7 things you didn’t know about Jimi Hendrix
Widely considered as one of the most iconic musicians of the 20th century, Jimi Hendrix sadly passed away just as his career was really kicking off. Despite his career ending prematurely at the age of 27 on September 18th 1970, Hendrix left a long-lasting legacy that has inspired and influenced many across the world.
Born in Seattle on November 27, 1942, Hendrix had always had a passion for music, he even snuck to the top of a nearby hill just to watch Elvis Presley perform in 1957. His first instrument was a ukulele that he found whilst looking through the trash with his father. After this moment, creativity sparked within Hendrix and led to the birth of the mighty musician known as Jimi Hendrix.
To celebrate what would be his 80th birthday this year, we unearth some fascinating facts about Jimi Hendrix that you may have not known.
Jimi self-taught himself to play instruments
Many knew Jimi Hendrix as a talented musician, but interestingly enough he actually self-taught himself and couldn’t even read music. He started with the ukulele and learned by matching the notes with the ones that Elvis Presley played on the radio.
At 15, Hendrix got his first acoustic guitar for $5 and played the instrument for hours every day. He took inspiration from other musicians and developed his unmistakable style from this. Hendrix played by ear and often used words or colours to communicate with his music.
After seeing one of his bandmates in the Rocking Kings play with their teeth, he decided that he wanted to do this as well and learned this trick. It seems that whenever Jimi Hendrix wanted to achieve something, he worked damn hard until he made it happen.
Jimi joined the army
Although Hendrix is known as a hippie icon for his psychedelic style of dress and overall tone of his music, he actually joined the army on May 31st 1961. However, it seems that he didn’t really join by choice as he found himself on the wrong side of the law leading him to decide whether he wanted a prison sentence or to join the army.
After completing eight weeks of basic training at Fort Ord in California, he was assigned to the 101st Airborne Division and stationed at Fort Campbell in Kentucky. Hendrix knew the army wasn’t for him but managed to spend his spare time perfecting his talents leading to him performing with fellow serviceman Billy Cox at a few local clubs under the name of The Casuals.
As expected, his time in the army did not last long. Throughout the years, the official story was that Hendrix was kicked out of the army due to breaking his ankle during a parachute jump. According to Charles R. Cross’s book Room Full of Mirrors and many other valuable sources, Hendrix was discharged due to lying to a psychiatrist about being in love with another soldier and that he was addicted to pleasuring himself. Whatever the reason was, the world was enlightened due to Hendrix pursuing a music career rather than one in the service.
Jimi is not his actual name
At the time of his birth, Jimi Hendrix’s parents were in completely different countries as his father, James Al Hendrix, was fighting in Europe as World War II was at its height. Jimi Hendrix was actually born John Allen Hendrix and didn’t see his father until he was three years old.
After his father returned from the war in 1945, he divorced his wife and renamed his son James Marshall. Jimmy became his nickname after this time and Hendrix used this as his stage name as well.
It was only after Hendrix arrived in London in 1966 to try and make it big that his name eventually changed to Jimi. His manager, Chas Chandler, suggested that he change the spelling of his name to Jimi to sound more exotic.
Jimi has his own game
In 2008, Hendrix made his video game debut appearing in Activision’s Guitar Hero World Tour. In the game, he is a playable character with some of his greatest hits available to play with ‘Purple Haze’ and ‘The Winds Cries Mary’ being the songs available in the base game.
Alongside his appearance in Guitar Hero World Tour, Jimi Hendrix actually got his own online slot. As part of the celebrations for NetEnt’s 20th birthday, the developer studio linked up with Universal Records to create three games as part of the NetEnt Rocks series.
Once NetEnt obtained the licence for Guns N’ Roses, Motörhead and Jimi Hendrix, the series was created. The Jimi Hendrix Slot is a trippy experience that is an ode to Hendrix’s time at Woodstock and when flower power was all that mattered. It seems that NetEnt truly wanted to honour the late musician and deliver a game that truly embraced all that he was.
Jimi was kicked out of a bar in Liverpool
Whilst it may not seem overly shocking that the ‘Purple Haze’ singer was kicked out of a bar, the reasoning behind it all is definitely surprising. During his time living in England, Hendrix tried to enter a bar in Liverpool but was refused service.
Once hearing this, people immediately think he was kicked out either because of his rock n roll status or because of his race as 1960s England was not the most welcoming for non-white people. Amazingly, this was not the reason why Hendrix got refused as the real motivation is much funnier.
In Charles R. Cross’ Room Full of Mirrors, a credited Hendrix biography book, the musician was refused service because he was dressed as a clown. The circus was in town and the pub’s policy was to ban all clowns in costume. Ultimately, the bartender thought Hendrix was a clown and kicked him out.
Jimi was the highest-paid performer at Woodstock
There are many epic performances throughout history. Queen’s Live Aid performance at Wembley Stadium in 1985, Johnny Cash at Folsom State Prison in 1968 and Elvis Presley on the Milton Berle Show in 1956 are just a few iconic moments in history.
Jimi Hendrix had many grand performances throughout his life, but the most prominent one was his performance at Woodstock in 1969. The build-up to the performance was tumultuous with technical difficulties, weather troubles and issues with the temporary band as Hendrix’s band, The Jimi Hendrix Experience, had just broken up.
Despite all of this, Hendrix delivered a mighty performance that lasted nearly two hours performing a multitude of songs including his own unique rendition of the US national anthem. Whilst many artists performed at Woodstock, such as The Who and Janis Joplin, Hendrix was the highest-paid performer with a whopping $18,000 which would equate to roughly $125,000 today.
Jimi is part of the 27 Club
On paper, the 27 Club sounds like a really cool group that everyone would want to be a part of – but it’s actually something a lot more depressing. The 27 Club is a term given to famous musicians and artists who sadly passed away at the young age of 27.
Kurt Cobain, Jim Morrison, Janis Joplin and Amy Winehouse are all talented musicians who died at 27. Jimi Hendrix is part of this tragic club as he died at the age of 27 in the prime of his career.
According to the coroner, his death was listed as inhalation of vomit due to barbiturate intoxication. Despite this, there have been many conspiracy theories surrounding his death from murder to suicide. What is clear is that Hendrix died far too young along with everyone else in the ill-fated 27 Club.