by Robert Wilkinson
There's really nothing I could say to add to the legend that is Jimi Hendrix. Today the Sagittarius Fire Guitar Master would have been 70, as impossible as that seems. He left us a magnificent musical legacy, both in terms of performances, guitar technique, and production innovations that have changed the way music is done forever.
A superstar flaming nova for 4 years, he changed the face of music forever, not just in terms of guitar sonics, but also through his pioneering use of the studio. His innovative techniques created effects that have been studied in countless advanced music engineering and production courses in colleges around the world over the decades since the debut of "Electric Ladyland." Today we remember this extraordinary Sagittarian Fire god and musical genius.
From All Music Guide, a fitting intro in case you have lived in another Solar system these past 50 years:
In his brief four-year reign as a superstar, Jimi Hendrix expanded the vocabulary of the electric rock guitar more than anyone before or since. Hendrix was a master at coaxing all manner of unforeseen sonics from his instrument, often with innovative amplification experiments that produced astral-quality feedback and roaring distortion. His frequent hurricane blasts of noise and dazzling showmanship -- he could and would play behind his back and with his teeth and set his guitar on fire -- has sometimes obscured his considerable gifts as a songwriter, singer, and master of a gamut of blues, R&B, and rock styles.
I once read of a meeting between Jimi and the legendary Son House, one of the three "Fathers of the Blues." It is said that upon hearing Jimi, Son House proclaimed him "the One." In case you don't know who Son House was, he was the source and inspiration for Robert Johnson and Muddy Waters.
As an aside, it is generally accepted that W.C. Handy is THE "Father of the Blues," with Jelly Roll Morton the third though Blind Lemon Jefferson, Charley Patton, and Blind Willie Johnson also are in contention for the third spot. In the interest of equal time, the "Mothers of the Blues" were Bessie Smith, Ma Rainey, and Ida Cox., with Mamie Smith and Alberta Hunter also in contention.
Anyway, enough blues history. Jimi was the consummate performer, fusing blues, jazz, and rock in a unique blend that no one before or since has ever done. In these videos you will see things done with a guitar never done before in history. On a final historical note, for those into supernatural trivia, there are also some very interesting timing connections between Jimi's life, Robert Johnson's life, and the jukejoint he was killed in involving whirlwinds and tornadoes for those who want to check them out. Voodoo Chile indeed!
On with the show! For your enjoyment, here’s the legend at Woodstock!
That's truly one of the most incredible version of "The Star Spangled Banner" ever done! I was in college at the time it hit the airwaves, and it sure flipped out warmongers and hypocritical "patriots" everywhere. Jimi (who once served with the 101st Airborne, the "Screaming Eagles") wanted to replicate the sounds of war, bombs, and planes, and succeeded in high style. And of course, he followed it with "Purple Haze" featuring some unbelievable guitar mastery.
From the historic May 1970 Berkeley concert, here's Jimi doing “Purple Haze”
From the same show, here’s a blistering performance of “Johnny B Good”
“Ezy Rider” along with "Hey Baby New Rising Sun." Last year I had the entire video performance, but it’s been yanked. Still, I found this audio-only version of "Voodoo Child (slight return)" the finale of the first Berkeley show. From the same concert,
From the second show, an audio-only live performance of “Hey Joe”
Here's an early Hendrix classic in black and white! From 1967, "Purple Haze." Here's another live performance from 1967 of Purple Haze performed by the Jimi Hendrix Experience. These show him just after he exploded onto the scene. When I first heard "Purple Haze" I knew the world had been changed in a big way.
Here's Jimi Hendrix and the Experience playing a 10 minute set of pure gold on “Beat Beat Beat,” a live music German tv show in 1967!. For your enjoyment, “Stone Free," "Purple Haze," and “Hey Joe”
To get a sense of his evolution as a performer these years, please check out the movie "Monterrey Pop," the D.A. Pennebaker classic film of the world's first Rock Festival where Jimi was introduced to America "up close and personal" when he burned his guitar on stage to finish his set. Talk about different - "Thank you very much for Bob Dylan's grandmother... I don't think I'm losing my mind....We're going to do the English and American combined anthem together... Wild Thing!"
If you don't want to buy or rent a copy, this year I found the whole movie! It’s the Summer of Love, complete with Janis, Jimi, the Mamas and the Papas, Hugh Masakela, Eric Burdon, and too many other great acts to count! For your enjoyment, the masterpiece “Monterrey Pop”
I found clips of Jimi's entire performance on video (except for a couple) on you tube! The songs are in the order he played them.
Jimi Hendrix at the 1967 Summer of Love Monterrey Pop Festival "Can You See Me" and “Sgt. Peppers” (Audio only to a great art video!)
From some point early on with the Experience, a great live performance of Jimi's hit from "Are You Experienced," the frenetic "Fire."
That 1969 Stockholm concert was dedicated to all the draft resisters who fled Amerika to protest our illegal war in Vietnam. For your enjoyment, here's 57 minutes of pure gold!!
Jimi at the Isle of Wight 1970 doing my personal favorite "All Along the Watchtower." Bob Dylan, who wrote it, changed the way he did this in concert to this arrangement. I wish I had seen his face the first time he heard this version! From that same show, “Foxey Lady”
Here's another version live in Atlanta from 1970 of "All Along the Watchtower."
Here's a live performance on Maui of the archetypally psychedelic song from his first album, "Foxey Lady." Yes, both spellings are accurate. "Comin' to getcha....." From the same show, two more songs from the "Are You Experienced" album, "Purple Haze" and "Fire," followed by the awesome "Voodoo Child (slight return)" from "Electric Ladyland." Here's a longer version (but worse video) of the same performance of "Voodoo Child." on Maui.
Here’s an amazing find! It’s the full 81 minute live concert performance of Jimi Hendrix Rainbow Bridge full concert live 1970 Maui
From that show, here’s Jimi live performing "Villanova Junction"
The first live broadcast performance of Jimi when he was in Little Richard's backing band. From 1965, Buddy & Stacey and Jimi on guitar doing a live in the studio version of "Shotgun."
Here’s an audio-only full concert from September 1967 in Sweden! “Jimi Hendrix Live in Stockholm”
Here’s an audio-only version of "Day Tripper."
From New Years’ Eve, 1969, an audio-only Jimi Hendrix performance at Fillmore East, NY of “Stone Free”
From 1969, and entire hour long audio only set of Jimi Hendrix Live at the Denver Pop Festival
This one's fantastic! Here's Jimi doing one of his all time signature tunes in 1969 live on the "Happening for Lulu" show. Enjoy a magnificent performance of the legendary Hey Joe" and “Sunshine of Your Love”
From 1970, an audio only live concert of “Jimi Hendrix live at Boston Gardens”
Here's the 1969 Jimi Hendrix interview with Dick Cavett. Lots of laughs!
From that show, here’s Jimi doing a live performance of “Hear My Train A-Comin’”
From a live performance in Stockholm in 1969, a great version of the Cream monster hit Sunshine of Your Love." From the same show, "Hey Joe." Here's a different clip of Jimi at Stockholm doing "Red House."
The original studio version of "Axis Bold As Love," the title song of his second album, featured some of the most extraordinary guitar ever played up to that point in history (especially the last 1 min 20 seconds of the song when he went sonic!) It is said the Experience were hired by Chas Chandler because he needed a rhythm section that could keep up with Jimi's guitar pyrotechnics.
You can get a sense of where the Guitar Master was at in this rare alternate instrumental take by the Jimi Hendrix Experience of "Axis-Bold As Love." Check it out!
There are a few that I found that are studio versions I figured I'd include for your enjoyment!
At the recommendation of a reader last year, this year we have an audio-only version of Jimi doing some absolutely astonishing, over the top psychedelic guitar work on "The Stars That Play with Laughing Sam's Dice" This was the "B side," or "flip side" of a single (remember them?!) that featured as the "A side" a song that wound up on "Electric Ladyland," "The Burning Of A Midnight Lamp"
From "Axis" (and the "Easy Rider" soundtrack!) the ominous "If 6 Was 9."
From "Electric Ladyland," House Burning Down."
The awesome "Freedom."
We'll close this birthday tribute with a song covered by countless guitar masters, said to be Jimi's most beautiful composition. For your remembrance, live from Winterland in 1968, "Little Wing."
On a somewhat related note, here's an interesting 1990 performance by Experience bassist Noel Redding and his Secret Freaks doing "Little Miss Strange," one of the only songs on a Hendrix album written by Noel Redding or Mitch Mitchell. Also from 1990, here's the Rolling Stone interview with Noel Redding.
And of course, you can always go to Jimi Hendrix.com to get all the history, products, and commercialization of Jimi anyone could want. I suppose his dad managing Jimi's legacy was better than total strangers making money off a dead icon. Here's another "official" Jimi Hendrix website, Jimi Hendrix Foundation.
"When the power of love overcomes the love of power the world will know peace." - Jimi Hendrix (November 27, 1942 – September 18, 1970)
RIP Jimi, and a Happy 70th in Rock and Roll Heaven. In a few short years you blazed a fiery path across space and time and forged a trail followed by many, many millions of guitarists.
ps. Thanks to Guitar Shorty for marrying Jimi's step-sister and teaching Jimi so many great licks, as well as major stage showmanship! I had the rare privilege of meeting Shorty a while ago when I was doing camera work at Kulaks Woodshed in LA for their live webcasts, and got to hang with this classy, elegant blues Master off and on for an entire evening.
Though relatively unknown, he is a true blues Master. For those who need official cred, he won the W.C. Handy award, tops for the blues. His flashy stage show predates Jimi's and involves things like playing guitar behind his back and other showboat techniques used by Hendrix and many other blues cats over the years. Thanks for everything, Shorty. I hope we meet again.
© Copyright 2012 Robert Wilkinson