Artist portrait of Jimi Hendrix

"Jimi" by McJade is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 3.0

The Life of Jimi Hendrix

Early Life

Jimi Hendrix was born Johnny Allen Hendrix on November 27th, 1942 at Seattle King County Hospital. He was later renamed by his father as James "Al" Hendrix. Hendrix showed an interest in guitars at very young age. As a child, his father would find him play guitar using a broom and decided to buy Hendrix a one string ukelele to practice. His earliest inspirations included B.B King, Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf, Buddy Holly, and Robert Johnson.

Early Career

In the summer of 1958, Hendrix's father, Al, bought him his first acoustic guitar. Soon after, Hendrix joined his first band, The Velvetones. His time with the band did not last due to Hendrix wanting to pursue his own interest several months later.

In the summer of 1959, Al purchased Hendrix's his first electric guitar, a Supro Ozark 1560S. This was the same guitar he used when joining The Rocking Kings.

In 1961, Hendrix enlisted in the US army and he was stationed in Fort Campbell, Kentucky. In 1962, he earned the right to wear the "Screaming Eagles" patch for the paratroop division. While in the army, he formed a band called The King Casuals with bassist Billy Cox. Later he was discharged due to an injury he received during a parachute jump.

Towards the end of 1965, Hendrix played with several acts including the Isley Brothers, Ike and Tina Turner, Sam Cooke and Little Richard. Afterward, Hendrix formed another band called Jimmy James and the Blue Fames playing the lead guitar of the group.

Rise to Fame

Hendrix got his big break when Animals' bassist Chas Chandler saw Hendrix play a performance at Caf, Wha? in 1966. Chandler would later return to sign Hendrix and have him move to London and form a new band. Chandler would have Jimmy, as he was previously known, become "Jimi" and a new band was formed known as the Jimi Hendrix Experience including Mitch Mitchell as drummer and Noel Redding as bassist.

The Jimi Hendrix Experience's first single became a huge hit, "Hey Joe", which stayed in the UK charts reaching the top 6 in 1967. Shortly after, they came out with their full-length album, Are You Experienced? This album is known as one of the most popular rock albums of all time including major hits like "Purple Haze, "Foxey Lady", "The Wind Cried Mary", "Fire" and "Are You Experienced?".

When Hendrix returned to the US, his performance of "Wild Thing" ignited the crowd at the Monterey International Pop Festival in June 1967. It was this performance that made The Jimi Hendrix Experience become one of the most popular and highest grossing touring acts in the world.

If you would like to learn more about Jimi Hendrix visit The Official Jimi Hendrix Site.