Whenever I think of car rides with my stepfather I always think and chuckle at the memory of the radio being tuned to Classic Rock Radio. During these rides I had the pleasure of watching him play the air guitar and/or singing guitar riffs (insert teenage eye roll here). However, there were a few artists that I experienced through my stepfather’s air guitar solos (and through the magic of movie cinema) that were the stuff of my own private air guitar sessions.
After enjoying this this scene in Wayne’s World probably more than I should have, my interest in all things Jimi Hendrix grew exponentially with the realization that his music resonated across ages, generations, artists and music genres. His aesthetic and guitar riffs are evident in the work of the late Prince and David Bowie, Dave Grohl of the Foo Fighters, Slash and Lenny Kravitz to name a few. Although his creativity ended abruptly with his passing at the age of 27, his music has been remixed, remade and repurposed by hip hop artists such as The Pharcyde, Cypress Hill, The Beastie Boys and A Tribe Called Quest (check out the many remakes and remixes of Hendrix).
In celebration of the 80th anniversary of his birth and his legacy of innovation, here are a few titles that illuminate the appeal and gift of his musicality.
From the moment it debuted in 1967, Are You Experienced? was an immediate critical and commercial success. Widely regarded as one of the best albums ever, it was among 25 albums chosen by the Library of Congress in 2005 for inclusion in the National Recording Registry for its “aesthetic, cultural and historical significance.”
“Little Wing,” covered by Eric Clapton, Sheryl Crow, Skid Row and others, is one of the most widely known and loved songs on Hendrix’s second album, Axis Bold As Love.
Hendrix is remembered by those who worked closely with him in the book Jimi Hendrix: Voodoo Child, featuring concert photos.
Both Sides of the Sky features unreleased material recorded by Hendrix between 1968-1970 at various locations, including his apartment.
Hendrix's legendary “guitar sacrifice” during a performance of Wild Thing is captured in The Complete Monterey Pop Festival, a documentary also featuring other rock icons of the era.
His early days in Seattle, time performing with Little Richard and The Isley Brothers, and his final days in London are documented through performances, letters and the voices of those who knew him best in the DVD Hear My Train A Comin'.
Live at the Fillmore East features recordings of Hendrix’s concert series with the Band of Gypsies and includes performances of Wild Thing and Machine Gun.
Which Jimi Hendrix song do you think reflects his genius best?