In just 5 years this man and his soul changed the music and the rock guitar forever. Described by Life magazine as a "semi-demigod", in a few frantic years Jimi Hendrix revolutionised guitar playing and popular music. He moved to England in 1966, where he certainly taught the world to 'kiss the sky' ... the most mis-heard line of any song recorded in history .. but if you want to Kiss The Guy next to you .. GO for it!! as Jimi said..
JIMI HENDRIX IN A NUTSHELL
Pop Festival 1967 [the summer of love]
experience and stagecraft gained during this formative period proved essential
to the artist's subsequent development. By 1965 Hendrix was living in New York.
In October he joined struggling soul singer Curtis Knight, signing a punitive
contract with the latter's manager, Ed Chalpin. This ill-advised decision returned
to haunt the guitarist. In June the following year, Hendrix, now calling himself
Jimmy James, formed a group initially dubbed the Rainflowers, then Jimmy James
And The Blue Flames. The quartet, which also featured future Spirit member Randy
California, was appearing at the Cafe Wha? in Greenwich Village when Chas Chandler
was advised to see them. The Animals' bass player immediately recognized the guitarist's
extraordinary talent and persuaded him to go to London in search of a more receptive
new group, dubbed the Jimi Hendrix Experience, made its debut the following month
at Evereux in France. On returning to England they began a string of club engagements
that attracted pop's aristocracy, including Pete Townshend and Eric Clapton. In
December the trio released their first single, the understated, resonant "Hey
Joe". Its UK Top 10 placing encouraged a truly dynamic follow-up in "Purple
Haze". The latter was memorable for Hendrix's guitar pyrotechnics and a lyric
that incorporated the artist's classic line: "'Scuse me while I kiss the
sky". On tour, his trademark Fender Stratocaster and Marshall Amplifier were
punished night after night, as the group enhanced its reputation with exceptional
live appearances. Here Hendrix drew on black culture and his own heritage to produce
a startling visual and aural bombardment.
This assault was enhanced by a flamboyant stage persona in which Hendrix used the guitar as a physical appendage. He played his instrument behind his back, between his legs or, in simulated sexual ecstasy, on the floor. Such practices brought criticism from radical quarters, who claimed the artist had become an "Uncle Tom", employing tricks to ingratiate himself with the white audience - accusations that neglected similar showmanship from generations of black performers, from Charley Patton to "T-Bone" Walker. Redding's clean, uncluttered basslines provided the backbone to Hendrix's improvisations, while Mitchell's drumming, as instinctive as his leader's guitar playing, was a perfect foil. Their concessions to the pop world now receding, the Experience completed an astonishing debut album that ranged from the apocalyptic vision of "I Don't Live Today", to the blues of "Red House" and the funk of "Fire" and "Foxy Lady". Hendrix returned to America in June 1967 to appear, sensationally, at the Monterey Pop Festival. His performance was a musical and visual feast, culminating in a sequence that saw him playing the guitar with his teeth, and then burning the instrument with lighter fuel. He was now fêted in his homeland, and following an ill-advised tour supporting the Monkees, the Experience enjoyed reverential audiences on the country's nascent concert circuit.
Bold As Love revealed a new lyrical capability, notably in the title track and
the jazz-influenced "Up From The Skies". "Little Wing", a
delicate love song bathed in unhurried guitar splashes, offered a gentle perspective,
closer to that of the artist's shy, offstage demeanour.
Ladyland included two UK hits, "Burning Of The Midnight Lamp" and "All
Along The Watchtower". The latter, an urgent restatement of the Bob Dylan
song, was particularly impressive, and received the ultimate accolade when the
composer adopted Hendrix's interpretation when performing it live on his 1974
tour.Despite such creativity, the guitarist's private and professional life was
becoming problematic. He was arrested in Toronto for possessing heroin, but although
the charges were later dismissed, the proceedings clouded much of 1969. Chas Chandler
had, meanwhile, withdrawn from the managerial partnership and although Redding
sought solace with a concurrent group, Fat Mattress, his differences with Hendrix
were now irreconcilable. The Experience played its final concert on 29 June 1969;
Hendrix subsequently formed Gypsies Sons And Rainbows with Mitchell, Billy Cox
(bass), Larry Lee (rhythm guitar), Juma Sultan and Jerry Velez (both percussion).
This short-lived unit closed the Woodstock Festival, during which Hendrix performed
his famed rendition of the "The Star-Spangled Banner". Perceived by
some critics as a political statement, it came as the guitarist was increasingly
being subjected to pressures from different causes.
The trio made its debut on 31 December 1969, but its potential was marred by Miles' comparatively flat, pedestrian drumming and unimaginative compositions. Part of the set was issued as Band Of Gypsies, but despite the inclusion of the exceptional "Machine Gun", this inconsistent album was only released to appease former manager Chalpin, who acquired the rights in part-settlement of a miserly early contract. The Band Of Gypsies broke up after a mere three concerts and initially Hendrix confined his efforts to completing the building of his Electric Ladyland recording studio. He then started work on another double set, First Rays Of The New Rising Sun (finally released in 1997), and later resumed performing with Cox and Mitchell. His final concerts were largely frustrating, as the aims of the artist and the expectations of his audience grew increasingly separate. His final UK appearance, at the Isle Of Wight festival, encapsulated this dilemma, yet still drew an enthralling performance. The guitarist returned to London following a short European tour. On 18 September 1970, his girlfriend, Monika Dannemann, became alarmed when she was unable to rouse him from sleep. An ambulance was called, but Hendrix was pronounced dead on arrival at a nearby hospital.
inquest recorded an open verdict, with death caused by suffocation due to inhalation
of vomit. It has been alleged that Eric Burdon claimed at the time to possess
a suicide note, but this has never been confirmed. Two posthumous releases, Cry
Of Love and Rainbow Bridge, mixed portions of the artist's final recordings with
masters from earlier sources. These were fitting tributes, but many others were
tawdry cash-ins, recorded in dubious circumstances, mispackaged and mistitled.
This imbalance has been redressed of late with the release of archive recordings.
A major reissuing programme took place in 1997, including out-takes from the recording of Electric Ladyland. The reissued catalogue on Experience/MCA records is now the definitive and final word. The Hendrix legacy also rests in his prevailing influence on fellow musicians of all ages. Countless guitarists have imitated his technique; few have mastered it, while none at all have matched him as an inspirational player. The electric guitar in the hands of Hendrix was transformed into an extension of his body and as such puts him on an unassailable pedestal as the greatest.
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