I used to live in a room full of mirrors; all I could see was me. I take my spirit and I crash my mirrors, now the whole world is here for me to see. - Jimi Hendrix
Jimi Hendrix (born Johnny Allen Hendrix 27.11.1942; died 18.091970)
Jimi Hendrix is a legendary American guitarist and singer famous for hits such as 'Voodoo Child (Slight Return)' and 'Purple Haze'.
Jimi Hendrix: Childhood
Jimi Hendrix was born in Seattle, Washington. His parents are WWII soldier Allen Ross Hendrix and Lucille Jeter but they divorced when he was nine.
His name was changed from Johnny Allen to James Marshall in 1946 as Al was unable to be consulted on the name at his birth. During Al's military absence, Lucille struggled to bring up Jimi and sometimes neglected him when she went out partying in the evenings. This led to Jimi almost being adopted by a family friend who Al discovered was looking after him while he was away.
His childhood was tumultuous. His parents were alcoholics and had a violent relationship, his brother Leon was in and out of foster care, his other siblings got adopted and he suffered from sexual abuse. On the day of his mother's funeral when he was 15, his father gave him a shot of whisky instead of taking them to the ceremony.
He attended Horace Mann Elementary School where he would be obsessed with carrying a broom around like a guitar. He then went to Washington Junior High School but failed to graduate from Garfield High School.
His first instrument was a ukulele with a single string that he found in a wealthy woman's house while removing trash.
He enrolled in the army under the threat of prison after being busted driving stolen vehicles.
Jimi Hendrix: Musical career
Jimi Hendrix had a band called the Casuals whilst in the army with bass player and fellow soldier Billy Cox. The pair formed a new band called King Kasuals after moving to Tennessee following their army discharge. It was there he learned to play guitar with his teeth.
He played across Clarksville and later moved to Nashville.
His first single 'Testify' was released in 1964 with the Isley Brothers but failed to chart.
Later that year, he joined Little Richard's touring band the Upsetters and released the single 'I Don't Know What You Got (But It's Got Me)'.
He was later fired after various disagreements and proceeded to return to the Isley Brothers for a short while.
In 1965, he joined Curtis Knight and the Squires for 8 months and formed his own band, the Blue Flame, in 1966.
His career really kicked off when Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards' girlfriend Linda Keith recommended him to Chas Chandler, who was just leaving the Animals, and who agreed to sign him and help him form a new band, the Jimi Hendrix Experience, with bassist Noel Redding and drummer Mitch Mitchell.
In 1966, the band was signed to Track records and their subsequent first single 'Hey Joe' was released peaking at number 6 in the UK charts though it failed to appear on US charts.
In 1967, they released 'Purple Haze' which reached number 3, and 'The Wind Cries Mary' which peaked at number 6 and stayed there for eleven weeks. Later that year, to gain media coverage he set fire to his guitar after a set at the London Astoria.
They released their iconic debut album 'Are You Experienced' in 1967 in the UK where it spent 33 weeks at number 2. It reached number 5 in the US.
A big part of their US success was their appearance at the Monterey International Pop Festival which earned them a lot more attention. They subsequently played with Big Brother and the Holding Company and Jefferson Airplane in a few concerts but replaced Jefferson at the top of the bill after outperforming them.
They later accompanied the Monkees on their first American tour but quit very soon into it.
They released their second album 'Axis: Bold as Love' in 1967. Hendrix lost the master tape of side one in a taxi which they had to remix overnight. He later told of his disappointment at how things turned out.
After releasing it in the UK in 1968, he went to Sweden for a European tour but was arrested and later fined after getting into a drunken fight and smashing a window in the Hotel Opalen.
Hendrix recorded 'Electric Ladyland' in 1968 with Chas Chandler as an initial producer. He, however, left Hendrix for good after becoming increasingly annoyed with his attitude. It was by no means a bad change though as the album topped the US charts for two weeks.
The band began to fall apart later that year when Noel Redding left to form his own band and he reunited with Billy Cox to replace Noel. Mitchell soon also failed to make time for the band, putting other commitments first.
The band's last concert was at the Denver Pop Festival in 1969; an event that gave the police a lot of work as they were forced to use tear gas to control the crowd.
He performed at the Woodstock Music Festival in 1969 with his new band Gypsy Sun and Rainbows. His insistence on closing the festival and the heavy rain ended up with him performing in the early hours of Monday morning rather than Sunday night. It was also the event that saw his iconic performance of the US national anthem. Following his set, he collapsed from exhaustion.
In 1968, he released live album 'Band of Gypsys' with one of his early producers Ed Chalpin after he pointed out that he was still under contract to record an album for him.
He created an 'all-black' band during the time of Black Power organisations with Billy Cox and drummer Buddy Miles and they went on to perform four shows over two days for the LP which reached the top ten in the US and the UK in 1970.
In 1970, Band of Gypsys played their last show at the Winter Festival for Peace at Madison Square Garden. He only played a few songs before making a rude comment at a female fan in the audience and soon leaving the stage. There were suggestions that he'd been taking drugs.
Later that year he played the Cry of Love tour with the Jimi Hendrix Experience.
His last public performance was at Ronnie Scott's Jazz Club in Soho alongside his new band War and Eric Burdon.
In 1994, his family won control of his music and set up the company Experience Hendrix. His posthumous releases include part of his unfinished 'Cry of Love' album and 1997's 'First Rays of the New Rising Sun'.
Hendrix won seven posthumous Grammy awards with the Jimi Hendrix Experience. The band was also inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1992 and the Music Hall of Fame in 2005. Hendrix has also received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Jimi Hendrix: Personal life
Jimi Hendrix's life was coloured by his frequent drug use and numerous allegations of violence. He used LSD, cannabis and amphetamines during his career and many of his friends and family said that his alcohol abuse transformed him into an aggressive individual.
He hit one girlfriend, Carmen Borrero, in the eye with a vodka bottle causing her to get stitches and he was fined in 1968 for trashing a hotel room.
He was arrested and charged in 1969 for possessing drugs at Toronto Pearson International Airport but was later acquitted after he insisted it was slipped into his luggage without his knowledge.
He had one son, James Daniel Sundquist , in 1969 with a Swedish woman named Eva Sundquist.
Hendrix was pronounced dead on September 18th 1970 after becoming asphyxiated with his own vomit while intoxicated with barbiturates. His girlfriend, Monika Dannemann, was asleep in bed next to him at the time.