“When I die, I want people to just play my music, go wild and freak out, do anything they want to do.” – Jimi Hendrix, American singer, guitarist, and songwriter (1942-1970)
And Jimi Hendrix got what he wished for. At only 27 years old, Hendrix was young when he died on September 18, 1970 from drug-related complications. A talented recording artist, an accomplished songwriter, and a musical experimenter, Hendrix left his mark in the world of rock and roll, and remained popular until today. His passing led to a realization that he was the ultimate guitar player, and that he made use of the electric guitar more than anyone.
A 3-in-1 Rock Star. Just add a guitar: Jimi Hendrix, short for James Marshall Hendrix, was born as Johnny Allen Hendrix. Photo by Cinema Arts Centre.
The Bumpy Road to Rock-Stardom
- Date and Place of Birth: November 27, 1942, in Seattle, Washington, United States
- Date and Place of Passing: September 18, 1970, in Notting Hill, London, United Kingdom
Jimi Hendrix was born Johnny Allen Hendrix (later changed to James Marshall Hendrix), and learned how to play the guitar during his teenage years. He was destined to become a legendary rock star when he grew up, and his dreams came true in the 1960s, rocking the world with his innovative electric guitar-playing skills. A rock version of “The Star Spangled Banner” was one of Hendrix’s most memorable performances at in Woodstock (1969), dazzling the crowds with his musical talents. He survived a difficult childhood which sometimes involved living with relatives and acquaintances. His parents had a stormy relationship despite having three boys (Hendrix and his two brothers, Leon and Joseph). His mother was only 17 when Hendrix was born. His father was present during his childhood years but did not care much for his sons. Hendrix’s mother eventually left the family, whom Hendrix only met sporadically before she died in 1958.
A Rock Star’s Dream
Due to his shattered childhood, Hendrix turned to music as an outlet for his emotions and taught himself to play the guitar. At 14, Hendrix attended his first concert performance by Elvis Presley. A year later, he got his first electric guitar and played with two bands – the Rocking Kings, and the Tomcats. In 1959, Hendrix dropped out of high school and worked odd jobs while keeping his musical dream alive. In 1961, Hendrix enlisted in the U.S. Army and trained at Fort Ord, California, to become a paratrooper. Even though he was in the army, he still made time for music, and created a band called The King Casuals. In 1962, he was discharged due to an injury and pursued his musical aspirations by working as a session musician. His role as a backup guitarist for performers such as Little Richard, Sam Cooke, and the Isley Brothers paved the way for him to form his own group called Jimmy James and the Blue Flames. They played gigs around the neighbourhood of New York City’s Greenwich Village.
In mid-1966, Jimi Hendrix met Chas Chandler, a former member of the successful rock group, the Animals, who became his manager. Chandler convinced Hendrix to go to London where he joined forces with two other musicians Noel Redding and Mitch Mitchell to create the Jimi Hendrix Experience. His presence in London resulted in an explosion of followers among the UK’s rock royalty. Members of The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Who, and Eric Clapton greatly admired Hendrix’s work. A critic for the British music magazine Melody Maker quipped:
“He had great stage presence, and looked at times as if he was playing with no hands at all!”
The band’s first single, Hey Joe, released in 1967, became an instant hit in Britain, followed by Purple Haze and The Wind Cried Mary. That same year, Hendrix delighted audiences with his outrageous guitar-playing skills and his innovative, experimental sound while on tour to support his first album, Are You Experienced?. His stunning performance at the Monterey Pop Festival in June 1967 (which ended with Hendrix lighting his guitar on fire) won the hearts of many American music fans. Other 1968 hits by Jimi Hendrix included: Axis: Bold as Love from his second album, Electric Ladyland from his final album as part of the Jimi Hendrix Experience, and All Along the Watchtower from the same album, written by Bob Dylan.
In 1969, the group disbanded and Hendrix tried his luck with another group, Band of Gypsys with his army buddy Billy Cox and drummer Buddy Miles. They didn’t get very far, and Hendrix decided to work on a new album called First Rays of the New Rising Sun with Cox and Mitchell from the Jimi Hendrix Experience. Sadly, Hendrix didn’t live to complete his project and was found dead in Notting Hill, London from a combination of alcohol and substance abuse.
Show of Support for Jimi Hendrix
It is indeed devastating when you learn of the passings of your idols, be it superstars on the big screen or singer-songwriters of their time. You can show your love and support for Jimi Hendrix and get your version of the Hendrix experience by getting your posters from our us. Click here for our Jimi Hendrix poster album.