Jimi Hendrix is the greatest rock guitarist of all time.
OK now that is out-of-the-way–and NOT up for discussion–Happy 70th to Jimi Hendrix.
One day while watching PBS, ZZ Top was the featured band and performed their regular hits like “Waiting on the Bus,” “Sharp Dressed Man,” “Legs,” and the others. This new sound was so foreign to me but I loved it It wasn’t long until I discovered this dirty sound was blues-rock. Now, at the time, I didn’t listen to rock at all. Funny enough, the only taste of rock I’d experienced was Lenny Kravitz, specifically his song “Lady.” I would dance around the game room singing this. The other taste of rock, which I quickly rejected, was N.E.R.D’s Fly or Die. I was (am) a huge Pharrell fan and some how I found out about his side project and the cover fascinated me, along with that cool red dog.
ZZ Top introduced me to rock but it was Jimi Hendrix who made me fall in love with the genre. Interestingly enough, Billy Gibbons, lead player for ZZ Top, was taught by Hendrix how to play guitar at the age of 17.
Hendrix was just amazing. My former band members can testify how crazy I was for this man. Mitch Mitchell, drummer for The Jimi Hendrix Experience, was also my favorite drummer and there was not mistaken on his influence after hearing me play. In particular, Mitchell’s fills, modeled after Elvin Jones (drummer for John Coltrane Quartet), were unheard of over a rock record at that time. Sure you had Cream with Ginger Baker but Hendrix’s psychedelic guitar and Mitchell’s explosiveness was simply unmatched. Here’s a great video demonstrating the fills, the latter obviously played with a more “rocky” texture, but exact same triplet fills: Jones at 2:37-3:36 and Mitchell at 1:11; such fills can be heard on nearly every Experience track.
The Experience only released 3 albums, Are You Experienced, Axis: Bold As Love, and Electric Ladyland (yup, same studio Badu, Al Green, John Mayer and countless other artist record in) before splitting and forming Gyspy Sun and Rainbows (sometimes called Band of Gyspsys), with Billy Cox on bass and Buddy Miles on drums/vocals. Gyspy Sun and Rainbows was an all-black funk-rock trio formed with Cox, former Vietnam War buddy, and Miles, who was already a pretty-well established vocalist and even led on many tracks, allowing Hendrix to sit back and play rhythm; Mitchell would sometimes play drums. They only recorded a live album titled Live at Fillmore East and didn’t perform enough shows. Band of Gyspsys had the most obvious influence on Funkadelic and Sly Stone, causing Ed Hazel, lead guitarist for Funkadelic, to be nicknamed “Hendrix’s step kid.”
Hendrix’s influence spanned from John Mayer to Eric Clapton to Hillel Slovak (original RHCP guitarist) to Prince. He will forever be missed and I hope one day he appears, admitting to faking his death.
Here are 10 Hendrix songs, performances and covers that demand a listen, in no particular order:
5. Jimi Hendrix Experience: Catfish Blues (Muddy Waters cover)
9. Jimi Hendrix Experience: Killin Floor (Howlin’ Wolf cover)
The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of Mr. Bab. Check out his politcial and social commentary blog MindsAlike.