Hailed by Rolling Stone as the greatest guitarist of all time, Jimi Hendrix was also one of the biggest cultural figures of the Sixties, a psychedelic voodoo child who spewed clouds of distortion and pot smoke. A left-hander who took a right-handed Fender Stratocaster and played it upside down, Hendrix pioneered the use of the instrument as an electronic sound source. Players before Hendrix had experimented with feedback and distortion, but he turned those effects and others into a controlled, fluid vocabulary every bit as personal as the blues with which he began. But while he unleashed noise with uncanny mastery — see: the hard-rock riffs of "Purple Haze," "Foxy Lady," and "Crosstown Traffic" — Hendrix also created tender ballads like "The Wind Cries Mary," the oft-covered "Little Wing," and "Angel," as well as haunting blues recordings such as "Red House" and "Voodoo Chile." Although Hendrix did not consider himself a good singer, his vocals were nearly as evocative as his guitar playing.
His meteoric rise to fame started in the autumn of 1966 when Chas Chandler of the Animals took him to London and arranged for the creation of the Jimi Hendrix Experience, with Englishmen Noel Redding on bass and Mitch Mitchell on drums. The Experience's first single, "Hey Joe," reached Number Six on the U.K. chart in early 1967, followed shortly by "Purple Haze" and its double-platinum debut album, Are You Experienced? (Number Five, 1967). Hendrix fast became the rage of London's pop society. Although word of the Hendrix phenomenon spread to the U.S., he was not seen in America (and no records were released) until June 1967, when, at Paul McCartney's insistence, the Experience appeared at the Monterey Pop Festival. The performance, which Hendrix climaxed by burning his guitar, was filmed by D.A. Pennebaker for the documentary Monterey Pop. Hendrix's next albums — Axis: Bold as Love (Number Three, 1968), Electric Ladyland (Number One, 1968) — were major hits and he quickly became a superstar.
In the early years Hendrix played mostly cheaper guitar like the Epiphone Wilshire and Supro Ozark. Towards the mid 1960s he started using Fenders, starting with a 1959 Fender Duo-sonic which he played with Isley Brothers. In the summer of 1966 he bought his first Stratocaster with the help of his girlfriend, and it quickly became his signature guitar. He played mostly right-handed models, even though he was left-handed – which played a role in the way his guitars ended up sounding, and left an overall impression on the listeners. His favorite one was a black 1968 Stratocaster with maple neck. Towards the later part of his career Hendrix started using different guitars, including some GIbson Flying Vs and Les Paul Customs.
Jimi Hendrix exploded our idea of what rock music could be: He manipulated the guitar, the whammy bar, the studio and the stage. On songs like "Machine Gun" or "Voodoo Chile," his instrument is like a divining rod of the turbulent Sixties – you can hear the riots in the streets and napalm bombs dropping in his "Star-Spangled Banner."
His playing was effortless. There's not one minute of his recorded career that feels like he's working hard at it – it feels like it's all flowing through him. The most beautiful song of the Jimi Hendrix canon is "Little Wing." It's just this gorgeous song that, as a guitar player, you can study your whole life and not get down, never get inside it the way that he does. He seamlessly weaves chords and single-note runs together and uses chord voicings that don't appear in any music book. His riffs were a pre-metal funk bulldozer, and his lead lines were an electric LSD trip down to the crossroads, where he pimp-slapped the devil.
There are arguments about who was the first guitar player to use feedback. It doesn't really matter, because Hendrix used it better than anyone; he took what was to become Seventies funk and put it through a Marshall stack, in a way that nobody's done since.
It's impossible to think of what Jimi would be doing now; he seemed like a pretty mercurial character. Would he be an elder statesman of rock? Would he be Sir Jimi Hendrix? Or would he be doing some residency off the Vegas Strip? The good news is his legacy is assured as the greatest guitar player of all time.
"I got a bad, bad feeling my baby don't live here no more...
But that's alright I still got my guitar".........Red House