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Hendrix’s Hired Musician Role

As a hired musician, Hendrix’s exceptional guitar skills were often on full display, captivating audiences with his mesmerizing solos and stage presence. However, this period also presented challenges as he navigated through different bands and musical styles. The Chitlin Circuit venues demanded a diverse repertoire, and while Hendrix thrived in showcasing his talents, some bands’ limited vision may have restrained his artistic freedom and creativity.

Notable Bands and Collaborations

During his time in the Chitlin Circuit, Hendrix played with several bands, leaving an indelible mark on the musical landscape even in the early stages of his career.

The Isley Brothers

In 1964, Hendrix joined The Isley Brothers’ touring band as a guitarist. This experience provided him with an opportunity to work with an established R&B group and hone his skills within the soulful soundscape. Hendrix’s guitar work added a unique dimension to the band’s performances, leaving a lasting impression on both the audience and his fellow musicians.

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Little Richard

Hendrix’s collaboration with the legendary Little Richard further showcased his showmanship and virtuosity. Joining Richard’s band, The Upsetters, in 1964, Hendrix brought a new energy to the group’s performances. Little Richard’s influence on Hendrix’s style can be seen in his stage presence and flamboyant guitar playing, which were inspired by the rock ‘n’ roll pioneer.

King Curtis

During his time with King Curtis & The Kingpins, Hendrix had the chance to play alongside renowned saxophonist King Curtis. The band’s fusion of R&B, soul, and jazz allowed Hendrix to experiment with different musical genres, paving the way for his future genre-defying approach to music.

The Turning Point: From Hired Musician to Stardom

Despite the limitations of being a hired musician, Hendrix’s tenure in the Chitlin Circuit bands served as a stepping stone towards his ultimate destiny. His exceptional talent and magnetic stage presence did not go unnoticed, catching the attention of influential figures in the music industry. His encounter with Chas Chandler, who later became his manager, marked the turning point in his career.


Little Richard with his band’s guitarist Jimi Hendrix, Feb. 21, 1965, Fillmore Auditorium, San Francisco
Source: Stones Throw Twitter
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