What Is Jimi Hendrix Most Remembered For?
Jimi Hendrix's appearance in the Dick Cavett Show - Jimi Hendrix / Youtube
No doubt, the name Jimi Hendrix is synonymous with the electric guitar for eternity. His electrified stage presence, paired with intricate compositions and songs, became a trademark of Hendrix’s brief yet bright career. But what accomplishments by the “greatest instrumentalist” made a mark in musical culture? Let us revisit the most memorable periods and moments of Jimi Hendrix’s successful career.
Dropping Out From the US Army
Due to multiple occasions of being apprehended by law enforcers, Hendrix was given the choice to either join the Army or a life behind bars. He chose the former, but eventually learned of the hard life in the barracks. He wrote to his father about his dismal experience and requested for his guitar to be sent to him. This apparently led to negligence of duties, and was hidden by his peers until he begged for its return. He played with a rag-tag band inside the camp to continue his interest in music.
Althought Hendrix completed his paratrooper training satisfactorily, his behavior began to cause problems with the superiors. He was eventually given an honorable dismissal due to unsuitability down the line. If ever Hendrix did continue to serve the Army, the rock industry might be a bit different from what it is right now.
Unique Playstyle and Tonal quality
Hendrix’s penchant for overdriven amps and high-gain setups came with recognition of his talent. He was by far not the perfect, technical guitarist, yet instead of hiding in the blaring distortion of his gear, Hendrix reveled in the imperfections of his playing, and his tastefully tone surfaces effortlessly as a result. Jimi is also one of the most well-known left handed players of all time, with his conventional Stratocaster upside-down and strung for lefties.
Hendrix’s self-taught background also made him quite a hard fellow to decode, with unconventional chord shapes that made spectators confused while watching his fretboard. Eric Clapton once said he gave up eyeing his fretting hand, and closed his eyes to listen for the notes instead.
It has been said that while one can listen to other guitarists’ work for over a minute, and the artist and intention would instantly be recognizable. It didn’t work that way for Jimi. His playing demanded the listener to complete the whole track to realize and appreciate his uniqueness. This is what set him apart from his equally talented contemporaries.
Jimi is often noted for his bizarre stage stunts during live performances, playing the guitar behind his head, between his legs, and even with his teeth! This led on to more fans craving for these rarities in live shows. This was topped by Hendrix’s Monterey International Pop Festival performance in June 1967, where the iconic moment of Hendrix dousing his Strat with lighter fluid, and then proceeded to light it on fire. The iconic shot of Hendrix kneeling with his palms to the sky, over the burning guitar became one of the most known representations of the rocker.
Outstanding Compositions and Adaptations
Hendrix is most known for the tracks “Purple Haze“, “The Wind Cries Mary“, and “Little Wing“, among other greats. A myriad of hits from blues-inspired tracks, to psychedelic masterpieces, comprises Hendrix’s extensive catalog. Hendrix has also covered work of other artists like Bob Dylan and Chuck Berry, which garnered even more attention than the original artist. This successful track curation and release allowed Hendrix to cover a lot of ground during his brief career.
Hippie Icon and Woodstock ’69 Appearance
Jimi Hendrix headlining Woodstock 69 became a monumental moment in musical history. Considered as the world’s most expensive act at the time, it was a great honor for a musician of such calibre to perform on stage to a massive crowd of over 300,000. Hendrix didn’t like performing over large crowds, and luckily, the number shrank to about 40,000 people who stuck to watch his performance. The memorable performance of Star-Spangled Banner, with a heavily distorted twist, becoming an iconic number for years to come. Hendrix making the peace sign completed the goal of the festival’s peace and love theme.