The extraordinary performances, recording, and lyrics ofJames Marshall Hendrix have made him impossible to forget. ThisAmerican rock music guitarist made a legendary mark not only inthe history of rock ‘n’ roll but also on the pop culture as awhole (Ross 32). With unique techniques never seen before andblatant sex-related performances on stage, he became one of themost influential music figures of the 60s (Kamin).Hendrix was not born into stardom nor was it given to him byany means.
He strived all throughout his life to be the verybest. Johnny Allen Hendrix was born on November 27, 1942 inSeattle, Washington to Al and Lucille Hendrix, and not until fouryears later did his father change his son’s name to JamesMarshall Hendrix. He certainly did not lead an easy life withhis sporadic schooling and his parents’ divorce in 1958. Addedto the building pressures, his mother died just one year later(“Jimi”, Rolling 42).Hendrix purchased his first guitar in 1958, probably torelieve tensions as it was the same year his parents divorced. It was a used acoustic for which he paid only five dollars. Atthe age of seventeen with only one year’s playing experience, hejoined his first band, the Rocking Kings.
It may be hard toimagine because of his image, but Hendrix was also in the Armyfor a brief period of time. He was soon discharged as a resultof “medical unsuitability” after a parachuting accident in whichhe landed on his ankle (“Jimi”, Rolling 42). He ventured back tohis hometown of Seattle and began playing with Bobby Taylor andthe Vancouvers (Wolters, “Pre-Experience”). He seized the opportunity to go on the road after beingdiscovered by Little Richard in 1963 but soon regretted thedecision because he felt the tour was degrading, and he wasconstrained as being a sideman to Richard.
His guitar was usedas little more than a background rhythm instrument, but Hendrixdeveloped his playing talent and soon discovered how to gaincontrol and take lead of the music. Unfortunately, he never wasable to get Richard to realize his talents, so he abandonedRichard’s tour in St. Louis (Wolters, “Pre-Experience”).
After aimlessly wandering for awhile, Hendrix found himselfin Atlanta and once again teamed up with Little Richard. Thetour brought them to Los Angeles where he then went in his owndirection. He hooked up with Richard for a third time during thesummer of 1964 to record an album in which he again felt confinedas being only a backup to Little Richard (Wolters,”Pre-Experience”). Hendrix later joined the budding musician Arthur Lee, butthe partnership did not last long as he once again set out insearch of his own identity (Wolters, “Pre-Experience”).
Heembarked as a traveling musician for various tours backing suchartists as Ike and Tina Turner, Muddy Waters, Elmore James, B.B.King, Chuck Berry, King Curtis, Solomon Burke, Chuck Jackson,Jackie Wilson, and several others (Wolters, “Hendrix”).On his next endeavor, he teamed up with saxophonist LonnieYoungblood. The pair was short-lived as Hendrix soon split, andhis adventurous spirit ended him up in New York where he rented asmall, cheap apartment and drifted from job to dead-end job(Wolters, “Pre-Experience”). The spring of 1964 brought better luck to Hendrix. RonnieIsley of the Isley Brothers hired him on the spot as leadguitarist after hearing him play for only a short amount of time.
He lived with the group for a few months, and they actuallypurchased him his first Fender guitar (“Jimi, Rolling 44). Theband toured in 1964 and also released some albums, but Hendrixwas still dissatisfied with his situation. He grew tired of thegroup and left the Isleys to join Curtis Knight and the Squires(Wolters, “Pre-Experience”).Not long had the group been playing in the New Jersey areawhen Keith Richard, guitarist for the Rolling Stones, caught aglimpse of the stand-out guitarist and wanted to help the young, developing musician. He brought Hendrix to the attention ofimportant music industry people (“Jimi”, Facts 425).
On October15, 1965, Hendrix signed his first recording contract with EdChalpin and PPX Productions in which he was paid a single dollarand promised one percent royalty on all future record sales(Wolters, “Pre-Experience”).Surprisingly, he only released five albums while he wasalive. They include, in order, Are You Experienced?, Axis: BoldAs Love, Electric Ladyland, Band of Gypsys, and Cry of Love(Wolters, “Discography”).He formed his dynamic rock band