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Jimi Hendrix, the greatest guitarist in rock history, revolutionized the sound of rock. In
1967, the Jimi Hendrix Experience rocked the nation with their first album, Are You
Experienced?. Hendrix\'s life was cut short by the tragedy of drugs in 1970, when he
was only twenty seven years old. In these three years the sound of rock changed
greatly, and Hendrix\'s guitar playing was a major influence.
Jimi was born in Seattle, Washington on November 27, 1942. As a young boy,
whenever the chance came, Jimi would try to play along with his R & B records.
However, music was not his life long dream. At first, the army was. In the late
1950\'s, Hendrix enlisted in the 101st Airborne Division. After sustaining a back injury
during a jump, he received a medical discharge. After his army career came to an
abrupt end, he decided to go into the music field. By this time he had become an
accomplished guitarist, and was soon to become known as the greatest guitarist ever
(Stambler, pg. 290).
However, he did not start out at the top. Jimi started out playing as part of the back-up
for small time R & B groups. It did not take long before his work was in demand with
some of the best known artists in the field, such as B.B. King, Ike and Tina Turner,
Solomon Burke, Jackie Wilson, Littler Richard, Wilson Pickett, and King Curtis
(Clifford, pg. 181). Using the name Jimmy James, he toured with a bunch of R & B
shows, including six months as a member of James Brown\'s Famous Flames
(Stambler, pg. 290).
At the Cafe Wha! in New York, in 1966, Hendrix decided to try singing. Jimi lucked
out when a man by the name of Charles "Chas" Chandler from Eric Burdon\'s
Animals heard him at the club and thought he was sensational. When Chas heard him
again later that year, he talked Jimi into moving to England where he would really get
the chance to start his career (Stambler, pg. 290). Along with Chas, Hendrix
auditioned some musicians to complete the new Hendrix group. They choose Mitch
Mitchell, a fantastic drummer, and Noel Redding, one of England\'s best guitar and
bass players (Stambler, pg. 290).
In 1966, at the Olympia in Paris, the Experience debuted. One year later, the
Experience was breaking attendance records right and left at European clubs. When
the Monkees toured England in 1967, they heard Jimi and liked him. The Monkees
asked Hendrix to join them on their tour through the U.S., and Jimi was on his way
home (Stambler, pg. 290).
"Jimi\'s erotic stage actions, suggestive lyrics, and guitar- smashing antics..." did not go
over well with the Monkees\' fans or many adults. Being criticized over and over again
forced the Experience to be dropped from the tour (Stambler, pg. 290). This however
did not get Hendrix down. By the end of the year, the group was invited to the
Monterey Pop Festival. Jimi won a standing ovation for the "...nerve-shattering sounds
from the group\'s nine amplifiers and eighteen speakers, topped by Jimi dousing his
guitar with lighter fluid and burning it..." (Stambler, pg. 291). Hendrix became popular
overnight, and his shows became standing room only. His stage acts were so wild,
Time magazine described it as: "He hopped, twisted and rolled over sideways without
missing a twang or a moan. He slung the guitar low over swiveling hips, or raised it to
pick the strings with his teeth; he thrust it between his legs and did a bump and grind,
crooning: \'oh, baby, come on now, sock it to me.\'...For a symbolic finish, he lifted the
guitar and flung it against the amplifiers." Time (April 25, 1968). His specialty became
the way he used feedback, which up until now was an undesired sound. Using his
guitar and the feedback it created, he was able to generate sounds which were used
to his advantage in creating his unique style. This style is copied today by modern rock
artists; however, this style is duplicated today with the use of special equipment, such
Are You Experienced?, Electric Ladyland, Axis: Bold as Love, and Smash Hits were
all platinum albums. For the year of 1968,
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Jimi Hendrix, Counterculture of the 1960s, Billy Cox, The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Are You Experienced, Noel Redding, Bold as Love, Electric Ladyland, Stone Free, Band of Gypsys
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