"When I die, I want people to play my music, go wild, and freak out an' do anything they wanna do." - Jimi Hendrix, and indeed we all did! From the 70’s till now, shimmying with Jimi!
Not someone with a very pleasant childhood, he happens to come from a broken home, brought up in Seattle. He was already sharpening his guitar skills in 1961 when a run-in with the law over stolen cars led to a choice: he could either spend two years in prison or join the Army. He was enlisted on May 31, 1961, and was assigned to the 101st Airborne Division, where he was stationed in Fort Campbell, Kentucky.
But how did all this fall through to bring him out of his famous tag of being a ‘habitual offender’ to a rock ‘n’ roll icon? Art is art after all, and Jimi was different. He didn’t want to fit into the frame of being ‘intelligent’ and carrying out those so-called ‘intellectual conversations’, but continue honing his guitar skills, while off duty. This set him apart from the rest of the men, whom he absolutely did not endear with as they just wanted a sweet good night’s sleep. His constant ‘noodling’, so to say was a flaw to the other officers, which made them often say that ‘His mind cannot function while performing duties and thinking about his guitar!’
Although Hendrix had signed up for three years of service, Captain Gilbert Bachman had had enough after one year, and made the case for Hendrix to be discharged, as his problems were judged to not be treatable by ‘hospitalization or counselling.’ An alleged ankle injury during a parachute jump gave Young Hendrix the opportunity to bow out of active duty with an honourable discharge, and he was happy to oblige.
Hendrix might not have been a great fit in the U.S. Army, but the military's loss was rock music's gain, as a few years after his discharge he bombarded the London music scene with his band, the ‘Jimi Hendrix Experience’, unleashing his first hit single, "Hey Joe."
The rest is history, and three years and three landmark albums later, Jimi was dead after an alleged overdose of sleeping pills left him choking on his own vomit - a death that is still partially unexplained even today.
Despite this foul play and his unexplained death, a shimmy with Jimi has been the age-old want and need of the era, and the successive eras to follow. One of the greatest minds with fierce creativity, he was called the ‘Halley’s comet’ of rock music.
It is said that ‘There is a guitar before Hendrix, and a guitar after Hendrix’, which one would you choose?