Happy 70th Birthday, Jimi Hendrix

I didn’t realise until I checked in on Facebook this morning, but Jimi Hendrix would have been 70 years old yesterday, the 27th November.

The first Hendrix song I ever heard was The Wind Cries Mary. I can’t remember how old I was but I do remember wondering why I hadn’t heard this guy sooner, so I can’t have been too young. What a shame to not have heard him earlier.

There are a million-and-one guitarists out there who can shred like you wouldn’t believe. They know their scales backwards and their fingers move like supersonic pistons. It’s only a small percentage of them that have the feel, though. It’s not just an ability to play the right notes in the right places, it’s that way of playing lyrically. Melodically. Making an instrument truly sing. It’s not a matter of speed or repetition, but a matter of feeling and tone. For these gifted individuals, their arms are just connections between their brain and their instrument.

Happy birthday, Jimi. I don’t know what you would have done if you had had an extra 10, 20 or 40 years, but I’m sure we would have all been better off for it.

At 10 minutes, you’ll see how The Wind Cries Mary was recorded. It took all of 20 minutes to lay that track down at the end of a session. Amazing.

If you’ve got a Jimi story, feel free…..

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7 Comments

  1. Get this: Jimi Hendrix was an Army man. Wrap your head around that one.

    Truly a gifted individual, but a bona-fide example of how being that singular person has a huge down side. Said differently, people that step out as he did break the rules. He broke the rules of music, which we admire about him, but he broke the rules of society and biology, too. Results of those behaviors were not so kind.

    As a young man, I did not particularly care much for Jimi Hendrix. I was five years old when he died, which put him in the ‘just recently past popularity’ group of musicians when I started listening to pop music in earnest around 12-13 years of age. By then, it was all Pink Floyd, Queen, Genesis, David Bowie and the like for me — very European, leaning towards prog. Then, of course, the Clash, Patti Smith, etc.

    Now, I really hear the lyrical quality that you describe and I am a fan. Funny how those things change.

  2. Happy Birthday Jimmy!
    My favourite Jimmy song would have to be Foxy Lady from his album Are You Experienced? Searching it out on You Tube recently I found a cover version by an Australian group whose individual talents weren’t as appreciated as they should have been at the time. It combines a heap of my loves: 80’s music, Australian musicians, the amazing Virgil Donati on drums and of course THAT riff. Check it out http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c2F96IDIYsw

    1. Southern Sons, a band held back only by a rogue pair of eyebrows. Those brows had a life (and postcode) of their own, the Yoko Ono of the southern hemisphere.

  3. Steve,
    If you say so my man, and I mean that sincerely. I don’t know why I never got into Hendrix. I think I thought he was too wild and I couldn’t relate. One great guitar player I did manage to connect with was Stevie Ray Vaughn. I saw him play live and was awed by his abilities. He was just as good playing with his guitar behind his back. According to Wickepedia: “His guitar playing reflected the classic blues and pentatonic scales but his creativity and raw talent took it to a whole new level previously unheard by any other guitarist.” According to “Rolling Stones” 100 best guitarists, Hendrix comes in at #1.

    1. I can still remember the morning when I heard SRV had died. I heard the news on the radio when my alarm went off and I nearly didn’t go into work that day. Instead, I took my SRV CD’s into work and plugged them into the phone system. Anyone who called that particular regional office of our national telephone carrier that day got Stevie Ray Vaughn when they were on hold ๐Ÿ™‚

      I wish I’d seen him live. I was pretty young then and he didn’t tour here much, but school friends saw him and they said it was just magic to see what he could do.

  4. Slightly off topic, but for music lovers everywhere, especially for those on the bottom side of the earth like South Africa and Australia — go see Searching for Sugarman, or buy the DVD when it’s released in about a month. Amazing story, and the amazing music of Sixto Rodriquez, a musician from Detroit who disappeared (possibly a suicide) around 1970 after cutting two critical acclaimed but failed albums.

    Spoiler Alert: He’ll be in Australia for about 10 days in late March playing in Melbourne, Sydney, Adlelaide, Brisbane, and the Byron Bay Bluesfest.

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