Although his mainstream career lasted only four years, he is widely regarded as one of the most influential guitarists in history and one of the most celebrated musicians of the 20th century. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame describes him as "the greatest instrumentalist in the history of rock music".
Born in Seattle, Washington , Hendrix began playing guitar at age In , he enlisted in the US Army and trained as a paratrooper in the st Airborne Division , but he was discharged the following year. He moved to Clarksville, Tennessee soon after and began playing gigs on the Chitlin' Circuit , earning a place in the Isley Brothers ' backing band and later with Little Richard , with whom he continued to work through mid He played with Curtis Knight and the Squires before moving to England in late after being discovered by Linda Keith , who interested bassist Chas Chandler of the Animals in becoming his first manager.
He achieved fame in the US after his performance at the Monterey Pop Festival in , and his third and final studio album Electric Ladyland reached number one in the US in ; it was Hendrix's most commercially successful release and his only number-one album. He was the world's highest-paid performer,  and he headlined the Woodstock festival in and the Isle of Wight Festival in He died from barbiturate-related asphyxia on September 18, , at age Hendrix was inspired by American rock and roll and electric blues.
He favored overdriven amplifiers with high volume and gain, and was instrumental in popularizing the previously undesirable sounds caused by guitar amplifier feedback. He was also one of the first guitarists to make extensive use of tone-altering effects units in mainstream rock, such as fuzz distortion, Octavia , wah-wah , and Uni-Vibe. He was the first musician to use stereophonic phasing effects in recordings. Holly George-Warren of Rolling Stone writes: "Hendrix pioneered the use of the instrument as an electronic sound source.
Players before him had experimented with feedback and distortion, but Hendrix turned those effects and others into a controlled, fluid vocabulary every bit as personal as the blues with which he began. Rolling Stone ranked the band's three studio albums among the greatest albums of all time , and ranked Hendrix the greatest guitarist and the sixth greatest artist of all time. Jimi Hendrix had a diverse heritage.
In , after moving to Seattle , Al met Lucille Jeter — at a dance; they married on March 31, Stationed in Alabama at the time of Hendrix's birth, Al was denied the standard military furlough afforded servicemen for childbirth; his commanding officer placed him in the stockade to prevent him from going AWOL to see his infant son in Seattle. He spent two months locked up without trial, and while in the stockade received a telegram announcing his son's birth.
Two months later, unable to find Lucille, Al went to the Berkeley, California , home of a family friend named Mrs. Champ, who had taken care of and had attempted to adopt Hendrix; this is where Al saw his son for the first time. After returning from service, Al reunited with Lucille, but his inability to find steady work left the family impoverished. They both struggled with alcohol, and often fought when intoxicated. The violence sometimes drove Hendrix to withdraw and hide in a closet in their home.
On occasion, family members would take Hendrix to Vancouver to stay at his grandmother's. A shy and sensitive boy, he was deeply affected by his life experiences. At Horace Mann Elementary School in Seattle during the mids, Hendrix's habit of carrying a broom with him to emulate a guitar gained the attention of the school's social worker. After more than a year of his clinging to a broom like a security blanket , she wrote a letter requesting school funding intended for underprivileged children, insisting that leaving him without a guitar might result in psychological damage.
In , while helping his father with a side-job, Hendrix found a ukulele amongst the garbage they were removing from an older woman's home. She told him that he could keep the instrument, which had only one string. He played for hours daily, watching others and learning from more experienced guitarists, and listening to blues artists such as Muddy Waters , B.
King , Howlin' Wolf , and Robert Johnson. Soon after he acquired the acoustic guitar, Hendrix formed his first band, the Velvetones.
Without an electric guitar, he could barely be heard over the sound of the group. After about three months, he realized that he needed an electric guitar. When his guitar was stolen after he left it backstage overnight, Al bought him a red Silvertone Danelectro. Before Hendrix was 19 years old, law authorities had twice caught him riding in stolen cars. Given a choice between prison or joining the Army , he chose the latter and enlisted on May 31, They work you to death, fussing and fighting.
Hendrix completed his paratrooper training in just over eight months, and Major General C. Rich awarded him the prestigious Screaming Eagles patch on January 11, They labeled him an unqualified marksman and often caught him napping while on duty and failing to report for bed checks. Spears, filed a report in which he stated: "He has no interest whatsoever in the Army It is my opinion that Private Hendrix will never come up to the standards required of a soldier.
I feel that the military service will benefit if he is discharged as soon as possible. In September , after Cox was discharged from the Army, he and Hendrix moved about twenty miles across the state line from Fort Campbell to Clarksville, Tennessee , and formed a band, the King Kasuals. He later explained: "The idea of doing that came to me Down there you have to play with your teeth or else you get shot. There's a trail of broken teeth all over the stage.
Although they began playing low-paying gigs at obscure venues, the band eventually moved to Nashville 's Jefferson Street, which was the traditional heart of the city's black community and home to a thriving rhythm and blues music scene. In January , feeling he had outgrown the circuit artistically, and frustrated by having to follow the rules of bandleaders, Hendrix decided to venture out on his own. He moved into the Hotel Theresa in Harlem , where he befriended Lithofayne Pridgon, known as "Faye", who became his girlfriend.
At the recommendation of a former associate of Joe Tex , Ronnie Isley granted Hendrix an audition that led to an offer to become the guitarist with the Isley Brothers ' back-up band, the I. Specials, which he readily accepted. Released in June, it failed to chart. Issued in August by Rosemart Records and distributed by Atlantic , the track reached number 35 on the Billboard chart. Hendrix toured with the Isleys during much of , but near the end of October, after growing tired of playing the same set every night, he left the band.
The single failed to chart, but Hendrix and Lee began a friendship that lasted several years; Hendrix later became an ardent supporter of Lee's band, Love. The video recording of the show marks the earliest known footage of Hendrix performing. Despite his two-year contract with Sue,  Hendrix signed a three-year recording contract with entrepreneur Ed Chalpin on October They failed to see Hendrix's musical potential, and rejected him. Following Hendrix's arrival in London, Chandler began recruiting members for a band designed to highlight his talents, the Jimi Hendrix Experience.
Mitchell, who had recently been fired from Georgie Fame and the Blue Flames , participated in a rehearsal with Redding and Hendrix where they found common ground in their shared interest in rhythm and blues. When Chandler phoned Mitchell later that day to offer him the position, he readily accepted. I said, 'Of course', but I had a funny feeling about him.
I mean he did a few of his tricks, like playing with his teeth and behind his back, but it wasn't in an upstaging sense at all, and that was it He walked off, and my life was never the same again".
In mid-October , Chandler arranged an engagement for the Experience as Johnny Hallyday 's supporting act during a brief tour of France. If it must have a tag, I'd like it to be called, 'Free Feeling'. It's a mixture of rock, freak-out, rave and blues". On March 31, , while the Experience waited to perform at the London Astoria , Hendrix and Chandler discussed ways in which they could increase the band's media exposure.
When Chandler asked journalist Keith Altham for advice, Altham suggested that they needed to do something more dramatic than the stage show of the Who, which involved the smashing of instruments. Hendrix joked: "Maybe I can smash up an elephant", to which Altham replied: "Well, it's a pity you can't set fire to your guitar". During the show, Hendrix gave an especially dynamic performance before setting his guitar on fire at the end of a minute set.
Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. Pepper 's title track , which was released just three days previous. McCartney described the moment: "The curtains flew back and he came walking forward playing 'Sgt. It's a pretty major compliment in anyone's book. I put that down as one of the great honors of my career. In , Noe Goldwasser, the founding editor of Guitar World magazine, described Are You Experienced as "the album that shook the world He insisted that the event would be incomplete without Hendrix, whom he called "an absolute ace on the guitar".
McCartney agreed to join the board of organizers on the condition that the Experience perform at the festival in mid-June. On June 18, ,  introduced by Brian Jones as "the most exciting performer [he had] ever heard", Hendrix opened with a fast arrangement of Howlin' Wolf's song "Killing Floor", wearing what author Keith Shadwick described as "clothes as exotic as any on display elsewhere".
When Jimi Hendrix set his guitar on fire at the Monterey Pop Festival he created one of rock's most perfect moments. Standing in the front row of that concert was a year-old boy named Ed Caraeff. Caraeff had never seen Hendrix before nor heard his music, but he had a camera with him and there was one shot left in his roll of film. As Hendrix lit his guitar, Caraeff took a final photo. It would become one of the most famous images in rock and roll. Caraeff stood on a chair next to the edge of the stage and took four monochrome pictures of Hendrix burning his guitar.
Rolling Stone later colorized the image, matching it with other pictures taken at the festival before using the shot for a magazine cover. Whitaker wrote that "Hendrix's burning of his guitar became an iconic image in rock history and brought him national attention". You sacrifice things you love. I love my guitar. Pennebaker , and included in the concert documentary Monterey Pop , which helped Hendrix gain popularity with the US public. The Experience outperformed Jefferson Airplane during the first two nights, and replaced them at the top of the bill on the fifth.
The second Experience album, Axis: Bold as Love , opens with the track "EXP", which uses microphonic and harmonic feedback in a new, creative fashion. The scheduled release date for Axis was almost delayed when Hendrix lost the master tape of side one of the LP, leaving it in the back seat of a London taxi. Bassist Noel Redding had a tape recording of this mix, which had to be smoothed out with an iron as it had gotten wrinkled.