November 27, 2012
Today would have marked the 70th birthday of musical legend Jimi Hendrix, who died at only 27 years old. The singer and songwriter had a virtuosic relationship to the electric guitar and made an indelible imprint in rock when his band The Jimi Hendrix Experience debuted its album Are You Experienced in 1967.
We all know some of the larger-than-life details that have cemented Hendrix’s place in rock history: his career and guitar-igniting performance at the Monterey Pop Festival; his unparalleled, avant-garde version of the “Star Spangled Banner” at Woodstock; his trailblazing studio wizardry and experimentation; and his thrilling showmanship, sensuality, and guitar tricks.
To celebrate his day, here are some other interesting Hendrix factoids for your reading and aural pleasure:
A Guitarist for Soul Stars
Though hailed most commonly in rock circles, Hendrix had his start in the early 60s as a back-up and session guitarist with several famous R&B acts, including Little Richard, Sam Cooke, Ike and Tina Turner, the Isley Brothers, and Wilson Pickett. Hendrix referred to his sound as a “spiritual-blues thing” meant to deeply affect listeners and eventually aimed for more stripped down, less visually oriented performances.
An Enduring Fashion Legacy
Hendrix had an oft-cited personal style that blended a vintage hippie look with psychedelic, froufrou sensibilities: He made his mark with flowing scarves, billowy shirts and tight, flared pants that came in a variety of hues, topped off of by the voluminous ‘fro. Many rockers continue to embrace a similar freewheeling approach to their look, with Prince particularly coming to mind as someone who embodies the Hendrix fashion spirit. The Hendrix estate recently worked with designer Lyric Culture to release a menswear collection inspired by Hendrix’s style and ideologies. The line made its debut at the department store Bloomingdale’s earlier this month.
Inspiration for a Host of Remakes
Hendrix has inspired a host of tributes and his songs have been remade by multitudes of artists, from Sting to Chaka Khan to Lenny Kravitz. “May This Be Love,” found on Are You Experienced, showcased Hendrix’s ability to create touching balladry and has been covered by the Pretenders, Emmylou Harrris and Me’shell Ndegeocello.
Subject of Upcoming Film
After several failed attempts from various movie production outfits, Hendrix will be the subject of the upcoming biopic All Is by My Side, directed by John Ridley and starring Andre 3000 from Outkast. (Andre’s sound and aesthetics have in fact been influenced by Hendrix.) Because the Hendrix estate won’t allow any films to use the musician’s original songs without explicit approval, Side skirts this issue by focusing on Hendrix’ time in London in 1966-67 and will feature covers of songs from classic acts like the Beatles, Elvis Presley, and Elmore James. The movie is slated for a 2013 release.
Hendrix in Print
Along with the avalanche of recordings that have been released posthumously, there are a number of books that offer insight into Hendrix’s world. Hendrix on Hendrix, released this year and edited by Steven Roby, features a collection of press interviews and rare transcriptions. Hendrix’s siblings have also shared their perspective: Leon Hendrix authored the memoir Jimi Hendrix: A Brother’s Story, while Janie Hendrix has helmed a massive lyric book with rocker mementos.