Arts & Culture

A Brief History of the Greatest Guitar Player of All Time

By Jacob D. ’25

It is undeniable that everyone has heard the name “Jimi Hendrix” at one point in their lives, whether it was listening to Purple Haze on the radio or parents showing off the records they kept in their bedroom closets. Jimi Hendrix is known throughout the music world to be the greatest guitarist of all time. He was a rather odd guitarist with many unconventional play styles, but he was able to fuse jazz, blues, and soul into his music, creating music ranging from ballads to classic rock. 

John Marshall Hendrix, also known as Jimi Hendrix, was born in Seattle Washington on November 29th, 1942. He taught himself how to play the guitar at the age of 15. There is a myth today that he took his guitar with him everywhere he went. He had his guitar with him when he was asleep, when he went to the bathroom… He took it everywhere. One issue arose: Hendrix was a left-handed guitarist, but left-hand guitars did not exist at the time. This created one of Hendrix’s most iconic symbols: the upside-down guitar. He would take a right-handed guitar, flip it upside down, and restring the guitar. This gave his guitar a unique sound, something that no one had ever heard of before. It also gave the guitar a weird look, since no one had ever seen someone play a guitar upside down.

As Jimi Hendrix played in gigs around the country and the world, he earned admiration from musicians such as the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, and The Who. He moved to London in 1966, forming a trio, the Jimi Hendrix Experience. With this band, he releases his most iconic song “Purple Haze” After releasing these songs, he released his first album Are You Experienced?, which was only second to the Beatles’ album, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. With his music impacting all around the world, he moved back to the U.S. and participated in music festivals and performances around the country.

The Monterey Pop Festival was one of the most iconic Jimi Hendrix performances. He played the guitar with his teeth, used an amp to strum the guitar, played the guitar behind his back, and he even lit the guitar on fire. This was one of the most confusing performances as well. Who would light their guitar on fire? After he lit his guitar on fire, he smashed his guitar on the ground several times and then threw the remains into the crowd. These wild acts on stage swiveled the attention around the world to him. 

Sadly, Jimi Hendrix died asphyxiating on his vomit after taking eighteen times the recommended amount of doses for his sleeping pills. He died at the age of 27, joining the “27 Club,” a large number of talented musicians dying at the age of 27. Even though he died young, his legacy lives on today, with his music being played, learned, and taught all across the world. After all, he is considered the GOAT of the guitar ;).

Categories: Arts & Culture

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