The truest guitar hero before Playstation ever laid a stake in the ground, Jimi Hendrix first rose up through the ranks of the U.S. Army before picking up the axe and gracing some of the world’s most infamous stages.
Hendrix redefined everything that was thought possible of an electric guitar, literally flipping it on it’s head. Known as he is now for his unconventional, upside-down playing style, the self taught guitarist emerged from humble and fairly unlikely roots, going on to set a new global standard for what was possible in music making in his unfortunately short career.
Here’s eight things you may not know about arguably the greatest guitar wrangler to have ever lived.
What was behind the veil of Jimi Hendrix’ legendary stage persona? Educate yourself with 8 little-known facts about the once-in-a-lifetime shredder.
A known trasher
Hendrix was initially partial to a destructive end-of-set celebration, or a good, old fashioned smashing. However, it was the slightly more impactful guitar burning for which the musician was most well-known for.
What you may not know is that this later adopted M.O. was suggested by NME feature editor Keith Altham to help move Hendrix away from The Who’s on-stage style of just smashing shit up.
Axis: Bold As Love
Arguably Hendrix’s best known piece of work, Axis: Bold As Love is the record that almost wasn’t. After Hendrix left the entire A-side behind in a cab, it had to be completely re-recorded.
Self-taught to the end
Hendrix was a completely self-taught talent, first teaching himself on a one-stringed ukulele before graduating to a guitar. He also never learnt how to read music, instead playing completely by ear.
Criminally, All Along The Watchtower, which was written by Bob Dylan, was Hendrix’s only top 40 track, and Electric Ladyland his only #1 record.
The stuff of legend
Alongside his Woodstock rendition of The Star Spangled Banner, his 1967 performance at the Monterey International Pop Music Festival was definitely one of Hendrix’s most iconic live sets. Joining the likes of Janis Joplin, The Who and Otis Redding on the bill, The Jimi Hendrix Experience performed an explosive and unpredictable version of Wild Thing to close out their set, after which Hendrix took a can of lighter fluid to his instrument.
The musician’s festival threads also became an iconic visual from this performance, his memorable silk jacket was hand painted by Mick Jagger’s baby brother Chris.
Are you experienced?
In what is a truly insane story, Jimi’s manager allegedly had the musician kidnapped by Mafia mobsters. In his memoir, ex-Mafia and convicted cocaine trafficker Jon Roberts claimed to have saved Hendrix from his captors.
The National Anthem Experience
The Star Spangled Banner was not the only national anthem the musician took a run at. During a trip to Paris, The Hendrix Experience performed a psychedelic version of La Marseilles.
The French government found the version tres insulting. Unfortunately the original video has been removed from youtube, but you can see him talk about it on the Dick Cavett show.
While his guitar gently wept
Within 48 hours of landing in The U.K. with newly appointment manager Chas Chandler, Hendrix fulfilled his dream of jamming with Eric Clapton onstage, alongside Ginger Baker and Jack Bruce.