Hard to believe, but it’s true. Yes, Jimi Hendrix would have been seventy years old this year if he had lived.
Jimi was one of three very tragic rock deaths that came in the early 70s, along with Janis Joplin and Jim Morrison, who all died at 27. Although many great guitar players have come along since Jimi first exploded on the scene, his playing still has yet to be surpassed to this day.
It’s no surprise that in the greatest guitar player polls Jimi is still right at the top, and he inspired countless players to practice their ass off to try to be as great as him. While they never got there, they still created great music trying.
Again, Jimi is one of those players who was absolutely what you’d call a singular talent, and guitarists today still can’t catch up to what he laid down well over forty years ago.
Jimi’s playing still holds up very well today, and I have several live albums of his that give me chills. (It’s remarkable to think that he could pull it all off live, and often sound even better than his albums).
It’s also a trip to try and think what it must have been like when he first exploded on the scene and there was nothing like him previously, not to mention back in the days of the civil rights movement here was a brother playing wild guitar when much of the world, especially rock ‘n roll, was still segregated.
When Jimi first came on the scene, the hottest guitarists coming up at the time, like Jeff Beck and Eric Clapton, were totally blown away and felt like quitting, much like Eddie Van Halen blew everyone off the face of the earth at the end of the seventies.
We also recently reported on the passing of Jim Marshall here on TG, the founder of Marshall amps, and Marshall himself once said that Jimi was the company’s biggest booster. (Just listening to Jimi live, even on your small YouTube screen or iPod, you can tell how insanely loud he was playing onstage, and how much power he had under his control).
I once asked my friend Steve Rosen, who was a long time contributor of Guitar World, what were the most insane guitar players he’d ever seen. ”I saw Hendrix at the Forum, and it was the most incredible thing I’d ever seen,” he told me. “I was really young, but I remember the power of it.”
And here it is how many years later, and the power of Jimi hasn’t diminished a bit.