Remembering Jimi Hendrix, 47 Years On

The late, great Jimi Hendrix died 47 years ago today, but his legacy has never faded.


Jimi Hendrix was the kind of musician whose love for his craft outshone even his virtuosic skill.

His passion endowed everything he created with a kind of transcendent fire, and even now—nearly half a century after his death—you can still hear that ecstasy coming through each note of every one of his recordings.

James Marshall Hendrix died of asphyxia on September 18, 1970, after a whirlwind four-year career that would imprint him on music's legacy forever. He spoke frequently about the extent of his love for his craft, giving new meaning to musicianship and inspiring artists everywhere to pick up the guitar.

He was a major inspiration to guitarists like Elton John, Santana, Joe Satriani, and Orianthi. Freddie Mercury called Hendrix his idol, saying, "He sort of epitomizes, from his presentation on stage, the whole works of a rock star. There's no way you can compare him. You either have the magic or you don't. There's no way you can work up to it. There's nobody who can take his place."

Hendrix also made waves as a protest musician, giving voice to the rage and optimism that defined the 1970s. Perhaps most famously, his cover of "The Star-Spangled Banner" was powerful Vietnam protest and a cry of rage at the state of the nation, as well as a tribute to an America that never existed.

Jimi Hendrix - National Anthem U.S.A (Woodstock 1969)

He had a tremendous amount of wisdom to give, too, and he knew how to bridge the gap between humility and liberation, between sadness and joy, between love and independence. "Don't be reckless with other people's hearts. Don't put up with people who are reckless with yours," he once advised.

His style was iconic, emblematic of the counterculture movement's best aesthetics.

He was also an incredible lyricist. His songs were about love, but they were also about pain, religion, and the passage of time; they bridged the gap between bone-deep weariness and hope. As he once said, "Imagination is the key to my lyrics. The rest is painted with a little science fiction."

Of course, when he started to play the guitar, nothing else compared.

What Makes Jimi Hendrix Such a Good Guitarist


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