The Jimi Hendrix Experience

Artist History

Family Life

Jimi Hendrix was born on November 27th, 1942, at the King County Hospital in Seattle, Washington. Originally named Johnny Allen Hendrix, Jimi’s father (James Al Hendrix), changed his name to James Marshall Hendrix and nicknamed him “Jimmy” shortly after his birth. Jimi has two brothers, Leon and Joseph, and his mother left Al to raise them after they were born.

Jimi’s father gave him a one-stringed ukelele to play after catching him strumming their broom as a child, pretending to play guitar. Later on, when Jimi was around 16 years old, Al bought him his first acoustic guitar. A year later, Al bought Jimi his first electric guitar, a Supro Ozark 1560S.

Jimi taught himself to play guitar without ever learning to read or write music. He was a fan of blues, jazz, and rock music, which inspired him to learn how to play, along with his father’s encouragement. A few months after he was gifted his electric guitar, he joined his first band, The Velvetones, then The Rocking Kings shortly after. When he was 18, Jimi joined the military but was discharged after a few years due to an injury.


  • Jimi Hendrix was inspired by many major artists of the 50’s and 60’s at the time with a heavy focus on blues, rock, and jazz music.
  • When he was a child, he was specifically interested in rock artists Chuck Berry and Little Richard, as well as electric blues artists Muddy Waters , B.B King, and Elmore James.
  • During his time in the military, Jimi played his guitar with his fellow serviceman, Billy Cox, who played bass. According to Cox, they were greatly inspired by Jimmy Reed and Albert King, listening to them frequently.
  • Hendrix also drew inspiration from Howlin’ Wolf and went on to play his song “Killing Floor” at the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967.


As he experimented more with the guitar, Jimi Hendrix favored a fuzzy and gritty sound when it came to the guitar. He was a fan of gain, distortion, and feedback, effects that were previously deemed undesirable by mainstream guitarists. He popularized the sound through his ability to control and create fluidity with the “wild” effects he used. He also rebelled from standard guitar playing by rejecting the typical fretting style and playing piano style which is when a guitarist uses the thumb to play what a pianist would with their left hand, and the rest of their fingers to play the melody. This playing style allowed him to play rhythm chords and lead lines at the same time. Jimi is known to have the greatest influence on psychedelic rock music but has had an impact on many other genres, including funk and hip-hop.  Hendrix influenced many guitarists with his sound, such as David Bowie, Nile Rodgers, Lenny Kravitz, and Freddie Mercury.  He’s known for his unique guitar style and his synthesis of the genres he was inspired by (namely blues and rock music).

Professional Career

In his early career, Jimi Hendrix played with small bands while honing his skills as a guitarist and quickly developing his own playing style. His first band was The Velvetones, which he joined around 1958 before acquiring his first electric guitar. He left the band after roughly three months and went on to join The Rocking Kings about a year later when his father gave him his Ozark. These bands were not well-established, but mark the beginning of Hendrix’s journey as a musician.


After his discharge from the army, Jimi became a session guitarist and played for many popular artists at the time, including one of his inspirations, Little Richard. He later abandoned his role as a back-line guitarist to create his own band, Jimmy James and the Blue Flames. He played small venues with his band in New York before being noticed by Chas Chandler, who signed Jimi to become his manager and had him move to London, where he formed The Jimi Hendrix Experience. The name change from Jimmy James to Jimi Hendrix came when Jimi’s manager urged him to make the switch.


The Jimi Hendrix Experience became very popular in London with their chart-topping single “Hey Joe” along with their album “Are You Experienced?” which had multiple hits, the most famous among them being “Purple Haze.” Jimi’s fame skyrocketed after his performance of “Wild Thing” at the Monterey Pop Festival when he returned to the U.S. in 1967. The band’s fame rose greatly as well, but this success is the very thing that caused it to disband, as they couldn’t handle the excessive touring.


In 1968, Jimi Hendrix built Electric Lady Studios, where he recorded and released his last solo album, “Electric Ladyland.” In 1970, he brought back his old band member and drummer, Mitch Mitchell, and bassist Billy Cox to record the LP set titled “First Rays of the New Rising Sun.” Unfortunately, Jimi was not able to see the rebirth of The Jimi Hendrix Experience all the way through due to his passing that same year.


  • Melody Maker Pop Musician of the Year (1967)
  • Rolling Stone Performer of the Year (1968)
  • Guitar Player Magazine Rock Guitarist of the Year (1970)
  • Rolling Stone Greatest  Guitarist of All Time
  • Hollywood Walk of Fame Star (1991)
  • Lifetime Achievement Award (1992)
  • Rock & Roll Hall of Fame (1992)
  • Grammy for Are You Experienced (1999)
  • Grammy for Electric Ladyland (1999)
  • UK Music Hall of Fame (2005)
  • Seattle Memorial Statue
  • Jimi Hendrix Park (2006)
  • Grammy for Axis: Bold as Love (2006)

Are You Experienced


Axis: Bold as Love

Electric Ladyland


  • “Jimi Hendrix Biography.” The Official Jimi Hendrix Site, 22 Jan. 2016,

  •, A&E Networks Television,

  • “Jimi Hendrix.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 28 Apr. 2023,

  • Murray, Charles Shaar. “Jimi Hendrix”. Encyclopedia Britannica, 23 Nov. 2022, Accessed 8 March 2023.
  • Waksman, Steve. “Black Sound, Black Body: Jimi Hendrix, the Electric Guitar, and the Meanings of Blackness.” Popular Music and Society, vol. 23, no. 1, 1999, pp. 75-113. ProQuest,
  • Clague, Mark. “‘This Is America’: Jimi Hendrix’s Star Spangled Banner Journey as Psychedelic Citizenship.” Journal of the Society for American Music, vol. 8, no. 4, 2014, pp. 435–478., doi:10.1017/S1752196314000364.

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