Synopsis of Pop Music
“’Scuse me while I kiss the sky…”
There have been plenty of guitar heroes throughout the history of pop music, but there is only one Jimi Hendrix. In a career that lasted only five years, Hendrix forged a guitar style and created a series of albums that defined the state of the art for guitar-driven rock music. His sound has influenced musicians in all corners of the world and helped break the boundaries between rock, jazz and r&b. In short, Hendrix is not just one of the all-time greatest pop musicians, he’s one of the finest musicians of any kind in the 20th century.
Jimi Hendrix taught himself to play the guitar as a child. After a stint as a parachute jumper in the Air Force, he began recording and touring for performers like Ike and Tina Turner, the Isley Brothers and Sam Cooke. He got his break as a solo performer when he was discovered by his soon-to-be manager Chas Chandler while playing in Greenwich Village. Chandler imported Hendrix over to England, where he formed the Experience and developed a powerful, hard-rocking sound that blended blues and psychedelia into a singularly ‘cosmic’ style.
By February of 1967, the Jimi Hendrix Experience had their first Top-10 hit in the U.K. with a psychedelic remake of the garage-rock classic “Hey Joe.” They followed it with another hit, “Purple Haze,” which boasted a thunderous, chugging rhythm and blistering guitar sounds that defined heavy metal before anyone knew it by name. By this time, the Jimi Hendrix Experience was touring all over Europe and building a cult that included famous faces like the Beatles. In May, they released their debut album Are You Experienced?. It perfectly captured their fire and skill and became an instant classic.
In the summer of 1967, Jimi Hendrix brought the Experience to America, capping a breakthrough live performance at the Monterey Pop Fesitval by lighting his guitar on fire. The image of Hendrix kneeling over his burning guitar instantly became an iconic moment in rock and roll history, and the guitar wizard followed up that coming out party with a tour as a supporting act for the Monkees. By the end of the year, Are You Experienced? was a Top-5 hit all over the world, and Hendrix tunes like the lighting-fast “Fire” and the bluesy “Foxy Lady” dominated the playlist of every hip radio station.
Meanwhile, Hendrix and his band continued to tour and record at a furious pace. By the end of the year they had released another album, Axis: Bold as Love. This hit LP balanced funky grooves with Hendrix’s ever-more-complex and flowery guitar style perfectly to create classics like the moody “Little Wing” and the psychedelic love song “If 6 Was 9.” The Jimi Hendrix Experience toured the world throughout 1968, occasionally stopping to record new music. At the end of the year they released Electric Ladyland, the double-album that would become their magnum opus.
Electric Ladyland had a breathtakingly complex sound that perfectly matched Hendrix’s boundless imagination on songs like “Voodoo Child.” It became Jimi Hendrix’s first #1 album and boasted a Top-20 single in the Bob Dylan remake “All Along the Watchtower.” The Jimi Hendrix Experience continued to tour into the next year before disbanding in the summer of 1969. However, Hendrix quickly bounced back with a performance at the famous Woodstock Music Festival. His version of “The Star Spangled Banner” became a classic moment both in the Woodstock film and in rock music history.
Jimi Hendrix debuted a new group, the Band of Gypsys, on New Year’s Eve 1969. This group allowed Hendrix to explore a funk-driven style of heaviness. Their debut show was recorded for the album Band Of Gypsys. This concert LP featured the often-covered favorite “Machine Gun,” considered by many Hendrix fans to contain some of his finest guitar work. By mid-1970 Hendrix began working with the Experience once more to record a new album that would have been called First Rays Of The Rising Sun. However, these sessions were cut short when Hendrix died a drug-related death at the age of 27 in September of 1970.
Today, the music of Jimi Hendrix remains as popular and as influential as ever, and he remains the ultimate model for aspiring guitarists everywhere. Musicians as diverse as Eric Clapton and Miles Davis have paid tribute to his influence as both a guitar player and songwriter. Albums of unreleased Hendrix recordings, both live and studio, have been released on a regular basis for the last thirty years thanks to public demand for this music. Meanwhile, Jimi Hendrix’s original albums continue to be revered by critics and fans around the world and still sell in impressive numbers thirty years after the fact. In short, Jimi Hendrix is and always will be the ultimate rock guitarist.
Artist Release History1967 - Are You Experienced?
1967 - Axis: Bold as Love
1968 - Electric Ladyland
1968 - Electric Hendrix
1970 - Band of Gypsys (live)
1971 - The Cry of Love
1971 - Isle of Wight (live)
1972 - Hendrix in the West (live)
1972 - In Concert (live)
1973 - Jimi Hendrix (original soundtrack)
1975 - Hendrix 66 (live)
1976? - Sky High
1982 - Hendrix Concerts (live)
1982 - The Jimi Hendrix Concerts (live)
1982 - The Concerts (live)
1984 - Jimi Hendrix Live
1986 - Jimi Plays Monterey (live)
1987 - Live at Winterland
1989 - Radio One
1985? - Hush Now
1985? - Last Night
1985? - Mr. Pitiful
1985? - Second Time Around
1985? - Welcome Home
1990 - The Last Experience Concert (live)
1990 - Picture Disc
1993 - Are You Experienced?
1994 - Jimi Hendrix: Blues
1994 - Jimi Hendrix: Woodstock
1994 - Bleeding Heart
1994 - Jimi Hendrix & Little Richard
1994 - Live at the Scene Club
1994 - First Recording
1995 - Woodstock 10-Pack
1995 - Experience (Original Soundtrack)
1995 - Voodoo Soup
1995 - Monday Morning: Jimi at Woodstock
1995 - Sunshine of Your Love
1997 - First Rays of the New Rising Sun
1997 - South Saturn Delta
1998 - Woke Up This Morning & Found Myself Dead (live)
1998 - NYC '68 (live)
1999 - Live at the Fillmore East
1999 - Live at Woodstock
2000 - Rare as Love
2000 - Jimi Hendrix Experience (original soundtrack)
2000 - Knock Yourself Out
Pop Sub Categoriesrock
Essential Music AlbumsElectric Ladyland (Reprise)
Experience Hendrix: The Best of Jimi Hendrix (MCA)
Band MembersJimi Hendrix lead vocals, guitar
The Experience (1966-69):
Noel Redding bass
Mitch Mitchell drums
Band of Gypsies (1969-70):
Billy Cox bass
Buddy Miles drums