JIMI HENDRIX Biography - Theater, Opera and Movie personalities


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James Marshall “Jimi” Hendrix (November 27, 1942 - September 18, 1970) was an American guitarist, singer, songwriter and producer who is widely considered to be the most important electric guitarist in the history of popular music. As a guitarist, he built upon the innovations of blues stylists such as B. B. King, Albert King, T-Bone Walker, and Muddy Waters, as well as those of R&B guitarists like Curtis Mayfield. In addition, he extended the tradition of rock guitar : although previous guitarists, such as the Kinks’ Dave Davies, and the Who’s Pete Townshend, had employed feedback, distortion and other special effects as sonic tools, Hendrix, due to his grounding in blues, soul music and R&B, was able to use these devices in a way that transcended their sources.


He was also an accomplished songwriter whose compositions have been covered by countless artists. As a record producer and musical architect, he was one of the first to use the recording studio as an extension of his musical ideas. Finally, his image as a rock star places him in the lineage of Chuck Berry, Elvis Presley and Mick Jagger.


Youth and pre-professional career


Hendrix was born Johnny Allen Hendrix, in Seattle, Washington the son of Al Hendrix and Lucille Jeter. He grew up shy and sensitive. Like his contemporaries John Lennon and Paul McCartney, Hendrix was deeply affected by family problems - his parents’ divorce in 1951 and the death of his mother in 1958, when he was 16. He was close to his maternal grandmother, who was part-Cherokee, and who instilled in the young Jimi a strong sense of pride about his Native American ancestry. The same year, his father Al gave him a ukulele, and later bought him a US$5 acoustic guitar, setting him on the path to his future vocation.


After playing with several local Seattle bands, Hendrix enlisted in the Army, joining the 101st Airborne Division (stationed at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, about 50 miles from Nashville, Tennessee) as a trainee paratrooper. He served less than a year and received a medical discharge after breaking his ankle on his 26th parachute jump. He said later that the sound of air whistling through the parachute shrouds was one of the sources of his “spacy” guitar sound.


Hendrix, who had volunteered for service in the Vietnam War, never saw action, but his recordings would become favourites of soldiers fighting there. He initially made a precarious living performing in backing bands for touring soul and blues musicians, including Curtis Knight , B. B. King, and Little Richard during 1965. His first notice came from appearances with The Isley Brothers, notably on the two-parter Testify in 1964.