This Day in History (November 27)

Nov 27, 1942: Jimi Hendrix born

History.com

Guitar legend Jimi Hendrix is born in Seattle. Hendrix grew up playing guitar, imitating blues greats like Muddy Waters as well as early rockers. He joined the army in 1959 and became a paratrooper but was honorably discharged in 1961 after an injury that exempted him from duty in Vietnam. In the early 1960s, Hendrix worked as a pickup guitarist, backing musicians including Little Richard, B.B. King, Ike and Tina Turner, and Sam Cooke. In 1964, he moved to New York and played in coffeehouses, where bassist Bryan Chandler of the British group the Animals heard him. Chandler arranged to manage Hendrix and brought him to London in 1966, where they created the Jimi Hendrix Experience with bassist Noel Redding and drummer Mitch Mitchell. The band’s first single, “Hey Joe,” hit No. 6 on the British pop charts, and the band became an instant sensation.

In 1967, the Jimi Hendrix Experience made its first U.S. appearance, at the Monterey Pop Festival. Hendrix made a splash by burning his guitar and was quickly established as a rock superstar. In the next two years, before the band broke up in 1969, it had released such classic songs as “Purple Haze,” “Foxy Lady,” and “The Wind Cries Mary.” The band’s albums included Are You Experienced? (1967), Bold as Love (1969), and Electric Ladyland (1969).

After the band dissolved because of creative tensions, Hendrix made his famous appearance at Woodstock, playing a masterful, intricate version of “The Star Spangled Banner.” Later that year, he put together a new group called the Band of Gypsies, which debuted on New Year’s Eve in 1969. The band put out only one album, Band of Gypsies (1969). (A second album, Band of Gypsies II, was released in 1986.) Hendrix then recorded another album, without the band, called The Cry of Love, which was released in 1971.

Hendrix, one of the most innovative guitar players of the rock era, established an advanced recording studio in New York called the Electric Lady, boasting 46-track recording technology. The studio opened in August 1970, shortly before Hendrix died in London in September 1970, following a drug overdose. He was 27.

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This Day in History (July 17)

Jul 17, 1967: Jimi Hendrix drops out as opening act for The Monkees

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History.com

On July 17, 1967, one of the oddest musical pairings in history comes to an end when Jimi Hendrix dropped out as the opening act for teenybopper sensations The Monkees.

The booking of psychedelic rock god Jimi Hendrix with the made-for-television Monkees was the brainchild of Hendrix’s manager, Mike Jeffery, who was seeking greater public exposure for a young client who was a budding star in the UK, but a near-unknown in his native United States. It was in the UK, in fact, that Monkee Mike Nesmith first heard a tape of Hendrix playing while at a dinner party with John Lennon, Paul McCartney and Eric Clapton. Nesmith and his fellow Monkees Peter Tork and Mickey Dolenz became instant Jimi Hendrix fans, and after witnessing his legendary performance at the Monterey Pop Festival in June 1967, they encouraged their own manager to invite the little-known but highly respected Jimi Hendrix Experience to join their upcoming U.S. tour.

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Hendrix himself appears to have had no direct input on the decision, though he’d made his opinion of the Monkees clear several months earlier in an interview with Melody Maker magazine: “Oh God, I hate them! Dishwater….You can’t knock anybody for making it, but people like the Monkees?” Nevertheless, Hendrix joined the tour in progress in Jacksonville, Florida, on July 8. Predictably, the reception given to the now-legendary rock icon by the young fans of the bubblegum Monkees was less than worshipful. As Mickey Dolenz later recalled, “Jimi would amble out onto the stage, fire up the amps and break out into ‘Purple Haze,’ and the kids in the audience would instantly drown him out with ‘We want Daaavy!’ God, was it embarrassing.”

Jimi Hendrix managed to get through a total of only seven dates with the Monkees, culminating in his final show on July 17, 1967, which may or may not have ended with Hendrix saluting the crowd with his middle finger. There was no truth to the widely circulated rumor that he’d been kicked off of the tour after protests by the Daughters of the American Revolution that his show was “too erotic.”

Nice Resumé, Mr. Hendrix

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