The guitar is part of him.
It can cry aloud with him, expressing his anger and elation, his moments
of majestic serenity and his extended torrents of power. Jimi Hendrix, a
lithe, multi-coloured figure, swings the instrument into the air and it
talks in his hands. It is not easy to assess the effects of the tidal wave
which Jimi Hendrix has sent through the waters of contemporary music. Let
it suffice to say that his influence is apparent in the work of hundreds
of his disciples. But none can or will come close to the open brilliance
or stunning sound of this young phenomenon from America, who can now earn
more from one concert than from six months of one night stands in his
early days. Inventive.
No one factor has produced this musical bombshell. He began, like so many
others, on the road. He was and is, a terrifically fluid and inventive
blues guitarist. Hendrix would join up with the tours which came through
town, and this brought him experience with such immortal names as B.B.
King and Chuck Jackson. In the dives of New York’s Greenwich Village,
Hendrix, known then as the Blue Flame, built up a reputation as one of the
most exciting guitarists around. He played with Mike Bloomfield, who was
to achieve fame with the Paul Butterfield Blues Band. He met Bob Dylan,
whom he still admires fervently. He slept in dirty tenements with the rats
running around. But he had to live, so he wore glitter suits and played
for the Isley Brothers and Little Richard in the years of rock when the
urban blues artists were finding steady work more difficult to come by.
Hendrix learned the art of showmanship - but he added to that long and
tough education his own burning brand of style and his own natural flair.
He was still very young, and was already a professional through and
through. Everything started for Jimi Hendrix as we know him after ex-Animals
bassist Chas Chandler found him in America some three years ago. He wisely
made himself Hendrix’s manager, financed him from the pile he had made for
himself with the Animals and brought him across the Atlantic after letting
it out that here was a man who was going to turn everything upside down.
“He plays guitar with his teeth”, said Chandler. Ridiculous, came the
reply. Hendrix went ahead and played the guitar with his teeth - when he
wasn’t playing one-handed. Hendrix rooted around and picked out two of the
country’s best musicians - Noel Redding on bass and Mitch Mitchell on
drums. The outfit was named “The Jimi Hendrix Experience”, and their first
offering was a beautifully treated version of an old traditional song
called “Hey Joe”. That was enough. Hendrix’s electric shock hair, his
rainbow attire and incredible music ignited a chain of explosions through
the world of pop music. Thrilling Ideas.
Eric Clapton of the Cream, idol of thousands of guitarists, was reported
as saying that he would have to start learning the guitar all over again.
Jimi Hendrix is still developing today. His recent material has often been
almost frighteningly good, brimming with original and thrilling ideas.
Behind the fantasy lyrics, the tremendous volume of his music and the
torrents of notes, sometimes soaring singing, often blistering and violent,
Hendrix is known as a quiet and extremely polite man. On stage he is
master - a charismatic figure and a troubadour in the music of now. But
blues foundations always remain in evidence, even on his latest and
farthest ever reaching album, “Electric Ladyland”, classics like “Voodoo
Chile” remind us that the man’s heart is rooted in a simple and soulful
music however far his musical visions and skills will take him