Happy 70th Birthday to Jimi Hendrix, The Greatest Guitarist of All Time
One of the most well-known photos of the classic rock era features Hendrix kneeling over is guitar as he set it on fire at the close of his explosive performance, which is also considered by many fans and rock critics alike as one of the most historic live experiences in the history of rock. From that moment to his untimely death on September, 18, 1970 at the age of 27, Hendrix created a discography of albums, containing at least a dozen original singles and cover songs that are still considered among some of the best recordings not just of the classic rock era, but of all time.
Guitar rock was enormously influenced by Hendrix’s stunning abilities and unique techniques, not to mention the fact that he practically invented the guitar solo. On stage at Monterey Pop, Hendrix did amazing, highly difficult moves and techniques (and impeccably) that no one had ever seen before, covering the spectrum from turning the guitar into a wailing elephant to blazing fast solos, leaving those in attendance stunned and thrilled. No doubt some of those in attendance knew they were witnessing rock history – that’s how off the charts Hendrix’s performance was.
Hendrix perfected techniques such as feedback from amps, in which he pushed the barriers of conventional form by setting the volume as high as he could, as well as the treble, sustain and gain settings, and pioneered the use of stereophonic phasing in which he spent hours upon hours experimenting with sounds and recording effects. Hendrix also popularized the use of the wah-wah pedal, creating blazing guitar solos that could not be mistaken for any other guitarist at the time. Plus, psychedelic rock, which many talented bands still play to this day (i.e. Tame Impala), was largely popularized by Hendrix.
There hasn’t been another guitarist since Hendrix that could play the way he did, and as good as he did, even though his solo career only last four short years. No other guitarist has ever been awarded Performer of the Year by Rolling Stone magazine twice (1967 and 1968). In such a short period of time, Hendrix left us with a treasure trove of classic rock songs that don’t seem to age in comparison to our rapidly modernizing world.
Since his tragic death, a wealth of previously unreleased material from Hendrix has been released, solidifying his throne as rock’s greatest guitarist. Hendrix was so talented that he was admired, respected, and even envied, by many of rock’s top guitarists at the time, and to this day. Who knows how many guitarists, and other musicians, were solely influenced by Hendrix to pick up a guitar and give their blood, sweat and tears to play a fraction as good as he did. Hendrix, even in death and all these decades later, remains the God of Electric Guitar. It’s hard to see that anyone could ever dethrone him.