Biographic by Steve McGarry for August 17, 2014
Biographic Steve McGarry Jimi Hendrix Jimi Hendrix's breathtaking technique and groundbreaking use of wah-wah pedal, fuzz and feedback took electric-guitar playing to dizzying new heights, inspiring generations of musicians. Rock's most innovative and influential guitarist, Jimi Hendrix, was born Johnny Allen Hendrix in Seattle, Washington, on November 27, 1942. (His name was changed to James Marshall Hendrix when he was 4 years old.) A former paratrooper in the 101st Airborne Division, he played guitar in touring bands for the likes of The Isley Brothers, Little Richard and Ike and Tina Turner, before forming Jimmy James and the Blue Flamers in New York. In 1966, he was discovered by Chas Chandler of The Animals, who signed him to a management and production contract and convinced him to relocate to England. Forming the trio The Jimi Hendrix Experience, he took London by storm. The likes of Eric Clapton, The Who and The Beatles became fans. His stage act, which included playing the guitar with his teeth before setting it on fire, was like nothing music fans had seen before. By the summer of 1967, thanks to such hits as "Hey Joe" and "Purple Haze" and his wild antics onstage and off, Jimi was a huge star in Great Britain. An incendiary performance at the Monterey Pop Festival then catapulted him to stardom in his homeland. Over the next couple of years, his fame grew and his music progressed to greater levels of intricacy and experimentation. In 1969, he starred at the Woodstock Festival. In the early hours of September 18, 1970, three weeks after playing the Isle of Wight festival, the 27-year-old was found dead in his London home, having choked to death in his sleep. Jimi's work has lived on, and over four decades later, he is still widely regarded as the greatest rock guitarist of all time. Next month will see the release of the biopic "Jimi: All Is By My Side," starring Andre Benjamin who may be better known as Andre 3000, star of the hip-hop duo Outkast.