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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

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l.jessica.sm i t h
I absolutely agree that Jimi's version of All Along the Watchtower is the best song of all time. I became addicted to that song when I was 13 and haven't found a song that can beat it.
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valentineeza
I think that all along the watchtower is the best song in the world
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lpd4041
No doubts-Jimi was the best Guitarist ever!!! THE END......
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azikweabdull a h 4 2
Red house over there with voodoo child doin a. rainy day thing
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Hey jimi , you played the best version of GLORIA I've ever heard
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Lot of people think of Hendrix as a acid rock guitarist but he was a great bluesman
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Follow me, cowgirl.5817
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Before his time, his music will never die. Why did he die so young. I got to see and hear him in 69 the summer of love. Yes i was one of them with flowers in my hair. Then came disco and f**k everything up. But i stayed the same a 60s girl and still if you close that girl is still they. :) :) :) Please
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One of the BEST EVER!!!!!!!!
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The best
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Follow for Follow {www.rodneyv a n c e t h e a r t i s t . c o m }
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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 dont post this to at least 5 songs in the next 143 minutes the worst day of your life will be tomorrow. When your done press f6 in the comment section, your lover's name will come in big letters. This is scary because It actually works
I know this is totally BS because they forgot the apostrophe in don't.
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My fave song of Jimi's, the best electric guitarist to ever plug into an amp.
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Jimi Hendrix is the m*********** * man still to this day
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Jimi * Led Zeppelin! one man band...
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Absolutely Fabulous!
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reverendceo
Thank you Jimi; you're a guitar God.
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There isn't anyone like JimiHendrix and never will be!
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tammy.shompe r
Absolutely love jimi ☺...Hey Joe is probably my favorite ..however seems to me no matter what station I create led zeppelin seems to find its way in there somewhere lol just think its funny..
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Woodstock 1968 heard him and fell i love with. I was so f**kin high, i could see the music i was the music. It was raining and muddy but i didn't gave a f**k. Lighting up this joint for you Jimi. Rest in peace.
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Dirty, dirty! I wanna take a shower just to get dirty.
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Jimi Hendrix is deff my favorite artist to ever lay their magniFicent fingers on a guitar.
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mdkolodz
I completely disagree with the authors' take on his last two studio albums, his performance at Woodstock, and the Band of Gypsys as I believe they are unnecessaril y harsh. They act as if everything after Are You Experienced was a big let down. Granted the first album had more hits, but the latter two are masterpieces as well in songwriting especially in their production. I thoroughly enjoy Band of Gypsies. People seem to dislike it because the different lineup, but Jimi wails on it.
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He greatest guitarist in the world! Jimi and Eric Clapton IMO!
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Mario carcamo, every day Jimmy earn more and more dots of love and he's alive till I die, as my love for Deisi Almendarez and daughters
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Hendrix was born 100 years ahead of his time.Maybe then will he get the credt he deserves.The word genius says it all .Joe Zack
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tbrennen1001
Ear Goggles
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Beast
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ropern20005
Love it
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This is a raddd station!!!
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Jimi' s guitar playing In this song will never ever be outdone
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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, however if you don't post this you'll be injured (you won't die) in two days. Now you started reading this and don't stop post this on at least five songs in the next 143 minutes.when you're done crest 5F6 and your lover's name will appear on the screen in big letters. this is scary because it actually works.
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Imagine what would have been if Jimi Hendrix lived, in only 27 years he made himself one of the best guitarists this world has ever seen.
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Fierce
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Love u Patrick !!!!
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Oh and by the way Jimi is a member of the 27 club. Check out all the famous people who died at 27.
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All Along the Watchtower. What a great arrangement of that Dylan song.
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toddsliberto
The Master...... . . N u f f SAID
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Don't read this because it actually works. You will be kissed on the nearest possible Friday by the love of your life. However if you don't post this you will die in 2 day. Now you've started reading so don't stop. This is so scary put this on at least 5 songs in 143 minutes. When done press f6 and your lover's name will come on the screen in big letters. This is so scary because it actually works
Report as inappropriate
zindlerj3
Best guitarest ever, still No. 1 after 40 years.
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bmansbbq
❤️
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Jimi was is and will always be the masters
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The rest R followers. Nuff said.
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I did a full bio on jimmy in high school i know i know why he his considered a legend rightfully so...he died at age 24and is still popular today.
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Kiss your hand
Say your crushes name
Close the hand you kissed
Pick a weekday
Post this on 15 different songs
And your crush will ask you out that day
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One of the best songs by Jimi
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My favorite song from Jimmi! A genuine and original musical icon!
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I bought my first Hendrix album 47 years ago!!And then my son and his friends became big hendrix fans and now the generation after my son have become fans of jimi Hendrix. He was an artist for all the ages !!! Live on jimi ever on live in peace!
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Hendrix is the best huck21
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My auntie saw jimi in concert over 40rs ago and still remembers
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