Jimi Hendrix Biography
James Marshall "Jimi" Hendrix (November 27, 1942 – September 18, 1970) was an American musician, singer, songwriter, and guitarist. Widely hailed by music fans and critics alike, Hendrix is arguably the greatest, most talented and most influential electric guitarist in rock music history. He achieved worldwide fame in 1967 playing at the Monterey Pop Festival, then headlined the iconic 1969 Woodstock Festival before his sudden death in 1970, at the age of 27.
A self-taught musician, the left-handed Hendrix played a right-handed Fender Stratocaster guitar turned upside down and re-strung to suit him. As a rock guitarist, Hendrix exploited the sonic tool of feedback and the sound of overdriven guitars to an extent that previous pioneers never achieved. He built upon the innovations and influences of blues stylists such as B.B. King, Albert King and Buddy Guy, derived style from rhythm and blues and soul guitarists Curtis Mayfield and Cornell Dupree, as well as that of traditional jazz. Hendrix was also inspired by rock pioneer Little Richard, having toured in Richard's back-up band "The Upsetters" before forming his own rock group in 1966.
Hendrix strived to combine what he called "earth", a blues, jazz, or funk driven rhythm accompaniment, with "space", the high-pitched psychedelic sounds created by his guitar improvisations. As a record producer, Hendrix also broke new ground in using the recording studio as an extension of his musical ideas; he was notably one of the first to experiment with stereophonic and phasing effects during the recording process.
Hendrix was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1992 and the UK Music Hall of Fame in 2005. His star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame (at 6627 Hollywood Blvd.) was dedicated in 1994. In 2006, his debut album, Are You Experienced, was inducted into the United States National Recording Preservation Board's National Recording Registry. In 2003, Rolling Stone named Hendrix number one on their list of the "100 greatest guitarists of all time".
In the early morning hours of September 18, 1970, Jimi Hendrix was found dead in the basement flat of the Samarkand Hotel at 22 Lansdowne Crescent in London. Hendrix died amid circumstances which have never been fully explained, and the exact details of his death will probably never be confirmed. He had spent the night with his German girlfriend, Monika Dannemann, and likely died in bed after drinking wine and taking nine Vesperax sleeping pills, then asphyxiating on his own vomit. For years, Dannemann publicly claimed that Hendrix was alive when placed in the back of the ambulance; however, her comments about that morning were often contradictory and confused, varying from interview to interview. Police and ambulance reports reveal that not only was Hendrix dead when they arrived on the scene, but he had been dead for some time, the apartment's front door was wide open, and the apartment itself empty. Following a libel case brought in 1996 by Hendrix's long-term British girlfriend Kathy Etchingham, Monika Dannemann allegedly took her own life.
A sad poem written by Hendrix that was found in the apartment has led some to believe that he committed suicide. More speculative is the belief that Hendrix was murdered—forcibly given the sleeping pills and wine, then asphyxiated with a scarf by professionals hired by manager Michael Jeffery. The most popular theory, however, is that he simply misjudged the potency of the sleeping pills, and asphyxiated in his sleep due to an inability to regain consciousness when he vomited.
Reports that Hendrix's tapes of the concept album Black Gold had been stolen from the London flat are in fact wrong: the tapes were handed to Mitch Mitchell by Hendrix at the Isle of Wight Festival three weeks prior to his death. Hendrix's Greenwich Village apartment, however, was indeed plundered by an unknown series of vandals who stole numerous personal items, tapes, and countless pages of lyrics and poems, some of which have resurfaced in the hands of collectors or at auctions.