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Jimi Hendrix

James Marshall Hendrix was born in Seattle, dropped out of high school, joined the Army (rather than go to prison for riding in a stolen car) and was discharged about a year later. Stories have circulated for years on why (and how) Hendrix got his Army hitch shortened. One maintained he got injured on a parachute jump. Another claimed Hendrix faked being a homosexual. Pretty funny, considering Jimi's later, rather pronounced, reputation as a lady's man. More likely, Hendrix was a disinterested, sub-par soldier that was of little use to the Army. Either way, he was back on the street.

Along the way, Jimi mastered the electric guitar. That may be an understatement. Deeply influenced by Blues and Rock 'n' Roll, and blessed with a combination of talent and drive, Hendrix re-invented guitar playing. He began working in various touring bands, including Little Richard's, where he was allegedly fired for diverting too much attention from the star. While playing in New York under the name Jimmy James he was "discovered" by the Animals' bass player Chas Chandler. Chandler was about to leave the Animals and go into artist management.

Call it beginner's luck, Chandler uncovered a powerful force. He shipped Jimi to England and held auditions for band members. Noel Redding (bass) and Mitch Mitchell (drums) were hired and The Jimi Hendrix Experience was born. Their debut LP, released in '67, "Are You Experienced?" was a Rock classic with the raw opening track "Purple Haze." The first U.K. single was a cover of the Leaves "Hey Joe." "Fire," "Manic Depression" and "Foxey Lady" were other highlights. The songs featured psychedelic lyrics ("'cuse me while I kiss the sky") and Jimi's intoxicating yet precise guitar. "Axis Bold As Love," the second LP followed suit, with "You Got Me Floatin'," "Bold As Love" and "Spanish Castle Magic." The original Spanish Castle was a Seattle area teen club.

The pinnacle for the Experience was the third, double album, "Electric Ladyland." "Crosstown Traffic," "Burning The Midnight Lamp" and "House Burnin' Down" contained dazzling guitar expositions along with Jimi's most confident and expressive vocals which reached its pinnacle with the stone brilliant cover of Bob Dylan's "All Along The Watchtower."

Hendrix took a non-descript song and turned it into a classic blending acoustic and electric guitars and providing just the right amount of vocal swagger.

The album featured contributions from Steve Winwood and Chris Wood from Traffic and Jefferson Airplane's bassist Jack Casady. Casady's participation caused Redding to get bent out of shape. He soon left to start his own group, which went nowhere.

Mitchell stayed a bit longer but Hendrix eventually lined up Billy Cox (bass) and Buddy Miles (drums) for the less than stellar, Band Of Gypsys. A New Year's Eve show ('69) recorded at the Fillmore East and some recently released rehearsals for that show is all that remains. Jimi's playing was looser with a more Soul oriented approach as he attempted to expand his horizons. While there were some good tracks, the group's chemistry failed to gel.

Hendrix was working on the solo "Cry Of Love" when he died from a barbiturate OD - he choked to death on his own vomit. If there is such a thing as a good way to go, that certainly wasn't one of them.

There was some talk, in Jimi's last days, of his teaming with Jazz great Miles Davis. However enticing, such a pairing probably wouldn't have worked. Usually two geniuses in the same room is one too many. Still, they might have come up with a breakthrough or something totally incoherent - likely no middle ground. But who knows? In the end, speculation regarding what Jimi would have accomplished in the '70s and beyond is fun, but moot. It just wasn't to be.

Hendrix is often lumped together with fellow '60s icons Janis Joplin and Jim Morrison. All three checked out in the early '70s from drug related causes, though only Joplin's death was officially listed as an overdose. But both Joplin and Morrison appeared at the end of their tether when they escaped the mortal world. Only Jimi's career had any real future. His life reads like a half-finished novel. If only there was more… Actually, there was - tons. But it wasn't what everyone was hoping for.

Following Jimi's death there was the meandering film "Rainbow Bridge" (the soundtrack is OK and contains "Dolly Dagger"). Concert footage, demos, outtakes, alternate takes, bootlegs, pre-fame recordings as a backing musician (notably with King Curtis) and even Hendrix vocal and guitar tracks with new backing musicians, rolled out in a constant stream (reportedly culled from over 1,000 hours of material). But a radiant moment here and there was outweighed by the dregs. It wasn't Jimi's fault. The unfinished or ill-conceived ideas/jam sessions were never meant to be released. But the keepers of the Hendrix legacy, especially producer Alan Douglas, saw there was a money to be made from these scraps. Cashing in seemed to be the mode of operation. After a long legal battle, the Hendrix family was able to gain control of the recordings.

The vast array of Hendrix recordings was easy to figure. He had one thing that most other Rock stars of the era didn't - his own studio. He could go down to Electric Ladyland in NY any time to work on songs or just mess around. When Experience Hendrix gained control of the catalog the search began anew. And so, not to anyone's surprise, Hendrix 'returned' in '10 with "Valleys Of Neptune," a 12-track collection of previously unreleased or rarely heard tunes, including some of his last recording sessions - but the album spanned sessions from '68 - '70. Aside from the title track, the album contained studio covers of Elmore James' "Bleeding Heart" and Cream's "Sunshine of Your Love." Live versions of both tracks have been available for years.

Just prior to the album's release came The Experience Hendrix tour with guitarists Joe Satriani (Deep Purple), Jonny Lang, Eric Johnson, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Brad Whitford (Aerosmith) and Vernon Reid (Living Colour). "It's a thrill for me to play Jimi's music for audiences now as it was in the 1960s," said Cox. "The Experience Hendrix tours have shown how timeless this music really is."

"I finally get to pay tribute to my hero the right way, on stage with an amazing, once in a lifetime, line up of musicians!" added Satriani.

Going back to the well, namely the '68 - '70 period, "Both Sides Of The Sky," with previously unreleased studio recordings, landed in '18.

Jimi Hendrix, the movie star, returned the following year. The documentary, "Electric Church," screened in select cinemas worldwide. Footage from the John McDermott directed film documented the guitarist's Atlanta International Pop concert on July 4, 1970. The film also contained interviews with Hendrix's Experience band mates Cox and Mitchell plus Winwood and Paul McCartney (The Beatles).
Jimi Hendrix Discography

The Jimi Hendrix Experience:

1967 Are You Experienced (1967)
1967 Axis: Bold as Love (1967)
1968 Electric Ladyland (1968)

Jimi Hendrix/Band Of Gypsys (with Buddy Miles and Billy Cox):

1970 Band Of Gypsys [recorded live]

Notable Posthumous Studio Albums:
1971 The Cry Of Love
1971 Rainbow Bridge
1975 Crash Landing
1997 First Rays Of The New Rising Sun
2010 Valleys Of Neptune
2018 Both Sides Of The Sky

Given the incredible amount of material that has been posthumously released, you might assume Hendrix never ventured far from a tape recorder. However, his essential works are the three Experience albums.
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grouper   I am freaked out by the fact that I wound up on this board, with this topic, and I have the same name. My name is Peter Favaro. I know there is a guy in Bayside, Queens with this name. If that's you, someone has written a nasty post about you on I did a little research on this thinking it was me, so if you want to get in touch write (Sorry about the off topic post)  
Messer   My buddies and I waited as the roadies finished stacking the Marshall amps one on top of the other across the stage at Redrocks. We were pissing our pants when "Jimi took over". How lucky can you be! If you were there let me know! I was living in Boulder at the time.  
Peter Favaro   I was turned on to Hendrix by a classmate at Holy Cross H.S. in New York who had read about the coming debut of this album. He bought it on the first day of release. In study hall the following day, he showed me the cover and told me how he stayed up all night, listening to this NEW musical experience. He wouldn't let me borrow it, so stopped to buy that very afternoon. you'll never hear surf music again. Jimi changed it all for me forever. Got to see him on Aug. 24.1968 at Singer Bowl in NYC. Chambers Bros, Janis Joplin and JIMI!! Ya shudda been there--  


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