Jimi Hendrix is largely considered to be one of the greatest and most influential guitarists of the 20th century. Born in Seattle in 1942, his style is derived from blues musicians of older generations; BB King, Muddy Waters, Robert Johnson etc, and rock ‘n’ roll musicians such as Elvis and Little Richard. His fusion created a ‘blues rock sound’ and influenced an entire generation of guitarists and blues rock bands.
Notable works include Hey Joe (featured in the film Forest Gump), Foxy Lady (featured in the cult classic Wayne’s World), Purple Haze, and Little Wing; an undeniably beautiful intimate ballad with an intro that showcases Hendrix’s eternally effortless ease of playing.
Hendrix is known for playing a Fender Stratocaster guitar with a Marshall amplifier, and a Vox Wah Wah pedal – as heard in the intro to his iconic song ‘Voodoo Child’:
Occasionally he also played the acoustic guitar. In this video he plays a 12 string acoustic in his sublime negro spiritually influenced song ‘Hear My Train a Comin”:
Hendrix’s control of the guitar and the ‘feedback’ sounds he could achieve were unprecedented and have remained unreplicated. For an example listen to his version of the American Hymn ‘Star Spangled Banner’ from his legendary performance at Woodstock (1969) where he imitates the sounds of sirens, falling bombs exploding, and the sounds of war, in order to protest the Vietnam war which was happening at the time.
Hendrix only released three studio albums: Are You Experienced, Axis: Bold as Love, and Electric Ladyland, and had a career that spanned only 4 years before his untimely death at the age of 27 after a decade of hard substance abuse.
His legend lives on as he continues to top polls of ‘greatest guitarist of all time’ – Rolling Stone, and is cited as being ‘arguably the greatest instrumentalist in the history of rock music’ – Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.