James Marshall Hendrix, popularly known as Jimi Hendrix, was an American musician, singer, and songwriter born on November 27, 1942. Hendrix is best known as one of the most influential electric guitarists to have ever lived, despite his short-lived mainstream career. He’s one of the most revered and celebrated musicians of the 20th century, which is why he’s worth celebrating on his birthday today!
James Marshall Hendrix
November 27, 1942
September 18, 1970 (age 27)
James Marshall Hendrix, known professionally as Jimi Hendrix, is one of the most iconic musicians of the 20th century. Hendrix was a Sagittarius born in Seattle, Washington. He was of African-American and Irish descent. His father, James Allen Hendrix, was denied military leave at the time of his birth, leading him to miss the first three years of Hendrix’s life. He was honorably discharged in 1945 and saw his son for the first time that year. Hendrix grew up poor as his father was unable to find steady work. He had four younger siblings, three of which his parents gave up to foster care and adoption. His parents divorced when he was nine, and the court granted his father custody of him and his brother Leon. Hendrix attended Horace Mann Elementary school, where he developed a habit of carrying a broom like a guitar. He later received a ukelele from an older woman and learned how to play single notes. He graduated from Washington Junior High School and enrolled at Garfield High School but didn’t graduate.
Hendrix formed his first band, the Velvetones, but with only an acoustic guitar by his side, he could barely be heard — his music getting buried by that of his bandmates. His father bought him a white Supro Ozark, and when that got stolen, he bought him a red Silvertone Danelectro. Hendrix formed another band, the King Kasuals, in Clarksville, Tennessee, which played at local gigs. Simultaneously, Hendrix would play as a backup guitarist for artists like Ike & Tina Turner, and Wilson Pickett. In March 1964, Hendrix made his first recording with the Isley Brothers called ‘Testify.’ The following year, he made his debut television appearance on ‘Night Train,’ a program on Nashville’s Channel 5. Hendrix moved to England in late 1966, where he released three top 10 hits, ‘Hey Joe,’ ‘Purple Haze,’ and ‘The Wind Cries Mary’ by the Jimi Hendrix Experience. His electrifying performances won him free publicity and a huge fanbase. By 1967, the Jimi Hendrix Experience released its debut studio album, “Are You Experienced.” The album remained on the charts for 33 weeks and peaked at number two. It went on to become certified five-time platinum by the RIAA and is ranked number 30 on the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. The group’s second album, “Axis: Bold as Love,” dropped in December 1967. The album reached number three in the U.S. The final album by the Jimi Hendrix Experience, “Electric Ladyland,” was released in October 1968, and it was produced and directed by Hendrix himself. The album reached number one in the US.
By June 1969, the last performance by the Jimi Hendrix Experience took place at the Denver pop festival. The group split soon after, but Hendrix kept playing, recruiting Cox and Buddy Miles. Together, they released Hendrix’s first and only live album, “Band of Gypsys,” in March 1970. As a one-time world’s highest-paid rock musician, Hendrix’s personal life was quite public. He openly struggled with drug and substance abuse. He died of asphyxia while intoxicated with barbiturates on September 18, 1970. While he never married, nor did he have children, his success was shared with his family, friends, and last girlfriend, Monika Dannemann.
Hendrix records ‘Testify’ with the Isley Brothers.
Hendrix gets signed to a management and production contract with Chas Chandler and Michael Jeffery.
After Chandler puts a group together, they perform for the first time in Evreux.
The Jimi Hendrix Experience releases its debut studio album, “Are You Experienced.”
The Jimi Hendrix Experience releases “Electric Ladyland.”
Hendrix releases this live album.
Why We Love Jimi Hendrix
He was Jimi Hendrix
Hendrix was one of the most iconic musicians of his time. His electrifying performances and phenomenal body of work are enough reasons to idolize him.
He was talented
Hendrix was a very talented musician, singer, and songwriter. His talents inspired generations after him.
He was open about his struggles
Hendrix’s transparency about his drug and substance abuse created awareness of the dangers of addiction. His death served as a cautionary tale for heavy drug users.
5 Surprising Facts
He was named Johnny Allen Hendrix
Hendrix was named Johnny Allen before his parents changed it to James Marshall.
He didn’t attend his mother’s funeral
When Hendrix’s mother, Lucille, died, his father refused to take him and his brother to the funeral but gave them a shot of whiskey instead to deal with the loss.
He bought his first guitar at 15
Hendrix bought his first acoustic guitar at 15 for $5.
He joined the army
Hendrix was given a choice between the army and prison for riding in stolen cars, which led to him enlisting in the army in May 1961 and getting discharged the following year.
He set his guitar ablaze
By the end of a 45-minute set with the Jimi Hendrix Experience, Hendrix set his guitar on fire.
Jimi Hendrix FAQs
What were Jimi Hendrix’s last words?
According to reports, Hendrix’s last words were “I need help bad, man.”
Was Eric Clapton scared of Jimi Hendrix?
Clapton and Hendrix were good friends.
How did Jimi Hendrix die?
Hendrix died of asphyxiation due to aspiration of his vomit. In essence, he choked on his vomit.
Jimi Hendrix’s birthday dates