James Marshall Hendrix
|Also Known As:||"Johnny Allen Hendrix", "Jimi Hendrix", "James Marshall Hendrix"|
|Birthplace:||Seattle, King, Washington, USA|
|Death:||Died in Kensington, Greater London, UK|
|Cause of death:||Inhalation of vomit, barbiturate intoxication (quinalbarbitone), Insufficient evidence of circumstances, open verdict|
|Place of Burial:||Greenwood Memorial Park, Renton, King, Washington, USA|
Son of James Allen "Al" Hendrix and Lucille Hendrix
Historical records matching James Hendrix
About James Hendrix
From Wikipedia (English):
James Marshall "Jimi" Hendrix (born Johnny Allen Hendrix; November 27, 1942 – September 18, 1970) was an American guitarist and singer-songwriter. He is widely considered to be the greatest guitarist in musical history, and one of the most influential musicians of his era across a range of genres.
After initial success in Europe with his group The Jimi Hendrix Experience, he achieved fame in the United States following his 1967 performance at the Monterey Pop Festival. Later, Hendrix headlined the iconic 1969 Woodstock Festival and the 1970 Isle of Wight Festival. He often favored raw overdriven amplifiers with high gain and treble and helped develop the previously undesirable technique of guitar amplifier feedback. Hendrix, as well as his friend Eric Clapton, popularized use of the wah-wah pedal in mainstream rock which he often used to deliver an exaggerated sense of pitch in his solos, particularly with high bends, complex guitar playing, and use of legato. As a record producer, Hendrix also broke new ground in using the recording studio as an extension of his musical ideas. He was one of the first to experiment with stereophonic phasing effects for rock recording.
Hendrix was influenced by blues artists such as B.B. King, Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf, Albert King and Elmore James, rhythm and blues and soul guitarists Curtis Mayfield and Steve Cropper, and the jazz guitarist Wes Montgomery. Hendrix (who was then known as 'Maurice James') began dressing and wearing a moustache like Little Richard when he performed and recorded in his band from March 1, 1964 through to the spring of 1965. In 1966, Hendrix stated, "I want to do with my guitar what Little Richard does with his voice."
Hendrix won many of the most prestigious rock music awards in his lifetime, and has been posthumously awarded many more, including being inducted into the US Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1992 and the UK Music Hall of Fame in 2005. An English Heritage blue plaque was erected in his name on his former residence at Brook Street, London, in September 1997. A star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame (at 6627 Hollywood Blvd.) was dedicated in 1994. In 2006, his debut US album, Are You Experienced, was inducted into the United States National Recording Registry, and Rolling Stone named Hendrix the top guitarist on its list of the 100 greatest guitarists of all-time in 2003.
Born Johnny Allen Hendrix on November 27, 1942, in Seattle, Washington, the first of five children to James Allen "Al" Hendrix (10 June 1919, Vancouver, British Columbia – 17 April 2002, Renton, Washington) and Lucille Jeter (12 October 1925, Seattle, Washington – 2 February 1958, Renton, Washington).
Hendrix was part Cherokee, his paternal great-great grandmother being a full-blooded Cherokee from Georgia. His parents met at a dance in Seattle in 1941 when Lucille Jeter was 16. When she married Al Hendrix on March 13, 1942, she was pregnant. Al had been drafted into the United States Army due to World War II and was shipped out three days later. Al Hendrix completed his basic training at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, but was stationed in Alabama when his son was born. Because the commanding officer believed that he would go AWOL to Seattle in order to visit his new son, he was locked up in the stockade as a preventative measure, where he remained to receive the telegram informing him of his son's birth. Ironically, the baby that would grow up to become the guitarist Jimi Hendrix was born to a father who had six fingers on each hand. Al Hendrix spent the war in the South Pacific Theater mostly in Fiji. During the three years that he was away, Lucille struggled with raising her infant son who was neglected in favor of the nightlife scene. Thus Hendrix was mostly cared for by family members and others during this period. His father received an honorable discharge from the U.S. Army on September 1, 1945, and retrieved his son from a woman who was caring for him in Berkeley. Al legally changed his son’s name to James Marshall Hendrix in memory of his late brother, Leon Marshall Hendrix. He was known as "Buster" to friends and family, from birth. After his return, Al reunited with Lucille. He found it difficult to gain steady employment after the Second World War, and the family was impoverished. Like Lucille, Al also struggled with alcohol and the couple had frequent fights. At one point a pimp named John Page who had a history with Lucille even tried to commandeer her out of a movie theater while she was with Al. Al objected and a fight ensued, spilling out into the street. Al had been an amateur boxer and stunned the pimp with a first punch, eventually winning the brawl and they never saw the pimp again.
During the early years of Hendrix’s life, the turmoil caused by his parent's fighting would sometimes cause him to withdraw and hide in a closet in their home. They moved often, staying in cheap hotels and apartments around Seattle. Throughout his childhood Hendrix would periodically be dropped off to be cared for by relatives. Inevitably this all left an imprint on him as a small child which would remain with him the rest of his life. In addition to the instability of his home life, Hendrix in later years confided to two different girlfriends that as a youth he had been sexually assaulted by a man, although he never elaborated. In one instance while he was living in Harlem, Hendrix broke down crying as his girlfriend related the sexual abuse she had suffered as a child, telling her that the same thing had happened to him.
Hendrix had two brothers, Leon and Joseph, and two sisters, Kathy and Pamela. Joseph was born with physical difficulties and was placed in foster care at age three. His two sisters were also both placed in foster care at a young age. Kathy was born blind and Pamela suffered lesser physical difficulties. On December 17, 1951, when Hendrix was nine years old, his parents divorced. His mother developed cirrhosis of the liver and died on February 2, 1958, when the state of her liver caused her spleen to rupture. On occasion, he was placed in the care of his paternal grandmother in Vancouver, British Columbia because of the unstable household, and his brother Leon was placed in foster care temporarily.Hendrix was a shy and sensitive boy, deeply affected by the poverty and family disruption he experienced at a young age. Unusual for his era, Hendrix's high school had a relatively even ethnic mix of African Americans, European Americans, and Asian Americans. First guitar
At age 15, around the time his mother died, he acquired his first acoustic guitar for $5 from an acquaintance of his father. This guitar replaced both the broomstick he had been strumming in imitation, and a ukulele which his father had found while cleaning a garage. Hendrix learned to play by practicing for several hours a day, watching others play, getting tips from more experienced players, and listening to records. In mid-1959, his father bought Hendrix a white Supro Ozark, his first electric guitar, but there was no available amplifier. According to fellow Seattle bandmates, he learned most of his acrobatic stage moves, a major part of the blues/R&B tradition, including playing with his teeth and behind his back, from a fellow young musician, Raleigh "Butch" Snipes, guitarist with local band The Sharps. Hendrix himself performed Chuck Berry's trademark "duck walk" on occasion. Hendrix played in a couple of local bands, occasionally playing outlying gigs in Washington State and at least once over the border in Vancouver, British Columbia.
Hendrix was particularly fond of Elvis Presley, whom he saw perform in Seattle, in 1957. Leon Hendrix claimed in an early interview that Little Richard appeared in his Central District neighborhood and shook hands with his brother, Jimi. This is unattested elsewhere and vehemently denied by his father. He also claimed that Richard was visiting his mother there at the time, when Richard's mother actually lived in Los Angeles. Hendrix's early exposure to blues music came from listening to records by Muddy Waters and B.B. King which his father owned. Another early impression came from the 1954 western Johnny Guitar, in which the hero carries no gun but instead wears a guitar slung behind his back.
Hendrix's first gig was with an unnamed band in the basement of a synagogue, Seattle's Temple De Hirsch. After too much wild playing and showing off, he was fired between sets. The first formal band he played in was The Velvetones, who performed regularly at the Yesler Terrace Neighborhood House without pay. He later joined the Rocking Kings, who played professionally at such venues as the Birdland. When his guitar was stolen (after he left it backstage overnight), Al bought him a white Silvertone Danelectro. He painted it red and had "Betty Jean" emblazoned on it — the name of his high school girlfriend.
Hendrix completed junior high at Washington Junior High School with little trouble but did not graduate from Garfield High School. Later he was awarded an honorary diploma, and in the 1990s a bust of him was placed in the school library. After he became famous in the late 1960s, Hendrix told reporters that he had been expelled from Garfield by racist faculty for holding hands with a white girlfriend in study hall. Principal Frank Hanawalt says that it was simply due to poor grades and attendance problems. In the Army
Hendrix got into trouble with the law twice for riding in stolen cars. He was given a choice between spending two years in prison or joining the Army. Hendrix chose the latter and enlisted on May 31, 1961. After completing basic training, he was assigned to the 101st Airborne Division and stationed in Fort Campbell, Kentucky. His commanding officers and fellow soldiers considered him to be a subpar soldier: he slept while on duty, had little regard for regulations, required constant supervision, and showed no skill as a marksman. For these reasons, his commanding officers submitted a request that Hendrix be discharged from the military after he had served only one year. Hendrix did not object when the opportunity to leave arose. He would later tell reporters that he received a medical discharge after breaking his ankle during his 26th parachute jump. The rock music journalist Charles Cross contended in his biography of Hendrix, Room Full of Mirrors (2005) that Hendrix feigned being homosexual—claiming to have fallen in love with a fellow soldier—in order to be discharged, but did not produce credible evidence to support this contention.
At the base recreation center, Hendrix met fellow soldier and bass player Billy Cox, and the two forged a loyal friendship that Hendrix would call upon from April 1969 until Billy's breakdown shortly before Hendrix's death. The two would often perform with other musicians at venues both on and off the base as a loosely organized band there named the Casuals. As a celebrity in the UK, Hendrix mentioned his military service in three published interviews; one in 1967 for the film See My Music Talking (much later released under the title Experience), which was intended for TV to promote his recently released Axis: Bold as Love LP, in which he spoke very briefly of his first parachuting experience: "...once you get out there everything is so quiet, all you hear is the breezes-s-s-s..." This comment has later been used to claim that he was saying that this was one of the sources of his "spacy" guitar sound. The second and third mentions of his military experience were in interviews for Melody Maker in 1967 and 1969, where he spoke of his dislike of the army. In interviews in the US, Hendrix almost never mentioned it, and when Dick Cavett brought it up in his TV interview, Hendrix's only response was to verify that he had been based at Fort Campbell.
After his Army discharge, Hendrix and Army friend Billy Cox moved to nearby Clarksville, Tennessee and undertook in earnest to earn a living with their existing band. Hendrix had already seen Butch Snipes play with his teeth in Seattle and now Alphonso 'Baby Boo' Young the other guitarist in the band, was featuring this gimmick. Not to be upstaged, it was then that Hendrix learned to play with his teeth properly, according to Hendrix himself: "... the idea of doing that came to me in a town in Tennessee. Down there you have to play with your teeth or else you get shot. There’s a trail of broken teeth all over the stage..." They played mainly in low-paying gigs at obscure venues. The band eventually moved to Nashville's Jefferson Street, the traditional heart of Nashville's black community and home to a lively rhythm and blues scene. After they moved to Nashville, upon learning there was already an established band by the name "The Casuals", they amended their name to the "King Kasuals". While in Nashville, according to Cox and Larry Lee—who replaced Alphonso Young on guitar—they were basically the house band at "Club del Morocco". Hendrix and Cox shared a flat above "Joyce's House of Glamour". Hendrix's girlfriend at this time was Joyce Lucas. Bill 'Hoss' Allen's memory of Hendrix's supposed participation in a session with Billy Cox in November 1962, in which he cut Hendrix's contribution due to his over-the-top playing, has now been called into question; a suggestion has been made that he may have confused this with a later 1965 session by Frank Howard and the Commanders in which Hendrix participated. In December 1962, Hendrix visited his relatives in Vancouver, Canada, where as a child he had sometimes lived with his grandmother. It has been claimed that while there, he performed with future members of the Motown band Bobby Taylor & the Vancouvers, including Tommy Chong (of later Cheech & Chong fame). Chong, however, disputes this ever happened and that any such appearance is a product of Taylor's "imagination". In early 1963, Hendrix returned to the South. For the next two years, Hendrix made a living performing on a circuit of venues throughout the South catering to black audiences. These were venues affiliated with the Theater Owners' Booking Association (TOBA), sarcastically known as "Tough on Black Asses" because the audiences were very demanding. The TOBA circuit was also widely known as the Chitlin' Circuit. In addition to performing in his own band, Hendrix performed with Bob Fisher and the Bonnevilles, and in backing bands for various soul, R&B, and blues musicians, including Chuck Jackson, Slim Harpo, Tommy Tucker, Sam Cooke, and Jackie Wilson. The Chitlin' Circuit was where Hendrix refined his style.
Feeling he had artistically outgrown the circuit and frustrated at following the rules of bandleaders, Hendrix decided to try his luck in New York City and in January 1964 moved into the Hotel Theresa in Harlem, where he soon befriended Lithofayne Pridgeon (known as "Faye", who became his girlfriend) and the Allen twins, Arthur and Albert (now known as Taharqa and Tunde-Ra Aleem). The Allen twins became friends and kept Hendrix out of trouble in New York. The twins also performed as backup singers (under the name Ghetto Fighters) on some of his recordings, most notably the song "Freedom". Pridgeon, a Harlem native with connections throughout the area's music scene, provided Hendrix with shelter, support, and encouragement. In February 1964, Hendrix won first prize in the Apollo Theater amateur contest. Hoping to land a gig, Hendrix made the club circuit and sat in with various bands. Eventually, Hendrix was offered the guitarist position with The Isley Brothers' back-up band and he readily accepted.
Hendrix' first studio recording occurred in March 1964, when the Isley Brothers, with Hendrix as a member of the band, recorded the two-part single "Testify". Hendrix then went on tour with the Isley Brothers. "Testify" was released in June 1964, but did not make an impact on the charts. After touring as a member of the Isley Brothers until mid-late 1964, Hendrix grew dissatisfied and left the band in Nashville. There, he found work with the tour's MC "Gorgeous" George Odell. On March 1, 1964, Hendrix (then calling himself Maurice James) began recording and performing with Little Richard. Hendrix would later (1966) say, "I want to do with my guitar what Little Richard does with his voice." During a stop in Los Angeles while touring with Little Richard in 1965, Hendrix played a session for Rosa Lee Brooks on her single "My Diary". This was his first recorded involvement with Arthur Lee of the band "Love". While in L.A., he also played on the session for Little Richard's final single for Vee-Jay, "I Don't Know What You've Got, But It's Got Me". He later made his first recorded TV appearance on Nashville's Channel 5 Night Train with "The Royal Company" backing up "Buddy and Stacy" on "Shotgun". Hendrix clashed with Richard, over tardiness, wardrobe, and, above all, Hendrix's stage antics. On tour they shared billing a couple of times with Ike and Tina Turner. It has been suggested that Hendrix left Richard and played with the Turners briefly before returning to Richard, but there is no firm evidence to support this. Hendrix mentioned playing with them, and Ike Turner shortly before his death claimed that he did, but this is emphatically denied by Tina. Months later, he was either fired or he left after missing the tour bus in Washington, D.C. He then rejoined the Isley Brothers in the summer of 1965 and recorded a second single with them, "Move Over and Let Me Dance" backed with "Have You Ever Been Disappointed" (1965 Atlantic 45-2303).
Later in 1965, Hendrix joined a New York–based R&B band, Curtis Knight and the Squires, after meeting Knight in the lobby of the Hotel America, off Times Square, where both men were living at the time. He performed on and off with them for eight months. In October 1965, Hendrix recorded a single with Curtis Knight, "How Would You Feel" backed with "Welcome Home" (1966 RSVP 1120) and on October 15 he signed a three-year recording contract with entrepreneur Ed Chalpin, receiving 1% royalty. While the relationship with Chalpin was short-lived, his contract remained in force, which caused considerable problems for Hendrix later on in his career. The legal dispute has continued to the present day. (Several songs (and demos) from the 1965–1966 Curtis Knight recording sessions, deemed not worth releasing at the time, were marketed as "Jimi Hendrix" recordings after he became famous.) Aside from Curtis Knight and the Squires, Hendrix then toured for two months with Joey Dee and the Starliters.
In between performing with Curtis Knight in 1966, Hendrix toured and recorded with King Curtis. Hendrix recorded the two-part single "Help Me (Get the Feeling)" with Ray Sharpe and the King Curtis Orchestra (1966 Atco 45-6402) (the backing track was subsequently overdubbed by other vocalists with different lyrics and released as new songs). Later in 1966, Hendrix also recorded with Lonnie Youngblood, a saxophone player who occasionally performed with Curtis Knight. The sessions produced two singles for Youngblood: "Go Go Shoes"/"Go Go Place" (Fairmount F-1002) and "Soul Food (That's What I Like)"/"Goodbye Bessie Mae" (Fairmount F-1022). Additionally, singles for other artists came out of the sessions: The Icemen's "(My Girl) She's a Fox"/ "(I Wonder) What It Takes" (1966 SAMAR S-111) and Jimmy Norman's "You're Only Hurting Yourself"/"That Little Old Groove Maker" (1966 SAMAR S-112). As with the King Curtis recordings, backing tracks and alternate takes for the Youngblood sessions would be overdubbed and otherwise manipulated to create many "new" tracks. (Many Youngblood tracks without any Hendrix involvement would later be marketed as "Jimi Hendrix" recordings). Also around this time in 1966, Hendrix got his first composer credits for two instrumentals "Hornets Nest" and "Knock Yourself Out", released as a Curtis Knight and the Squires single (1966 RSVP 1124).
Hendrix, now going by the name Jimmy James, formed his own band, The Blue Flame, composed of Randy Palmer (bass), Danny Casey (drums), a 15-year-old guitarist who played slide and rhythm named Randy Wolfe, and the occasional stand in June 1966.
Since there were two musicians named "Randy" in the group, Hendrix dubbed Wolfe "Randy California" (as he had recently moved from there to New York City) and Palmer (a Tejano) "Randy Texas". Randy California would later co-found the band Spirit with his stepfather, drummer Ed Cassidy. It was around this time that Hendrix's only daughter Tamika was conceived with Diana Carpenter (also known as Regina Jackson), a teenage runaway and prostitute that he briefly stayed with. Her claim has not been recognized by the US courts where, after death, she may not have a claim on his estate even if she could legally prove he was her father, unless recognized previously as such by him or the courts.
Hendrix and his new band played at several places in New York, but their primary venue was a residency at the Cafe Wha? on MacDougal Street in Greenwich Village. The street runs along "Washington (Square) Park" which appeared in at least two of Hendrix's songs. Their last concerts were at the Cafe au Go Go, as John Hammond Jr.'s backing group, billed as "The Blue Flame". Singer-guitarist Ellen McIlwaine and guitarist Jeff "Skunk" Baxter also claim to have briefly worked with Hendrix in this period.
The Jimi Hendrix Experience
Early in 1966 at the Cheetah Club on Broadway at 53rd Street, Linda Keith, the girlfriend of Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards, befriended Hendrix and recommended him to Stones' manager Andrew Loog Oldham and later, producer Seymour Stein. Neither man took a liking to Hendrix's music, and they both passed. She then referred Hendrix to Chas Chandler, who was ending his tenure as bassist in The Animals and looking for talent to manage and produce. Chandler liked the song "Hey Joe" and was convinced he could create a hit single with the right artist.
Impressed with Hendrix's version, Chandler brought him to London and signed him to a management and production contract with himself and ex-Animals manager Michael Jeffery. It was Chandler who came up with the spelling change of "Jimmy" to "Jimi". Chandler then helped Hendrix form a new band, The Jimi Hendrix Experience, with guitarist-turned-bassist Noel Redding and drummer Mitch Mitchell, both English musicians. Shortly before the Experience was formed, Chandler introduced Hendrix to Pete Townshend and to Eric Clapton, who had only recently helped put together Cream. At Chandler's request, Cream let Hendrix join them on stage for a jam on the song "Killing Floor". Hendrix and Clapton remained friends up until Hendrix's death. The first night he arrived in London, he began a relationship with Kathy Etchingham that lasted until February 1969. She later wrote an autobiographical book about their relationship and the sixties London scene in general.
Hendrix sometimes had a camp sense of humor, specifically with the song "Purple Haze". A mondegreen had appeared, in which the line "'Scuse me while I kiss the sky" was misheard as "'Scuse me while I kiss this guy." In a few performances, Hendrix humorously used this, deliberately singing "kiss this guy" while pointing to Mitch or Noel, as he did at Monterey. In the Woodstock DVD he deliberately points to the sky at this point, to make it clear. A volume of misheard lyrics has been published, using this mondegreen itself as the title, with Hendrix on the cover.
After his enthusiastically received performance at France's No. 1 venue, the Olympia theatre in Paris on the Johnny Hallyday tour, an on-stage jam with Cream, a showcase gig at the newly opened, pop-celebrity oriented nightclub Bag O'Nails and the all important appearances on the top UK TV pop shows "Ready Steady Go!" and the BBC's "Top of the Pops", word of Hendrix spread throughout the London music community in late 1966. His showmanship and virtuosity made instant fans of reigning guitar heroes Eric Clapton and Jeff Beck, as well as Brian Jones and members of The Beatles and The Who, whose managers signed Hendrix to their new record label, Track Records.
Hendrix's first single was a cover of "Hey Joe", using Tim Rose's slower arrangement of the song including his addition of a female backing chorus. Backing this first 1966 "Experience" single was Hendrix's first songwriting effort, "Stone Free". Further success came in early 1967 with "Purple Haze" which featured the "Hendrix chord" and "The Wind Cries Mary". The three singles were all UK Top 10 hits and were also popular internationally including Europe, Australia, New Zealand and Japan (though failed to sell when released later in the US). Onstage, Hendrix was also making an impression with sped up renderings of the B.B. King hit "Rock Me Baby" and Howlin' Wolf's hit "Killing Floor".
Are You Experienced
The first Jimi Hendrix Experience album, Are You Experienced, was released in the United Kingdom on May 12, 1967 and shortly thereafter internationally, outside of USA and Canada. It contained none of the previously released (outside USA and Canada) singles or their B sides ("Hey Joe/Stone Free", "Purple Haze/51st Anniversary" and "The Wind Cries Mary/Highway Chile"). Only The Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band prevented Are You Experienced from reaching No. 1 on the UK charts.
At this time, the Experience extensively toured the United Kingdom and parts of Europe. This allowed Hendrix to develop his stage presence, which reached a high point on March 31, 1967, when, booked to appear as one of the opening acts on the Walker Brothers farewell tour, he set his guitar on fire at the end of his first performance, as a publicity stunt. This guitar has now been identified as the "Zappa guitar" (previously thought to have been from Miami), which has been partly refurbished.[clarification needed] Later, as part of this press promotion campaign, there were articles about Rank Theatre management warning him to "tone down" his "suggestive" stage act, with Chandler stating that the group would not compromise regardless. On June 4, 1967, the Experience played their last show in England, at London's Saville Theatre, before heading off to America. The Beatles' Sgt. Pepper album had just been released on June 1 and two Beatles (Paul McCartney and George Harrison) were in attendance, along with a roll call of other UK rock stardom, including: Brian Epstein, Eric Clapton, Spencer Davis, Jack Bruce, and pop singer Lulu. Hendrix opened the show with his own rendering of "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band", rehearsed only minutes before taking the stage, much to McCartney's astonishment and delight.
While on tour in Sweden in 1967, Hendrix jammed with the duo Hansson & Karlsson, and later opened several concerts with their song "Tax Free", also recording a cover of it during the Electric Ladyland sessions. He played there frequently throughout his career, and his only son James Daniel Sundquist was born there in 1969 to a Swede, Eva Sundquist, recognized as such by the Swedish courts and paid a settlement by Experience Hendrix LLC. He wrote a poem to a woman there (probably Sundquist).
Sundquist had sent Hendrix roses on each of his opening nights in Stockholm, and began – according to the Swedish courts – a sexual relationship from then until conceiving Daniel with him, after his third visit in January 1969. Hendrix also dedicated songs to the Swedish-based Vietnam deserters organization in 1969.
Months later, Reprise Records released the US and Canadian version of Are You Experienced with a new cover by Karl Ferris, removing "Red House", "Remember" and "Can You See Me" to make room for the first three single A-sides. Where the (Rest of the World) album kicked off with "Foxy Lady", the US and Canadian one started with "Purple Haze". Both versions offered a startling introduction to the Jimi Hendrix Experience, and the album was a blueprint for what had become possible on an electric guitar, basically recorded on four tracks, mixed into mono and only modified at this point by a "fuzz" pedal, reverb and a small bit of the experimental "Octavia" pedal on "Purple Haze", produced by Roger Mayer in consultation with Hendrix. A remix using the mostly mono backing tracks with the guitar and vocal overdubs separated and occasionally panned to create a stereo mix was also released, only in the US and Canada.
Although very popular in Europe at this time, The Jimi Hendrix Experience had yet to crack America. Their first single there, "Hey Joe" c/w "51st Anniversary" (Reprise 0572, released 1 May 1967), failed to reach the Billboard chart.
Their chance came when Paul McCartney recommended the group to the organizers of the Monterey International Pop Festival. This proved to be a great opportunity for Hendrix, not only because of the large audience present at the event, but also because of the many journalists covering the event who wrote about him. The performances were filmed by D. A. Pennebaker and later shown in some movie theaters around the country in early 1969 as the concert documentary Monterey Pop, which immortalized Hendrix's iconic burning and smashing of his guitar at the finale of his performance.
The opening song was Hendrix's very fast arrangement of Howlin' Wolf's 1965 R&B hit "Killing Floor". He played this frequently from late 1965 through 1968, usually as the opener to his shows. The Monterey performance included an equally lively rendering of B.B. King's 1964 R&B hit "Rock Me Baby", Tim Rose's arrangement of "Hey Joe" and Bob Dylan's 1965 Pop hit "Like a Rolling Stone". The set ended with The Troggs "Wild Thing" and Hendrix repeating the act that had boosted his profile in the UK (and internationally) with him burning his guitar on stage, then smashing it to bits and tossing pieces out to the audience. This show finally brought Hendrix to the notice of the US public. A large chunk of this guitar was on display at the Experience Music Project in Seattle, along with the other psychedelically painted Stratocaster that Hendrix smashed (but did not burn) at his farewell concert in England before he left for the US and Monterey.
At the time Hendrix was playing sets in the Scene club in NYC in July 1967, he met Frank Zappa, whose Mothers of Invention were playing the adjacent Garrick Theater, and he was reportedly fascinated by Zappa's recently purchased wah-wah pedal. Hendrix immediately bought one from Manny's and starting using it right away on the sessions for both sides of his new single, and slightly later, on several jams recorded at Ed Chalpin's studio.
Following the festival, the Experience played a series of concerts at Bill Graham's Fillmore replacing the original headliners Jefferson Airplane at the top of the bill. It was at this time that Hendrix became acquainted with future musical collaborator Stephen Stills, and reacquainted himself with Buddy Miles who introduced Hendrix to his future partner, Devon Wilson. She had a turbulent on/off relationship with him, right up to the night of his death, and was the only one of his partners to record with him. She died only six months after Hendrix under mysterious circumstances, apparently falling from an upper window in the Chelsea Hotel. Following this very successful West Coast introduction, which also included two open air concerts (one of them a free concert in the "panhandle" of Golden Gate Park) and a concert at the Whisky a Go Go, they were booked as one of the opening acts for pop group The Monkees on their first American tour. The Monkees asked for Hendrix because they were fans, but their (mostly early teens) audience sometimes did not warm to their act, and he quit the tour after a few dates. Chas Chandler later admitted that being thrown off the Monkees tour was engineered to gain maximum media impact and publicity for Hendrix, similar to that gained from the manufactured Rank Theatre's indecency dispute on the earlier UK Walker Brothers tour. At the time, a story circulated claiming that Hendrix was removed from the tour because of complaints made by the Daughters of the American Revolution that his stage conduct was "lewd and indecent". This report was concocted by a journalist accompanying the tour, the Australian Lillian Roxon. Meanwhile in Western Europe, where Hendrix was appreciated for his authentic blues as well as his hit singles and recognized for his avant-garde musical ideas, his wild-man image and musical gimmickry (such as playing the guitar with his teeth and behind his back) had faded; but they later plagued him in the US following Monterey. He became frustrated by the US media and audience when they concentrated on his stage tricks and best known songs.
Axis: Bold as Love
The Jimi Hendrix Experience's second 1967 album, Axis: Bold as Love was his first recording made for stereo release and used panning and other stereo effects. It continued the style established by Are You Experienced. The opening track, "EXP", featured a stereo effect in which a sound emanating from Hendrix's guitar appeared to revolve around the listener, fading out into the distance from the right channel, then returning in on the left. This album marked the first time Hendrix recorded the whole album with his guitar tuned down one half-step, to E♭, which he used exclusively thereafter and was his first to feature the wah-wah pedal. A mishap almost delayed the album's pre-Christmas release: Hendrix lost the master tape of side one of the LP, leaving it in the back seat of a London taxi. With the release deadline looming, Hendrix, Chas Chandler and engineer Eddie Kramer had to remix most of side one in an overnight session, but they could not match the lost mix of "If 6 was 9". They soon learned that bassist Noel Redding had a tape recording of this mix. The tape had to be smoothed out as it had gotten wrinkled. Hendrix was disappointed that the album had to be finished so quickly and felt it could have been better, given more time. He was also somewhat disappointed in the album cover art work, which depicts Hendrix and his Experience bandmates as the various forms of Vishnu, incorporating a painting of them by Roger Law (from a photo-portrait by Karl Ferris). Hendrix remarked that it would have been more appropriate if the cover had highlighted his American Indian heritage.
The album was released in the UK near the end of their first headlining tour there, after which the pace slowed briefly during the Christmas holidays. In January 1968 the group went to Sweden for a short tour, and after the first show Hendrix, reportedly after drinking and according to Hendrix his drink being spiked, went berserk and smashed up his hotel room in a rage, injuring his hand and culminating in his arrest. Then on the 6th in Denmark his famous hat was stolen. The rest of the tour was uneventful, though Hendrix had to spend some time in Sweden waiting for his trial and eventual large fine.
Hendrix's third recording, the double album Electric Ladyland (1968), was a departure from previous efforts. Following his third and penultimate French concert at the Paris Olympia, Hendrix flew to the US to start his first tour there, and after two months returned to his Electric Ladyland project at the newly opened Record Plant Studios with engineers Eddie Kramer and Gary Kellgren and initially Chas Chandler as producer.
As the album's recording progressed, Chas Chandler became so frustrated with Hendrix's perfectionism and with various friends and guests milling about the studio that he decided to sever his professional relationship with Hendrix. Chandler's departure had a clear impact on the artistic direction that the recording took.
Hendrix began experimenting with different combinations of musicians and instruments, and modern electronic effects. For example, Dave Mason, Chris Wood, and Steve Winwood from the band Traffic, drummer Buddy Miles and former Bob Dylan organist Al Kooper, among others, were involved in the recording sessions. He described how Hendrix went from a disciplined recording regimen to an erratic schedule, which often saw him beginning recording sessions in the middle of the night and with any number of guests.
Chandler also expressed exasperation at the number of times Hendrix would insist on rerecording particular tracks; the song "Gypsy Eyes" was reportedly recorded 43 times. This was also frustrating for bassist Noel Redding, who would often leave the studio to calm himself, only to return and find that Hendrix had recorded the bass parts himself during Redding's absence.
Electric Ladyland includes "Voodoo Chile (Slight Return)" as well as Hendrix's rendering of Bob Dylan's "All Along the Watchtower".
Throughout the four years of his fame, Hendrix often appeared at impromptu jams with various musicians, such as B.B. King. In March 1968, Jim Morrison of The Doors joined Hendrix onstage at New York's Scene Club. Albums of this Electric Ladyland-era bootleg recording were released under various titles, some falsely claiming the presence of Johnny Winter, who has denied, several times, being a participant at that jam session, and to ever having met Morrison.
Breakup of Jimi Hendrix Experience
After a year based in the US, Hendrix temporarily moved back to London and into his girlfriend Kathy Etchingham's rented Brook Street flat, next door to the Handel House Museum, in the West End of London. During this time The Jimi Hendrix Experience toured Scandinavia, Germany, and included a final French concert. They later performed two sold-out concerts at London's Royal Albert Hall on February 18 and February 24, 1969, which were the last European appearances of this line-up of the "Jimi Hendrix Experience". A Gold and Goldstein-produced film titled Experience was also recorded at these two shows, which, according to Experience Hendrix LLC, "Elements of these recordings are sure to be utilized when the official release of this material is finally made."
Noel Redding felt increasingly frustrated by the fact that he was not playing his original and favored instrument, the guitar. In 1968, he decided to form his own band, Fat Mattress, which would sometimes open for the Experience (Hendrix would jokingly refer to them as "Thin Pillow"). Redding and Hendrix would begin seeing less and less of each other, which also had an effect in the studio, with Hendrix playing many of the bass parts on Electric Ladyland.
Fruitless recording sessions at Olympic in London; Olmstead and the Record Plant in New York that ended on April 9, which only produced a remake of Stone Free for a possible single release, were the last to feature Redding. Hendrix then flew Billy Cox to New York and started recording and rehearsing with him on April 21 as a replacement for Noel.
In a recorded interview by Nancy Carter on June 15 at his hotel in Los Angeles, Hendrix announced that he had been recording with Cox and that he would be replacing Noel as bass player in "The Jimi Hendrix Experience".
The last Experience concert took place on June 29, 1969 at Barry Fey's Denver Pop Festival, a three-day event held at Denver's Mile High Stadium that was marked by police firing tear gas into the audience as they played "Voodoo Chile (Slight Return)". The band escaped from the venue in the back of a rental truck which was partly crushed by fans trying to escape the tear gas. The next day, Noel Redding announced that he had quit the Experience.
Gypsy Sun and Rainbows
After the departure of Noel Redding from the group, Hendrix rented the eight-bedroom 'Ashokan House' in the hamlet of Boiceville near Woodstock in upstate New York, where he spent some time in mid-1969. Manager Michael Jeffery, who had a house in Woodstock, arranged the stay, with hopes that the respite would produce a new album. To replace Redding as bassist, Hendrix had been rehearsing and recording with Billy Cox, his old and trusted Army buddy, since at least April 21. Mitchell was unavailable to help fulfill Hendrix's commitments at this time, which include his first appearance on US TV – on the Dick Cavett show – where he was backed by the studio orchestra, and an appearance on The Tonight Show where he appeared with his new bass player Billy Cox, and session drummer Ed Shaughnessy sitting in for Mitchell.
Hendrix was advertised to play the Woodstock Music Festival, along with many of the other biggest rock groups of the time. It was to take place on rented farmland in Upper State New York from August 15-18, 1969. Although Hendrix's music had been written for a power trio of guitar, bass, and drums, he wanted to expand his sound so he added rhythm guitarist Larry Lee (another old friend from his R&B days), and Juma Sultan and Jerry Velez to play congas. After drummer Mitch Mitchell arrived, this new lineup rehearsed for less than two weeks before the festival and according to Mitchell never really meshed. In addition, although Woodstock would become famous and mythologized through the documentary film of the same name, by the time of his performance, Hendrix had been up for three days, and his band was short on sleep as well, contributing a rawness to their filmed performance.
Before Hendrix even arrived at the festival he started to hear media reports that the crowds of kids showing up for the festival were swelling to biblical proportions, in addition to the emerging logistical problems being reported at the site. This gave Hendrix pause for concern since he did not like performing in front of very large crowds. Since he was considered an important draw for the festival, and because of his manager's negotiations, Hendrix was getting paid more than the other performers, ($18,000, plus $12,000 for rights to film him). As the scheduled time slot of Sunday night at midnight drew closer, Hendrix indicated that he would rather wait and close the show. A substantial rainstorm that day had delayed the schedule of performers, so when Hendrix insisted on being the closing headliner, it pushed back the time when they finally hit the stage - which ended up being 8:30am Monday morning. The audience which had peaked at an estimated 400,000 people during the festival, was now reduced to about 30-40,000 by that point; many of whom merely waited to catch a glimpse of Hendrix before leaving during his show. This reflected the reality that by the third day attendees had been sleeping in muddy conditions with limited food.
Hendrix and his band were introduced by the festival MC, Chip Monck, as "The Jimi Hendrix Experience,” but once on stage Hendrix clarified saying, "We decided to change the whole thing around and call it 'Gypsy Sun and Rainbows.' For short, it's nothin but a 'Band of Gypsys.'" He then launched into a two hour set, the longest of his career. Hendrix started off with a new song, “Message to Love." (His Woodstock set consisting of new material, along with his well-known hits).
Hendrix's psychedelic rendition of the U.S. national anthem, "The Star-Spangled Banner" occurred about 3/4 into their set, (after which he morphed into "Purple Haze"). The song had actually been part of his set for a year and he had already performed it on at least three different occasions. During the number, Hendrix used feedback and sustain on his guitar to recreate the sound of wails and falling rockets. Although pundits quickly branded the song as a political manifesto against the Vietnam War, Hendrix himself never explained its meaning other than to say at a press conference three weeks later, "We're all Americans. . .it was like 'Go America!'. . .We play it the way the air is in America today. The air is slightly static, see." Whatever Hendrix’s motivation, "the song became part of the sixties Zeitgeist" as it was captured forever in the Woodstock film. Hendrix's iconic image performing this number wearing a blue-beaded white leather jacket with fringe and a red head scarf, has since been regarded as a defining moment of the 1960’s.
Hendrix performed "Hey Joe" as the encore to finish off their set which concluded the 3 and ½ day Woodstock Music Festival. Upon leaving the stage Hendrix collapsed from exhaustion. After Woodstock, this particular lineup of the band appeared on only two more occasions. The first was a street benefit in Harlem where, in a scenario similar to the festival, most of the audience had left and only a fraction remained by the time Hendrix took the stage. Within seconds of Hendrix arriving at the site two youths had stolen his guitar from the back seat of his car, although it was later recovered. The band's only other appearance was at the Salvation club in Greenwich Village, New York. After some studio recordings, Hendrix disbanded the group. Some of this band's recordings can be heard on the MCA Records box set The Jimi Hendrix Experience and on South Saturn Delta. Their final work together was a session on September 6. Hendrix's September 9 appearance on TV's The Dick Cavett Show, backed by Cox, Mitchell and Juma Sultan, was credited as the "Jimi Hendrix Experience".
Band of Gypsys
In 1967, a contractual dispute arose in relation to an agreement Hendrix had entered into with producer Ed Chalpin in 1965. The resolution for the dispute included Hendrix having to record an LP of new material for Chalpin company, which would not feature the Experience band, and would not be associated with the Experience band name. In addition, Chalpin was granted 2% of profits from Hendrix's back catalog sold in US. For the agreed upon album, Hendrix chose to record Band of Gypsys, a live album.
Along with Billy Cox and drummer Buddy Miles (formerly with Wilson Pickett and The Electric Flag) with whom he had been jamming together since September, Hendrix wrote and rehearsed material which they then performed at a series of four concerts over two nights, New Year's Eve and New Year's Day at Fillmore East. The second night produced the material for the Band Of Gypsys LP, which was produced by Hendrix (under the name "Heaven Research").
The Band of Gypsys LP was the only official completely live LP released in Hendrix's lifetime. The band also released a single "Stepping Stone" which failed to sell, and recorded several studio songs slated for Hendrix's future LP. In 1999, the tapes from the four Fillmore concerts were remastered and additional tracks and edits were released as Live at the Fillmore East. Litigation with Chalpin ended in 2007 after the "singularly uncredible witness" was fined nearly $900,000 for failure to abide by contractual limitations and failure to pay Experience Hendrix L.L.C. its court ordered royalties.
On January 26 and 27, 1970, Mitch Mitchell and Noel Redding flew into New York and signed contracts with Jeffery for the upcoming Jimi Hendrix Experience tour. The next day, a second and final Band of Gypsys appearance occurred at a twelve-act show in Madison Square Garden which was a benefit for the massively popular anti-Vietnam War Moratorium Committee, titled the "Winter Festival for Peace". Similar to Woodstock, set delays forced Hendrix to take the stage at an inopportune 3 a.m., only this time he was obviously in no shape to play. He played "Who Knows" before snapping a vulgar response at a woman who shouted a request for "Foxy Lady". He played a second song, "Earth Blues", he then told the audience: "That's what happens when earth fucks with space—never forget that". He then sat down on the drum riser for a minute and then walked off stage. Various unverifiable assertions have been proffered to explain this bizarre scene. Buddy Miles claimed that manager Michael Jeffery dosed Hendrix with LSD in an effort to sabotage the current band and bring about the return of the Experience lineup. But none of Hendrix's other close associates verifies his statement.
Cry of Love tour
A week after the botched Band of Gypsys show, Hendrix, Mitch Mitchell and Noel Redding gave an interview to Rolling Stone for the upcoming tour dates as a reunited Jimi Hendrix Experience. But Redding never even got to rehearse, as Hendrix just continued to work with Billy Cox. Noel was not told he was not going to be playing until the pretour rehearsals. Fans refer to this final "Jimi Hendrix Experience" lineup as the "Cry of Love" band, named after The Cry of Love Tour to distinguish it from the original. Billy Cox has countered on several occasions that this lineup considered themselves "The Jimi Hendrix Experience" before they even went on tour and that any other title is bogus. All billing, adverts, tickets etc. on the tour used "Jimi Hendrix Experience" or occasionally, as previously, just "Jimi Hendrix". Two of Hendrix's later recordings were the lead guitar parts on "Old Times Good Times" from Stephen Stills hit eponymous album (1970), and on "The Everlasting First" from Arthur Lee's new incarnation of Love's, not so successful and aptly named LP False Start both tracks were recorded with these old friends on a fleeting and unexplained visit to London in March 1970, following Kathy Etchingham's marriage.
He spent the next four months of 1970 working on his next LP tentatively titled First Rays of the New Rising Sun, recording during the week and playing live on the weekends. The "Cry of Love" tour, launched that April at the L.A. Forum, was partly undertaken to earn money to repay the Warner Bros loan for completing his Electric Lady Studios. Performances on this tour featured Hendrix, Cox, and Mitchell playing new material alongside older audience favourites. The USA leg of the tour included 30 performances and ended at Honolulu, Hawaii on August 1, 1970. A number of these shows were recorded and produced some of Hendrix's most memorable live performances.
Electric Lady Studios
In 1968, Hendrix and Jeffery had invested jointly in the purchase of the Generation Club in Greenwich Village. Their initial plans to reopen the club were scrapped when the pair decided that the investment would serve them much better as a recording studio. The studio fees for the lengthy Electric Ladyland sessions were astronomical, and Hendrix was constantly in search of a recording environment that suited him. In August 1970, Electric Lady Studios was opened in New York.
Designed by architect and acoustician John Storyk, the studio was made specifically for Hendrix, with round windows and a machine capable of generating ambient lighting in a myriad of colors. It was designed to have a relaxing feel to encourage Hendrix's creativity, but at the same time provide a professional recording atmosphere. Engineer Eddie Kramer upheld this by refusing to allow any drug use during session work.
Hendrix spent only two and a half months recording in Electric Lady, most of which took place while the final phases of construction were still ongoing. Following a recording/dubbing session on August 26, an opening party was held later that day. He then boarded an Air India flight for London with Billy Cox, joining Mitch Mitchell to perform at the Isle of Wight Festival.
The group then commenced the European leg of the tour. Longing for his new studio and creative outlets, the tour was a commitment that Hendrix was not eager to perform. In Aarhus, Hendrix abandoned his show after only two songs, remarking: "I've been dead a long time". In the months before Hendrix's death, a British music paper alleged that Hendrix had plans to join the band Emerson, Lake & Palmer. On September 6, 1970, his final concert performance, Hendrix was greeted with some booing and jeering by fans at the Isle of Fehmarn Festival in Germany, due to his non-appearance at the end of the previous nights bill, (due to the torrential rain and risk of electrocution). Several acts played after he left the stage, later part of the stage was burnt during the first stage appearance of Ton Steine Scherben. Billy Cox quit the tour and headed home to Memphis, Tennessee, reportedly suffering paranoia after taking LSD or being given it unknowingly, earlier in the tour. A live recording of the concert was later released as Live at the Isle of Fehmarn.
Hendrix returned to London, where he reportedly spoke to Chas Chandler, Eric Burdon, and others about leaving his manager, Michael Jeffery. Hendrix's last public performance was an informal jam at Ronnie Scott's Jazz Club in Soho with Burdon and his latest band, War. Much of this was recorded on a Sony cassette recorder by Bill Baker, of Shepherds Bush, London, then aged 20, who was present throughout the entire performance. Two Hendrix tracks from this recording, "Mother Earth" and "Tobacco Road", were later included, without permission from Baker, on a bootleg LP, Can You Please Crawl Out Your Window?, produced in the mid to late 1970s, and on an audio tape of poor quality that went into circulation some years later. It was not until 2009, however, that the entire recording entered general circulation within the collecting community. This was remastered in California in December 2010 and includes tracks from the same night's performance by Eric Burdon's War. This is the last known recording of Jimi Hendrix, who died approximately 24 hours later.
The two buildings which composed the Samarkand Hotel. Hendrix died in one of the two basement apartments which were accessed from one of the two exterior steps in front of the buildings.
Early on September 18, 1970, Jimi Hendrix died in London. He had spent the latter part of the previous evening at a party and was picked up at close to 03:00 by girlfriend Monika Dannemann and driven to her flat at the Samarkand Hotel, 22 Lansdowne Crescent, Notting Hill. From autopsy data and statements by friends about the evening of September 17, it has been estimated that he died sometime after 03:00, possibly before 04:00, but also possibly later, though no estimate was made at the autopsy, or inquest. Dannemann claimed in her original testimony that after they returned to her lodgings the evening before, Hendrix, unknown to her, had taken nine of her prescribed Vesparax sleeping pills. The normal medical dose was a half to one tablet as stated in the literature, but Hendrix was unfamiliar with this very strong Belgian brand. According to surgeon John Bannister, the doctor who initially attended to him, Hendrix had asphyxiated in his own vomit, mainly red wine which had filled his airways. This statement, though, was written in January 1992, while Bannister was being investigated for malpractice and fraud (unconnected to Hendrix), to Shapiro a co-author who had published Electric Gypsy, a book in which Bannister had been accused of malpractice by Monika Dannemann in not performing a tracheotomy. He appears to have been using the amount of wine in his system as a reason for not performing a tracheotomy. He was reprimanded for two counts of medical malpractice, and struck off the medical register on 28 April 1992 for fraud. No one else at the time, the other two doctors, the ambulance men, or the police mentioned wine. The only mention of wine was by Monika much earlier, in Electric Gypsy (which Bannister had read), and that Hendrix had drunk some with food earlier that evening and also by Harvey at his, again, much earlier party, which were both several hours prior to death. The autopsy found very little alcohol in his system. The autopsy never mentioned wine only vomited matter.
Until her death, Dannemann publicly claimed that she had only discovered that her lover had been sick at 11.00 a.m., but he was breathing, though unconscious and unresponsive (The ambulance was called at 11:18 and arrived 11.27). And that Hendrix was alive when placed in the back of the ambulance at approximately 11:30, and that she rode with him on the way to the hospital;.
The ambulance crew later denied she was even there. However, Dannemann's comments about the timing of some events that morning often differed in places, varying from interview to interview. Police and ambulance statements reveal that there was no one but Hendrix in the flat when they arrived at 11:27 a.m., and not only was he dead when they arrived on the scene, but was fully clothed and had been dead for some time.
Later, Dannemen claimed that former road managers Gerry Stickels and Eric Barrett had been present before the ambulance was called. and had removed some of Hendrix's possessions, including some of his most recent messages. Lyrics written by Hendrix, which were found in the apartment, led Eric Burdon to make a premature announcement on the BBC-TV program 24 Hours that he believed Hendrix had committed suicide. Burdon often claimed he had been telephoned by Dannemann after she discovered that Jimi failed to wake up.
In 1996, Monika Dannemann committed suicide shortly after being found guilty of contempt of court for repeating a libel against Kathy Etchingham, who had been a girlfriend of Jimi's in the '60's.
Allegations of murder
A former Animals "roadie," James "Tappy" Wright, published a book in May 2009 claiming Hendrix's manager, Mike Jeffery, admitted to him that he had Hendrix killed because the rock star wanted to end his management contract. John Bannister, one of the doctors who attended to him in 1970 stated in 2009 that it "sounded plausible." Bannister was struck off the Medical register in 1992 for fraud. In 2011 Bob Levine, Wright's long term business associate and Mike Jeffery's assistant manager in N.Y., said he knows that Wright made up these stories to sell his book, that Jeffery didn't have insurance on Hendrix, but that he merely countersigned the Warner Bros. policy that Warner's had taken out as standard practice.
"There was a freak storm across Mallorca and all the phone lines were down. Somebody told Mike that Jimi had been trying to phone him. The first call that got through was to say Jimi was dead. Mike was terribly upset at the thought of Jimi not being able to get through to him." – Trixie Sullivan, secretary/assistant for Mike Jeffery
James Hendrix's Timeline
November 27, 1942
Seattle, King, Washington, USA
Al Hendrix legally changed his son's name to James Marshall Hendrix. His nickname became Jimi.
- May 31, 1962
Fort Campbell, Christian County, Kentucky, United States
"When I die, I want people to play my music, go wild, and freak out an' do anything they wanna do."
He may have been one of the greatest guitarists in the history of rock 'n' roll, known for playing his signature left-handed Stratocaster with his teeth before setting it on fire, but the man who would become known the world over as Jimi Hendrix first cut his teeth as a Soldier in the Army -- and didn't exactly set the world on fire.
Brought up in a broken home in Seattle, young James Marshall Hendrix's stint in the Army wasn't necessarily voluntary: he was already honing his guitar skills in 1961 when a run-in with the law over stolen cars led to a choice: he could either spend two years in prison or join the Army. He enlisted on May 31, 1961 and was assigned to the 101st Airborne Division, where he was stationed in Fort Campbell, Kentucky.
As you'd expect, young Private Hendrix's rebellious attitude didn't especially wow his commanding officers -- among his many faults, he slept while on duty, required constant supervision, and wasn't a particularly good marksman. According to reports, he was a "habitual offender" when it came to missing midnight bed checks and was unable to "carry on an intelligent conversation." True to his calling, he continued playing guitar while off-duty, which didn't endear him with the other men in the barracks, who just wanted a good night's sleep. His constant noodling led one of his commanding officers to comment, "This is one of his faults, because his mind apparently cannot function while performing duties and thinking about his guitar."
Although Hendrix had signed up for three years of service, Captain Gilbert Batchman had had enough after one year, and made the case for Hendrix to be discharged, as his problems were judged to not be treatable by "hospitalization or counseling." An alleged ankle injury during a parachute jump gave Young Hendrix the opportunity to bow out of active duty with an honorable discharge, and he was happy to oblige. It can be said that at least he had the benefit of dental care while in service at Fort Campbell and California's Fort Ord -- care that would come in useful later in his musical career.
Hendrix might not have been a great fit in the U.S. Army, but the military's loss was rock music's gain, as a few years after his discharge he exploded onto the London music scene with his band, the Jimi Hendrix Experience, unleashing his first hit single, "Hey Joe." The rest is history, and three years and three landmark albums later, Jimi was dead after an alleged overdose of sleeping pills left him choking on his own vomit -- a death that is still partially unexplained even today, with several of Jimi's old associates claiming foul play -- but his fiery creativity and groundbreaking axe work have stood up to the test of time.
February 11, 1967
September 18, 1970
Kensington, Greater London, UK
October 1, 1970
Renton, King, Washington, USA