Published on October 15th, 2013 | by AlexandreG.1
Best Guitarists of All Time – Jimi Hendrix
1 – JIMI HENDRIX
Four decades after his death, one of the most beloved and revered guitarists in Rock history, is back in the spotlight at a time when we awaiting with some expectation a biopic about his early years as a musician. James Marshall “Jimi” Hendrix (born Johnny Allen Hendrix) is widely considered one of the most influential electric guitarists in the history of popular music and one of the most celebrated musicians of the 20th century.
At dawn in the 60’s decade, Hendrix is caught driving stolen cars ended up joining the American army to escape the prison. After this short spell in the army, Hendrix began playing gigs on the chitlin’ circuit, with The Isley Brothers, Little Richard, Curtis Knight and the Squires before moving to England in late 1966 after having been discovered by bassist Chas Chandler of the Animals. who help later formed the mythical ‘The Jimi Hendrix Experienced’ with the English Noel Redding on bass and Mitch Mitchell on drums.
On September 30 on the London Polytechnic at Regent Street, where Cream was scheduled to perform, Hendrix took the stage and performed a frantic version of the Howlin’ Wolf song ‘Killing Floor’. In 1989, Clapton described the performance: ‘He played just about every style you could think of, and not in a flashy way. I mean he did a few of his tricks, like playing with his teeth and behind his back, but it wasn’t in an upstaging sense at all, and that was it … He walked off, and my life was never the same again’
The impact of the first three singles – ‘Hey Joe’, ‘Purple Haze’ and ‘The Wind Cries Mary ‘ – leading up to the arrival of one of the most innovative albums of all time, ‘Are You Experienced’. This album didn’t reach the first place of the tops, because there was an album called ‘Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’!
Under pressure from their record company to follow-up the successful debut, ‘Axis: Bold as Love’ arrived with all the magic and diversity of musical genres that Hendrix managed to put in it: ‘Little Wing’ as Hendrix play his guitar through a Leslie speaker for the first time, on ‘Up from the Skies’ he create a jazzy number, ‘Wait Until Tomorrow’ is a pop song with an R&B guitar riff, ‘If 6 Was 9’ is the last song on side one, and it’s the album’s longest track and arguably the most psychedelic, ‘You Got Me Floatin’ is a rock song opening with a swirling backwards guitar solo, ‘Little Miss Lover’ was the first to feature a percussive muted wah-wah effect.
Like ‘Axis: Bold as Love’, ‘Electric Ladyland’ is a cross-section of Jimi Hendrix’s wide range of musical talent, it includes several genres and styles of music: the psychedelic ‘Burning of the Midnight Lamp’ the extended blues jam ‘Voodoo Chile’; the R&B ‘Come On’; the epic studio production of ‘1983… (A Merman I Should Turn to Be)’; the Sixties-era Britpop of Noel Redding’s ‘Little Miss Strange’. The album also features one of the most incredible cover of all time, an electric reworking of the Bob Dylan classic ‘All Along the Watchtower’.
By June 29, 1969 it was given the last concert under the name of ‘The Jimi Hendrix Experience’. In the same year it was realized the Woodstock festival, a cultural marathon for love and peace, and was the most important rock and roll festival of its time. The show of Jimi Hendrix was devastating and will never be forgotten. During the final set Jimi Hendrix let loose with a rendition of the ‘Star-Spangled Banner’ on electric guitar that’s been called everything from the most important political rock statement of the 1960s, to an afterthought caught in one of Hendrix’s worst performances.
Meanwhile Electric Lady Studios was created by Jimi Hendrix in New York. By there have passed important names in contemporary music, among them Billy Cobham, Curtis Mayfield, Carly Simon, Peter Frampton, David Bowie, Christina Aguilera, Bad Religion, Stevie Wonder, AC/DC, Led Zeppelin, John Lennon, Billy Joel, The Clash, Frank Zappa, The Rolling Stones, Guns N’ Roses, Patti Smith, Phil Keaggy, Kiss ou Al Green.
During his life, Hendrix was widely associated with the use of psychedelic drugs, he first experimented when he met Linda Keith in late 1966.. On May 3, 1969, while checking through Canadian customs at Toronto Pearson International Airport, authorities arrested Hendrix for drug possession after finding a small amount of heroin and hashish in his luggage. At 12:45 p.m. on September 18, 1970, Dr. John Bannister pronounced Hendrix dead. He had aspirated his own vomit and died of asphyxia while intoxicated with barbiturates. More than two hundred people attended the funeral, including several notable musicians such as original Experience members Mitch Mitchell and Noel Redding, as well as Miles Davis, John Hammond and Johnny Winter. One of the most troubled Rock stars died when he was only 27 years old, like other stars like Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, Brian Jones and later Kurt Cobain.
In his brief and meteoric passage through superstardom, Hendrix innovated like no one had done once, particularly at the level of the guitar sound effects like wah-wah and distortion. Its main guitars were:
Fender Stratocaster / Fender Jazzmasters / Duosonics /Gibson Flying Vs / Gibson Les Paul / Gibson SGs / Gretsch Corvette and a Fender Jaguar. On December 4, 2006, one of Hendrix’s 1968 Fender Stratocaster guitars with a sunburst design was sold at a Christie’s auction for US$168,000.
‘Little Wing’ was covered by Eric Clapton‘s Derek and the Dominos with a unique arrangement by Duane Allman. The song was also popularized as an instrumental rock song by Stevie Ray Vaughan. Kirk Hammett of Metallica and Skid Row covered the song too. It was also covered by the American singer/songwriter John Mayer. In 2010, it was covered by Santana (featuring Joe Cocker) on his cover album Guitar Heaven.
Pretenders also covered ‘Bold as Love’ on the 1993 Hendrix tribute album ‘Stone Free: A Tribute to Jimi Hendrix’.
Todd Rundgren also covered one of Jimi’s songs, ‘If 6 Was 9’, on his album Faithful, with Tori Amos. The Red Hot Chili Peppers recorded covers of ‘Little Miss Lover’ and ‘Castles Made of Sand’ for possible inclusion on their album ‘Blood Sugar Sex Magik’. .
Electric blues artists including Muddy Waters, Elmore James and B.B. King influenced Hendrix during the beginning of his career. At a time when R & B was at its peak, where Rock and Blues continued to evolve, the influence of Hendrix is lasting and transversal since Rock to Reggae !
Hendrix helped to popularize use of the wah-wah pedal in mainstream rock, which he often used to deliver his solos. His music has influenced funk and the development of funk rock particularly through guitarists Ernie Isley of the Isley Brothers and Eddie Hazel of Funkadelic; Prince; John Frusciante. Hendrix’s influence also extends to many hip hop artists, including Questlove, Chuck D of Public Enemy, Ice-T, El-P and Wyclef Jean. Miles Davis was also deeply impressed by Hendrix and compared his improvisational skills with those of saxophonist John Coltrane. His guitar style also had significant influence upon Texas guitar legend Stevie Ray Vaughan, Metallica’s Kirk Hammett and Pearl Jam’s Mike McCready. Hendrix’s influence is also evident in the musical styles of many prominent bassists such as Stanley Clarke, Jaco Pastorius, Billy Sheehan and Les Claypool.
Recognition and awards
In 1967, readers of Melody Maker voted Hendrix the Pop Musician of the Year;
In 1968, Billboard named him the Artist of the Year and Rolling Stone declared him the Performer of the Year;
Also in 1968, the City of Seattle gave Hendrix the Keys to the City;
Disc & Music Echo newspaper honored Hendrix with the World Top Musician of 1969 and in 1970, Guitar Player magazine called him the Rock Guitarist of the Year;
Rolling Stone ranked his three non-posthumous studio albums, Are You Experienced (1967), Axis: Bold as Love (1967) and Electric Ladyland (1968) among the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. They ranked Hendrix number one on their list of the 100 greatest guitarists of all time, and number six on their list of the 100 greatest artists of all time;
Guitar World’s readers voted six of Hendrix’s solos among the top 100 Greatest Guitar Solos of All Time: ‘Purple Haze’ (70), ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’ (52), ‘Machine Gun’ (32), ‘Little Wing’ (18), ‘Voodoo Child (Slight Return)’ (11) and ‘All Along the Watchtower’ (5);
Rolling Stone placed seven of his recordings in their list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time: ‘Purple Haze’ (17), ‘All Along the Watchtower’ (47), ‘Voodoo Child (Slight Return)’ (102), ‘Foxy Lady’ (153), ‘Hey Joe’ (201), ‘Little Wing’ (366), and ‘The Wind Cries Mary’ (379);
Additionally, they included three of Hendrix’s songs in their list of the 100 Greatest Guitar Songs of All Time: ‘Purple Haze’ (2), ‘Voodoo Child’ (12), and ‘Machine Gun’ (49);
The Jimi Hendrix Experience was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1992, and the UK Music Hall of Fame in 2005;
A star for Hendrix on the Hollywood Walk of Fame was dedicated on November 14, 1991, at 6627 Hollywood Boulevard;
In 1999, readers of Rolling Stone and Guitar World ranked Hendrix among the most important musicians of the 20th century;
In 2005, his debut album, ‘Are You Experienced’, was one of 50 recordings added that year to the United States National Recording Registry in the Library of Congress, ‘[to] be preserved for all time … [as] part of the nation’s audio legacy’;
A memorial statue of Hendrix playing a Stratocaster stands near the corner of Broadway and Pine Streets in Seattle;
In May 2006, the city renamed a park near its Central District in his honor.