Jimi Hendrix: 10 Major Accomplishments
Jimi Hendrix (1942-1970) was one of America’s finest and most electrifying performers of the 20th century. With his albums and songs topping the US and UK charts throughout the 1960s, the renowned singer, songwriter and guitarist dazzled the world with his breath taking on stage presence and innovative sound, which blended rock, blues and jazz. In his brief music career, which spanned for about five years, the left-handed guitar playing genius released top hits after hits, including his first single “Hey, Joe” , “All Along the Watchtower”, and “Purple Haze”. To this day, his unique and captivating style continue to shape the world of music and pop culture.
Fast Facts: Jimi Hendrix
Full name: Johnny Allen Hendrix (later named James Marshall Hendrix)
Birth date: November 27, 1942
Birth place: Seattle, Washington, U.S.
Death date: September 18, 1970
Place of Death: London, England
Cause of Death: Most likely a drug overdose
Mother: Lucille Jeter
Father: James Allen Ross Hendrix
Siblings: Joseph, Leon, Pamela, Kathy
Education: Horace Mann Elementary School, Seattle; Washington Junior High School; Garfield High School (dropped out before graduation)
Influences: Elvis Presley, Chuck Berry, Little Richard, B.B. King, Bob Wills
Influenced: Ernie Isley, Uli Jon Roth, Halsey, Run-D.M.C., Aerosmith’s Brad Whitford, Kiss’s Ace Frehley, Kirk Hammett from Metallica
Most Known For: Astounding guitar playing skills; the single “Hey Joe”, Albums – Are You Experienced and Electric Ladyland and Axis: Bold as Love
Achievements of Jimi Hendrix
Here is a look at the 10 major accomplishments of Jimi Hendrix, one of the greatest performers and guitarists of all time.
Turned around his troubling childhood
Jimi Hendrix was not born with a silver spoon. Things were stacked up against him right from his childhood. He grew up moving from one home to another, from one relative and acquaintance to another. At a young age, his mother – Lucille Jeter, aged 33, – died in 1958 of cirrhosis of the liver.
Young Jimi used music to deal with the issues in his broken family. In music, Jimi could simply silence all the erratic noise that was brewing around him.
Some amount of credit goes to his father as well for encouraging him to pursue his passion. Noticing Jimi constantly strummed his cleaning broom like a guitar, his father decided to get him a second-hand ukulele that had one string. From then onward Jimi single handily taught himself to play the instrument and went on to step into his greatness! And the rest they say is history!
Co-founded the King Kasuals
After briefly rolling with the Midnighters, Jimi Hendrix went on to join his first band called the Velvetones. Sadly, his abilities were not fully displayed as he was without his electric guitar. With support from his father, he was able to get himself a Supro Ozark guitar. After brief spells with a local band in Seattle, Jimi Hendrix became a member of the Rocking Kings.
Owing to a few late teenage delinquencies, Hendrix had to enlist in the U.S. Army in May, 1961. Completely irritated by the environment, his wishes came to pass as he was honorably discharged in 1962. He and his fellow serviceman Billy Cox went on to form a band called the King Kasuals in Tennessee. Looking for greater challenge, he left the band in mid-winter of 1964 and joined the I.B. Specials, a secondary band of the Isley Brothers.
Leveraged his left-handedness to produce a unique style and sound
Being a left-handed guitarist, Jimi Hendrix used that to a great effect. With many musical instruments produced for the right-handed masses, young Jimi began playing the guitar by flipping it upside down. He got his first acoustic guitar around the age of 16.
His passion for the guitar knew no bounds. He also had the privilege of jamming with the likes of Sammy Drain and guitarist Billy Davis. The later was the one who linked him up with the Hank Ballad & the Midnighters.
Historians believe that his unique style was somehow enhanced because of how he used his left-hand on the guitar. The way Jimi Hendrix played the guitar was as if his hands and the guitar strings didn’t make contact. He was an absolutely brilliant performer who rightly deserves to be in there among the greatest guitarists (if not the greatest) of all time.
He co-founded the Jimi Hendrix Experience
After brief associations with Little Richard and the band Curtis Knight and the Squires, Jimi Hendrix formed a band called Jimmy James and the Blue Fames in New York in 1966. His time in this band had huge impact on him and his playing style.
That same year, he was introduced to bassist Chas Chandler by Linda Keith, girlfriend of guitarist Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones. Chandler was just exiting the British band the Animals and wanted to manage and direct artistes.
Chandler took Hendrix to London, where he added bass guitarist Noel Redding and drummer Mitch Mitchell to Hendrix’s new band – the Jimi Hendrix Experience. The first show of the band came in October 1966 at Novelty in Evreux. Shortly after, Kit Lambert and Chris Stamp – signed the band to Track Records.
Soared to fame with “Hey Joe”
The Jimi Hendrix Experience went on to revolutionize the rock and roll genre with their first song “Hey Joe”. Recorded in October, “Hey Joe” innovatively mixed rock and blues. Members from top British rock bands (such as the Beatles, the Rolling Stones and Eric Clapton) all had huge admiration of Jimi Hendrix and guitar playing skills. Released on December 16, 1966, “Hey Joe” placed very high on several charts across Europe. In Britain, the single was an absolute rock smash, coming in at number six on the charts.
Released in March 1967, “Purple Haze” – a second single from the band – reached number three on the UK charts. The band’s rock ballad “The Wind Cries Mary” performed very well, staying on the charts in the UK for close three months.
Jimi Hendrix’s Are You Experienced album was a huge hit
The Jimi Hendrix Experience’s fame continued to soar throughout 1967. Released in the UK on May 12, 1967, the first album – Are You Experience – deployed diverse styles that incorporated blues and R&B. Hendrix and his band members’ hard work paid off as the album stayed 33 weeks on the charts; it reached number two in the UK, just behind Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band from the Beatles.
The album’s release in the US, which was on August 23, 1967, helped Hendrix chalk even more fame. The music album – which had hits like “Red House”, “Highway Chile”, and “Remember” – climbed to number five on the Billboard 200.
And even after more than half a century, the album continues to electrify listeners. In 2005, it was ranked by Rolling Stone as the 15th greatest album of all time.
One of the best stage performers of all time
There are very few musicians, living and alive, that can hold a candle to Jimi Hendrix in terms of on stage performance. According to the Rolling Stone, Jimi Hendrix was the best performing artist of in 1968.
His energy when performing was always off the charts. For example, during the Are You Experienced? Tour in 1967, his performance was none like ever seen before. It was nothing short of captivating, and the manner in which he handled the guitar strings was simply outrageous.
Across the Atlantic, in the U.S., Jimi Hendrix gave a performance of a life time at the Monterey Pop Festival, which was held in June 1967. At the end of the show, he lit his guitar on fire in front of packed and ecstatic audience. The legend Jimi Hendrix was born!
And who could forget his brilliant performance at Woodstock in 1969 as he played “The Star-Spangled” (the US anthem) during the Woodstock Music Festival in 1969? Historians over the years have described that particular performance as one of the best of the 20th century.
His second and third albums were very successful
Just like the Monterey Festival in U.S. in 1967, Jimi Hendrix released a mind blowing second album that shot to the top of the charts upon its release. The album was called Axis: Bold as Love (1967). His song writing ability was on display during the making of the album. He purposely used a lot of psychedelic art on the cover of the album – to show his the American Indian roots. In the UK, the album was released on December 1, 1967, peaking at number five on the charts. It stayed on the charts for 16 weeks. In the US, Axis clocked the number three position on the charts in February 1968.
Following in the successes of the second album, the third album – Electric Ladyland – had hits such as “All Along the Watchtower” (written by Bob Dylan). The Electric Ladyland was released on October 25, 1968. It attained number one in the US and number six in the UK. Aside from being his only number one album, it was Hendrix’s most commercially successful work. With this came increased fame and fortune. At the time, he was considered the highest-paid rock artist in the world.
His unique electric guitar playing style
With influences such as Elvis Presley, Chuck Berry, and B.B. King, Jimi Hendrix set about to carve his own unique style of music by blending rock and roll and electric blues. He used amplifiers that had high volume and gain to wow his audience, leaving them with tone-altering effects units in rock.
He was arguably the first rock artiste to have advanced fuzz distortion and the wah-wah technique. A number of his songs also injected stereiophonic phasing effects. All of the above allowed him to take complete control of the stage when performing. This is probably the reason why Guitar World in 2011 picked Jim Hendrix’s “The Star-Spangled Banner” performance at Woodstock in 1969 as the greatest performance of all time.
Other honorable accomplishments of Jimi Hendrix:
- Jimi Hendrix left an indelible mark on rock music. Remains a true rock and roll legend.
- He was Pop Musician of the Year in 1967, according to Melody Maker
- Received the Keys to the City of Seattle in 1968
- In 1969, Disc and Music Echo magazine awarded him the World Top Musician of 1969
- Jimi Hendrix’s most successful band – the Jimi Hendrix Experience – was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1992
- UK Music Hall of Fame in 2005
- Often features prominently on top of the list of greatest guitarists of all time
- All three albums of the Jimi Hendrix Experience made it into the 500 Greatest Albums of all time, according to Rolling Stone
- Posthumously earned a star (at 6627 Hollywood Boulevard) on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on November 14, 1991
- In recognition to his Native American roots and his brilliant talent, Jimi Hendrix was inducted into the Native American Music Hall of Fame in 1998
- Are You Experienced? in 2005 made its way into the US National Recording Registry in the Library of Congress
- Hendrix was posthumously awarded the Lifetime Achievement Awards and several Grammys (two in 2006 for Are You Experiencedand Electric Ladyland and Axis: Bold as Love)
- His face was on the US Postal Service commemorative postage stamp in 2014