Anniversary‌ ‌Jimi‌ ‌Hendrix’‌ ‌death‌ ‌is‌ ‌reminder‌ ‌of‌ ‌his‌ ‌long-standing‌ ‌musical‌ ‌influence‌ ‌

Jimi Hendrix plays his white Fender Stratocaster during a live show on television in 1967.

Photo courtesy Quotes of Famous People used with permission from Google Commons

Jimi Hendrix plays his white Fender Stratocaster during a live show on television in 1967.

Jimi Hendrix was the pioneering figure who transformed the music industry in the late 1960s. From his charismatic and glamorous image that defined the ‘hippie’ movement of the time, to his shocking and unforgettable live performances, Hendrix became an icon of music. 

His band, the Jimi Hendrix Experience, released three timeless records, consisting of “Are You Experienced?”, “Axis: Bold as Love” and “Electric Ladyland”. The trio, initially consisting of Hendrix, bass player Noel Redding and drummer Mitch Mitchell, became infamous thanks to the success of early hits such as “Purple Haze”, “Hey Joe” and “Little Wing”. 

The transcendent nature of the aforementioned songs entranced listeners with immaculate melodies and guitar solos that remain classic rock essentials. Furthermore, the music of the Jimi Hendrix Experience contained effects and production styles that are sure to make one question how a human being was capable of such absurd musical feats. For instance, the reversed guitar solo on “Castles Made of Sand” stacks on top of a gorgeous guitar riff that opens the track. 

The later work of the band also is tremendously influential. The cover of Bob Dylan’s “All Along the Watchtower” features the quintessential Hendrix guitar solo, on top of a mood-setting acoustic guitar intro. The band’s rendition took an emblem of folk music and reconstructed it into a masterpiece of their own. 

Hendrix’s live performances with the group also remain idolizing symbols of rock music’s history. Most notably, his performance of the Star Spangled Banner at the Woodstock music festival in 1969 was an astonishing moment that defined an era of not only music, but the cultural shift at the time as well. In the performance, he captured the noises of war through his heavily distorted guitar. “In between the machine-gun fire, bombs dropping, smoke billowing from napalm blazes, and a wrenching undercurrent that evoked the agonizing polarity which tore our country apart and destroyed Vietnam, Hendrix treated the song with surprising reverence,” Wayne Pernu said in an article about the historic occasion. 

Not only this, but at the Monterey Pop Festival of 1967, directly after performing a cover of the song “Wild Thing”, Hendrix lit his guitar on fire and proceeded to smash it on stage. It was instances such as these that left audiences in a jaw-dropped and dazed state. 

Interestingly enough, mere days after the release of the album “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band”, members of the Beatles attended a Jimi Hendrix Experience show, where to their surprise, the band covered the title track from the record. This became a live show staple on a few other occasions as well. 

Hendrix’s omnipotence in the musical scene led to him becoming associated with arguably the most popular guitar ever produced, the Fender Stratocaster. The counter-cultural phenomenon he headlined fueled his ascendancy to the status of rock and roll zeitgeist, while his technique and style led the way for the guitar based music of decades to come. Simply put, music was never the same once he swept the industry off its feet.