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- Me, Myself, and I
- It has been said that more superlatives have been bestowed upon Hendrix than any other rock guitarist, and that's no exaggeration.
Considered to be the most influential guitarist in modern music, Jimi Hendrix perfected the deliberate use of distortion and feedback, using it to complement his natural virtuoso ability. He exuded charisma, raw talent, and creativity to excess - delivering some of the most revolutionary music of the 20th century.
A self-taught left-handed guitarist, Jimi played with a right handed Fender Stratocaster - upside down and re-strung. His use of the Strat's tremelo bar was one of the signature elements of his blues influenced style of rock music. In addition to his songwriting and playing ability, Jimi Hendrix was also a pioneer in using the recording studio as an "instrument".
Born in Seattle, Washington in 1942, Jimi Hendrix did not initially find success in his home country. He left for England in September 1966, invited there by The Animal's bass player Chas Chandler. Chas saw Jimi play at The Wha? in Greenich Village and convinced him to go to London, where the audience might be more receptive to his style.
After just a few weeks, "The Jimi Hendrix Experience" trio was founded with Noel Redding on bass and John "Mitch" Mitchell playing drums. In the months that followed they played a string on club venues and released their first UK single - "Hey Joe". The blistering "Purple Haze" came next, and eventually the debut album - "Are You Experienced?" was released to rapidly growing fanbase.
In 1967 his popularity was rising, and Jimi returned to America to play at the Monterey Pop Festival. He delivered a legendary set that he ended by setting fire to his guitar - one of the defining moments in rock history.
His trip to Britan had given his music a springboard to the United States and in the years that followed, Jimi Hendrix rocketed to become an international success. His untimely demise in 1970 was a sudden and grievous shock to the those who had come to know Jimi Hendrix and his music.
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Hendrix owned and used a variety of guitars during his career. His guitar of choice however, and the instrument that became most associated with him, was the Fender Stratocaster, or "Strat". He bought his first Stratocaster in 1965 and thereafter used it almost exclusively for his stage performances and recordings.
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. Before his arrival in the UK, most top players used Gibson and Rickenbacker models. After Hendrix, many leading guitarists including Jeff Beck, Ritchie Blackmore and Eric Clapton switched to the Stratocaster. Hendrix bought dozens of Strats and gave many away as gifts, including one to ZZ Top guitarist Billy Gibbons, although a former ZZ Top roadie claimed this was one of Gibbons' many made-up stories to the press. Many others were stolen, and a few were destroyed during his notorious guitar-burning finales. One formerly sunburst Strat which was mutilated by Hendrix at the 1968 Miami Pop Festival was given to Frank Zappa by a Hendrix roadie. Zappa had it hanging on a wall in his basement for years. He posed for the cover of Guitar Player Magazine holding this instrument, and recent news and an image of the refurbished instrument are available in the August 2006 issue of Guitar Player.
The Strat's easy action and narrow neck were also ideally suited to Hendrix's evolving style and enhanced his tremendous dexterity--Hendrix's hands were large enough to fret across all six strings with his thumb, and he could play lead and rhythm parts simultaneously. Another remarkable fact about Hendrix is that he was left-handed, yet used right-handed Stratocasters, playing them upside-down. Hendrix restrung his guitars so that the heavier strings were in their standard position at the top of the neck. He preferred this layout because the tremolo arm and volume and tone controls were more easily accessible above the strings, but it also had an important effect on the sound of his guitar: because of the stagger of the pickups' pole pieces, his lowest string had a bright sound while his highest string had a mellow sound—the opposite of the Strat's intended design. This effect was exaggerated by the slant of the Strat's bridge pickup, and the varying length of the strings behind the nut caused by the Strat's six-a-side headstock.
A new Stratocaster model (with a wide headstock) was launched in late 1968, and as the cohesion of the Experience began to deteriorate, Hendrix wished to vary his playing and his repertoire with this new design. Choosing Stratocasters with a light-tone maple fretboard (giving a "brighter" sound than the "darker" rosewood), he wanted to balance the high-power play with further versatility and velocity, so in early 1969, he opted for heavy-gauge strings which he combined with a tuning lowered a half-step from normal pitch, a technique which he picked up from Albert King in 1966. This enhanced the possibilities offered by the interlaced rhythm and solos during the Olmstead Studios sessions of April 1969. Later on tour, this stringing caused the drawback of more frequent losses in tuning after pushing down (or pulling) the tremolo bar; 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 Fender Jaguars, Gretsch Corvette, Duosonics and Jazzmasters, and Gibson Les Paul Customs and SGs. Jimi used a white Gibson SG Custom for his performance on the Dick Cavett show in the summer of 1969, and the Isle of Wight film shows him playing a Gibson Flying V. While Jimi owned a number of Flying Vs throughout his career (included a bla
3 Comments 331 weeks
"when the power of love overcomes the love of power, the world will know peace."
"All I'm gonna do is just go on and do what I feel."
"Blues is easy to play, but hard to feel."
"I believe everybody should have a room where they get rid of all their releases. So my room was a stage."
"You don't have to be singing about love all the time in order to give love to the people. You don't have to keep flashing those words all the time."
"You have to go on and be crazy. Craziness is like heaven."
"I just hate to be in one corner. I hate to be put as only a guitar player, or either only as a songwriter, or only as a tap dancer. I like to move around."
"I'm the one that has to die when it's time for me to die, so let me live my life, the way I want to."
"Music is my religion."
"All you need is love, but a little chocolate now and then doesn't hurt"
"If I'm free, it's because I'm always running."
"Wise men speak because they have something to say, fools speak because they have to say something" (Plato)
"When I die, I want people to play my music, go wild and freak out and do anything they want to do."
4 Comments 349 weeks
Despite the extremely prolific recording career of Hendrix and the staggering volume of published content (estimated at over 500 unique releases), there are still items in the Hendrix vaults (and elsewhere) that have yet to pass through the eyes and eardrums of even ardent collectors. Some of the tie-ups involve legal disputes or lost tapes, while others are simply being held by Experience Hendrix for release at intervals that the company deems worthy according to its long term plans.
The Royal Albert Hall film
The two sold-out Jimi Hendrix Experience concerts performed at London's Royal Albert Hall on February 18 and February 24, 1969 became the last British appearance of the band, and were known as brilliant performances, the latter of which ended with Hendrix wrecking his guitar and then throwing it into the crowd which prompted them to rush onto the stage. This was the last time he wrecked his equipment on stage. The shows were filmed by musical directors Gold and Goldstein and intended for worldwide release as a concert film (to be titled Experience), but undetailed legal issues have prevented the film's release for over 35 years.
Jimi and Noel's 8mm films
Hendrix and his Experience bandmate Noel Redding were known to carry an 8mm movie camera on tour and create footage of the group off-stage, on the road, and sightseeing in the many countries they visited while touring. Rumors persist that some of the films include footage of their bedroom exploits with groupies, but while no risqué footage has surfaced publicly, some of the 8mm scenes can be seen in various documentaries on Hendrix where the Experience band is mentioned. It remains unclear just how much of the 8mm footage still exists or who owns it, but fans point out that this may be a source of unreleased footage that reveals Hendrix and his entourage in a more relaxed and casual setting.
In early 1970, Hendrix recorded a suite of songs in his Greenwich Village apartment intended to serve as a demo for a concept album that he titled Black Gold. The tapes consist of sixteen songs, all created by a solo Hendrix armed only with his voice and a Martin acoustic guitar. Near the end of the collection lies an embryonic two-part rendition of his now infamous superhero themed funk-rock tune "Astro Man", in which Hendrix sings lines from the 1950's Mighty Mouse cartoon theme and makes humorous yet derogatory references to Superman. Other songs from the Black Gold sessions were also further developed in the studio and thus have surfaced elsewhere in the Hendrix catalog (namely "Stepping Stone", "Machine Gun", and "Drifting"), but at least nine of the songs are known to be unique to the tapes.
Months later, at the Isle of Wight Festival, Hendrix gave the tapes to his drummer Mitch Mitchell to have him listen and comment on the necessary rhythm section requirements for recording the songs. After Hendrix's untimely death in September 1970, Mitchell simply forgot about the tapes, apparently unaware that they were one of a kind masters. For twenty two years, the Black Gold tapes sat unmolested in a black Ampex tape box that Hendrix himself tied shut with a headband and hand labeled with the letters "BG".
It was not until 1992 that avid Hendrix collector and biographer Tony Brown interviewed Mitchell and learned that the mythical Black Gold tapes, thought to have been stolen from Jimi's apartment by vandals who ransacked it for collectibles upon his death, were in fact lying in Mitchell's home in England. By coincidence, Mitchell also possessed the Martin guitar that was used to create the material. Brown was invited to review the tapes and published a summary of his account, but to date the material has not been released and is not available to Hendrix collectors. A bootleg compilation onerously titled "Black Gold" often circulates among online file traders, some of whom are duped into believing that they have obtained the actual Bl
0 Comments 357 weeks