washington (Square) Park" whihc
appeared in at least two of Jimi's songs. Their last concerts were at the
Cafe A Go Go, as John Hammond Jr.'s backing group, billed as "The Blue
Flame". Singer-guitarist Ellen McIlwaine and guitarist Jeff "Skunk" Baxter,
also claim to have briefly worked with Hendrix in this period..
The Jimi Hendrix Experience
Early in 1966 at the Cheetah Club on West 21st Street, Linda Keith,
Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards's girlfriend, befriended Hendrix and
recommended him to Stones manager Andrew Loog Oldham and producer Seymour
Stein. Neither man took a liking to Hendrix's music, however, and they both
passed. She then referred him to Chas Chandler, who was ending his tenure as
bassist in The Animals and looking for talent to manage and produce.
Chandler was enamored with the song "Hey Joe" and was convinced that he
could create a hit single with the right artist.
Impressed with Hendrix's version, Chandler brought him to London and
signed him to a management and production contract with himself and
ex-Animals manager Michael Jeffery. Chandler then helped Hendrix form a new
band, The Jimi Hendrix Experience, with guitarist-turned-bassist Noel
Redding and drummer Mitch Mitchell, both English musicians. Shortly before
the Experience was formed, Chandler introduced Hendrix to Pete Townshend and
to Eric Clapton, who had only recently helped put together Cream. At
Chandler's request, Cream let Hendrix join them on stage for a jam on the
song Killing Floor. Hendrix and Clapton remained friends up until Hendrix's
death. The first night he arrived in London, he began a relationship with
Kathy Etchingham, that lasted until February of 1969. She later wrote a well
received autobiographical book about their relationship and the sixties
London scene in general. 
Hendrix sometimes had a camp sense of humor, specifically with the song
"Purple Haze". A mondegreen had appeared, in which the line "'Scuse me while
I kiss the sky" was misheard as "'Scuse me while I kiss this guy." In a few
performances, Hendrix humorously used this, deliberately singing "kiss this
guy" while pointing to Mitch or Noel, as he did at Monterey.
In the Woodstock DVD he deliberately points to the sky at this point,
to make it clear. In one live recording, Hendrix can easily be heard saying
"Excuse me while I kiss that police officer"; he quickens his pace for the
last few words so he remains in time with the music. A volume of misheard lyrics has been published,
using this mondegreen itself as the title, with Hendrix on the cover.
After his enthusiastically received performance at France's No.1 venue,
the Olympia Theatre in Paris on the Johnny Hallyday tour, an onstage jam
with Cream, a showcase gig at the newly-opened, pop-celebrity oriented
nightclub Bag O'Nails and the all important appearances on the top UK TV pop
shows "Ready, Steady, Go" and the BBC's "Top Of The Pops", word of Hendrix
spread throughout the London music community in late 1966. His showmanship
and virtuosity made instant fans of reigning guitar heroes Eric Clapton and
Jeff Beck, as well as Brian Jones and members of The Beatles and The Who,
whose managers signed Hendrix to their new record label, Track Records.
Hendrix' first single was a cover of "Hey Joe", using Tim Rose's uniquely
slower arrangement of the song including his addition of a female backing
chorus. Backing this first 1966 'Experience' single was Jimi's first
songwriting effort, "Stone Free". Further success came in early 1967 with
"Purple Haze" which featured the "Hendrix chord" and "The Wind Cries Mary".
The three singles were all UK Top 10 hits and were also popular
internationally including Europe, Australia, New Zealand and Japan (though
failed to sell when released later in the USA). Onstage, Hendrix was also
making an impression with fiery renditions of the B.B. King hit "Rock Me
Baby" and a fast version of Howlin Wolf's hit "Killing Floor".
Are You Experienced
The first Jimi Hendrix Experience album, Are You Experienced, was
released in the United Kingdom on May 12, 1967 and shortly thereafter
internationally, outside of USA and Canada. It contained none of the
previously released (outside USA and Canada) singles or their 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
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, booked to appear as one of the
opening acts on the Walker Brothers farewell tour, he set his guitar on fire
at the end of his first performance, as a publicity stunt. This guitar has
now been identified as the "Zappa guitar" (previously thought to have been
from Miami), which has been partly refurbished. Later, as part of this press
promotion campaign, there were articles about Rank Theatre management
warning him to "tone down" his "suggestive" stage act, with Chandler stating
that the group would not compromise regardless.
On June 4 1967, the Experience played their last show in England, at
London's Saville Theatre, before heading off to America. The Beatles' Sgt.
Pepper album had just been released on June 1 and two Beatles (Paul
McCartney and George Harrison) were in attendance, along with a roll call of
other UK rock stardom: Brian Epstein, Eric Clapton, Spencer Davis, Jack
Bruce, and pop singer Lulu. Hendrix chose to open the show with his own
rendition of "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band", rehearsed only minutes
before taking the stage, much to McCartney's astonishment and delight.
While on tour in Sweden in 1967, Hendrix jammed with the duo Hansson &
Karlsson, and later opened several concerts with their song "Tax Free",
also recording a cover of it during the Electric Ladyland sessions.
As just one example of his strong connection with that country, he played
there frequently throughout his career, and his only son James 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..
He wrote a poem to a woman there (probably Sundquist). Sundquist had
anonymously sent Hendrix roses on each of his opening nights in Stockholm,
only revealing herself after his third visit in January 1969, and conceiving
Daniel with him. He also had an expatriate musician friend who lived there,
"King" George Clemmons, who played backup at one concert and socialized with
him on at least two of his visits there. Hendrix also dedicated songs to the
Swedish-based Vietnam deserters organization in 1969..
Months later, Reprise Records released the US and Canadian version of
Are You Experienced with a new cover by Karl Ferris, removing "Red
House", "Remember" and "Can You See Me" to make room for the first three
single A-sides. Where the (Rest of the World) album kicked off with "Foxy
Lady", the US and Canadian one started with "Purple Haze". Both versions
offered a startling introduction to the Jimi Hendrix Experience, and the
album was a blueprint for what had become possible on an electric guitar,
basically recorded on four tracks, mixed into mono and only modified at this
point by a "fuzz" pedal, reverb and a small bit of the experimental
"Octavia" pedal on "Purple Haze". A remix using the mostly mono backing
tracks with the guitar and vocal overdubs separated and occasionally panned
to create a stereo mix was also released, only in the US and Canada.
Although very popular internationally at this time, the Experience had
yet to crack America, his first single there having failed to sell.
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 of the many journalists covering the
event that wrote about him. The performances were filmed by D. A. Pennebaker
and later shown in some movie theaters around the country in early 1969 as
the concert documentary Monterey Pop, which immortalized Hendrix's iconic
burning and smashing of his guitar at the finale of his performance.
The opening song was Hendrix' very fast arrangement of Howlin' Wolf's
1965 R&B hit "Killing Floor". He played this frequently from late 1965
through 1968, usually as the opener to his shows. The Monterey performance
included an equally lively rendition of B.B. King's 1964 R&B hit "Rock Me
Baby", Tim Rose's "Hey Joe" and Bob Dylan's 1965 Pop hit "Like a Rolling
Stone". The set ended with The Troggs "Wild Thing" and Hendrix repeating the
act that had boosted his profile in the UK (and internationally) with him
burning his guitar on stage, then smashing it to bits and tossing pieces out
to the audience. This show finally brought Hendrix to the notice of the US
public. A large chunk of this guitar was on display along with the other
psychedelically painted Stratocaster that Hendrix smashed (but didn't burn)
at his farewell concert in England before he left for the US and Monterey,
at the Experience Music Project in Seattle.
At the time Hendrix was playing sets in the Scene club in NYC in July
1967, he met Frank Zappa, whose Mothers of Invention were playing the
adjacent Garrick Theater, and he was reportedly fascinated by Zappa's
recently-purchased wah-wah pedal.
Hendrix immediately bought one from Manny's and starting using it right away
on the sessions for both sides of his new single, and slightly later, on
several jams he played on at Ed Chalpin's studio.
Following the festival, the Experience played a series of concerts at
Bill Graham's Fillmore replacing the original headliners Jefferson Airplane
at the top of the bill. It was at this time that Hendrix became acquainted
with future musical collaborator Stephen Stills and re-acquainted himself
with Buddy Miles, who introduced Hendrix to his future partner - Devon
Wilson, who had a turbulent on/off relationship with him, from then right up
until the night of his death, the only one of his women to record with him.
She died only six months after Hendrix in mysterious circumstances,
apparently falling from an upper window in the Chelsea Hotel, not long after
her only interview (filmed) for the Warner's Film About Jimi Hendrix.
Her interview along with several other people's - including Pete Townsend's
original - was mistakenly thrown out, never to be seen again.
Following this very successful West Coast introduction, which also
included two open air concerts (one of them a free concert in the "Pan
handle" of Golden Gate Park) and a concert at the Whiskey A Go Go, they were
booked as one of the opening acts for pop group The Monkees on their first
American tour. The Monkees asked for Hendrix because they were fans,
but their (mostly early teens) audience sometimes did not warm to their act,
and he quit the tour after a few dates. Chas Chandler later admitted that
being thrown off the Monkees tour was engineered to gain maximum media
impact and publicity for Hendrix,
similar to that gained from the manufactured Rank Theatre's "indecency"
"dispute" on the earlier UK Walker Brothers tour. 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 Western Europe, where Hendrix was also appreciated for his
authentic blues renditions as well as his hit singles there, and was often
recognised for his avant-garde musical ideas, his wild-man image and musical
gimmickry (such as playing the guitar with his teeth and behind his back)
had faded; but they later plagued him in the US following Monterey. He
became frustrated by the US media and audience when they concentrated on his
stage tricks and most well known songs.
Axis: Bold as Love
The Jimi Hendrix Experience's second 1967 album, Axis: Bold as Love
was his first recording made with a view to a stereo release and was where
he first experimented with this format, using much panning and other stereo
effects. It continued the style established by Are You Experienced,
but showcased a profound use 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. This
album marked the first time Hendrix recorded the whole album with his guitar
tuned down one half-step, to E♭,
which he used exclusively thereafter and was his first to feature the
wah-wah pedal and on 'Bold As Love' was probably the first record to feature
the stereo phasing technique.
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, Chas Chandler and
engineer Eddie Kramer had to re-mix most of side one in an overnight
session, but they couldn't match the lost mix of "If 6 was 9". It was only
saved by the discovery that bassist Noel Redding had a copy of it on tape,
which had to be flattened as it was wrinkled.
Hendrix was disappointed that the album had to be finished so quickly and
felt it could have been better, given more time. He was also somewhat
disappointed with Track Records British designers who created the album's
cover art. He remarked that it would have been more appropriate if the cover
had highlighted his American-Indian heritage. The cover art depicts Hendrix
and his Experience bandmates as the various forms of Vishnu, incorporating a
painting of them by Roger Law (from a photo-portrait by Karl Ferris).
The album was released in the UK near the end of their first headlining
tour there, after which the pace briefly settled down a bit for a Christmas
break. In January 1968 the group went to Sweden for a short tour, and after
the first show Hendrix, reportedly after drinking and according to Hendrix
his drink being spiked, went berserk and smashed up his hotel room in a
rage, injuring his hand and culminating in his arrest. Then on the 6th in
Denmark his famous hat was stolen.
The rest of the tour was uneventful, though Hendrix had to spend some time
in Sweden waiting for his trial and eventual large fine.
Hendrix's third recording, a double album, Electric Ladyland
(1968), was a departure from previous efforts. Following his third and
penultimate French concert at the Paris Olympia, Hendrix flew to the US to
start his first tour there, after two months of this he returned to his
Electric Ladyland project at the newly opened Record Plant studios with
engineers Eddie Kramer and Gary Kellgren and initially Chas Chandler as
producer. 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 a short time, 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
Hendrix began experimenting 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 Bob 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
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
Throughout the four years of his fame Hendrix often appeared at impromptu
jams with various musicians, such as BB King.
In March 1968, Jim Morrison of The Doors joined Hendrix onstage at New
York's Scene Club. Albums of this Electric Ladyland-era bootleg recording
were released under various titles, originally "Woke up this Morning and
Found Myself Dead", then "Sky High", "High, Live, 'N Dirty", and "Live at
the Scene Club" some falsely claiming the presence of Johnny Winter, who has
denied, several times, being a participant at that jam session, and to ever
having met Morrison.
Breakup of Jimi Hendrix Experience
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 did a tour of Scandinavia, Germany and included
a final French concert, later performing two sold-out concerts at London's
Royal Albert Hall on 18 February and 24 February 1969, which were the last
European appearances of this line-up of the "Jimi Hendrix Experience". A
Gold and Goldstein-produced film titled Experience was also recorded
at these two shows, which, according to Experience Hendrix LLC. they are at
last preparing for release in 2008.
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 (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 bass parts on
Fruitless recording sessions at Olympic in London; Olmstead and the
Record Plant in New York that ended on 9th April, only produced a remake of
Stone Free for a possible single release, were the last to feature Redding.
Jimi then flew Billy Cox up to New York and started recording and rehearsing
with him on 21st April as a replacement for Noel.
Redding was also uncomfortable with the hysteria surrounding Hendrix'
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 police firing tear gas into
the audience as they played "Voodoo Child (Slight Return)". The band 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, Noel Redding announced
that he had quit the Experience.
Throughout 1969, Hendrix also experienced a number of legal difficulties.
First, a contractual dispute arose in relation to an unfavorable agreement
Hendrix had entered into with producer Ed Chalpin long before he became
successful. The USA dispute ended up with Hendrix having to record an album
"of new songs" for Chalpin, from which Hendrix and Reprise records would
receive no financial return from USA sales, including Hendrix' songwriting
royalties, and worse Chalpin was granted 2% of profits from Hendrix' back
catalog sold in USA. 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 trial defense that the drugs were slipped into his bag
by a fan without his knowledge, and he was acquitted.
Gypsy Sun and Rainbows
After the departure of Noel Redding from the group, Hendrix rented the
eight-bedroom 'Ashokan House' in the hamlet of Boicevillenear
Woodstock in upstate New York, where he spent some time through the summer
of 1969. Manager Michael Jeffery, who had 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 at least 21 April.
Mitchell was unavailable to help fulfill his last commitment at the time,
which was an appearance on The Tonight Show so Hendrix and Cox appeared with
session drummer Ed Shaughnessy.
In an effort to expand his sound beyond the power trio format, Hendrix then
added rhythm guitarist Larry Lee (another old friend from his R&B days), and
percussionists Juma Sultan and Jerry Velez.
He dubbed the new band Gypsy Sun and Rainbows, although this was never
formally announced by management.
 they recorded some jam based material such as "Jam Back at the
House", "Shokan Sunrise" (posthumous title for untitled jam), "Villanova
Junction", and early renditions of the funk driven centerpieces of Hendrix's
post-Experience sound: "Machine Gun" "Message to Love" and "Izabella".
Hendrix's popularity eventually saw him headline the Woodstock music
festival on August 18, 1969.
Bad weather and logistical problems caused long delays, so that Hendrix
did not appear on stage until Monday morning. By this time, the audience
(which had peaked at over 500,000 people) had been reduced to, at most,
180,000, many of whom merely waited to catch a glimpse of Hendrix before
leaving. Festival MC Chip Monck introduced the band as "The Jimi Hendrix
Experience", but Hendrix quickly corrected this to "Gypsy Sun and Rainbows"
and launched into a two hour set, the longest of his career. As well as the
two percussionists, the performance notably featured Larry Lee performing
three songs and Lee sometimes soloing while Hendrix played rhythm in places.
Most of this has been edited out of the officially released recordings,
including Lee's three songs, reducing the sound to basically a three piece.
The concert was relatively free of the technical difficulties that
frequently plagued Hendrix's performances, although one of his guitar
strings snapped while performing Red House (he kept playing regardless). The
band, unused to playing large audiences and exhausted after being up all
night, could not always keep up with Hendrix's pace, but in spite of this
the guitarist managed to deliver a memorable performance, climaxing with his
highly-regarded rendition of the The Star-Spangled Banner,
a solo improvisation which is now regarded as a special symbol of the 1960s
The band did not last long. After the Woodstock festival they 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 work together was a
session on 6th September.
Hendrix's 9th September appearance on TV's Dick Cavett Show, backed by Cox,
Mitchell and Juma Sultan, was credited as the "Jimi Hendrix Experience".
Band of Gypsys
After attending to the successful defense of his drug possession charges
in Toronto, Hendrix, in order to free his USA royalties that had been
suspended by the USA courts, addressed his obligation to provide Ed Chalpin
with an LP "of original material". Along with Billy Cox he hired another of
his friends, drummer Buddy Miles (formerly with Wilson Pickett and The
Electric Flag) for his Band of Gypsys project, they rehearsed for ten days
at "Baggies" studio. They then performed a series of four concerts over the
two nights of New Year and New Years day, which created the Band Of Gypsys
LP, produced by Hendrix (under the name "Heaven Research"). This is the only
official complete live LP released in his lifetime. This group also released
a single Stepping Stone which was quickly withdrawn, and recorded several
studio songs slated for Hendrix' future LP. Litigation involving Ed Chalpin
continues until this day.
One month later on January 26/27 Mitch Mitchell and Noel Redding flew
into New York and signed contracts with Jefferey for the upcoming Jimi
Hendrix Experience tour. The second and final Band of Gypsys appearance
occurred on (January 28, 1970) at a twelve-act show in Madison Square Garden
a benefit for the massively popular 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 a.m., only this time he
was obviously in no shape to play. He played a dismal rendition of "Who
Knows" before snapping a vulgar response at a woman who shouted a request
for "Foxy 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 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, and
guitarist Johnny Winter said it was Hendrix's girlfriend Devon Wilson who
spiked his drink with drugs for unknown reasons.
Cry of Love tour
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 Jimi Hendrix Experience. Just before the tour began however,
Jimi fired Redding from the band and reinstated Billy Cox. Fans refer to
this final "Jimi Hendrix Experience" lineup as the 'Cry of Love' band, named
after the tour to distinguish it from the original. Billy Cox has several
times commented on this, to make it clear that this lineup considered
themselves "The Jimi Hendrix Experience" before they even went on tour and
that any other title is bogus. All billing, adverts, tickets etc. on the
tour used "Jimi Hendrix Experience" or occasionally, as previously, just "Jimi
Two of Hendrix's 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's, not so
successful and aptly named LP False Start both tracks were recorded with
these old friends on a fleeting visit to London in March 1970, following
Kathy Etchingham's marriage.
The next four months of 1970 was spent recording during the week and
playing live on the weekends. "The Cry of Love" tour, 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. The tour began in April at the LA Forum, was structured
to accommodate this pattern. Performances on this tour featured Hendrix,
Cox, and Mitchell playing new material alongside extended versions of older
recordings. The USA leg of 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
Electric Lady Studios
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 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. In August, 1970, Electric
Lady Studios was opened in New York. Hendrix was among the first major music
artists to own his own recording studio (the Beatles had opened their Apple
studios in London in January 1969).
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 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 recording/dubbing session on 26 August, an opening
party was held later that day.
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 the European leg of the tour. Longing for his
new studio and creative outlets, the tour was a commitment that the already
restless Hendrix was not eager to perform. In Aarhus, Hendrix abandoned his
show after only two songs, remarking: "I've been dead a long time".
In the months before Hendrix's death, a British music paper alleged that
Hendrix had plans to join the band Emerson, Lake & Palmer.
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 nights bill,
(due to the torrential rain and risk of electrocution). Shortly after he
left the stage, in a riot-like atmosphere reminiscent of the failed Altamont
Festival, it went up in flames 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.
Hendrix returned to London, where he reportedly spoke to Chas Chandler,
Eric Burdon, and others about leaving his manager, Michael Jeffery. He met
with Linda Keith, the woman who had introduced him to Chas Chandler and who
he still admired, reportedly giving her a brand new black Fender
Stratocaster, as a token of his appreciation for her discovery efforts years
earlier and the guitar case containing all of her letters to him. Jimi's
last public performance was an informal jam at Ronnie Scott's Jazz Club in
Soho with Burdon and his latest band, War.
Early on September 18, 1970, Jimi Hendrix died in London under
circumstances which have never been fully explained. He had spent the later
part of the evening before at a party and was picked up by girlfriend Monika
Dannemann and driven to her flat at the Samarkand Hotel. According to the
estimated time of death, he died shortly afterwards.
Dannemann claimed in her original testimony that Hendrix the evening
before, unknown to her, had taken nine of her prescribed Vesperax sleeping
pills. According to the doctor who initially attended to him, Hendrix had
asphyxiated (literally drowned) in his own vomit, mainly red wine.
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, varying from interview to interview.
Police and ambulance statements reveal that there was no one but Hendrix in
the flat, and not only was he dead when they arrived on the scene, but had
been dead for some time.
Lyrics to a song written by Hendrix and found in the apartment, led Eric
Burdon to make a premature announcement on the BBC TV program 24 Hours, that
he believed Hendrix had committed suicide.
Following a libel case brought in 1996 by Hendrix's long-term English
girlfriend Kathy Etchingham, Monika Dannemann committed suicide, though her
later lover, Uli Jon Roth, has made accusations of foul play.
Hendrix was well known for his unique sense of fashion and wardrobe and
his Bob Dylan hairstyle. 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 famous shops like "I Was Lord
Kitchener's Valet" and "Granny Takes A Trip", both of which specialised in
vintage fashion, where he purchased at least two army dress uniform jackets,
including an old Hussar's one adorned with tasseled ropes. A group of
policeman once ordered him to remove a Royal Veterinary Corps dress jacket,
saying it was an offense to the men who had worn it.
Many photographs of Hendrix show him wearing various scarves, rings,
medallions, and brooches, and in the early days Hendrix occasionally wore
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 coloured flared trousers. At Monterey, he wore a hand-painted silk
jacket by Chris Jagger (Mick's brother) and a bright pink feather boa. In
late 1967 he started to wear a wide-brimmed Western style hat (brand name
"The Westerner"). 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 permanently 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 Wight concert. He appeared in this outfit only once
more (in just the jacket half) 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 (Douglas), the ex-wife of
Alan Douglas (record producer) 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.
Hendrix was also sometimes requested to contribute to various civil
rights oriented activist groups who wished to use his fame to further their
own cause. Hendrix was a supporter of Martin Luther King, and while he spoke
several times of his (sometimes qualified) support for the Black Panther
Party (from 1968 to 1970), they reportedly caused him some problems.
Hendrix is widely known for and associated with the use of hallucinogenic
drugs, most notably LSD, as were many other famous musicians and celebrities
of that time. He supposedly had never taken hallucinogens until the night he
met Linda Keith, but smoked marijuana and drank alcohol previously.
Amphetamines are also recorded as being used by Hendrix during tours.
Although taken for granted, the only actual recorded use of sleeping pills
by him ended tragically with his death.
Hendrix was notorious among friends and bandmates for sometimes becoming
angry and violent when he drank too much 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 pay phone. Carmen Borrero, another girlfriend, says she
required stitches after being hit with a bottle by him after drinking and
becoming jealous. Alcohol was also cited as the cause of Hendrix's 1968
rampage that badly damaged a Stockholm hotel room and led to his arrest.
Paul Caruso's friendship with Hendrix ended in 1970 when Hendrix, while
under the influence, punched him and accused him of stealing from him.
The most controversial topic however, concerns his alleged use of heroin.
There was, however, no mention of heroin at the autopsy. Later untrue
statements about special toxicology reports were only released to quiet the
unfounded speculation that Hendrix had overdosed on heroin, as was the
statement about the lack of needle marks, although no-one had specifically
accused him of injecting and this has never been a point of contention.
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. 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 died 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 headstone contains a depiction of a Fender Stratocaster guitar,
the instrument he was most famed for using —– although the guitar is shown
right-side up, and Hendrix, being a left-hander, played it upside down.
The memorial is a granite dome supported by three pillars under which
Jimi Hendrix is interred. Hendrix'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 2002, no information as to the status of the project has
been revealed to the public. In addition, a memorial statue of Jimi playing
a Stratocaster stands near the corner of Broadway and Pine Streets in
In May 2006 Seattle honored the music, artistry and legacy of Jimi
Hendrix with the naming of a new park near Seattle's historic Colman School
in the heart of the Central District.
Unfinished Work/Posthumous Releases
Reports that Hendrix's tapes for a concept album Black Gold had been
stolen and lost from the London flat, are wrong. Hendrix gave those tapes to
Mitch Mitchell at the Isle of Wight Festival three weeks prior to his death.
They are now in the possession of Experience Hendrix LLC.
Hendrix's unfinished album was partly released as 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 to. This was due to some
tracks being used for Rainbow Bridge and War Heroes for contractual reasons.
Material from the Cry of Love album was re-released, along with the rest of
the tracks that Mitchell and Kramer had wanted to include, in 1997 as First
Rays of the New Rising Sun.
Many of Hendrix's personal items, tapes, and pages of lyrics and poems,
are now in the hands of collectors and have attracted considerable sums at
materials surfaced after two employees, under the instructions of Mike
Jeffery, cleared Hendrix's Greenwich Village apartment. Also, reports
indicate Jeffery gave Devon Wilson permission to take what she wanted from
the flat soon after Hendrix died.
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 more than 300 unreleased recordings.
His career and untimely death has grouped him with Janis Joplin and Jim
Morrison as one of contemporary music's tragic "three J's", iconic '60s 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. The other rock star who
died in that period at age 27 was Brian Jones.
Musically, 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 Univibe)
with dramatic results.
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 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 and
Jesse Johnson of The Time. His influence even extends to many hip hop
artists, including ?uestlove, 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 was ranked number 3 on VH1's 100 Greatest Artists of Hard Rock
behind Black Sabbath at the second spot, and Led Zeppelin, ranked number
one. Hendrix 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 electric guitarist of all time.
Guitar World's readers voted six of Hendrix's solos among the top
"100 Greatest" of all time: "Purple Haze" (70), "The Star-Spangled Banner"
(52), "Machine Gun" (32), "Little Wing" (18), "Voodoo Child (Slight Return)"
(11) and "All Along the Watchtower (5).
In 1992, Hendrix was awarded the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.
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, Al's adopted daughter, was improperly
handling the company finances. The suit argued that Janie and a cousin of
Jimi Hendrix' (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.
The Jimi Hendrix Foundation
In 1987, Leon Hendrix and some fans of Hendrix, commissioned the James (Jimi)
Marshall Hendrix Foundation. This foundation is based in Renton, Washington.
In August, 2006 a child-hood friend of Jimi Hendrix - James (Jimmy) Williams
took control of the Foundation. It would appear that it has done very
little. There is also a
warning against doing any business with said foundation posted on the
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 started playing with
Stratocasters in 1966 and thereafter used it almost exclusively for his
stage performances and recordings.
Hendrix's emergence coincided with the lifting of post-war import
restrictions (imposed in many British Commonwealth countries), which made
the instrument much more available, and after its initial popularisers 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. The
Strat was a very popular guitar in the UK, due to Hank Marvin of The
Shadows, a very influential early UK rock guitarist, Many leading
guitarists, including Jeff Beck, Ritchie Blackmore and Eric Clapton, also
played Stratocasters. Hendrix bought many Strats and gave some away as
gifts. Some were stolen, and a few were destroyed during his notorious
guitar-smashing finales. Hendrix actually set fire to two of them, the first
time on the opening night of his first UK tour. The only other documented
guitar-burning incident was at the Monterey Pop festival, his USA debut
appearance as the Jimi Hendrix Experience. The original sunburst
Stratocaster that Hendrix burnt and broke the neck off at the Astoria in
1967, and that he kept as a souvenir, was given to Frank Zappa by a Hendrix
roadie at the 1968 Miami Pop Festival. Zappa assumed it was the one Hendrix
had played there.
A remarkable fact about Hendrix is that he was left-handed, and like most
lefties used right-handed guitars, naturally turned upside-down and
re-strung for playing left-handed, so that the heavier strings were in their
standard position at the top of the neck.
This had an important effect on the sound of his guitar: 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 throughout his career caused the drawback of
frequent losses in tuning; 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 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
Pop's" TV show, as well as several other brands..
Jimi 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'd
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
60s-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 USD$168,000.
Amplifiers and effects
Hendrix was a catalyst in the development of modern guitar effects
pedals. His high-energy stage act and the high volume at which he played
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. His use of this brand made it very popular.
During the Isle of Wight video Hendrix has numerous equipment problems,
during "All Along the Watchtower" his wah pedal squeals at a high pitch
instead of functioning normally, after struggling with it during a solo
Hendrix can be clearly seen to turn toward the camera and his support crew
and say "wah wah, get me another wah wah" as the show progresses further
pieces of equipment are replaced.
Arbiter Fuzz Face units which were highly inconsistent, and subject to
changes in tone due to both temperature and battery conditions. As Hendrix's
recording career progressed he made greater use of customized effects units.
In contrast the first singles and album was made under more basic, low
budget conditions with only a basic fuzz pedal and some rudimentary
'Octavia' on Purple Haze.
Hendrix 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 Arbiter Fuzz Face and
wah-wah pedal. 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 Univibe was another effect and is particularly
interesting. Designed to electronically simulate the modulation effects of
the rotating Leslie speaker, it provided a rich phasing sound with a speed
control pedal. The Band of Gypsys track "Machine Gun" highlights use of the
univibe, octavia and fuzz face pedals.
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, using his teeth or playing behind his back and between his legs,
although he soon grew tired of audience demands to perform these tricks.
Hendrix had large hands and used his thumb almost constantly to fret bass
notes, leaving his fingers free to play melodic fills on top, thereby
facilitating his noted ability to play lead and rhythm parts simultaneously.
This technique was made easier by his Stratocaster's 7.25" fingerboard
radius (more rounded than the modern standard 9.5"
). A clear demonstration of this thumb technique can
be witnessed in the Woodstock video; during the song Red House there are
excellent closeups of Hendrix's fretting hand.
- 1967: Are You Experienced
- 1967: Axis: Bold as Love
- 1968: Electric Ladyland