The finest guitar player in Rolling Stone’s 100 Greatest Guitarists list would have been 75 this year.
The mercurial but enigmatic Jimi Hendrix was a pioneer, someone who manipulated the guitar expertly yet effortlessly. He “seamlessly weaves chords and single-note runs together,” says in describing Hendrix’s prodigious skills, and “uses chord voicing that don’t appear in any music book.”
Hendrix, taken too soon at the young age of 27, made musical magic using his trusted Fender Stratocaster, turned upside down and restrung for left-hand playing. Hendrix’s meteoric rise from relative unknown to global superstar began in 1966 when he first lead The Jimi Hendrix Experience.
The Telegraph’s Dominic Selwood in his feature on Hendrix states that the band’s first single “Hey Joe,” was released in 1966 and rose to number six in the UK singles chart. The success of that first single was the tip of the iceberg, as it set the stage for “Purple Haze” and “The Wing Cries Mary,” which were released in early 1967. The album Are You Experienced soon followed in May of that same year, and it would go on to become one of the year’s most talked about albums, alongside the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
By the time The Jimi Hendrix Experienced released their debut album Are You Experienced, Hendrix was a wide-eyed 24-year-old guitar prodigy basking in the glow of the spotlight. The album featured such hits as “Red House,” “Highway Chile,” “I Don’t Live Today,” and “Fire,” and spent 33 weeks on the charts, peaking as high as number two, with only the aforementioned Beatles album keeping it from the top spot.
The Jimi Hendrix Experience would go on to record two more albums Axis: Bold as Love, released in December 1967 and Electric Ladyland, released in October 1968. By that time, Hendrix had become a global icon, entrancing fans with his inimitable skills on the guitar and undeniable charisma on and off the stage. Two years later, however, Hendrix’s skyrocketing career was tragically cut short in 1970 to the utter shock of his family and fans.
Hendrix left behind a diverse and memorable catalogue of songs, and a legacy befitting rock royalty. This legacy is continuing to defy the tides of time thanks to fans old and new. The songs have remained popular, and Hendrix-related merchandise continues to sell well.
Even the gaming community has kept Hendrix relevant. His music has appeared in the popular Guitar Hero series, and there was even a game titled The Jimi Hendrix Case where fans must solve the murder of Hendrix – the twist is that every character in the game is Hendrix. Digital platform Slingo features the Jimi Hendrix online slot game that lets fans reminisce about the guitar legend while playing. The game uses imagery that allude to Hendrix and his 1960s hedonistic heyday, like his famous Fender Stratocaster, a vinyl record, and the peace symbol.
Yes, the great Jimi Hendrix would have been 75 this year, and it would have been great if the legend were still here.
Maggie Harris – Lets Get Wise