Jimi Hendrix - The Legend!
Today is the late Jimi Hendrix’s birthday. So, why the big fuss about Jimi Hendrix? Well, there are so many articles on the internet that talk about his importance, his innovation and his influence on generations of guitarists that I won't visit them all here. Instead, let’s keep it simple- he was a pioneer who lit the way for others to follow. Sure, there are thousands of better 'technical' players out there nowadays, but there are very few who have shaken up the music world in the way he did.
Instead of talking about the who, what, where and why, I thought I would just share a few of my favourite tracks. When you listen, try and understand that no one had done the things he was doing on a guitar before.
One of my favourite stories is that when Hendrix first arrived in London, Eric Clapton and Cream invited him up to jam. Clapton left the stage mid-song and said to a friend who had introduced him ‘You didn’t tell me he was that (bleeping) good.’
There is of course the iconic rock’n’roll image of Hendrix burning his Stratocaster, but at the heart of his music was the blues. Hendrix was a blues man from another planet, he turned the blues on its head.
All along the watchtower
Originally a Bob Dylan cover, this piece has not one but five great guitar solos and escalates in intensity to amazing heights. Also listen to the fills and trills he adds to his rhythm playing. The slide guitar solo at the end was played using a Zippo-style cigarette lighter! Is this the best cover of a song ever? If not, it's pretty close.
Voodoo Child (Slight Return).
Just raw, rocking mayhem and great use of a Wah-Wah pedal. Again, it's hard to realise that Hendrix's contemporaries were just not doing this. To quote an oft used guitar joke from the movie Spinal Tap, he turned the volume up to eleven.
12 string blues.
Until I heard this song I thought 12 string guitars were just for strumming folk tunes. Here, Hendrix plays the blues and it is world's away from the mayhem of the previous tracks. It’s also a really nice insight into his character.
Well, just listen to that guitar intro!
Little Wing -
This has some really cool major lines and is one of his most loved tracks. For bonus inspiration, check out Stevie Ray Vaughn’s cover of it too (which is amazing.)
So that's about it on Hendrix for now. You can find so much information on him but why not just start by putting 'All Along the Watchtower' on your home stereo or car system and cranking it?
It is sheer Rock n Roll brilliance.