Jimi Hendrix is remembered as much for the aura of mystery that surrounds his “Electric Gypsy” character as he is for his music and legendary guitar-playing. Most biographies, which sanctify Hendrix’ abilities on the guitar and his unprecedented rock and roll performance styles, fail to encompass Hendrix as a black man with opinions and feelings informed by the plight of black Americans during the 1960s.This analysis — like Hendrix himself — is multifaceted. Different interpretations of his music are considered, as the art and personal life of an artist are often inseparable. Because he was a pop culture icon during a time when contemporary media coverage of pop culture was burgeoning, there are many first-hand accounts from Hendrix that are available online and in print. It is most enlightening to hear what Hendrix has to say about his identity in his own word. However, it was uncommon of him to comment on the political and racial climate of the day. Hendrix personal and projected construction of self and society may well be hidden in these silences.
During Jimi Hendrix’s lifetime, he was able to take his childhood experiences and integrate them into the 1960s and 1970s music scenes creating and bridging new genres that last to this day. This post will give context to the man behind the guitar, evaluate elements often found in his music and political activism, and will analyze mentioned elements some of Jimi Hendrix’s most popular songs.