Jimi Hendrix | Teen Ink

Jimi Hendrix

May 5, 2008
By Anonymous

Born on November 27, 1942, he was named Johnny Allen Hendrix by his seventeen year-old mother. Since his mother was having difficulties with taking care of a child, Jimi was put in temporary care of friends of his family. He went to high school at Garfield High School and had a little bit of trouble, so he dropped out. When his mom died in 1952, his dad, who had been fighting in WW2, gave him his first acoustic guitar for 5 dollars. He practiced almost constantly listening to music, getting pointers from other musicians, and watching others play. In the summer of 1959 he got his first electric guitar but without an amplifier. He liked a lot of musicians but was very fond of Elvis Presley. He played in his first band with The Velvetones, and he already stood out with his flashy style and his left-handed playing of a right-handed guitar.

When Hendrix was convicted of stealing a car, he got a choice between two years in prison or enlisting in the army. He enlisted on May 31, 1961. after boot camp, he was assigned to the 101st air division in Kentucky. Hendrix was a horrible soldier and his officers discharged him. At the post recreation center he met fellow soldier and bass player Billy Cox who would become very good friends with Hendrix.

Later when Hendrix and Cox were released they moved to Nashville were Hendrix picked up how to properly play with his teeth. They normally weren’t paid well and for the next two years Hendrix would play with the King Kasuals on the “Chitlin Circuit”. Frustrated by the south, he moved to Teresa Hotel in Harlem, New York. Here, Pridgeon a harlem native gave him shelter support and encouragement. In 1964 Hendrix won the Apollo Theatre amateur guitar contest. Afterwards Jimi was hired by the Isley Brothers and played in a circuit which included the chitlin circuit.

In 1966, Jimi met Chas Chandler who was looking for someone to produce and manage. Chas then helped Hendrix form a new band called The Jimi Hendrix Experience with bassist Noel Redding, and drummer Mitch Mitchell. After the band was formed, Jimi was introduced to Eric Clapton, who was Jimi’s good friend up unto his death. Hendrix jammed with the band Cream sometimes and it made him much more popular in the UK. Soon after, Hendrix produced his first single, “Hey Joe”. More success in 1967 came with “Purple Haze” featuring the “Hendrix Chord”, and “the wind cries Mary.” His first album was Are You Experienced. The only album that kept this from being no.1 on the charts was The Beatles Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. Also in 1967, Jimi worked on his stage appearance, which led to him first setting his guitar on fire as a publicity stunt at The Walker Bro.’s farewell tour.

In July 1967, Jimi met Frank Zappa, whose Mothers of Invention were playing right across from Garrick Theater, and he was reportedly fascinated by Zappa's recently-purchased wah-wah pedal, and Hendrix immediately bought one. Then Experience played a series of concerts at Bill Graham's Fillmore at the top of the bill. It was at this time that Hendrix became re-acquainted himself with Buddy Miles, the drummer. The Experience’s second album, Axis: Bold as Love The opening track, "EXP", featured a stereo effect in which a ruckus of sound emanating from Jimi's guitar appeared to revolve around the listener, fading out into the distance from the right channel, and then returning in on the left. This album marked the first time Hendrix recorded the whole album with his guitar tuned down one half-step, to E♭, which he used exclusively thereafter and was his first album to feature the wah-wah pedal. Hendrix's third recording, a double album, Electric Ladyland, was better than other albums in the US hitting Number 1 on the charts. 2 months later he opened Electric lady land studios, after it took 43 times for Jimi to perfect a song in the studio, Chandler left and gave all control to Hendrix. Afterwards, Noel Redding, the bassist, 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. Redding was also uncomfortable with the hysteria surrounding Hendrix's 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. 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. Hendrix's popularity eventually saw him headline the Woodstock music festival on August 18, 1969.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 1960's era. Early on September 18, 1970, Jimi Hendrix died in London under circumstances which have never been fully explained. He had spent the later part of the evening before at a party and was picked up by girlfriend Monika Dannemann and driven to her flat at the Samarkand Hotel. According to the estimated time of death, he died shortly afterwards. 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. Jimi Hendrix lives today through his songs and the legend of Jimi Hendrix lives on and is an inspiration of peace and love.

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