Smokestack Lightnin' Home Page -- The Blues Profile Page

James Marshall Hendrix (born Johnny Allen Hendrix) (November 27, 1942 – September 18, 1970) was an influential American guitarist, singer and songwriter whose guitar playing was a considerable influence on rock music. After initial success in Europe, he achieved fame in the United States following his 1967 performance at the Monterey Pop Festival. Later, Hendrix headlined the 1969 Woodstock Festival.

Hendrix helped develop the technique of guitar feedback with overdriven amplifiers. He 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, Steve Cropper, as well as by some modern jazz.

Carlos Santana has suggested that Hendrix's music may have been influenced by his Native American heritage. 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 and phasing effects for rock recording.

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.

Biography

Jimi Hendrix Guitar PicturesEarly life
Hendrix was born on November 27, 1942, in Seattle, Washington, USA, while his father was stationed at an Army base in Oklahoma. He was named Johnny Allen Hendrix at birth by his mother, 17 year old Lucille Hendrix née Jeter. Hendrix is of African American descent. She had put him in the temporary care of friends in California (a holiday). On his release from the Army his father, James Allen "Al" Hendrix (1919–2002), took him, and changed his name to James Marshall Hendrix in memory of his deceased brother, Leon Marshall Hendrix. He was known as "Buster" to friends and family, from birth. Shortly after, Al reunited with Lucille. He found it hard to gain steady employment after the Second World War, and the family experienced financial hardship. Hendrix had two brothers, Leon and Joseph, and two sisters, Kathy and Pamela. Joseph was born with physical difficulties and at the age of three was given up to state care. His two sisters were both given up at a relatively early age, for care and later adoption, Kathy was born blind and Pamela had some lesser physical difficulties. Hendrix's parents divorced when he was nine years old, and his mother died in 1958. On occasion, he was sent to live with his grandmother in Vancouver, British Columbia because of the unstable household, and his brother Leon was put into temporary welfare care for a period. Hendrix grew up as a shy and sensitive boy, deeply affected by the conditions of poverty and neglect he experienced. In a relatively unusual experience for African Americans of his era, Hendrix' high school had a relatively equitable ethnic mix of African, European (including Jews), and Asian (Japanese, Filipino and Chinese) Americans. 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 of older musicians and the one-stringed ukulele his father had found while cleaning out a garage, on which Jimi reportedly managed to play several tunes. He learned by practicing almost constantly, watching others play, through tips from more experienced players, and by listening to records. In the summer of 1959, his father bought Hendrix a white Supro Ozark, his first electric guitar, but there was no available amplifier. That same year his only failing grade in school was an F in music class. 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, who was a guitarist with local band (The Sharps), and also performed Chuck Berry's trademark "duck walk". 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. Hendrix's early exposure to Blues music came from listening to records by Muddy Waters and B.B. King 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.

His first gig was with an unnamed band in the basement of a synagogue. 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. His flashy style and left-handed playing of a right-handed guitar already made him a standout. 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 which he painted red and emblazoned with the words "Betty Jean" (Morgan), the name of his high school girlfriend.

Hendrix had completed middle school with little trouble but didn't graduate from Garfield High School, although he would later be Awarded an honorary diploma, and in the 1990s, a bust of Hendrix 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. However, 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 boot camp, 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 sub-par 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. Hendrix would later tell reporters that he received a medical discharge after breaking his ankle during his 26th parachute jump. The 2005 biography Room Full of Mirrors by Charles Cross claims that Hendrix faked being homosexual -— claiming to have fallen in love with a fellow soldier -— in order to be discharged, but has never produced credible evidence to support this contention.

At the post recreation center, he met fellow soldier and bass player Billy Cox, and forged a loyal friendship that would serve Hendrix well during the last year of his life. The two would often play with other musicians at venues both on and off the post as a loosely organized band named "The King Kasuals".

As a celebrity in the UK, Hendrix only 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 a magazine, "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' only response was to verify that he had been based at Fort Campbell.

Early career
After his Army discharge, Hendrix and army friend Billy Cox moved to nearby Clarksville, Tennessee, where they established "The King Kasuals" on a less casual footing. Jimi 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. 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. There, according to Cox and Larry Lee - who replaced Alphonso Young on guitar - they were basically the house band at "Club del Morrocco". Hendrix and Cox shared a flat above "Joyce's House Of Glamour". Hendrix' 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, 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 that Hendrix participated in. For the next two years, Hendrix made a precarious living with the King Kasuals and on the Theatre Owners' Booking Association (TOBA) or Chitlin Circuit otherwise known as "Tough On Black Asses," performing in black-oriented venues throughout the South with both 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 an important phase of Jimi's career, since the refinement of his style and blues roots occurred there.

Frustrated by his experiences in the South, 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. Hendrix was then hired as guitarist for the Isley Brothers' band and joined their national tour, which included the southern Chitlin' circuit. Hendrix played his first successful studio session on the two-part Isley Brothers single "Testify". In Nashville, he left the band to work with Gorgeous George Odell on an R&B package tour that had Sam Cooke as the headliner. In October 1964 he arrived in Atlanta, Hendrix (then calling himself Maurice James) was hired by Little Richard to record and perform on the road with his touring revue, "The Royal Company". 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 LA, 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 with Richard they shared billing a couple of times with Ike and Tina Turner. It has been suggested that he left Richard and played with Ike & Tina briefly before returning to Richard, but there is no firm evidence to support this, and 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 re-joined the Isley's for a while.

Later in 1965, Hendrix joined a New York-based 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.

Hendrix then toured for two months with Joey Dee and the Starliters before rejoining the Squires in New York. On October 15, 1965, Hendrix signed a three-year recording contract with entrepreneur Ed Chalpin, receiving $1 and 1% royalty on records with Curtis Knight. 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. During a brief excursion to Vancouver in 1965, it was reported that Hendrix played in the (much later in 1968 Motown) band Bobby Taylor & the Vancouvers with Taylor and Tommy Chong (of Cheech and Chong fame). Chong, however, disputes this ever happened and that any such appearance is a product of Taylor's "imagination".

In 1966, Hendrix seemed to be quite in demand, playing on sessions with King Curtis and Ray Sharpe; Lonnie Youngblood; The Icemen; Jimmy Norman & Billy Lamont. He got his first composer credit on the Curtis Knight and The Squires's instrumental single "Hornets Nest". He formed his own band, Jimmy James and The Blue Flames, 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 about this time. 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 step father, drummer Ed Cassidy. It was around this time that Hendrix's only (officially claimed and partly recognized) daughter Tamika was conceived with Diana Carpenter (aka Regina Jackson), a teenage runaway and prostitute that he briefly stayed with. She was acknowledged indirectly as his daughter by both Hendrix, when Diana started a paternity suit prior to his death, and unofficially after Jimi's death by his father Al. 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.

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 Jimi'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
Main article: The Jimi Hendrix Experience
Early in 1966 at the Cheetah Club on West 21st Street, Linda Keith, Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richard's girlfriend, befriended Hendrix and recommended him to Stones manager Andrew Loog Oldham and producer Seymour Stein. Neither man took a liking to Hendrix's music, however, and they both passed. She then referred him to Chas Chandler, who was ending his tenure as bassist in The Animals and looking for talent to manage and produce. Chandler was enamored with the song "Hey Joe" and was convinced that 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. 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 a well received 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. In one live recording, Hendrix can easily be heard saying "Excuse me while I kiss that police officer"; he quickens his pace for the last few words so he remains in time with the music. A volume of misheard lyrics has been published, using this mondegreen itself as the title, with Hendrix on the cover.

UK success
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' first single was a cover of "Hey Joe", using Tim Rose's uniquely slower arrangement of the song including his addition of a female backing chorus. Backing this first 1966 'Experience' single was Jimi Hendrix' 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 USA). Onstage, Hendrix was also making an impression with fiery renditions of the B.B. King hit "Rock Me Baby" and a fast version of Howlin Wolf's hit "Killing Floor".

Are You Experienced
Main article: 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. 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: Brian Epstein, Eric Clapton, Spencer Davis, Jack Bruce, and pop singer Lulu. Hendrix chose to open the show with his own rendition 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. Just one example of his strong connection with that country, 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 anonymously sent Hendrix roses on each of his opening nights in Stockholm, only revealing herself after his third visit in January 1969, and conceiving Daniel with him. He also had an expatriate musician friend who lived there, "King" George Clemmons, who played backup at one concert and socialized with him on at least two of his visits there. 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 Meyer 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.

US success
Although very popular internationally at this time, the Experience had yet to crack America, his first single there having failed to sell. 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 that 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' 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 rendition of B.B. King's 1964 R&B hit "Rock Me Baby", Tim Rose's "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 along with the other psychedelically painted Stratocaster that Hendrix smashed (but didn't burn) at his farewell concert in England before he left for the US and Monterey, at the Experience Music Project in Seattle.

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 he played on 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 re-acquainted himself with Buddy Miles, who introduced Hendrix to his future partner - Devon Wilson, who had a turbulent on/off relationship with him, from then right up until the night of his death, the only one of his women to record with him. She died only six months after Hendrix in mysterious circumstances, apparently falling from an upper window in the Chelsea Hotel, not long after her only interview (filmed) for the Warner's Film About Jimi Hendrix. Her interview along with several other people's - including Pete Townsend's original - was mistakenly thrown out, never to be seen again.

Following this very successful West Coast introduction, which also included two open air concerts (one of them a free concert in the "Pan handle" of Golden Gate Park) and a concert at the Whiskey 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". Australian journalist Lillian Roxon, accompanying the tour, concocted the story. The claim was repeated in Roxon's 1969 'Rock Encyclopedia', but she later admitted it was fabricated.

Meanwhile in Western Europe, where Hendrix was also appreciated for his authentic blues renditions as well as his hit singles there, and was often 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 most well known songs.

SourceL Wiki