Today makes the 40th anniversary of the death of one of the most influential musicians in modern times. 40 years after his death Jimi Hendrix remains one of the top ten internet searches. We can look at many guitar rock players, Eddie VanHalen, Randy Rhoades or Steve Vai and easily recognize their contribution to rock guitar. Without the influence of Jimi Hendrix non of them would have sounded the same.
Jimi was an innovator’s innovator. Pushing rock, jazz and blues to their limits and then pushing them over the edge. Jimi Hendrix defined a generation of music and changed our approach to our instruments. Musicians like Miles Davis, Jan Hammer and Stanley Clarke were all touched by this sonic god, as was I.
My fondest Hendrix memory was with my father. We attended the Dangerous Curves: The Art of the Guitar show at Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts. Dangerous Curves provided an in-depth look at the visual design and evolution of the guitar from Baroque to Modern. It Featured 129 instruments from museums and private collections around the world
Of the 129 guitars was Jimi Hendrix’s hand painted Gibson Flying V. My father and I were just inches away from one of Jimi’s favorite guitars separated by a thin sheet of glass as I noticed something.
I turned and said “look Dad you can see the wear marks on the pickguard from Jimi spinning the volume knobs”. That is when it hit us… yes this was Jimi’s axe. A minute before it was a piece of wood and metal hanging on a museum wall. Now it was like looking at an extension of the man. You could feel the potential energy ready to explode off of this piece of wood. It was a very intense and heartfelt moment for both of us.
As I write this 9 years later remembering my Dad and that great day the sounds of Electric Ladyland fill my house. This is nothing unique in my house, though it does feel special today.
Jimi thanks for that great day and a lifetime of music. Sleep well my friend.