James Marshal Hendrix was born in Seattle, Washington, on November 27, 1942; an American of African, European, Cherokee Indian and Mexican descent. An unsettled home environment made Jimi spend much of his early years staying with his grandmother, a full-blooded Cherokee Indian, in Canada.
His mother died when Jimi was 15 about the same time as Jimi Hendrix began to take a serious interest in music and playing the guitar. When he was 12 he got his first electric guitar - the instrument which shaped the next 16 years of his life. At the age of 16 Jimi Hendrix was thrown out of school for holding the hand of a white girl in class.
He played rock and roll in teenage bands until joining the army at 17. After 14 months as a paratrooper he suffered an injury and was discharged. He then decided to enter the music field.
The following four years were hard work touring the States playing back-up guitar for various R&B bands including Little Richard, Ike and Tina Turner, Wilson Pickett, the Isley Brothers and the late King Curtis among others. The conditions were not suited to his radical temperament and eventually he was drawn to New York 's Greenwich Village where he recorded with the Isley Brothers, Curtis Knight and various other artists.
Then in late 1965 he formed his first band - Jimmy James and the Blue Flames. They worked the Village clubs where he was seen by other musicians who immediately recognized his talent, and word of this young virtuoso reached ex-Animals bassist Chas Chandler. Chas was so impressed after hearing him play he offered to become his manager and persuaded Jimi to accompany him back to England.
At the time, England's music scene was ruled by bands such as The Who, The Beatles and Cream with Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page and Jeff Beck standing alone as the three leading exponents of the electric guitar.
The Jimi Hendrix Experience was formed with Noel Redding on bass and Mitch Mitchell behind the drums and suddenly there was this black guy on the scene doing things with his guitar that were just not possible. Respect from his peers and adoration from the crowds was instantaneous. They toured Europe, breaking attendance records at one club after another, and then signed a recording contract.
A series of singles that all gained top 10 rank followed: "Hey Joe, Purple Haze, and The Wind Cries Mary." These made Jimi a star in England; setting the stage for his Monterey appearance.
In October the Jimi Hendrix Experience was formed with Noel Redding on bass and Mitch Mitchell on drums. Their first song they recorded was “Hey Joe” which was released by the end of the year. Jimi Hendrix became popular all throughout England. Their next two songs “Wind Cries Mary” and “Purple Haze” became hits. In May, 1967 Jimi’s song “Are you Experienced?” was released and went up to number two on the charts and remained there for the rest of the year.
Several months later the band broke up and went there separate ways. Jimi literally become a sensation overnight after his stunning performance at the Monterey Pop Festival, which he ended by holding his guitar over his head while it was engulfed in flames.
In America he built a recording studio in New York called, Electric Lady Studios. After spending great amounts of time in his studio he came out with a much anticipated album Electric Ladyland. After a lot of touring and a lot of hardships the band split in 1969. That summer brought a lot of emotional and musical development to Jimi’s career.
He played the Woodstock Music and Art Fair in August. Jimi Hendrix played along side a diverse group called Gypsy Sun and Rainbows. The performance reached its peak when Hendrix played a fantastic psychedelic version of “Star Spangled Banner.”
Nineteen sixty-nine also brought about a new and defining alliance featuring Jimi Hendrix on guitar, Billy Cox as the bassist, and Buddy Miles as the Electric Flag drummer. Performing as the Band of Gypsys, this trio launched a series of four stellar New Year's performances.
These performances were compiled and later released on the quintessential Band of Gypsys album in mid-1970. Later in 1970 Jimi brought back old drummer and old friend Mitch Mitchell. With him, Jimi, and Billy Cox on bass, they once again formed The Jimi Hendrix Experience. They recorded several tracks for a new album that was supposed to be called First Rays Of The New Rising Sun.
To the dismay of many people, Jimi never got to see the finished product of this album due to a drug overdose. Apparently, he took too many sleeping pills after a night of drinking and died in his sleep. Quite some time after his death, his album First Rays of the New Rising Sun was finally released; although, Jimi Hendrix's life was short lived he made one of the biggest impacts in music history. He changed the sound of music and shaped what an electric guitar should sound like. Jimi Hendrix took the gift that he had and shared it with the world; to this day, Jimi Hendrix is one of the most popular musicians to have ever graced our earthly sphere.