Jimi Hendrix BioBorn Johnny Allen Hendrix on November 27, 1942, Jimi Hendrix would squeeze a lot of living and a lot of guitar playing into his 27+ years. Today, 35 years after the accidental overdose of "reds" that killed him, he is still considered the greatest rock guitarist of all time.
Self-taught, Hendrix was influenced early on by blues legends like B.B. King and Robert Johnson. As a teenager, he played in some local bands in and around Seattle. After serving a couple years in the Air Force, he found work as a backup guitarist playing for artists like Sam Cooke, Little Richard, the Isley Brothers, Wilson Pickett, Jackie Wilson, The Impressions and King Curtis. He moved to New York City, gained a reputation for his innovative guitar playing, and came to the attention of Animal's bass player Chas Chandler. Chandler, who wanted to get into management, persuaded Hendrix to go to London where he would launch a career as a headline performer.
Chandler hooked Jimi up with a bass player and a drummer, Noel Redding and Mitch Mitchell. Together they formed the Jimi Hendrix Experience. Almost immediately, they became a hit in the UK. Their debut album, Are You Experienced?, showcased Hendrix's guitar playing and his songwriting artistry as well. Singles from the album, "Hey Joe," The Wind Cries Mary," and "Purple Haze" each became hits. The album was subsequently released in the US with a few changes. The hippies of Hippieland loved it. It was a huge hit.
Though he spent a lot of time in the studio, Hendrix would make only three fully conceived studio albums -- Axis: Bold as Love, the double LP Ladyland, and his tour de force Are You Experienced?
"It's funny how most people love the dead, once you're dead you're made for life." ~ Jimi Hendrix
Jimi's life, musically, financially, and personally, would become a chaotic mess. Contract disputes, lawyers and drugs all became part of the whirlwind. The Experience broke up in 1969 and he formed the Band of Gypsies with drummer Buddy Miles and old Air Force buddy Billy Cox. It was with them that he made an appearance at Woodstock where he laid down his immortal rendition of The Star Spangled Banner. In 1970 the Experience got together again only to break up shortly afterward. At the time of his death, he was working on an album tentatively titled First Ray of the New Rising Sun.
After a lengthy court battle, in July 1995 the rights to Hendrix's estate, including all his recordings, was turned over to his father, Al Hendrix. With the help of Jimi's half-sister Janie Hendrix, they formed Experience LLC. They proved themselves conscientious keepers of Jimi's legacy. Subsequently, Jimi's first three albums were remastered and re-released and compilation albums, drawing from the wealth of recorded material Hendrix left behind, were produced.
"When I die, I want people to play my music, go wild and freak out and do anything they want to do." ~ Jimi Hendrix
Recently, Experience Hendrix LLC filed a copyright infringement suit against Trans World Entertainment, the parent company of the FYE retail chain, for allegedly selling the unlicensed CDs "Jimi Hendrix: His Greatest Hits" and "Jimi Hendrix: LA Forum", for which no royalties are paid. The suit demands that Trans World stop selling the CDs, and that any remaining copies be destroyed, as well as damages and attorney's fees.
Said Janie Hendrix, who's now the President and CEO of Experience Hendrix LLC, "We have an obligation to protect Jimi's legacy and these unauthorized, inferior-quality CD releases confuse and disappoint his fans throughout the world. We will continue to make every effort to confront copyright infringement and piracy issues wherever and whenever possible."
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