Jimi Hendrix Biography

Review The Artist (15)

Jimi Hendrix-photo
In his brief four-year reign as a superstar, Jimi Hendrix expanded the vocabulary of the electric rock guitar more than anyone before or since. Hendrix was a master at coaxing all manner of unforeseen sonics from his instrument, often with innovative amplification experiments that produced astral-quality feedback and roaring distortion. His frequent hurricane blasts of noise, and dazzling showmanship — he could and would play behind his back and with his teeth, and set his guitar on fire — has sometimes obscured his considerable gifts as a songwriter, singer, and master of a gamut of blues, R&B, and rock styles.

When Hendrix became an international superstar in 1967, it seemed as if he'd dropped out of a Martian spaceship, but in fact he'd served his apprenticeship the long, mundane way in numerous R&B acts on the chitlin circuit. During the early and mid-'60s, he worked with such R&B/soul greats as Little Richard, the Isley Brothers, and King Curtis as a backup guitarist. Occasionally he recorded as a session man (the Isley Brothers' 1964 single "Testify" is the only one of these early tracks that offers even a glimpse of his future genius). But the stars didn't appreciate his show-stealing showmanship, and Hendrix was straightjacketed by sideman roles that didn't allow him to develop as a soloist. The logical step was for Hendrix to go out on his own, which he did in New York in the mid-'60s, playing with various musicians in local clubs, and joining White blues-rock singer John Hammond, Jr.'s band for a while.

It was in a New York club that Hendrix was spotted by Animals bassist Chas Chandler. The first lineup of the Animals was about to split, and Chandler, looking to move into management, convinced Hendrix to move to London and record as a solo act in England. There a group was built around Jimi, also featuring Mitch Mitchell on drums and Noel Redding on bass, that was dubbed the Jimi Hendrix Experience. The trio became stars with astonishing speed in the U.K., where "Hey Joe," "Purple Haze," and "The Wind Cries Mary" all made the Top 10 in the first half of 1967. These tracks were also featured on their debut album, Are You Experienced?, a psychedelic meisterwerk that became a huge hit in the U.S. after Hendrix created a sensation at the Monterey Pop Festival in June of 1967.

Are You Experienced? was an astonishing debut, particularly from a young R&B veteran who had rarely sung, and apparently never written his own material, before the Experience formed. What caught most people's attention at first was his virtuosic guitar playing, which employed an arsenal of devices, including wah-wah pedals, buzzing feedback solos, crunching distorted riffs, and lightning, liquid runs up and down the scales. But Hendrix was also a first-rate songwriter, melding cosmic imagery with some surprisingly pop-savvy hooks and tender sentiments. He was also an excellent blues interpreter and passionate, engaging singer (although his gruff, throaty vocal pipes were not nearly as great assets as his instrumental skills). Are You Experienced? was psychedelia at its most eclectic, synthesizing mod pop, soul, R&B, Dylan, and the electric guitar innovations of British pioneers like Jeff Beck, Pete Townshend, and Eric Clapton.

Amazingly, Hendrix would only record three fully conceived studio albums in his lifetime. Axis: Bold as Love and the double-LP Electric Ladyland were more diffuse and experimental than Are You Experienced? On Electric Ladyland in particular, Hendrix pioneered the use of the studio itself as a recording instrument, manipulating electronics and devising overdub techniques (with the help of engineer Eddie Kramer in particular) to plot uncharted sonic territory. Not that these albums were perfect, as impressive as they were; the instrumental breaks could meander, and Hendrix's songwriting was occasionally half-baked, never matching the consistency of Are You Experienced? (although he exercised greater creative control over the later albums).

The final two years of Hendrix's life were turbulent ones musically, financially, and personally. He was embroiled in enough complicated management and record company disputes (some dating from ill-advised contracts he'd signed before the Experience formed) to keep the lawyers busy for years. He disbanded the Experience in 1969, forming the Band of Gypsies with drummer Buddy Miles and bassist Billy Cox to pursue funkier directions. He closed Woodstock with a sprawling, shaky set, redeemed by his famous machine-gun interpretation of "The Star-Spangled Banner." The rhythm section of Mitchell and Redding were underrated keys to Jimi's best work, and the Band of Gypsies ultimately couldn't measure up to the same standard, although Hendrix did record an erratic live album with them.

In early 1970, the Experience re-formed again — and disbanded again shortly afterwards. At the same time, Hendrix felt torn in many directions by various fellow musicians, record-company expectations, and management pressures, all of whom had their own ideas of what Hendrix should be doing. Coming up on two years after Electric Ladyland, a new studio album had yet to appear, although Hendrix was recording constantly during the period.

While outside parties did contribute to bogging down Hendrix's studio work, it also seems likely that Jimi himself was partly responsible for the stalemate, unable to form a permanent lineup of musicians, unable to decide what musical direction to pursue, unable to bring himself to complete another album despite jamming endlessly. A few months into 1970, Mitchell — Hendrix's most valuable musical collaborator — came back into the fold, replacing Miles in the drum chair, although Cox stayed in place. It was this trio that toured the world during Hendrix's final months.

It's extremely difficult to separate the facts of Hendrix's life from rumors and speculation. Everyone who knew him well, or claimed to know him well, has different versions of his state of mind in 1970. Critics have variously mused that he was going to go into jazz, that he was going to get deeper into the blues, that he was going to continue doing what he was doing, or that he was too confused to know what he was doing at all. The same confusion holds true for his death: contradictory versions of his final days have been given by his closest acquaintances of the time. He'd been working intermittently on a new album, tentatively titled First Ray of the New Rising Sun, when he died in London on September 18, 1970, from drug-related complications.

Hendrix recorded a massive amount of unreleased studio material during his lifetime. Much of this (as well as entire live concerts) was issued posthumously; several of the live concerts were excellent, but the studio tapes have been the focus of enormous controversy for over 20 years. These initially came out in haphazard drabs and drubs (the first, The Cry of Love, was easily the most outstanding of the lot). In the mid-'70s, producer Alan Douglas took control of these projects, posthumously overdubbing many of Hendrix's tapes with additional parts by studio musicians. In the eyes of many Hendrix fans, this was sacrilege, destroying the integrity of the work of a musician known to exercise meticulous care over the final production of his studio recordings.

Even as late as 1995, Douglas was having ex-Knack drummer Bruce Gary record new parts for the typically misbegotten compilation Voodoo Soup. After a lengthy legal dispute, the rights to Hendrix's estate, including all of his recordings, returned to Al Hendrix, the guitarist's father, in July of 1995. — Richie Unterberger

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Jimi was about truth and alot of love | Reviewer: Dr McFunk | 10/1/13

The really sad part is if/ when you learn the truth about the why and how he died.....and like alot of other info. surrounding him inaccurate and misunderstood......i wont go into the details on this...but..James Marshall Hendrix was Murdered by his manager michael jeffery ....Hey.. dont believe me ....do the research ...if you really want to know. The info. is still out there Dr. McFunk is The Jimi Hendrix Archives Montana Division

The insperation for so many | Reviewer: Crazy Dave of SlemprobThe insperation | 2/15/13

Jimi was alot of insperation for our band and our orignal songs. We as abunch of non profesional musicans that just have fun,long live his creativity,his muscial prowness! Crazy Dave Of the band, SLEMPROB South central PA.

chico | Reviewer: chico | 6/5/11

when i first herd this man playing this guitar , in
many forms of styls , and sounds i was bigging to
learn to play guitar at age 15 yrs,, this is my
idol, i will learn his teckniks , at age 60 i
still play his music, man he was good, creative,
and out of this world on his music , now days
young kids want to learn his music and teckniks..

I look like jimmy for real | Reviewer: jack derring | 8/14/10

i love jimmy,s music i listen to it alot. i,m presently writing songs in his likeness some i also have a song youtube called You Got, i really look jimmy!!! most people say they look like someone and they don,t (I DO!!!!!) checkout my pic,s on facebook /Jackie Derring/ facebook My email is delaneyjack@comcast.net (617)708-1344 please if someone out there can help me I need a agent bad!!! who ever get to me first is going to be RICH!!! also I trying to find where they,re casting for the moviecalled / Slided /I could defindly bring jimmy to life I am jimmy Hendrix,s son

jimi is not measurable | Reviewer: yunny yanez | 8/18/09

In fact most people comparejii hendrix with other ,, guitar" players when he was not a guitar player he was a composer in the likes of bach handel mozart and so on he could play many instruments including drums which sometimes he recorded himself and he inspired the musicians around him with his unique flavor a symphonic orchestra comin out of 1 guitar so dont comparejimi hendrix before youhave studied his techniques , for a starter check out jam back at the house it has some classical thing s intermixed in the arrangement and house of the new rising sun has the same type of arrangement classical rock he started it all and nobody .. nobody will ever redo what he has left behind for you and me to bend strings on

yunny yanez

A born genius | Reviewer: yunny yanez | 12/14/08

Not an imitator but an innovator , he changed the whole guitar playing scheme of this world forever .
But sometimes we dont really look into his playing style I have noticed that he was deep into classical music and he mixed it in his compositions .
An example of this is hey baby intro , fi you can have an orchestra play that intro it would be enormous and huge.check it out

The True Story of Guitar Legend, Jimi Hendrix | Reviewer: Giles | 12/1/08

Jimi Hendrix was an intergalatic legend. Born in the far away galaxy of Zeltron 5 in the year of our Lord 389AD. As a young boy he enjoyed life in the warm swamps and lagoons of his home planet. His stay was shortstayed however, as in a laboratory experiment gone horribly wrong his father accidently teleported him through a wormhole 42 light years into the future. He ended up on a strange planet called Earth in the year of 1943. Jimi was 11 nanomonths old when he arrived. In his childhood he became a master of the Broomstick, playing it with precision and finesse, mimicking his heroes. Time went on and Jimi became a Guitar Legend, inspiring mice and men for 4 years until his untimely demise. His home planet considered destroying Earth for the death of one of their kind, but since the Zeltronions look and behave like humans in so many ways, (some doctors and scholars in fact believe the Zeltronions are humans from the future who have relocated with vast technology and a knack for time travel), that several of their kind entered the Earth and conducted an investigation. They deemed it an accidental death and left without a major incident.

He could play | Reviewer: ARG | 10/6/08

Jimi hendrix was indeed a legend, but hes nothing compared to Stevie Ray Vaughan. Even Though Hendrix was Stevie Ray Vaughans Inspiration, Stevie Ray Vaughan accomplished a lot more. Only if they both didnt die, music would still be good.

60s ot 70s | Reviewer: rory | 3/2/08

"Awesome Legend | Reviewer: J | 7/30/2006

Hendrix is definetly a guitar god of the 1970s. Hes inspired so many people and he could even play the guitar with he's teeth, now thats what I call an awesome legend."

---He died in 1970, all his albums were released in the 60s. guitar god of the 70s? you're an idiot.

60s not 70s | Reviewer: rory | 3/2/08

"Awesome Legend | Reviewer: J | 7/30/2006

Hendrix is definetly a guitar god of the 1970s. Hes inspired so many people and he could even play the guitar with he's teeth, now thats what I call an awesome legend."

---He died in 1970, all his albums were released in the 60s. guitar god of the 70s? you're an idiot.

Live on jimi | Reviewer: Anonymous | 4/13/07

Jimi was a one and only he mad lost of music and inspired millions rock forever jimi!

A quick question | Reviewer: bob | 2/19/07

You didn't include any of the gory details about Jimi Hendrix's death...

Didn't he die in a puddle of his own vomit?

Anyway he was a legend guitarist, way ahead of his time...I wish we knew what he was gonna do next, becasue if we did then we could try and acheive his goals...o well

WOW ROCK LEGEND | Reviewer: Anonymous | 11/23/06

Jimi Hendrix was born in november so am i wow thanx for reading this as it has been a complete waste of time for me & u bi

Awesome Legend | Reviewer: J | 7/30/06

Hendrix is definetly a guitar god of the 1970s. Hes inspired so many people and he could even play the guitar with he's teeth, now thats what I call an awesome legend.

Hendrix is king of guitar. | Reviewer: Rufustheman | 3/15/05

Jimi Hendrix is the king of guitar. Suddenly my mellow ain't so yellow.

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