Thursday, June 3, 2010

Jimi Hendrix

By Harvey Mosley

Jimi Hendrix is one of the most revered guitar players in the music industry. He developed a following that stretches until today. You will often see shirts and hear his records being played or recommended as favorites by music enthusiasts of this generation.

Jimi Hendrix or Johnny Allen Hendrix was born on November 27, 1942 in Seattle. His father changed his name to James Marshall Hendrix after returning from the war. This name was in honor of his uncle Leon Marshall Hendrix.

His childhood was said to be unstable and he was also deprived of attention, spending some time in welfare care. He started practicing his guitar skills on an unstringed broomstick and a one-stringed ukulele. His first "guitar" cost him five dollars, that was well, a makeshift guitar. But his first real guitar was a Supro Ozark that was white. His father gave it to him when he realized that Jimi had real guitar slashing potential.

But poor Jimi did not have an amp. And he didn't see that as an obstacle. He started learning by watching other guitar players and listening to guitar records. He was influenced by his father's listening to Muddy Waters and BB King. And that is largely the reason why his songs were sprinkled with the blues style of playing. He was very much an extrovert as a player. And his showing off got him kicked out of his first band.

He jumped from band to band from there. After he served as a paratrooper, he began working as a session guitar player for Little Richard, Sam Cooke and the Isley Brothers. It was when he got Chas Chandler, formerly of the band, the Animals, as his manager when his career started to go uphill.

Chandler found out about Jimi's playing prowess through Linda Keith, Keith Richards' (of the Rolling Stones) girlfriend. It was Chandler who changed Jimi's name to what we know now. And it was also his brainchild to form the Jimi Hendrix Experience with Noel Redding and Mitch Mitchell.

The band's first single, Hey Joe, blasted the charts. They also played after The Who during the 1967 pop festival in Monterey. Jimi was slashing his guitar while fire burned on the stage. The crowd went wild. It was also at about the same time they released their first album, Are You Experienced. And Jimi rocketed to stardom.

The most memorable and successful album from the band is Electric Ladyland. It was released in 1968. During this time, Chandler was no longer acting as their manager. This also marked the start of the bands demise. It was then when drugs and hanger's on kept crowding the studios. This eventually led to the end of the band. Jimi then formed the Band of Gypsies for a time. They were only able to play at Woodstock 1969. This was when he played his final great public performance with an electrifying version of the Star Spangled Banner.

The guitar legend was hooked into drugs. His last album was Cry of Love which featured Mitch Mitchell and Billy Cox of Band of Gypsies. He took some sleeping pills on September 17, 1970. The pills belonged to his then girlfriend, Monica Denneman. He apparently had an allergic reaction and started throwing up. He drowned in his own vomit. He was pronounced dead when he reached the hospital. He was 27 when he passed away.

Harvey Mosley started developing his passion for music at age of 10. He learned to play guitar songs at age of 13 and pursued his love for music since then. He owns now a music studio and inspires many students to learn to play guitar songs.

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