Legacy RecordingsHad he lived, Jimi Hendrix would have celebrated his 70th birthday on Tuesday, November 27. The legendary musician, of course, single-handedly revolutionized the electric guitar during the late 1960s. His incredibly inventive and dexterous playing, mixed with his experimentation with effects, charismatic stage persona and flamboyant style helped make Hendrix one of the most revered and influential rock artists of all time.
Jimi only released three studio albums while he was alive, but those records continue to inspire and challenge listeners and musicians to this day. Sadly, he was just 27 years old when he asphyxiated on his own vomit and **** in September 1970.
In conjunction with Hendrix's milestone birthday, a wide variety of artists are sharing their recollections of the guitar virtuoso and/or talking about what he and his music means to them.
The Who's Pete Townshend was a label mate of Hendrix, and his band famously hit the stage at the Monterey Pop festival before the guitarist's landmark performance at the 1967 event. At a recent Q&A event at the New York Public Library, Townshend recalled Hendrix's prowess as a performer.
"It's OK to hear the records but, God, this guy in the flesh was just something," says Pete. "He was from another planet. He had the skills of a shaman…He seemed to be able to come alive and create light and color."
The Doors' Robby Krieger, meanwhile, tells ABC News Radio that Hendrix was his guitar idol. "[I] definitely thought he was the best," he says. "I think he's the best ever at singing and playing a guitar at the same time…The stuff he does while he's singing just blew me away."
Before Jimi's debut album with The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Are You Experienced?, hit stores, the guitar whiz actually opened up for The Monkees during one of the pop-rock group's tours. Singer Micky Dolenz remembers that while he and his band mates were amazed by Hendrix's performances, The Monkees' teenage and pre-teen fans were less impressed.
"Our fans, at that time, were 12, 14 years old and we were in the wings, of course, watching Jimi play just in awe," he tells ABC News Radio. "It was obvious that we were watching a force of nature, but [singing] "Purple Haze" [and the crowd would yell] 'We want Davy! We want The Monkees!'…So, I don't blame him for getting fed up."
A number of other famed rockers also chatted with ABC News Radio about Hendrix. Here is what they had to say:
ZZ Top's Billy Gibbons: "Here was a guy that took his favorite guitar, the Fender Stratocaster, and was figuring out ways to do things that had never been done before. It was a remarkable period, which he brought forth. Thankfully, his recordings live on, and his memory is just as fresh and vital today as it seems like it ever was."
Peter Frampton: "He, in his way, reinvented the guitar. He made it more into a gymnasium…and just put the notes in different places…And, as inspirational as Eric [Clapton] has been to us all, Jimi, in a slightly different way, was too, and still is."
Allman Brothers Band guitarist Warren Haynes: "I don't like…saying who's the greatest guitar player, because it's not about that, but when they do these [lists] and put Jimi at the top, I don't know anybody that could argue with that…He changed [music] for the better and when you listen to what he did and how he went about it, it was so groundbreaking and refreshing."
Neil Young & Crazy Horse guitarist Poncho Sampedro: "I could say my number-one favorite band is Jimi Hendrix, and number-two is Jimi Hendrix and number-three is Jimi Hendrix…When you listen to his music…if you really start breaking down the lines and all that…he really wasn't playing things that were that difficult. But, all in all, just his sound, his moves, his lyrics…his whole thing was really something special. And when you put it all together, no one's come close to it yet."
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio