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Monday, March 15, 2010

12 Things You Never Knew About Jimi Hendrix

It's hard to believe that this year it will be 40 years since Jimi Hendrix died, because he's still talked about and referred to as much as if he were still here.

The gold standard for guitarists everywhere, Jimi was a virtuoso, but I think more because of his taste rather than his dexterity with his instrument. Regardless, he's still revered even 4 decades after passing.

This is from the "12 Things You Never Knew About Jimi Hendrix" article on, but I refined it a bit because I think the author lost the point in places, at least from a musician's point of view.

Jimi Hendrix was born John Allen Hendrix, named by his mother while Jimi's father was away fighting World War II. When Al Hendrix returned from Europe, he renamed him James Marshall. It was The Animals’ bassist Chas Chandler, who became his manager, that suggested he swap James for Jimi.


Jimi dropped out of high school and enlisted in the Army in May 1959, becoming a member of ‘The Screaming Eagles’ 101st Airborne Division based in Fort Campbell, Kentucky, as a trainee paratrooper. Less than a year later he received a medical discharge after breaking an ankle on his twenty-sixth parachute jump.


Jimi's first electric guitar was a Supro Ozark 1560S, purchased by his dad Al.


Before breaking out as an artist himself, Jimi played with several name R&B acts, including Ike And Tina Turner, Sam Cooke, The Isley Brothers, and Little Richard.


Jimi agreed to follow Chas Chandler to England only if he promised to introduce him to Eric Clapton. Within forty-eight hours of his arrival, he would take to the stage for an unprecedented onstage jam with Clapton and Cream.


Jimi's left-handed playing skills were much to the chagrin of his father, who believed it was a sign of the devil.


Although Jimi was most identified with the  Fender Stratocaster, he also played the Gibson SG, Flying V, Les Paul, and even the Fender Jazzmaster and Duo-Sonic on rare occasions.


He called his music “electric church” because he believed music was his religion.


The Experience Music Project in Seattle that honors Jimi was designed by famed architect Frank Gehry.


Jimi and Miles Davis had agreed to do a project together, with Davis receiving an advance of $50,000. Jimi died before it happened.

In search of a full night’s sleep, Jimi asked his then girlfriend Monika Dannemann for some of her powerful German sedatives called Vesparax. Unaware of the half-tablet dosage, Jimi took nine. His reckless mixing of drugs and alcohol had become so commonplace the previous year that his girlfriends regularly woke up to hear him gasping and had to clear his windpipe. Sort of reminds you of Michael Jackson in a way (except for the girlfriends).


His iconic performance of ‘The Star Spangled Banner’ at Woodstock in 1969 was not a symbol of national pride as everyone was led to believe, but rather a symbol of Jimi's  disgust with America’s continued occupation of Vietnam. Seconds before going onstage, Jimi debated whether or not to perform the anthem, as his manager Mike Jeffrey feared it could spark a riot.

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