music / Hall Of Fame

411 Music Hall Of Fame Class Of 2008: Jimi Hendrix

February 12, 2008 | Posted by Dan Marsicano


• Headlined Woodstock.
• 17 gold albums, 10 platinum albums and 6 multi-platinum albums.
• Pioneered the use of feedback within recorded songs.
• Pioneered several studio techniques, including phasing effects.
• Inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame (1992).
• Given a star on the Hollywood Walk Of Fame (1994).
• Inducted into the UK Music Hall of Fame (2005).
• The Jimi Hendrix Experience’s Are You Experienced? was inducted into the US National Recording Preservation Board’s National Recording Registry.
• Named the Greatest Guitarist Of All Time by Rolling Stone magazine.

Jimi Hendrix is a guitar legend.

Hendrix was born Johnny Allen Hendrix on November 27th, 1942, before being renamed to James Marshall Hendrix. Hendrix lived a hard childhood, being raised by his grandmother in Vancouver, surrounded by poverty and having to deal with the divorce of his parents when he was nine.

Jimi Hendrix starting playing guitar at the age of 14. His first guitar was acoustic and only had one string, but Hendrix played as much as he could. A year later, he would get an electric guitar and from there, he became enamored with the instrument. Hendrix was influenced by blues and rock and roll, citing Little Richard, Elvis Presley, and Muddy Waters as inspiration when he was a kid.

Hendrix joined the army for one year in 1961 after a run-in with the law. While there, hed met fellow soldier and bass player Billy Cox. When Hendrix left the army, Cox and Jimi formed a band called The King Kasuals. For a few years, Cox and Hendrix played all throughout the south. Jimi was able to hone in on his guitar playing, but racism and lack of funds made touring difficult.

In 1964, Jimi decided to go to New York City to try to make it big. It would begin a big time for Jimi’s career. In 1965, he would be the guitar player for the Isley Brothers, Little Richard’s backing band The Upsetters, and even toured with Ike and Tina Turner for a little bit. Eventually, in 1966, Jimi formed his own band, Jimmy James and The Blue Flames. The band would get a following in the New York City club scene and this lead to the formation of The Jimi Hendrix Experience.

Most of us know about the great success of The Jimi Hendrix Experience. The band, composed of Hendrix on vocals and guitar, Noel Redding on bass and backing vocals, and Mitch Mitchell on drums, would become one of the biggest names in the UK. Are You Experienced? would reach #2 on the charts and the band would become as popular as The Beatles across the pond. Are You Experienced? contains some of Hendrix’ classic tracks, including “Foxey Lady,” the title track, “Purple Haze” (from the US version), and “Third Stone From The Sun.”

In the US, The Jimi Hendrix Experience had to work a bit harder to gain the fanbase they had in the UK. Over time, the American crowd began to love Hendrix’ live antics, which included burning his guitar and destroying the amplifiers. The band’s second album Axis: Bold As Love, released in 1967, would prove to be as big of a hit as their debut album. The most famous Axis tracks would become “Little Wing” and “Bold As Love.” The band began to fall apart at this point, with the heavy touring schedule and frequent drug use taking its toll.

1968’s double album Electric Ladyland would prove to be The Jimi Hendrix Experience’s best album. Driven by hits “Voodoo Chile” and the Bob Dylan cover “All Along The Watchtower,” the album would be the final hurrah for the three piece. The problems in the band would come out in full force during the recording of Electric Ladyland, with Jimi becoming more erratic in his recording techniques and angering his fellow band mates. Bassist Noel Redding was the most frustrated by Jimi, as the guitarist would want songs re-recorded several times, not to mention Hendrix would record bass lines for a few songs without Redding’s knowledge. In 1969, the Jimi Hendrix Experience would break up, and Jimi would spend the last year or so of his life trying to get a new band together and record another album.

Before his death, Jimi would make his big appearance at Woodstock. Hendrix played a two hour set with his new band at the time, Gypsy Sun and Rainbows (which featured old friend Billy Cox), and this is where his famous instrumental of “The Star Spangled Banner” came from.

The Gypsy Sun and Rainbows band would not last long, nor would its successor, Band Of Gypsys. Jimi and a revived version of The Experience (which originally featured Noel Redding, until Jimi fired him and replaced him with Cox) embarked on a tour of Europe in mid-1970. This would be his last tour before his death. Jimi Hendrix would be found dead on September 18th, 1970 in London, England, after a night of partying, which included wine and sleeping pills.

Why Jimi Hendrix Was Selected:

The legacy of Jimi Hendrix would live on for years to come. His unique style of playing, combined with his stage presence, would influence future artists. Jimi Hendrix has always been a great inspiration to me as a music critic and Jimi one of the reasons why I became a fan of classic rock music. While Jimi died young, his music and spectacular skills on the guitar make him a rock legend, one that will live on for generations to come.


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Dan Marsicano
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