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Today is the 42nd anniversary of Jimi Hendrix’s untimely death at the age of 27. During his lifetime, he released just three studio albums, a single greatest hits record and one live album. Since then, his estate has provided fans with a steady stream of new releases of live and studio material. It seems like during those 27 years, Hendrix did nothing but perform and record.
Hendrix may have been born in Seattle, but he became known after visiting England and becoming engrossed in the Swinging London scene of the mid-’60s. He got together with bassist Noel Redding and drummer Mitch Mitchell to put together the Jimi Hendrix Experience, which exploded onto the scene with their version of “Hey Joe.”
Their first album, Are You Experienced, was released in 1967 and the US version was practically a greatest hits record, including all of the group’s top hits from the time. The second you dropped the needle, you heard that searing guitar intro to “Purple Haze.” It was, and remains, amazing from start to finish.
Axis: Bold As Love, which features “Little Wing,” “Bold As Love” and “Wait Until Tomorrow,” followed the same year. But it is 1968’s Electric Ladyland that is Hendrix’s true masterpiece. It’s a double album of epic proportions, featuring two tracks that go over 10 minutes and announces the beginning of what he now call heavy metal with “Voodoo Child (Slight Return).”
After the Experience broke up, Hendrix continued to record non-stop, but the only other album besides Smash Hits released in his lifetime was Band of Gypsies. Recorded at the Fillmore East on Dec. 31, 1969 and Jan. 1, 1970, it features just six blazing tracks, two written by drummer Buddy Miles. The album showed, just months before his death, that his amazing talent with the guitar remained unparalleled. To this day, no one has been able to do what Hendrix did with a guitar.
He set it on fire:
...and played with his teeth:
Andre 3000 is currently working on All Is By My Side, a biopic set for release next year which will not feature any Hendrix songs. Even if it turns out bad, it can’t do anything to diminish the legacy of Jimi Hendrix.