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Sunday, December 1, 2013

HENDRIX


What an amazing career this man; Jimi Hendrix had. He is easily described as extravagant, loud, exuberant, original, blazingly hot and brilliant to genius levels. The recordings and stage performances are legend. “Electric Ladyland” to Woodstock; “Band of Gypsies” to Monterey are recordings and concerts of note. Hendrix was always innovative, unusual and continually pushing farther and farther to the extremes of his craft and art. It was the electric guitar that he transformed into a thing miraculous as he kept the other great players of his time in awe. Hendrix led and ruled in the age of the “Guitar Gods!” He is by consensus number one among them. When the words “The greatest guitarist of all time…” are spoken or written they are usually followed by his name: Jimi Hendrix.

In honesty I was not immediately a fan of Hendrix or his music. He was rarely heard on the radio or seen on television. Photographic images were almost non-existent and he was in many ways an elusive rumor.  The main stream media in both print and broadcast video had chosen to ignore the man. How could they fit this extraordinary, reckless Black American fronting a group featuring only himself and two White Englishmen into a format? Dick Cavett was the first and one of the few, to give Hendrix a national forum. Hendrix appeared on Cavett’s popular late-night talk show and was surprisingly reserved and modest. I missed seeing the original broad cast.    

There was talk about Hendrix around my High School and there were those that were fans. The Hendrix fans were all devoted and spoke about Hendrix with a sort of religious fervor.  There was also a lot of talk about a new movie “Easy Rider.” There was an equal excitement about the film and it was essential viewing for just about everyone I knew; including teachers.  Some of the Hendrix devotees were sitting in the row just in front me at my first viewing of “Easy  Rider.”  From the opening minutes of the film the score was impressive as every element was spell binding and very dangerous. About a quarter into the film a song began that was like nothing I had ever heard before. I was capture from the first beat and it was somehow the perfect fit for the mood and tone of this radical thing we were engrossed in.  The lyrics began and the rapture was total and complete:       

If the sun refused to shine
I don’t mind
I don’t mind
If the mountains
fell in the sea
let it be
it ain’t me
Got my own world to live through
and I ain’t gonna copy you.

The lyrics went on; totally lost “in this spell” my life was being changed for the moment and forever. The lyrics continued and then concluded with:

Fall mountains
just don’t fall on me
point on Mr. Business man
you can’t dress like me.
I’m the one that’s gotta die
when it’s time for me to die
so let me live my life
the way I want to 

As the song ended; somewhat abruptly, the audience with that eerie but beautiful silence that lets you know everyone has had something of the same shared experience. One of the guys in front me turned around and simply said; “that’s Hendrix.”

It was the sound track of Dennis Hopper’s “Easy Rider” that brought me on board with “The Jimi Hendrix Experience.” I have never looked back as that addictive alchemy of the music he created continues to this day. Hendrix was to die young; his song “If 6 Was 9,” something prophetic, lives on, influencing new generations as it continues to capture unsuspecting hearts.



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