See biographies by C. R. Cross (2005) and S. Lawrence (2005).
James Marshall Hendrix (born Johnny Allen Hendrix) (November 27, 1942 – September 18, 1970) was an 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 iconic 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 their list of the 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time in 2003.
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.
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.
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. The win was encouraging, but in general he found breaking into the New York music scene difficult.
In the spring 1964 in Atlanta, Hendrix (then calling himself Maurice James) was hired by Little Richard to record and perform on the road with his backing band, "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. For a short while, Hendrix quit and played briefly with Ike and Tina Turner, but quickly returned to Richard's band. Months later, he was either fired or he left after missing the tour bus in Washington, D.C.
Hendrix was then hired as the new 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.
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 several 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..
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.
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's 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".
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. As 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". 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.
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 recognised 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.
A mishap almost delayed the album's pre-Christmas release: Hendrix lost the master tape of side one of the LP, leaving it in the back seat of a London taxi. With the release deadline looming, Hendrix, Chas Chandler and engineer Eddie Kramer had to re-mix most of side one in an overnight session, but they couldn't match the lost mix of "If 6 was 9". It was only saved by the discovery that bassist Noel Redding had a copy of it on tape, which had to be flattened as it was wrinkled. Hendrix was disappointed that the album had to be finished so quickly and felt it could have been better, given more time. He was also somewhat disappointed with Track Records British designers who created the album's cover art. He remarked that it would have been more appropriate if the cover had highlighted his American-Indian heritage. The cover art depicts Hendrix and his Experience bandmates as the various forms of Vishnu, incorporating a painting of them by Roger Law (from a photo-portrait by Karl Ferris).
The album was released in the UK near the end of their first headlining tour there, after which the pace briefly settled down a bit for a Christmas break. In January 1968 the group went to Sweden for a short tour, and after the first show Hendrix, reportedly after drinking and according to Hendrix his drink being spiked, went berserk and smashed up his hotel room in a rage, injuring his hand and culminating in his arrest. Then on the 6th in Denmark his famous hat was stolen. The rest of the tour was uneventful, though Hendrix had to spend some time in Sweden waiting for his trial and eventual large fine.
Hendrix began experimenting with different combinations of musicians and instruments, and modern electronic effects. For example, Dave Mason, Chris Wood, and Steve Winwood from the band Traffic, drummer Buddy Miles and former Bob Dylan organist Al Kooper, among others, were all involved in the recording sessions. This was one of the other reasons that Chandler cited as precipitating his departure. He described how Hendrix went from a disciplined recording regimen to an erratic schedule, which often saw him beginning recording sessions in the middle of the night and with any number of hangers-on.
Chandler also expressed exasperation at the number of times Hendrix would insist on re-recording particular tracks; the song "Gypsy Eyes" was reportedly recorded 43 times. This was also frustrating for bassist Noel Redding, who would often leave the studio to calm himself, only to return and find that Hendrix had recorded the bass parts himself during Redding's absence. The effects of these events can clearly be identified in the album's musical style. On a purely superficial level, the tracks no longer conformed to the standard pop song format, often lacked easily identifiable patterns or sections, and would sometimes lack even a recognizable melody. More particularly, however, the themes that the songs addressed, and the music that Hendrix set out to record, went far beyond anything that he had attempted to achieve before.
Electric Ladyland includes a number of compositions and arrangements for which Hendrix is still remembered. These include "Voodoo Child (Slight Return)" as well as Hendrix's rendition of Bob Dylan's "All Along the Watchtower". Hendrix's version was a complete departure from the original, and includes one of the most highly praised guitar arrangements in modern music.
Throughout the four years of his fame Hendrix often appeared at impromptu jams with various musicians, such as BB King. In March 1968, Jim Morrison of The Doors joined Hendrix onstage at New York's Scene Club. Albums of this Electric Ladyland-era bootleg recording were released under various titles, originally "High, Live, 'N Dirty", then "Live at the Scene Club", and then "Woke up this Morning and Found Myself Dead". Some falsely claiming the presence of Johnny Winter, who has denied, several times, being a participant at that jam session, and to ever having met Morrison. The album was finally officially released as Bleeding Heart in 1994.
Noel Redding felt increasingly frustrated by the fact that he was not playing his original and favored instrument, the guitar. In 1968, he decided to form his own band "Fat Mattress", which would sometimes open for the Experience (Hendrix would jokingly refer to them as "Thin Pillow"). Redding and Hendrix would begin seeing less and less of each other, which also had an effect in the studio, with Hendrix playing many of the bass parts on Electric Ladyland.
Fruitless recording sessions at Olympic in London; Olmstead and the Record Plant in New York that ended on April 9, only produced a remake of Stone Free for a possible single release, were the last to feature Redding. Jimi then flew Billy Cox up to New York and started recording and rehearsing with him on April 21 as a replacement for Noel.
Redding was also uncomfortable with the hysteria surrounding Hendrix' performances. The last Experience concert took place on June 29, 1969 at Barry Fey's Denver Pop Festival, a three-day event held at Denver's Mile High Stadium that was marked by police firing tear gas into the audience as they played "Voodoo Child (Slight Return)". The band escaped from the venue in the back of a rental truck which was partly crushed by fans trying to escape the tear gas. The next day, Noel Redding announced that he had quit the Experience.
He dubbed the new band Gypsy Sun and Rainbows, although this was never formally announced by management. they recorded some jam based material such as "Jam Back at the House", "Shokan Sunrise" (posthumous title for untitled jam), "Villanova Junction", and early renditions of the funk driven centerpieces of Hendrix's post-Experience sound: "Machine Gun" "Message to Love" and "Izabella".
Hendrix's popularity eventually saw him headline the Woodstock music festival on August 18, 1969.
Bad weather and logistical problems caused long delays, so that Hendrix did not appear on stage until Monday morning. By this time, the audience (which had peaked at over 500,000 people) had been reduced to, at most, 180,000, many of whom merely waited to catch a glimpse of Hendrix before leaving. Festival MC Chip Monck introduced the band as "The Jimi Hendrix Experience", but Hendrix quickly corrected this to "Gypsy Sun and Rainbows" and launched into a two hour set, the longest of his career. As well as the two percussionists, the performance notably featured Larry Lee performing three songs and Lee sometimes soloing while Hendrix played rhythm in places. Most of this has been edited out of the officially released recordings, including Lee's three songs, reducing the sound to basically a three piece. The concert was relatively free of the technical difficulties that frequently plagued Hendrix's performances, although one of his guitar strings snapped while performing Red House (he kept playing regardless). The band, unused to playing large audiences and exhausted after being up all night, could not always keep up with Hendrix's pace, but in spite of this the guitarist managed to deliver a memorable performance, climaxing with his highly-regarded rendition of the The Star-Spangled Banner, a solo improvisation which is now regarded as a special symbol of the 1960s era.
The band did not last long. After the Woodstock festival they appeared on only two more occasions. The first was a street benefit in Harlem where, in a scenario similar to the festival, most of the audience had left and only a fraction remained by the time Hendrix took the stage. Within seconds of Hendrix arriving at the site two youths had stolen his guitar from the back seat of his car, although it was later recovered. The band's only other appearance was at the Salvation club in Greenwich Village, New York. After some studio recordings, Hendrix disbanded the group. Some of this band's recordings can be heard on the MCA Records box set The Jimi Hendrix Experience and on South Saturn Delta. Their final work together was a session on September 6. Hendrix's September 9 appearance on TV's Dick Cavett Show, backed by Cox, Mitchell and Juma Sultan, was credited as the "Jimi Hendrix Experience.
One month later on January 26/27 Mitch Mitchell and Noel Redding flew into New York and signed contracts with Jefferey for the upcoming Jimi Hendrix Experience tour. The second and final Band of Gypsys appearance occurred on (January 28, 1970) at a twelve-act show in Madison Square Garden a benefit for the massively popular anti Vietnam war Moratorium Committee, titled the "Winter Festival for Peace". Similar to Woodstock, set delays forced Hendrix to take the stage at an inopportune 3 a.m., only this time he was obviously in no shape to play. He played a dismal rendition of "Who Knows" before snapping a vulgar response at a woman who shouted a request for "Foxy Lady". He lasted halfway through a second song, then simply stopped playing, telling the audience: "That's what happens when earth fucks with space—never forget that". He then sat down on the drum riser for a minute and then walked off stage. Various unverifiable assertions have been proffered to explain this bizarre scene. Buddy Miles claimed that manager Michael Jeffery dosed Hendrix with LSD in an effort to sabotage the current band and bring about the return of the Experience lineup, and guitarist Johnny Winter said it was Hendrix's girlfriend Devon Wilson who spiked his drink with drugs for unknown reasons.
Two of Hendrix's later recordings were the lead guitar parts on Old Times Good Times from Stephen Stills hit eponymous album (1970), and on The Everlasting First from Arthur Lee's new incarnation of Love's, not so successful and aptly named LP False Start both tracks were recorded with these old friends on a fleeting visit to London in March 1970, following Kathy Etchingham's marriage.
The next four months of 1970 was spent recording during the week and playing live on the weekends. "The Cry of Love" tour, designed to earn money to repay the studio loans, temper Jimi's mounting back taxes and legal fees, and fund the production of his next album, tentatively titled First Rays of the New Rising Sun. The tour began in April at the LA Forum, was structured to accommodate this pattern. Performances on this tour featured Hendrix, Cox, and Mitchell playing new material alongside extended versions of older recordings. The USA leg of the tour included 30 performances and ended at Honolulu, Hawaii on August 1, 1970. A number of these shows were professionally recorded and produced some of Hendrix's most memorable live performances.
Designed by architect and acoustician John Storyk, the studio was made specifically for Hendrix, with round windows and a machine capable of generating ambient lighting in a myriad of colors. It was designed to have a relaxing feel to encourage Jimi's creativity, but at the same time provide a professional recording atmosphere. Engineer Eddie Kramer upheld this by refusing to allow any drug use during session work.
Hendrix spent only two and a half months recording in Electric Lady, most of which took place while the final phases of construction were still ongoing. Following a recording/dubbing session on August 26, an opening party was held later that day. He then boarded an Air India flight for London (with Billy Cox in tow), joining Mitch Mitchell to perform at the Isle of Wight Festival.
In the months before Hendrix's death, a British music paper alleged that Hendrix had plans to join the band Emerson, Lake & Palmer.
On September 6, 1970, his final concert performance, Hendrix was greeted with some booing and jeering by fans at the Isle of Fehmarn Festival in Germany, due to his non-appearance at the end of the previous nights bill, (due to the torrential rain and risk of electrocution). Shortly after he left the stage, in a riot-like atmosphere reminiscent of the failed Altamont Festival, it went up in flames during the first stage appearance of Ton Steine Scherben. Billy Cox quit the tour and headed home to Memphis, Tennessee, reportedly suffering paranoia after taking LSD or being given it unknowingly, earlier in the tour.
Hendrix returned to London, where he reportedly spoke to Chas Chandler, Eric Burdon, and others about leaving his manager, Michael Jeffery. He met with Linda Keith, the woman who had introduced him to Chas Chandler and who he still admired, reportedly giving her a brand new black Fender Stratocaster, as a token of his appreciation for her discovery efforts years earlier and the guitar case containing all of her letters to him. Jimi's last public performance was an informal jam at Ronnie Scott's Jazz Club in Soho with Burdon and his latest band, War.
Dannemann claimed in her original testimony that Hendrix the evening before, unknown to her, had taken nine of her prescribed Vesperax sleeping pills. According to the doctor who initially attended to him, Hendrix had asphyxiated (literally drowned) in his own vomit, mainly red wine. For years, Dannemann publicly claimed that Hendrix was alive when placed in the back of the ambulance. However, her comments about that morning were often contradictory, varying from interview to interview. Police and ambulance statements reveal that there was no one but Hendrix in the flat, and not only was he dead when they arrived on the scene, but had been dead for some time.
Lyrics to a song written by Hendrix and found in the apartment, led Eric Burdon to make a premature announcement on the BBC TV program 24 Hours, that he believed Hendrix had committed suicide. Following a libel case brought in 1996 by Hendrix's long-term English girlfriend Kathy Etchingham, Monika Dannemann committed suicide, though her later lover, Uli Jon Roth, has made accusations of foul play.
Many photographs of Hendrix show him wearing various scarves, rings, medallions, and brooches, and in the early days Hendrix occasionally wore badges (pins or buttons) that professed his support for the hippie movement or his fascination with Bob Dylan. He initially wore a dark suit and plain silk shirts that progressively became "louder" and more psychedelically patterned. He later favored a bright blue velvet suit, then a bright red one, antique military dress jackets, a very broadly striped suit, psychedelically patterned silk jackets, various exotic waistcoats and brightly coloured flared trousers. At Monterey, he wore a hand-painted silk jacket by Chris Jagger (Mick's brother) and a bright pink feather boa. In late 1967 he started to wear a wide-brimmed Western style hat (brand name "The Westerner"). It was adorned with a narrow purple band and various brooches, as shown in the original Jimi Plays Monterey film. This hat was stolen in 1968, and replaced later with another, crowned variously with a longer purple scarf, a star-like brooch in front and a set of silver bangles, sometimes with an angled feather, though he went hatless for protracted periods after this.
From late 1968 he began tying scarves to one leg and one arm, and in mid-1969 he gave up the hat permanently for bandanas. He started wearing increasingly fantastic custom-made stage costume with long trailing sleeves, culminating in his African-styled "Fire Angel" outfit that he wore throughout most of his final "Cry Of Love" tour, until it began to come apart during the Isle Wight concert. He appeared in this outfit only once more (in just the jacket half) at the disastrous concert in Aarhus, Denmark. His only non-work-related vacation was a two-week trip to Morocco in July 1969 with friends Colette Mimram, Stella Benabou (Douglas), the ex-wife of Alan Douglas (record producer) and Deering Howe. Upon his return Hendrix decorated his Greenwich Village apartment with Moroccan objets d'art and fabrics. Mimram and Benabou created some of Hendrix's most memorable later attire, the shortened blue kimono-style jacket that he wore in three TV appearances and the white fringed jacket, ornamented with blue glass beads, he wore at the Woodstock Festival.
Hendrix was notorious among friends and bandmates for sometimes becoming angry and violent when he drank too much alcohol. Kathy Etchingham spoke of an incident that took place in a London pub in which an intoxicated Hendrix beat her with a public telephone handset because he thought she was calling another man on the pay phone. Carmen Borrero, another girlfriend, says she required stitches after being hit with a bottle by him after drinking and becoming jealous. Alcohol was also cited as the cause of Hendrix's 1968 rampage that badly damaged a Stockholm hotel room and led to his arrest. Paul Caruso's friendship with Hendrix ended in 1970 when Hendrix, while under the influence, punched him and accused him of stealing from him.
The most controversial topic however, concerns his alleged use of heroin. There was, however, no mention of heroin at the autopsy. Later untrue statements about special toxicology reports were only released to quiet the unfounded speculation that Hendrix had overdosed on heroin, as was the statement about the lack of needle marks, although no-one had specifically accused him of injecting and this has never been a point of contention.
Although Hendrix had verbally requested to be buried in England, his body was returned to Seattle and he was interred in Greenwood Memorial Park, Renton, Washington. As the popularity of Hendrix and his music grew over the decades following his death, concerns began to mount over fans damaging the adjoining graves at Greenwood, and the growing extended Hendrix family further prompted Al to create an expanded memorial site separate from other burial sites in the park. The memorial was announced in late 1999, but Al's deteriorating health led to delays. He died two months before its scheduled completion in 2002. Later that year, the remains of Jimi Hendrix, his father Al Hendrix, and grandmother Nora Rose Moore Hendrix were moved to the new site. The headstone contains a depiction of a Fender Stratocaster guitar, the instrument he was most famed for using —– although the guitar is shown right-side up, and Hendrix, being a left-hander, played it upside down.
The memorial is a granite dome supported by three pillars under which Jimi Hendrix is interred. Hendrix's autograph is inscribed at the base of each pillar, while two stepped entrances and one ramped entrance provide access to the dome's center where the original Stratocaster adorned headstone has been incorporated into a statue pedestal. A granite sundial complete with brass gnomon adjoins the dome, along with over 50 family plots that surround the central structure, half of which are currently adorned with raised granite headstones.
To date, the memorial remains incomplete: brass accents for the dome and a large brass statue of Hendrix were announced as being under construction in Italy, but since 2002, no information as to the status of the project has been revealed to the public. In addition, a memorial statue of Jimi playing a Stratocaster stands near the corner of Broadway and Pine Streets in Seattle.
In May 2006 Seattle honored the music, artistry and legacy of Jimi Hendrix with the naming of a new park near Seattle's historic Colman School in the heart of the Central District.
Hendrix's unfinished album was partly released as The Cry of Love. The album was well received and charted in several countries. However, the album's producers, Mitchell and Kramer, would later complain that they were unable to make use of all the tracks they wanted. This was due to some tracks being used for Rainbow Bridge and War Heroes for contractual reasons. Material from the The Cry of Love album was re-released in 1997 as First Rays of the New Rising Sun, along with the rest of the tracks that Mitchell and Kramer wanted to include.
Many of Hendrix's personal items, tapes, and pages of lyrics and poems, are now in the hands of collectors and have attracted considerable sums at auctions. These materials surfaced after two employees, under the instructions of Mike Jeffery, cleared Hendrix's Greenwich Village apartment.
His career and untimely death has grouped him with Janis Joplin and Jim Morrison as one of contemporary music's tragic "three J's", iconic '60s rock stars that suffered drug-related deaths at age 27 within months of each other, leaving legacies in death that have eclipsed the popularity and influence they experienced during their lifetimes. The other rock star who died in that period at age 27 was Brian Jones.
Musically, Hendrix did much to further the development of the electric guitar's repertoire, establishing it as a unique sonic source, rather than merely an amplified version of the acoustic guitar. Likewise, his feedback, wah-wah and fuzz-laden soloing moved guitar distortion well beyond mere novelty, incorporating other effects pedals and units specifically designed for him by his sound technician Roger Mayer (such as the Octavia and Univibe) with dramatic results.
Hendrix affected popular music with similar profundity; along with earlier bands such as The Who and Cream, he established a sonically heavy yet technically proficient bent to rock music as a whole, significantly furthering the development of hard rock and paving the way for heavy metal. He took blues to another level. His music has also had a great influence on funk and the development of funk rock especially through the guitarists Ernie Isley of The Isley Brothers and Eddie Hazel of Funkadelic, Prince and Jesse Johnson of The Time. His influence even extends to many hip hop artists, including ?uestlove, Chuck D of Public Enemy, Ice-T (who covered "Hey Joe" with his heavy metal band Body Count), El-P and Wyclef Jean. Miles Davis was also deeply impressed by Hendrix and compared his improvisational skills with those of saxophonist John Coltrane, and Davis would later want guitarists in his bands to emulate Hendrix. Hendrix was ranked number 3 on VH1's 100 Greatest Artists of Hard Rock behind Black Sabbath at the second spot, and Led Zeppelin, ranked number one. Hendrix was ranked number 3 on VH1's list of 100 Best Pop Artists of all time, behind the Rolling Stones and the Beatles. He has been voted by Rolling Stone, Guitar World, and a number of other magazines and polls as the best electric guitarist of all time.
Guitar World's readers voted six of Hendrix's solos among the top "100 Greatest" of all time: "Purple Haze" (70), "The Star-Spangled Banner" (52), "Machine Gun" (32), "Little Wing" (18), "Voodoo Child (Slight Return)" (11) and "All Along the Watchtower (5).
In 1992, Hendrix was awarded the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.
Janie and Robert's defense was that the company was not profitable yet, and that their salary and benefits were justified given the work that they put into running the company. Leon charged that Janie bilked Al Hendrix, then old and frail, into signing the revised will, and sought to have the previous will reinstated. The defense argued that Al willingly removed Leon from his will because of Leon's problems with alcohol and gambling. In early 2005, presiding judge Jeffrey Ramsdell handed down a ruling that left the final will intact, but replaced Janie and Robert's role at the financial helm of Experience Hendrix with an independent trustee. To date, the gravesite of Jimi Hendrix remains incomplete.
Hendrix's emergence coincided with the lifting of post-war import restrictions (imposed in many British Commonwealth countries), which made the instrument much more available, and after its initial popularizers Buddy Holly and Hank B. Marvin, Hendrix arguably did more than any other player to make the Stratocaster the biggest-selling electric guitar in history. Many other leading guitarists, including Jeff Beck, Ritchie Blackmore and Eric Clapton, also played Stratocasters. Hendrix bought many Strats and gave some away as gifts. Hendrix set fire to two of them during concerts. The first time on the opening night of his first UK tour. The only other documented guitar-burning incident was at the Monterey Pop festival. The original sunburst Stratocaster that Hendrix burnt and broke the neck off at the Astoria in 1967, and that he kept as a souvenir, was given to Frank Zappa by a Hendrix roadie at the 1968 Miami Pop Festival. Zappa assumed it was the one Hendrix had played there.
Hendrix used right-handed guitars, turned upside-down for left-hand playing, and re-strung so that the heavier strings were in their standard position at the top of the neck. This had an important effect on his guitar sound: because of the slant of the Strat's bridge pickup, his lowest string had a bright sound while his highest string had a mellow sound, the opposite of the Stratocaster's intended design.
Heavy use of the tremolo bar throughout his career caused the drawback of frequent losses in tuning; Hendrix would often ask the audience for a "minute to tune up" several times during the same concert.
In addition to Fender Stratocasters, Hendrix was also photographed playing Jazzmasters, Duosonics, two different Gibson Flying Vs, a Gibson Les Paul, three Gibson SGs, a Gretsch Corvette he used at the 1967 Curtis Knight sessions and miming with a right strung Fender Jaguar on the "Top Of The Pop's" TV show, as well as several other brands. Hendrix used a white Gibson SG Custom for his performances on the Dick Cavett show in the summer of 1969, and the Isle of Wight film shows him playing his second Gibson Flying V. While Jimi had previously owned a Flying V that he'd painted with a psychedelic design, the Flying V used at the Isle of Wight was a unique custom left-handed guitar with gold plated hardware, a bound fingerboard and "split-diamond" fret markers that were not found on other 60s-era Flying Vs.
On December 4, 2006, one of Hendrix's 1968 Fender Stratocaster guitars with a sunburst design was sold at a Christie's auction for USD$168,000.
During the Isle of Wight video Hendrix has numerous equipment problems, during "All Along the Watchtower" his wah pedal squeals at a high pitch instead of functioning normally, after struggling with it during a solo Hendrix can be clearly seen to turn toward the camera and his support crew and say "wah wah, get me another wah wah" as the show progresses further pieces of equipment are replaced. Arbiter Fuzz Face units which were highly inconsistent, and subject to changes in tone due to both temperature and battery conditions. As Hendrix's recording career progressed he made greater use of customized effects units. In contrast the first singles and album was made under more basic, low budget conditions with only a basic fuzz pedal and some rudimentary 'Octavia' on Purple Haze.
Hendrix constantly looked for new guitar effects. He was one of the first guitarists to move past simple gimmickry and to exploit the full expressive possibilities of electronic effects such as the Arbiter Fuzz Face and wah-wah pedal. He had a fruitful association with engineer Roger Mayer who later went on to make the Axis fuzz unit, the Octavia octave doubler and several other devices based on units Mayer had created or tweaked for Hendrix. The Japanese-made Univibe was another effect and is particularly interesting. Designed to electronically simulate the modulation effects of the rotating Leslie speaker, it provided a rich phasing sound with a speed control pedal. The Band of Gypsys track "Machine Gun" highlights use of the univibe, octavia and fuzz face pedals.
The Hendrix sound combined high volume and high power, feedback manipulation, and a range of cutting-edge guitar effects. He was also known for his trick playing, which included playing with only his right (fretting) hand, using his teeth or playing behind his back and between his legs, although he soon grew tired of audience demands to perform these tricks. Hendrix had large hands and used his thumb almost constantly to fret bass notes, leaving his fingers free to play melodic fills on top, thereby facilitating his noted ability to play lead and rhythm parts simultaneously. This technique was made easier by his Stratocaster's 7.25" fingerboard radius (more rounded than the modern standard 9.5"). A clear demonstration of this thumb technique can be witnessed in the Woodstock video; during the song Red House there are excellent closeups of Hendrix's fretting hand.