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Jimi Hendrix

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 straitjacketed 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 Ten 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 afterward. 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.

With the help of Jimi's step-sister Janie, Al set up Experience Hendrix to begin to get Jimi's legacy in order. They began by hiring John McDermott and Jimi's original engineer, Eddie Kramer to oversee the remastering process. They were able to find all the original master tapes, which had never been used for previous CD releases, and in April of 1997, Hendrix's first three albums were reissued with drastically improved sound. Accompanying those reissues was a posthumous compilation album (based on Jimi's handwritten track listings) called First Rays of the New Rising Sun, made up of tracks from the Cry of Love, Rainbow Bridge and War Heroes.

Later in 1997, another compilation called South Saturn Delta showed up, collecting more tracks from posthumous LPs like Crash Landing, War Heroes, and Rainbow Bridge (without the terrible '70s overdubs), along with a handful of never-before-heard material that Chas Chandler had withheld from Alan Douglas for all those years.

More archival material followed; Radio One was basically expanded to the two-disc BBC Sessions (released in 1998), and 1999 saw the release of the full show from Woodstock as well as additional concert recordings from the Band of Gypsies shows entitled Live at the Fillmore East. 2000 saw the release of the Jimi Hendrix Experience four-disc box set, which compiled remaining tracks from In the West, Crash Landing and Rainbow Bridge along with more rarities and alternates from the Chandler cache.

The family also launched Dagger Records, essentially an authorized bootleg label to supply hardcore Hendrix fans with material that would be of limited commercial appeal. Dagger released several live concerts (of shows in Oakland, Ottawa, Clark University in Massachusetts, Paris, San Francisco, Woburn in Bedfordshire, and Cologne) and a collection of studio jams and demos called Morning Symphony Ideas.

Mainstream Hendrix reissue activity continued during the 2000s and 2010s, spotlighted by major live albums originally recorded at the Isle of Wight (2002), Berkeley (2003), Monterey (2007), Winterland (2011), and the Miami Pop Festival (2013). In 2010, Sony issued a four-disc set titled West Coast Seattle Boy: The Jimi Hendrix Anthology, which offered a full disc of recordings from Hendrix's time as a backing guitarist. ~ Richie Unterberger & Sean Westergaard, Rovi
full bio

Selected Discography

Comments

voodoo child
Best version of All Along The Watchtower. Hendrix.
Short life
Drives us all
Hopes = dreams comn true, so we just keep dreaming!Q-) ) ) ) ) )
I saw Jimi back in the day in concert in Salt Lake City. Unmatched artistry, He is still miles ahead of everyone'
SAY ARIANA GRANDE .
CLOSE YOUR MOUTH .
POST ON ANOTHER SONG THEN CHECK UR VOICE
jimi didn't here his train a comin miss ya bro
This freaked me out. This isn't fake. Apparently, if you copy and paste this on ten comments in ten minutes, you will have the best day of your life tomorrow. You will either be kissed or asked out. If you break this chain, you will see a little girl in your room tonight. In the next 53 minutes someone will say I love you or I'm sorry.
One of his best, highway chile!
jimmyde31
Spanada oh yea
Log fire = rain
Hendrix never played sloppy, only made a racket from the inner depths of his soul, with subtle genius eccentriciti e s incomprehe n s i b l e to most ears. He made sounds that will never again be made even in this new age of electronic composing. Pure raw soul that escaped his body, breaking down the guidelines of music theory....mu s i c is still music as long as it follows a pattern, and the pattern Hendrix created can never be rivaled, only followed
if you want good live hendrix listen to Jimi Hendrix & Lonnie Youngblood Radio
Love this song for the last 40 years
and don't be late
yea no one can touch this s**t...not even close. Hendrix used his body and soul to sculpt a sound from another dimension. guitar hero is what it is today because of him. Hendrix even admits he can make a racket, but in no way is it sloppy. its a sound that is hard for us to comprehend because he was not much different than a creature from another realm. may your soul rest and on day return in another form
Mmm this song. Just Jimi Hendrix soothes the soul.
One tough jam here
Kiss your hand. Say ur crushes name. Pick out a weekday. Post this on 2 other songs Then ur crush will ask you out
twopottersin l o v e
Don't read this because it actually works. You will be kissed on the nearest Friday by the love of your life. Tomorrow will be the best day of your life. However if you don't post this you will die in 2 days. Now you started reading this so don't stop. This is so scary put this on at least 5 songs in the next 143 minutes. When done press f6 and your lovers name will appear on the screen in big letters this is so scary because it actually works
Like Jimi.......H o w about Red House?
Genius
Jimi revolutioniz e d , pioneered, and introduced a new and different sound to blues, acid rock, rock and R & B guitar. At the time he was the best at it and the only one advancing lead guitarmanshi p . John Mayer commented that he thought Hendrix played sloppy sometimes and as a guitar player myself, I can agree with that. What matters most is Jimi was relevant for his time and beyond to today, ....kinda like the Beatles. Not necessarily the best musicians but sorely relevant to the times and today.
Thank you daddy, had me listening to good music always . Love Jimi (: <3
love him......... . . . . K a t h e r i n e Sophia...... . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
I've been listening to and playing music for fifty years, and I'm here to tell you...No Body touches Jimmy!
Say iPhone 5 times
Pick a color
Post this on five other songs
Look under your pillow.
littlewing52 8
Let's all not for get Jimi served our country in the army quote he signed up for on his (own) and one bad jump got him out of the service to spare him to become the master of guitar as a ture american that he will allways be the greatest!
If 6 turned out to be 9, we wouldn't need 7 & 8!
good stuff
One of the greatest songs ever composed by Mr. Hendrix!!!!! !
To this day 40 plus yrs later and all the tech, and fancy boxs, STILL guitar players cannot co worse the Sound that emulated from Jimi's guitar. And NEVER will, unless you are willing to crossover and ask him.
One of the best ever.
seriously... . . . I am from that era.......I really fell jimi is way overrated. just sayin....... . . (I am not trying to make enemies on here....just my opinion).
Makes me wish I wasn't living when this was make. Jimi is a legend to me. This music has more heart then all the songs today combined. R.I.P. Jimi Hendrix.
The greatest I've ever heard its so sad so much music we didn't have a
Chance to hear
No
Jimi was and still is a guitar God...he was so good that as soon as he and some guys he put together were going to start mastering his own music they had him killed.
Yes I did I shot her.....
Jimi, if you can hear me, "We miss you. You are, as are others of your ilk, sorely missed but NEVER, EVER forgotten. Sweet Dreams".
Follow for follow (www.rodneyv a n c e t h e a r t i s t . c o m )
nicslager
The bio shouldn't insult the artist in it, just sayin'
kfitzgerald6 9 1
I have this record
Wow.
There will never be a master like Jimi. The man was the lead guitar in soul and spirit
steve421857
There will NEVER be another guitar player as innovative as Hendrix NEVER!!! Even the Great one's Clapton,Page , G i l m o r e , T o name a few have stated Jimi cannot be touched!!!!
One of my favorites, next to his "Voodo Chile (Extended Cut)"

Iooi
dsroyal913
Lol "Voodoo Chile (Extended Cut)" there are so many mistakes on Pandora.
I was a young teenager when i first seen him in real life and got to meet him, it was the happiest day in my life. They will not be another like him. He was one of the kind. Peace Jimi Your Music Will Never Die.
Awesome!
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