Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Jimi Hendrix - The Ultimate Experience


Oh boy, here is another artist who evokes such rabid support from critics and fans alike, it is hard to know where to start writing about him.  A very large amount of books have been written about Hendrix's influence on modern music, his prodigious abilities with both the guitar and the ladies and using him as a kind of starting pin on the map of modern rock.

I've only ever read Charles Shaar Murray's effort, Crosstown Traffic: Jimi Hendrix and the Post-War Rock 'n' Roll Revolution.  Despite the thesis-like title, this fascinating read doesn't do anything to contain the myth of Hendrix but instead, reverently parlays the sounds of the time into an well-written, intellectual and very-readable look at the way blues music has influenced music, with Hendrix's tracks acting as the guiding light.

I can't recall a time when I wasn't hearing Hendrix.  He has been on my musical spectrum since I was a young lad first learning to play the guitar.  Songs like Hey Joe and All Along The Watchtower were constants at my parent's parties in the early 70s while tracks such as Voodoo Chile (Slight Return), Foxy Lady, Manic Depression, Fire and Crosstown Traffic became party favourites of mine and my friends years later.  

In fact, it is Crosstown Traffic I often reference as being one of the pinnacle tracks of influence for me.  It is one of my funeral playlist songs (yeah, my friends are gonna rock out at mine wake, for sure).  Hendrix has the privilege of being the only artist, apart from The Beatles, to appear a number of times on this playlist, the other track being the gorgeous Little Wing.  After all, who can not fail to be touched by this:

When I'm sad, she comes to me
With a thousand smiles, she give to me for free
It's alright she says it's alright
Take anything you want from me,

Fly on little wing



So, let me preface this by stating for the record: I'm not particularly a Hendrix fan.  No, back!  Stop pelting me with those rocks!  It's not because the tunes aren't good, because HELL YEAH they are great.  But there's two things abut Hendrix that stop me being a real enthusiast.  

One is, I lack whatever gene it is that finds guitar solos entertaining.  It's kind of how mostly everyone except drummers feels about drum solos.  I don't have that Guitar Hero inside of me - and I use that term advisedly, I'm not a fan of the game, either.

The second is, I kind of hear a lot of it as stripper music.  Now don't get me wrong, I'm as fond of ecdysiasts as the next person (being in this case, YourZ) (YourZ sez: see, how could I not love this lady) but mental images of tassels, pasties and feather boas tend to distract me from the tunes themselves.  It's not a problem, just a mental tic.  Nothing to do with the cover of Electric Ladyland, either.  What?

I also have to admit that while I never experienced the famous mondegreen for Kiss The Sky, I still do a mental double-take every time I see Voodoo Chile because I think it's talking about a a bowl of magical food.

I did have fun listening to this CD.  And as a side note, the London apartment where he lived in 1968 has just been open to the public, to commemorate the 40th anniversary of his death.


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  1. I like Hendrix as a culutral phenomenon moreso than as a guitarist... If that makes any sense. There's a story of one of my favorite bands, Chicago, opening for Hendrix at the Whiksy in LA back around '68 or so. According to Chicago's woodwind player, he got a tap on the shoulder one time and turned around to see Jimi Hendrix standing there. Hendrix then tells him, "You've got a horn section with one set of lungs and a guitarist better than me." Now I do love the guitar playing of the late Terry Kath, but I tend to believe that Hendrix was being a bit modest in his compliment of Kath's guitar playing. Kath and Hendrix did become friends and Terry was really shaken up with Jimi died. He even wrote/played a tribute to Hendrix on Chicago VIII (Oh Thank You Great Spirit) a few years before his own untimely death at age 31 in January 1978.

    I also dig the work of the late Randy California who played with Jimi in Hendrix's pre-Experience band, Jimmy James and the Blue Flames. The story goes that Randy was only 15 when Hendrix was invited to England to perform there. Randy's parents refused to give consent for him to travel and perform with Jimi in England. Instead Randy ended up playing guitar in Spirit (his Hendrix influence is unmistakable!) and released a few solo albums over the years before he was killed rescuing his son from a strong rip-tide in Hawaii in 1996. His son survived as he was able to push the kid to shore before he was pulled under and drowned.

  2. I like Hendrix because of the legacy he left. So many musicians have been influenced from him, and many music greats have formed since. Yes, I agree with you about your views, but that is what makes him - hendrix! ( With the guitar solos and the feeling of pasties and tassels, and velvet pants and woodstock )

    I also like the numerous youtube videos of people playing his songs in different ways. Some to mimic him, some to be creative and take the basis of his songs and put a creative twist on them. Some are novice and others are real refreshing.

    This past week was the anniversary of his death 40 years ago, I enjoyed watching all the videos on youtube from these cover bands / tribute bands. My favorite is a guy named Zephyn Bleu/ Zephynbleu. His version of ALL ALONG THE WATCHTOWER is a creative visual treat. His version of Machine Gun is a treat for people who do like the solos, and his versions of FIRE and VooDoo Child / Voo Doo Chile has a hot sexy model keeping your attention. Long Live the velvet pants, pasties and the tassels!

    Here is his link :

    RIP Jimi.

  3. Being a bit a guitar player myself, I find Hendrix to be a true genius. His influence has spanned for decades, touching many guitar players like myself. I more or less think of him as THE inventor of the guitar sound that has been reincarnated to what we hear today.

  4. Perplexio, you know your stuff, mate. Must admit to not being a big Chicago fan myself. Tragic story about Randy, though


  5. Hey Anon, thanks for the comment and for the info regarding Hendrix. Funny how our review coincided with his anniversary. This was completely unplanned but synchronistic nonetheless. The Zephyn Bleu stuff, though, is really tragic. I'd much prefer Stevie Ray Vaughn doing Hendrix ( or


  6. Drew, like you, I'm a guitar player and therefore have a connection with Hendrix even though I've never been able to play like him. I think if anyone is serious enough to want to play the instrument, then the connection exists, however tenuous.