Birth name: Johnny Allen Hendrix
Born: November 27, 1942, Seattle, Washington, US
Died: September 18, 1970 (age 27)
Years active: 1960-1970
Official site: http://www.jimihendrix.com/
Jimi Hendrix is considered, by many, to have been one of the best guitar players of all time. He learned to play guitar as a teenager and grew up to become a rock guitar legend, entertaining the world until his untimely death, at the age of 27. His innovative electric guitar playing shaped music as we know it, and provided inspiration to thousands of other guitarists.
Jimi Hendrix pioneered the use of high volume and high gain amplifiers and developed the technique of guitar amplifier feedback. He popularized the use of wah-wah pedals, as well as using stereophonic phasing effects (constant shifting of the phase of two identical audio signals combined with stereo panoraming).
Jimi Hendrix was born Johnny Allen Hendrix, but his name was changed to James Marshall Hendrix at the age of 3. He had a difficult childhood, sometimes living in the care of relatives and even acquaintances at times.
His mother, Lucille, was only 17 years old when Hendrix was born. His father was serving in the military when he was born, and would not see him until Jimi was 3 years old. Lucille had a stormy relationship with Jimi's father, he could not find work, and they lived impoverished. They were both alcoholics and had fights while drunk. The violence at home left its mark on Jimi, he sometimes hid in a closet to get away from things. Music also became a sanctuary for Hendrix.
As a young boy, he became interested in rock and roll artists such as Chuck Berry, Elvis Presley, and Little Richard. He bought his first acoustic guitar at the age of 15 for $5. He played the instrument for several hours every day, learning by watching other guitarists and listening to blues players like B.B. King, Muddy Waters, Robert Johnson, and Howlin' Wolf.
Jimi found himself in trouble with the law several times, and had to make a choice between joining the army, or going to prison. He chose the army in 1961, and completed paratrooper training. In 1962, he received an honorable discharge on the basis of unsuitability, as his commanding officers thought it would be better for the army if Jimi wasn't in it.
After returning home from the army, Hendrix pursued his musical ambitions, working as a session musician and playing backup for popular artists. His big break came in 1966, when a member of the group The Animals, Chad Chandler, convinced Jimi to move to England, where he formed The Jimi Hendrix Experience with musicians Noel Redding and Mitch Mitchell.
The band's first single, "Hey Joe" was an instant smash hit, followed by other singles like Purple Haze and The Wind Cried Mary. He became acclaimed in the USA after performing at the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967, which ended with the famous move of him lighting his guitar on fire. By 1969, Hendrix was the world's highest-paid rock musician.
Jimi Hendrix died from drug overdose on September 18, 1970.
Although he played many types of guitar, the Fender Stratocaster was the guitar that he is associated with the most. He said that the strat is "the best all-around guitar for the stuff we're doing".
Beside the Strat, he also played on these guitars:
- Fender Jazzmaster
- Gibson Flying V
- Gibson Les Paul
- Gibson SG
- Gretsch Corvette
- Fender Jaguar
Jimi didn't play the guitar as it was meant to be played, which also affected its sound. He played left-handed, but in an unconventional way. He used right-handed guitars, turned them upside-down, and restrung them for left-hand playing.
He used Marshall amps exclusively, with what came to be known as the Hendrix setting: turn all knobs to max level 🙂
Jimi pioneered new electric guitar sounds. He used several effect pedals to achieve this:
Jimm playing 12 string acoustic blues
The Jimi Hendrix Experience - Foxey Lady, Miami, 1968