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Remembering Hendrix On His 70th Birthday

Jimi Hendrix
(Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

James Marshall Hendrix (born Johnny Allen Hendrix) was born in a Seattle hospital 70 years ago today. From a poor child who carried a broom around with him everywhere he went to imitate the guitar his family couldn’t afford, to arguably the greatest electric guitar player ever who died at 27. It’s a history filled with “what ifs”.

What if he had never gotten that cheap guitar at age 15 (yes, do the math, that means he only played guitar a total of about a dozen years.) What if he decided the military was his calling (his father was a military man and Jimi was given the option of either enlisting for two years or spending that time behind bars when he was caught numerous times in stolen cars) Or my biggest what if: what if he had lived. What if Jimi Hendrix had decided he didn’t like drugs and alcohol and instead became addicted to music?

By the time I had even heard of Jimi Hendrix, he was already gone. He died September 18, 1970. I was seven years old. It would be another few years before the older brother of a friend played a Jimi record while I was over at their house, and another two or three years before I realized I liked it.

By the time I was in my mid teens, I started to realize the genius of Jimi. I started readng stories, old interviews, and listening to everything I could get my hands on. I read about the blues men that influenced him, which led me to check out the Muddy Waters’, Buddy Guy’s, and Howlin’ Wolf’s of the world. It’s what led me to Stevie Ray Vaughan who among MANY others, were directly influenced by Jimi. Yeah, Jimi opened my eyes to a genre of music that previously I didn’t know existed, while Stevie Ray made me LOVE the Blues.

Unfortunately I wasn’t born with natural music ability, but I realized how important music is to me so in a way, Jimi is partly responsible for my career. Because of my friends older brothers playing Jimi Hendrix, Aerosmith, Cream, The Doors, Led Zeppelin and so many others when I was 11, 12, 13 years old, made my music tastes change from the pop stuff out at the time and to a legendary Minneapolis radio station, KQRS. That’s the station I grew up listening to and wanting to be on and ultimately, partially emulate with B102.7. Jimi influenced thousands and thousands of musicians…and at least one radio DJ named Crash.

A number of posthumous releases from Hendrix’ brief, yet brilliant career, with another one planned for 2013.

Jimi talks about learning to play the guitar:

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