They say it is those who burn the fastest that also burn brightest; as far as Musicians are concerned, there surely cannot be many greater examples of this phenomenon than Jimi Hendrix. Jimi’s mainstream career lasted only four years, and yet he is still regarded as one of – if not the – most influential electric guitarist in the history of popular music.
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame describes Jimi Hendrix as being “arguably the greatest instrumentalist in the history of Rock Music.” How does an artist build such an incredible reputation in such a short period of time? The story of Jimi is truly one-of-a-kind, and his tragic death in September 1970 cut short the creation of a planned new two-LP set.
Legendary Musical Ability:
Of course, it was Jimi Hendrix’s unique abilities as a guitarist that made him such an icon within the Rock and Roll industry. Jimi was a self-taught musician, and whilst he was obviously inspired by other legends of his time, it was this impressive ability to learn to play by ear and put his own flavour and spin on existing melodies and other artist’s styles that separated him from many other artists of the time.
Jimi played the guitar with expert precision and amazing speed, all the while managing to sing and dance at the same time as turning out these fantastic musical performances. When NetEnt decided to create a trio of Rock ‘n’ Roll themed online slot machines, Jimi was chosen alongside the legendary bands Motorhead and Guns ’n Roses as the basis for this new game that would soon light up the online casino PA market.
How Jimi Changed Rock Music:
Why was Jimi regarded as being just as important and influential as these two legendary bands? It’s often said that Jimi Hendrix single-handedly helped make significant improvements to the genre as a whole. Before Jimi, it was uncommon for an artist to both play the lead instrument and perform the lead vocal at the same time.
Jimi showed that a rock band did not necessarily have to consist of at least two people – one playing the guitar whilst the other focused on vocals. Other musicians saw what Hendrix was doing and tried to replicate it, proving that rock music could be performed competently by a single artist.
Jimi did plenty of other things differently, too – there was simply no other artist like him during his time. Whilst other artists tended to use the guitar in the same, predictable manner, Jimi seemingly used his guitar as an extension of his body, and in doing so, effectively re-focused the entire rock and roll genre around the use of the electric guitar. Jimi could create the most unique, loud, sharp sounds from his instrument – sounds that had never before been heard.
Furthermore, his self-taught nature meant that he didn’t see any need to follow any traditional “basic rules” of playing the guitar. Jimi eschewed specific, popular, chords such as C Major. Hendrix loved to experiment with crazy chords and build songs around them – hugely expanding the number of possibilities for the tonality of new songs. He also made extensive use of a wah-wah pedal whilst playing, further adding to his unique sound.
The Strangest Things of All:
Jimi was a left-handed man, yet he insisted on playing using a right-handed guitar. This meant that the strings were upside down to him when compared to the conventional layout – any other musician would have struggled with this, particularly when it came to reading music and interpreting it in real-time. Somehow, however, this just came naturally to Jimi. Even more strangely, Jimi was also known to remove the original strings and guides from his guitars before restringing them in crazy, unconventional ways. Nobody else could play Jimi’s instruments, nor could they understand how he was using them to create the sounds that he was, adding to the mystique and the legend around the artist.
During 1970, Jimi brought back a previous drummer that he had worked with named Mitch Mitchell. Working as a trio alongside Billy Cox on bass, the three re-formed “The Jimi Hendrix Experience,” and got to work in the studio recording many new songs for a planned new double-LP. The set was tentatively named “First Rays of the New Rising Sun” but was never completed after Jimi tragically died whilst on Tour in the UK during September. The recordings which were completed did eventually see the light of day when his original studio engineer, Eddie Kramer, obtained permission to release the recordings from the Hendrix family.
It is fascinating – and so disappointing – that we are made to wonder just how much more Jimi Hendrix could have done for rock and roll had he lived on. Without question, Jimi Hendrix was one of the greatest musicians of the 20th century.