The Jimi Hendrix Facts
By: Ricky Sharples
Jimi Hendrix was such a dominant presence in the late 1960's music scene his whole career was full of milestones of one kind or another. So what "facts" help us see this unique character more clearly? Jimi Hendrix was born on November 27, 1942 in Seattle. A family friend sold him a cheap acoustic guitar when he was fifteen years old. From then on he spent almost all his waking hours playing the guitar. He listened to records by B.B. King and Muddy Waters, and imitated what he heard. He got to know some other guitar lessons and learned from them.
After a short stint in the army where he met fellow musician, Billy Cox, Jimi moved to Clarksville, Tennessee and formed a band. Right from the start the outrageous Jimi Hendrix persona came to the fore with Hendrix learning to play the guitar with his teeth in imitation of other guitarists he had associated with during his short career. After a difficult time making a living in New York, Hendrix joined the Isley Brothers band and went on tour where he was hired as part of Little Richard's backup band.
In 1966, former bassist with The Animals, Chas Chandler, was looking for an artist to perform a song he had become attached to. The song was "Hey Joe" and Chandler liked the way Jimi Hendrix played it. So much so that he assisted Jimi in moving to London and helped him to enlist English bass player Noel Redding and drummer Mitch Mitchell as members of his new group, The Jimi Hendrix Experience. At this time Hendrix met and jammed with Eric Clapton during an appearance with his new band, Cream. As he became more well-known in London The Beatles, The Who and The Rolling Stones became fans of his music.
Later that year, Jimi recorded "Hey Joe" as his first single with the Jimi Hendrix Experience, followed by "Stone Free", "Purple Haze" and "The Wind Cries Mary" (all Hendrix compositions). In March 1967 Jimi set his guitar alight on stage at the end of his act as part of a tour by The Walker Brothers. In May 1967 the group released their first LP, "Are You Experienced" which reached number two in England behind The Beatles' "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band".
In June 1967 at the Monterey Pop Festival, Jimi Hendrix got the opportunity to present his flamboyant stage persona and individualistic guitar playing to audiences in America at the Monterey Pop Festival. It was here that he became known internationally as the guy who burns and smashes guitars on stage. The following month Jimi heard Frank Zappa using a wah-wah pedal and immediately incorporated it into his music.
"Axis: Bold As Love", Jimi's second album was released in December 1967 and featured the wah-wah pedal and various other electronic effects. "Electric Ladyland" was released in 1968 and included "All Along The Watchtower", a song written and originally recorded by Bob Dylan as an acoustic number, and "Voodoo Child (Slight Return)". It also featured Jimi on bass as Noel Redding was engaged in separating himself from The Experience at that time.
In August 1969 Jimi Hendrix was the main act at the Woodstock festival. He played for two hours and ended the set with his famous rendition of Star Spangled Banner.
Jimi Hendrix gave his last concert at the Isle Of Fehman Festival in Germany on September 6, 1970. His final public appearance was at a jam session with Eric Burdon and War at Ronnie Scott's Jazz Club in London.
Jimi Hendrix died on September 18, 1970 after drowning in his vomit. He had drunk a large amount of red wine and, according to his friend Monika Dannemann, he had also taken sleeping pills.
Ricky Sharples has many more tips for guitar players of all levels at his blog Learn How To Play A Guitar For Free, a continuously updated directory of free guitar lessons, videos, chord charts and lots of useful guitar stuff.
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