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Jimi Hendrix

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Essay title: Jimi Hendrix

Jimi Hendrix

Jimi Hendrix perhaps no other rock-and-roll trailblazer was as

original or as influential in such a short span of time as Jimi Hendrix.

Widely acknowledged as one of the most daring and inventive virtuosos in

rock history, Hendrix pioneered the electric guitar (he played a right-

handed Fender Stratocaster-- his "Electric Lady"--upside-down and left-

handed) as an electronic sound source capable of feedback, distortion, and

a host of other effects that could be crafted into an articulate and fluid

emotional vocabulary. And though he was on the scene as a solo artist for

less than five years, Hendrix is credited for having a profound effect on

everyone from George Clinton and Miles Davis to guitarists Stevie Ray

Vaughan and Vernon Reid. Born Johnny Allen Hendrix on November 27, 1942,

Hendrix's father, James "Al" Hendrix, later changed his son's name to James

Marshall. Young Jimi taught himself to play the guitar during his schoolboy

days in Seattle, drawing influence from blues legends like B.B. King and

Robert Johnson. He slung his guitar over his back and left home to enlist

in the 101st Division of the Air Force (the "Screaming Eagles"), where he

served as a parachute jumper until an injury led to his discharge. Hendrix

then began working as a session guitarist under the name Jimmy James,

playing behind such marquee acts as Sam Cooke, Ike and Tina Turner, and the

Isley Brothers. After gigging extensively with Little Richard in 1964,

Hendrix became entangled in a contract dispute with the mercurial artist

and left to form his own band, Jimmy James and the Blue Flames. With the

exception of an obscure single, "My Diary," with Rosa Lee Parks, none of

the music Hendrix cut with other artists was made more remarkable by his

presence. After playing Greenwich Village coffeehouses for the better part

of a year (still under the moniker Jimmy James), Hendrix encountered Chas

Chandler, of Animals fame, at a New York City club. Impressed with his

playing, Chandler, who was then looking to switch gears to management, took

Hendrix to London in the fall of 1966 and masterminded the creation of the

Jimi Hendrix Experience. Backed by Noel Redding on bass and Mitch Mitchell

on drums, the Experience offered Hendrix the wide-open rock-and-roll format

he needed to exercise his dazzling skills as a guitarist, singer, and

songwriter. Chandler unleashed the band on the London pop scene, and in

short order, Hendrix et al. became the talk of the town. Hendrix's first

single, "Hey Joe," a cover of a song written by the L.A. band the Leaves,

hit the U.K. charts in early 1967, followed in quick succession by "Purple

Haze," "The Wind Cries Mary," and the trio's ferocious debut album, Are You

Experienced?, which featured those tracks and the Hendrix staples "Foxy

Lady" and "Manic Depression." Hendrix's popularity Stateside was a bit

slower in igniting, but Are You Experienced? finally broke through in a

major way after a defining moment at the famed Monterey Pop Festival when

the notoriously outlandish frontman created a sensation by coaxing flames

from his Strat during the band's performance. The next year, Hendrix's

eclectic psychedelia reached a zenith with

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