Hendrix, Jimi(actually, James Marshall)

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Hendrix, Jimi(actually, James Marshall)

Hendrix, Jimi(actually, James Marshall), superstar guitar player of the 1960s, one of the master virtuosos of the electric guitar; b. Seattle, Wash., Nov. 27, 1942; d. London, England, Sept. 18, 1970.THE JIMI HENDRIX EXPERIENCE: Jimi Hendrix, lead gtr., lead voc; Noel Redding, bs., background voc. (b. Folkstone, Kent, England, Dec. 25, 1945); John “Mitch” Mitchell, drm. (b. London, England, July 9, 1946).

James Hendrix obtained his first acoustic guitar at the age of 11, graduating to electric guitar at 12. He was playing in a number of Seattle-area bands by 14; he dropped out of high school at 16 and eventually joined the U.S. Army in 1961. While serving, he became a paratrooper and met and jammed with bassist Billy Cox. Discharged after slightly more than a year because of a back injury sustained in a parachute jump, Hendrix subsequently toured the SoutiYs “chitlin” circuit, backing artists such as B. B. King, Sam Cooke, and Jackie Wilson. He moved to N.Y in 1964 to record with The Isley Brothers and King Curtis. The following year, he was a member of Little Richard’s backup band and Curtis Knight’s group. In June 1966, Hendrix formed his own group, Jimmy James and The Blue Flames, for engagements in Greenwich Village coffeehouses. “Discovered” there in July by former Animals bassist Bryan “Chas” Chandler, Hendrix went to England at Chandler’s behest in September, forming The Jimi Hendrix Experience with two English musicians, Noel Redding and Mitch Mitchell.

The Jimi Hendrix Experience became an immediate success in Great Britain, scoring major hits with “Hey Joe/’ “Purple Haze,” and “The Wind Cries Mary” in the first half of 1967. Commencing their first British tour in March and their first European tour in May, the group’s debut album, Are You Experienced?, performance included Dylan’s “Like a Rolling Stone” and the awe-inspiring finale “Wild Thing,” which culminated in the torching of Hendrix’ lighter fluid-drenched guitar. Word of Hendrix’s spectacular, flamboyant Monterey performance spread rapidly. Are You Experienced?, upon American release on Reprise Records in August, became an instant best-seller, remaining on the album charts for over two years. Yielding only minor hit singles with the classics “Purple Haze” and “Foxey Lady,” the album also included “Hey Joe,” “Are You Experienced?,” and the poignantly lyrical “The Wind Cries Mary.” Following an abortive tour with The Monkees (a mismatch if ever there was one), Hendrix returned to England.

The Jimi Hendrix Experience’s Axis: Bold as Eove, released stateside in early 1968, became another immediate best-seller, producing the minor hit “Up from the Skies” and containing the masterful “Little Wing,” the gentle “One Rainy Wish,” and the ominous “If 6 Was 9,” later used in the breakthrough Peter Fonda-Dennis Hopper movie Easy Rider. Electric Ladyland, The Experience’s final album and the crowning achievement of their brief recording career, yielded the group’s only major hit with Dylan’s “All Along the Watchtower” in its definitive version. Included on the double-record set were the vituperative “Crosstown Traffic,” the lilting “Rainy Day, Dream Away,” the challenging “1983,” and the extended jam “Voodoo Chile,” featuring Stevie Winwood on organ.

Tours by The Experience in 1968 saw Hendrix retreating from his role as psychedelic, flash guitarist-showman, much to the chagrin of inflexible fans. Chandler stopped managing the group in September and, in November, The Jimi Hendrix Experience announced their intention to disband, although contractual obligations kept the group together through June 1969. Noel

Redding formed Fat Mattress in 1969, Road in 1971, and The Noel Redding Band in 1975. Mitch Mitchell continued to play with Hendrix on and off until his death, briefly becoming a member of Ramatam with former Iron Butterfly guitarist Mike Pinera in 1972.

During 1969, Jimi Hendrix began building his own studio, Electric Ladyland, in N.Y, while seldom performing publicly. He eventually logged over 600 hours of studio tapes with various participants, including jazz musicians such as John McLaughlin. In August, Hendrix, backed by Mitch Mitchell and Army buddy Billy Cox, played the Woodstock Festival. The performance closed with a stunning version of “The Star Spangled Banner,” which appropriately segued into “Purple Haze” (later included on the first Woodstock album).

On New Year’s Eve 1969, the all-black Band of Gypsys (Hendrix, Cox, and drummer Buddy Miles) debuted at Bill Graham’s Fillmore East. The performance, recorded and later released in album form, included Miles’s “(Them) Changes” and Hendrix’ 12-minute-plus “Machine Gun.” However, the group never really worked out, perhaps due to Buddy Miles’s overbearing drum style.

Jimi Hendrix was soon recording his next album, a double-record set tentatively entitled First Rays of the New Rising Sun, with Mitch Mitchell and Billy Cox. During the spring and summer of 1970, Hendrix toured with them, opening his Electric Ladyland studio shortly before their August appearance at the Isle of Wight. On Sept. 18, 1970, Jimi Hendrix died of “inhalation of vomit due to barbiturate intoxication” in London at the age of 27.

Much of the material from First Rays of the New Rising Sun was ultimately released on The Cry of Love and Rainbow Bridge, and reissued on Voodoo Soup in 1995. The Cry of Love featured Buddy Miles on “Ezy Rider” and Noel Redding on “My Friend” and included two excellent but overlooked slow blues songs, “Drifting” and “Angel.” Rainbow Bridge contained “Dolly Dagger,” “Pali Gap,” and the live “Hear My Train a Comin’.” Hendrix in the West assembled live recordings such as Chuck Berry’s “Johnny B. Goode” and the Hendrix originals “Red House,” “Little Wing,” and “Voodoo Chile.” War Heroes contained nearly completed recordings by Hendrix, including “Izabella” and “Stepping Stone.” Soundtrack Recordings from the Film “]imi Hendrix” compiled live performances and interviews.

In 1974, the estate of Jimi Hendrix hired producer Alan Douglas to sort through the tape archives left by Jimi Hendrix. For Crash Landing and Midnight Lightning, Douglas erased the original sidemen and grafted on L.A. sessions players, while Nine to the Universe was taken from the jam sessions recorded in 1969 and 1970. Subsequent album releases included the live compilation The Jimi Hendrix Concerts, the complete Jimi Plays Monterey, Radio One (live recordings made for the BBC in 1967), and the four-CD anthology of alternate takes, demonstration records, live performances and interviews, Lifelines. The Jimi Hendrix Experience was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1992 and, the following year, Reprise issued the tribute album Stone Free, on which various contemporary artists from Ice-T to Eric Clapton, The Pretenders to Nigel Kennedy, recorded versions of Jimi Hendrix’s songs. In July 1995, after years of court battles, Jimi Hendrix’s father, Al, was awarded the rights to his son’s music.

Undoubtedly, the most adventurous and daring electric guitarist of the 1960s, Hendrix is regarded by some as rock’s single most important instrumentalist and perhaps the most influential guitarist ever. He enormously expanded the possibilities of the electric guitar, masterfully manipulating devices such as the wah-wah pedal, fuzz-box, and tape-delay mechanism to produce sounds alternately gentle and melodic, loud and psychedelic, even extraterrestrial and aquatic. His masterful and imaginative use of studio techniques with equipment that would be regarded as primitive by today’s standards vastly extended the potential of recorded electric music. His carefully controlled use of distortion and feedback laid the foundation for all the heavy metal guitarists that followed, while inspiring jazz musicians such as Miles Davis to adopt certain elements of rock music, leading to the development of fusion music.


jimi hendrix and little richard:

Roots of Rock (1974); Jimi Hendrix and Little Richard Together (1975). jimi hendrix with the isley brothers:In the Beginning (1971). jimi hendrix and curtis knight:Get That Feeling (1967); Flashing (1968). jimi hendrix and lonnie youngblood:Together (1971). the jimi hendrix experience/otis redding:At Monterey (1970). the jimi hendrix experience:Are You Experienced? (1967); Axis: Bold as Love (1968); Electric Ladyland (1968); Smash Hits (1969); The Ultimate Experience (1993); Radio One (ree. 1967; rei. 1989); The Experience Collection (1993); BBC Sessions (ree. 1967-69; rei. 1998); The Jimi Hendrix Experience (box set; 2000). fat mattress:Fat Mattress (1969); Fat Mattress II (1971). the noel redding band:Clonkakilty Cowboys (1975); Blowin’ (1976); The Missing Album (1995). ram at amRamatam (1972); In April Came the Dawning of the Red Suns (1973). the band of gyp sys:The Band of Gypsys (1970); The Band of Gypsys 2 (1986). live recordings by jimi hendrix:Hendrix in the West (1972); In Concert (1972); The Jimi Hendrix Concerts (1982); Jimi Plays Monterey (June 18, 1967) (1986); Live at Winterland (October 1968) (1987); The Last Experience Concert (1990); Woodstock (Aug. 18, 1969) (1994). POSTHUMOUS JIMI HENDRIX RELEASES: The Cry of Love (1971); Rainbow Bridge (1971); War Heroes (1972); Soundtrack Recordings from the Film “Jimi Hendrix” (1973); Crash Landing (1975); Midnight Lightning (1975); The Essential Jimi Hendrix (1978); The Essential Jimi Hendrix, Vol. II (1979); Nine to the Universe (1980); Kiss the Sky (1984/1985); Lifelines: The Jimi Hendrix Story (1991); Stages (1991); Blues (1994); Voodoo Soup (1995); First Rays of the New Rising Sun (1997); Experience Hendrix: The Best of Jimi Hendrix (1997); South Saturn Delta (1997).


C. Welch, Hendrix: A Biography (N.Y., 1973); C. Knight, Jimi (N.Y., 1974); G. Carey, Lenny, Janis and Jimi (N.Y., 1975); D. Henderson, J. H: Voodoo Child of the Aquarian Age (Garden City, N.Y., 1978); D. Henderson, ’Scuse Me While I Kiss the Sky: The Life of J. H. (N.Y., 1981, 1996); J. Hopkins, Hit and Run: The J. H. Story (N.Y., 1983); J. Benson, Uncle Joe’s Record Guide: Eric Clapton, J. H, The Who (Glendale, Calif., 1987); C. S. Murray, Crosstown Traffic: J. H and the Post-War Rock ’n’ Roll Revolution (N.Y., 1989, 1991); M. Mitchell, with J. Platt, J. H.;

Inside The Experience (N.Y., 1990); H. Shapiro and C. Glebbeek, Electric Gypsy: J. H. (N.Y., 1991, 1995); J. Hopkins, J. H: Starchild (Wilmington, Del., 1992); J. McDermott, with E. Kramer, Hendrix: Setting the Record Straight (N.Y., 1992); J. Hendrix, Cherokee Mist: The Lost Writings (N.Y., 1993); A. Boot and C. Salewicz (compilers), J. H: The Ultimate Experience (N.Y., 1995); J. McDermott, with B. Cox and E. Kramer, Jimi Hendrix Sessions: The Complete Studio Recording Sessions, 1963-70 (Boston, 1995); M. Mitchell, The Hendrix Experience (N.Y., 1998).

—Brock Helander

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