Sunday, November 27, 2011

Remembering Jimi - Nov 27, 1942

"Music doesn't lie. If there is something to be changed in this world, then it can only happen through music."

On this day sixty-nine years ago, the greatest electric guitarist to ever live, Jimi Hendrix, was born. Jimi Hendrix expanded the range and vocabulary of the electric guitar into areas no musician had ever ventured before. His boundless drive, technical ability and creative application of such effects as wah-wah and distortion forever transformed the sound of rock and roll. Hendrix helped usher in the age of psychedelia with his 1967 debut, Are You Experienced?, and the impact of his brief but meteoric career on popular music continues to be felt.

I started listening to Jimi when I was 15 back in 1994.  I knew of Jimi's music and had listened to Voodoo Child, Purple Haze, etc before but I wasn't as into Jimi as I was into Prince.  No one around me was into the kind of music I liked so I had to "borrow" music from my uncles and aunts.  My Godfather is a DJ and I used to sit and go through his albums (vinyl, cassette, and CD) and make lists of what I wanted.  Then I came across this...

So I borrowed it.

When I took that album home and played it, I sat down in the middle of my bedroom floor in a trance.  It was like my ears had never heard music before and I needed to hear more.  I returned Are You Experienced to my Godfather in hopes that once he saw that I was departing with such a glorious musical find, he'd take sympathy on me and let me have it.


He also made copies of everything Hendrix related that he had.  All the albums, old recordings with him playing with the Isley Brothers and Little Richard...I was in music heaven.

Jimi's music was effortless.  His music told a story...through lyrics, chords, runs, and the best use of feedback I've ever heard.  He had something to prove but he wanted to make you think that he didn't.

The fact that Jimi died so young is completely tragic.  The hows and whys he's not here anymore aren't important to me.  I've been able to witness (in person) guitar legends like Clapton, B.B King, Keith Richards, and Buddy Guy and it saddens me that Jimi Hendrix is not on that list.  He was a bright star, no matter what anyone thinks, writes, or says.

His music is timeless but he said it himself:

"It's funny the way most people love the dead. Once you are dead, you are made for life."

I thank Jimi for changing the way I hear music...and introducing me to Bob Dylan...but that's another post right there.

Happy Birthday Jimi!

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