Jimi Hendrix, Born Johnny Allen Hendrix on November 27th, 1942 in Seattle, Washington. He came from a family background that included slavery and racism and show business. His dad Al Hendrix came from Vancouver British Columbia, born on June 10th, 1919. Al’s father Bertram (Jimi’s Granddady), and Al’s mom, Nora (Jimi’s Grandmother) the granddaughter of a full blooded Cherokee went from city to city performing in all black entertainment shows. After the show disbanded, they made Seattle their home.
Jimi’s (Johnny) mom Lucille was born in Seattle in 1925. She and Al met in 1941. They wasted no time courting each other. When Lucille became pregnant they married. Al was called for duty to serve in World War II. Married on March 31st 1942, Al left for war three days later.
To say that Jimi had a turbulent childhood would be an understatement. Jimi’s mom was very young and irresponsible. She was a heavy drinker and liked to party often staying out too late when she should have been taking care of her son Jimi. While his dad was in the service Jimi was shuffled from one care taker to another until he ended up with a nice lady in Berkeley California, where his dad found him after his discharge from the service.
By the time Jimi was six he developed a big time interest in guitars. Falling in love with, at the time, early home grown blues. In fact the first guitarist he became aware of was Muddy Waters. Jimi really dug guys like Elvis, Buddy Holly, B.B. King, and Elmore James. These artists were Jimi’s first influences, however Jimi didn’t end up copying them, he was destined to develop his own vibe.
In 1959 Jimi received his first guitar from his dad. He never had any lessons. Unable to read music he learned from playing along with the radio and records.
As the years went on The Guitars of Jimi Hendrix were varied and many until he settled on the Stratocaster.
Over the course of four extraordinary years James Marshall Hendrix left his stamp on the world. His place as the most influential and innovative guitarist of this generation or any era is carved in stone. Jimi was creating the vocabulary for every guitar player, while redefining the parameters of electric blues.
For Jimi it was always about the music. The weird and unusual sounds he invented and developed were unique at the time and still have never been duplicated. His fertile mind never was conventional in thinking, thus creating the strange sounds he pioneered and developed. His out of the box way of viewing music caused him to do unthinkable modifications to his electric guitars that have never been exposed or figured out in full, which may be why his vibe is not easy to duplicate. Lots of information went to the grave with him.
For me and many more people Jimi will always be considered the worlds greatest composer and guitarist. I am very grateful Jimi lived. Every second of his career was a gift for every guitar lover. No telling where Jimi would be now if he were still alive, probably still breaking every rule of guitar playing and making the world a better place.
When I start to write an article on Jimi Hendrix for Guitar Players Center sometimes I babble on too long and may not even make perfect sense of the entire Jimi Hendrix vibe. If you take the time to read the the posts that the text links in this article take you to, it may all come together and make sense. Enjoy Jimi Hendrix today and have a great Thanksgiving(USA).
Listen to the earliest recorded live radio performance by Jimi Hendrix Early BBC Session “Purple Haze”