On this day in 1942, rock legend Jimi Hendrix was born in Seattle, Washington.
From a young age, Hendrix expressed his interest in music, inspired by artists such as Buddy Holly, Muddy Waters, B.B. King, and Robert Jonson. Completely self-taught, Hendrix was unable to read music. While this may seem debilitating, it only made him concentrate harder on the music he was hearing.
In 1958, Hendrix’s father purchased him an acoustic guitar and a one-string ukulele. Proving his talent, Hendrix joined The Velvetones, his first band. The following summer, he began playing the electric guitar.
Shortly after, he enlisted in the United States Army and was stationed in Kentucky. After being discharged due to an injury, he began concentrating solely on his musical career, playing with several successful musicians, such as Tina Turner, Sam Cooke, and the Isley Brothers.
Bassist Chas Candler of the Animals took notice of Hendrix’s skill and had him sign an agreement stating he would move to London in order to form a new band. In the fall of 1966, the newly formed Jimi Hendrix Experience became a significant part of London’s music scene. The band’s first single, “Hey Joe,” spent ten weeks on the UK charts. Shortly after, they released a full-length album titled “Are You Experienced,” which became on of the most popular rock albums of all time.
Upon returning to the United States in 1967, Hendrix performed his hit “Wild Thing,” becoming one of the highest grossing touring acts in the world. By 1968, Hendrix spent time working the consoles in the studio rather than performing. He created his own recording studio in New York City, called Electric Lady Studios. However, in 1979, the Experience disbanded due to the heavy demands of studio work and touring.
After playing at the Woodstock Music & Art Fair in August 1969, Hendrix joined an eclectic ensemble called Gypsy Sun & Rainbows. The trio launched four New Year’s performances on December 31, 1969 and January 1, 1970. Years later, highlights from these performances were released on a Band of Gypsy’s album as well as the expanded Hendrix: Live at the Fillmore East in 1999.
Shortly after the New Year’s performances, Hendrix formed The Jimi Hendrix Experience once again. The group recorded several tacks, planning to create another two LP set, titled First Rays Of The New Rising Sun. However, Hendrix died on September 18, 1970, without seeing the project through to completion.
Hendrix is remembered as one of the most successful and talented musicians in the history of rock music.