James Marshall (Jimi) Hendrix (27 November 1942 – 18 September 1970) was
an American musician, songwriter and virtuoso guitarist, widely regarded as the
best electric guitarist in the history of popular music.
Mostly self-taught on the instrument, the left-handed Hendrix used
a right-handed guitar that was restrung and played right side up. As
a guitarist, he built upon the innovations of blues stylists such as
B. B. King, Albert King, Buddy Guy, T-Bone Walker, and Muddy Waters,
as well as those of rhythm and blues and soul music guitarists like
Curtis Mayfield. Hendrix's music was also influenced by jazz; he often
cited Rahsaan Roland Kirk as his favorite musician. In addition, Hendrix
extended the tradition of rock guitar: although previous guitarists,
such as The Kinks' Dave Davies, and The Who's Pete Townshend, had employed
techniques such as feedback, distortion and other effects as sonic
tools, Hendrix was able to exploit them to a previously undreamed-of
extent, and to incorporate them as an integral part of his compositions.
Hendrix so desired a guitar by the time he was in grade school that
he had fits of depression when his father, who viewed the instrument
as frivolous and jazz/rock as sinful, refused to get him one. His school
counsellor told his father to get him a guitar, and his father gave
him a one-stringed toy guitar. Jimi played it so much that his father
finally relented and bought his son a real guitar.
As a record producer, Hendrix was an innovator in using the recording
studio as an extension of his musical ideas. Hendrix was notably one
of the first to experiment with stereo effects during the recording
process. Hendrix was also an accomplished songwriter whose compositions
have been performed by countless artists. Finally, his image and influence
as a rock star place him in the company of Little Richard, Chuck Berry,
the Beatles, and Hendrix's first idol Elvis Presley.
The controversial nature of Hendrix's style is epitomized in the sentiments
expressed about his renditions of the "Star Spangled Banner",
a tune he played loudly and sharply accompanied by simulated sounds
of war (machine guns, bombs and screams) from his guitar. His impressionistic
renditions have been described by some as anti-American mockery and
by others as a generation's statement on the unrest in U.S. society,
oddly symbolic of the beauty, spontaneity, and tragedy that was endemic
to Hendrix's life. When taken to task on the Dick Cavett Show on the "unorthodox" nature
of his performance, Hendrix replied, "I thought it was beautiful."
Youth and pre-professional career
Hendrix was born Johnny Allen Hendricks in Seattle, Washington, the
son of Al Hendricks and Lucille Jeter. His mother was an alcoholic
and died young, (providing Hendrix with a musical muse which he would
later express in his songs, for example, "Little Wing")
when Jimi was aged 15, of cirrhosis. His father, after returning
from World War II, renamed him James Marshall Hendrix. He grew up
shy and sensitive. Like his contemporaries John Lennon and Paul McCartney,
Hendrix was deeply affected by family events – his parents'
divorce in 1951, listening to Elvis Presley, whom he loved (a color
drawing, showing a young Elvis armed with a guitar, and made by the
then impressionable 15 year old Hendrix himself, two months after
attending Presley's concert at Seattle's Sick's Stadium on 1st September,
1957, and can be seen at that city's Rock museum), and the death
of his mother, a year later. He was close to his paternal grandmother
Nora Rose Moore. Nora, the daughter of an Irish Cherokee father and
a mulatto mother, instilled in him a strong sense of pride about
his Native American ancestry. Both of Jimi's paternal grandparents
were vaudeville performers who settled in Vancouver, Canada, where
his father, Al Hendrix, was born. Al relocated to Seattle, where
he met and married Lucille Jeter. After Lucille's death, Al gave
Jimi a ukulele, and later bought him a US$5 acoustic guitar, setting
him on the path to his future vocation.
After playing with several local Seattle bands and getting into trouble
with the law via a stolen car, Hendrix enlisted in the Army, joining
the 101st Airborne Division (stationed at Fort Campbell, Kentucky)
as a trainee paratrooper. Hendrix was a poor soldier who was repeatedly
caught sleeping while on duty and missing at midnight bed-check. Superiors
noted that he needed constant supervision even for basic tasks, and
lacked motivation. He was described by one supervisor as having "no
known good characteristics", and by another that "his mind
apparently cannot function while performing duties and thinking about
his guitar". After less than a year he received a medical discharge
after breaking his ankle on his 26th parachute jump (He said later
that the sound of air whistling through the parachute shrouds was one
of the sources of his "spacy" guitar sound). Hendrix was
discharged from the US Army three years before the Vietnam War saw
large numbers of US soldiers arrive. But his recordings would become
favorites of soldiers fighting there. (A biography published in summer
2005, Room Full Of Mirrors, by Charles Cross, claims that Hendrix faked
being gay--claiming to have fallen in love with another soldier--and
was therefore discharged. According to Cross, Hendrix was an avid anti-communist
and did not leave the US Army as a protest to the Vietnam War, but
simply wanted out so he could focus on playing guitar.)
After leaving Ft. Campbell, Hendrix and his friend and bandmate Billy
Cox moved to nearby Nashville. There they played, and sometimes lived,
in the clubs along Jefferson Street, the traditional heart of Nashville's
black community, and home to a lively rhythm and blues scene.
During the early 1960s, Hendrix made a precarious living performing
in backing bands for touring soul and blues musicians, including Curtis
Knight, B. B. King, and Little Richard. His first notice came from
appearances with The Isley Brothers, notably on the two-parter Testify
On 15 October 1965, Hendrix signed a 3-year recording contract with
entrepreneur Ed Chalpin, receiving $1 and 1% royalty on records with
Curtis Knight. The contract later caused litigation with Hendrix and
other record labels.
By 1966 he had his own band, Jimmy James and the Blue Flames, and
a residency at the Cafe Wha? in New York City. During this period Hendrix
met and worked with singer-guitarist Ellen McIlwaine and guitarist
Jeff "Skunk" Baxter. Hendrix also became close friends with
a young guitarist named Randy California, who would later co-found
the band Spirit. Hendrix also met iconoclast Frank Zappa during this
time. Zappa introduced Hendrix to the newly-invented wah-wah pedal,
a tool which Hendrix soon mastered and made an integral part of his
While performing with The Blue Flames at the Cafe Wha?, Linda Keith,
then-girlfriend of The Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards, saw
Hendrix, and couldn't believe he hadn't been "discovered".
Knowing Chas Chandler was leaving The Animals, and looking for someone
to manage, she introduced him to Hendrix. Chandler took Hendrix to
England, signed him to a management and production contract as his
record producer, and helped him form a new band, The Jimi Hendrix Experience,
with bassist Noel Redding and drummer Mitch Mitchell.
With his first few show-stopping London club appearances, word of
the new star spread through the British music industry. His showmanship
and dazzling virtuosity made instant fans of reigning guitar heroes
Eric Clapton and Jeff Beck, as well as members of The Beatles and The
Who, whose managers signed Hendrix to The Who's record label, Track
Records. Jimi's first single was a cover of "Hey Joe", a
stylised blues song written by Billy Roberts that was virtually a standard
for rock bands at the time. Hendrix and Chandler had seen folk-singer
Tim Rose performing his slow arrangement of Hey Joe at the Cafe Wha?,
and adapted it to Hendrix' emerging psychedelic style.
Further Hendrix success came with the incendiary and original "Purple
Haze", with a heavily distorted guitar sound which still influences
people now; the soulful ballad "The Wind Cries Mary", and "Hey
Joe". The three songs were Top 10 hits.
Established as a star in the U.K., Hendrix and his girlfriend Kathy
Etchingham moved into a flat at 23 Brook Street in central London.
The nearby 25 Brook street was once the home of baroque composer George
Frideric Handel. Hendrix, aware of this musical coincidence, bought
Handel recordings including the Messiah and the Water Music. The two
houses currently comprise the Handel House Museum, where both musicians
The 1967 release of the group's first album, Are You Experienced, is
a mix of melodic ballads "The Wind Cries Mary", pop-rock "Fire",
psychedelia "Third Stone from the Sun", and blues "Red
House", and is a template for much of their later work.
Hendrix went to a hospital with burns to his hands after setting his
guitar on fire for the first time at the Astoria theatre in London
on March 31, 1967. Later, after causing damage to amplifiers and other
stage equipment at his shows, Rank Theatre management warned him to "tone
down" his stage act.
The Monterey Pop Festival booked The Jimi Hendrix Experience at the
urging of festival board member Paul McCartney. At the concert, filmmaker
D. A. Pennebaker immortalized Hendrix's iconic burning and smashing
of his guitar in the film Monterey Pop.
A short gig, opening for the pop group The Monkees on their first
American tour, followed the festival. The Monkees asked for Hendrix
because they were fans, but their mostly teenage audience did not warm
to his outlandish stage act and he abruptly quit the tour after a few
dates, just as "Purple Haze" gained popularity in America.
Chas Chandler later admitted that being "thrown off" The
Monkees tour was engineered to gain maximum media impact and outrage
for Hendrix. At the time a story circulated claiming that Hendrix was
removed from the tour because of complaints made by the Daughters of
the American Revolution that his stage conduct was "lewd and indecent".
Australian journalist Lillian Roxon, accompanying the tour with singer
Lynne Randell (the other support act), concocted the story. The claim
was repeated in Roxon's 1969 Rock Encyclopedia but she later admitted
it was fabricated.
Meanwhile in England, Hendrix's wild-man image and musical gimmickry
(such as playing the guitar with his teeth and behind his back) continued
to bring publicity, but Hendrix was already advancing musically and
becoming frustrated by media and audience concentration on his stage
act and his hit singles.
The Jimi Hendrix Experience's second 1967 album, Axis: Bold as Love
continued the style established by Are You Experienced with tracks
such as "Little Wing" and "If 6 Was 9", showing
his continuing mastery of the electric guitar. A mishap almost prevented
the album's release; Hendrix lost the master tape of side 1 of the
LP after he left it in a taxi. With the release deadline looming, Hendrix,
Chandler and engineer Eddie Kramer in an all-night session made a remix
from the multitracks. Kramer and Hendrix later said that they were
never entirely happy with the results.
Increasing personality differences with Noel Redding, combined with
the influence of drugs, alcohol and fatigue, led to a trouble-plagued
tour of Scandinavia. On 4 January 1968, Hendrix was jailed by Stockholm
police, after trashing a hotel room in a drunken rage.
The band's third recording, a double album, Electric Ladyland (1968),
is more eclectic and experimental than previous recordings. It features
a lengthy blues jam ("Voodoo Chile"), the jazz-inflected "Rainy
Day, Dream Away/Still Raining, Still Dreaming", and what is probably
the definitive version of Bob Dylan's "All Along the Watchtower".
(Hendrix credited British band The Alan Bown Set for inspiration on
Hendrix decided to return to the US, and frustrated by the limitations
of commercial recording he decided to establish his own state-of-the-art
multitrack studio in New York, to which he could have unlimited access
to realise his expanding musical visions. Construction of the studio,
called Electric Lady, was not completed until mid-1970.
Hendrix's formerly disciplined work habits became erratic, and the
combination of interminable sessions and studios filled with hangers-on
finally led Chas Chandler to quit on May 1968. Chandler later complained
that Hendrix's insistence on doing multiple takes on every song ("Gypsy
Eyes" apparently took 43 takes and he still was not satisfied),
combined with what he saw as incoherence caused by drugs, led to him
to sell his share of the management company to his partner Mike Jeffrey.
Hendrix's studio perfectionism is legendary — he reportedly
made accomplished Traffic guitarist Dave Mason do more than twenty
takes of the acoustic guitar backing on "All Along The Watchtower".
Deeply insecure about his voice, Hendrix often recorded his vocals
behind studio screens.
Many critics now believe that the ascendancy of Mike Jeffrey was a
negative influence on Hendrix's life and career. Jeffrey (who had previously
managed The Animals and was later reviled by them) allegedly embezzled
much of the money Hendrix earned during his lifetime and secreted it
in offshore bank accounts. Jeffrey allegedly had links to both the
MI5 and CIA intelligence organisations (he claimed publicly to be a
secret agent) and to the Mafia. He also regularly carried a hand gun,
and could speak Russian.
Despite the difficulties of recording Electric Ladyland, many of the
tracks show Hendrix's vision expanding far beyond the scope of the
original trio (it is said that the sound of the record inspired Miles
Davis' sound on Bitches Brew), and saw him collaborating with a range
of musicians including Dave Mason, Chris Wood and Steve Winwood from
Traffic, drummer Buddy Miles and the former Dylan organist Al Kooper.
His expanding musical horizons were accompanied by a deterioration
in his relationship with bandmates (particularly Redding), and the
Experience broke up in 1969.
On 4 January 1969 he was accused by television producers of arrogance
after playing an impromptu version of "Sunshine of Your Love" past
his allotted time slot on the BBC1 show Happening for Lulu, apparently
as a tribute to Cream after learning the band broke-up.
On 3 May he was arrested at Toronto's Pearson International Airport
after heroin was found in his luggage. He was later bailed on a $10,000
surety. Hendrix was acquitted after asserting that the drugs were slipped
into his bag by a fan without his knowledge.
On 29 June, Noel Redding announced that he had quit the Experience,
although he had effectively ceased working with Hendrix during most
of the recording of Electric Ladyland.
By August of 1969, Hendrix formed a new band called Gypsy Sun and
Rainbows to play the Woodstock festival. The group featured Hendrix
on guitar, Billy Cox on bass, Mitch Mitchell on drums, Larry Lee on
rhythm guitar and Jerry Velez and Juma Sultan on drums and percussion.
The set, while notably under-rehearsed and ragged in performance (Hendrix
was reputedly "spiked" with a powerful dose of LSD just before
going on stage) was played to a slowly emptying field of revelers.
The immortal concluding quarter hour of this performance began with
the extraordinary instrumental version of "The Star-Spangled Banner",
segueing into a version of "Purple Haze" that concludes with
a solo cadenza the equal of those of Mozart and Beethoven, followed
by a fantasia that both recaps his prior work and prefigures the new
musical directions Hendrix was to explore in the last year of his life,
followed by an elegaic blues march, a fitting coda to the 1960s. Needless
to say, Hendrix's performance at Woodstock has become a timeless classic
event, and a true milestone in the history of music.
The Gypsy Sun and Rainbows band was short-lived, and Hendrix formed
a new trio, the Band of Gypsys, comprising Billy Cox, an old army buddy,
on bass and Buddy Miles on drums, for four memorable concerts on New
Year's Eve 1969-70. The recorded concerts captured several outstanding
pieces, including what some feel is one of Hendrix's greatest live
performances, an explosive 12-minute rendition of his anti-war epic "Machine
His association with Miles ended abruptly during a concert at Madison
Square Garden on 28 January 1970, when Hendrix walked out after playing
just three songs, telling the audience: "I'm sorry we just can't
get it together." Miles later said in a television interview that
Hendrix felt he was losing the spotlight to other musicians. In a Guitar
World article, engineer Eddie Kramer claimed that Hendrix was very
displeased with Miles' practice of scat singing through the bands performances
(Hendrix reportedly edited out many of Miles' vocal solos on the "Band
of Gypsys" live album, although the opening track "Who Knows" features
an extended Miles scat).
The rest of 1970 was spent mainly recording during the week, and playing
live on the weekends. The "Cry of Love" tour, begun in April,
was structured with this pattern in mind. Performances on this tour
were uneven in quality; many are available as bootleg recordings. A
show in May in Norman, Oklahoma was dedicated to the students killed
in the Kent State shootings.
With the opening of Electric Lady studios, Hendrix spent more time
in the studio and started laying down several new tracks. At a June
concert, Hendrix announced that his next LP would come out in "July
or August, in either one or two parts." However, recording sessions
for the album, tentatively titled "The First Rays Of The New Rising
Sun" continued until he was scheduled to depart for his upcoming
European tour. An opening party for Electric Lady was held on 26 August,
and following this, Hendrix boarded a plane for England.
On 30 August, he gave his last performance in the United Kingdom,
at the Isle of Wight Festival with Mitchell and Cox. Hendrix expressed
disappointment on-stage at his fans' clamour to hear his old hits rather
than his new ideas. However, his two hour set proved to be a strong
one, and a filmed record of his set entitled "Wild Blue Angel" was
On 6 September 1970, his final stage performance, Hendrix was greeted
by booing and jeering by fans at the Isle of Fehmarn Festival in Germany
in a riot-like atmosphere; shortly after he left the stage, it went
up in flames during the first stage appearance of Ton Steine Scherben.
Bassist Billy Cox quit the tour and headed back to the United States
after reportedly being dosed with PCP.
Hendrix remained in England, and on the morning of 18 September 1970,
was found dead in the basement apartment of the Samarkand Hotel, 22
Lansdowne Crescent, London. He had spent the night with a German girlfriend,
Monika Dannemann, and died in bed after taking a reported nine Vesperax
sleeping pills and choking on his own vomit. For years afterwards Danneman
publicly claimed Hendrix was alive when placed in the back of the ambulance
(however her comments about that morning were often contradictory and
confused, varying from interview to interview). Police and ambulance
reports from the time, reveal that not only was Jimi dead, when they
arrived on the scene, but he had been for some time, the apartment's
front door was wide open, and the apartment itself empty. His body
was returned home and he was interred in the Greenwood Memorial Park,
Renton, Washington, USA, although Jimi requested to be buried in England.
Following a Libel case brought in 1996 by Hendrix's long-term English
girlfriend Kathy Etchingham, Monika Danneman took her own life.
Hendrix's style was unique. Although he synthesized many styles in
creating his musical voice, being a visionary, there was something
in his playing truly his own. He owned and used a variety of guitars
during his career, including a Gibson Flying V that he decorated with
psychedelic designs. His guitar of choice, and the instrument that
became most associated with him, is the Fender Stratocaster, or "Strat".
He bought his first Strat about 1965 and used them almost exclusively
Hendrix's emergence coincided with the lifting of postwar import restrictions
(imposed in many British Commonwealth countries), which made the instrument
much more available, and after its initial popularisers — Buddy
Holly and Hank B. Marvin — Hendrix arguably did more than any
other player to make the Stratocaster the biggest-selling electric
guitar in history. Before his arrival in the U.K. most top players
used Gibsons and Rickenbackers, but after Hendrix, almost all of the
leading guitarists, including Beck and Clapton*, switched to the Stratocaster.
Hendrix bought dozens of Strats and gave many away (including one given
to ZZ Top guitarist Billy Gibbons). Many others were stolen and he
destroyed several in his famous guitar-burning finales.
Hendrix fully exploited the Stratocaster's patented tremolo arm feature,
which, unlike guitars such as the Gibson SG, normally only permitted
the string pitch to bent down and then up again. The tremolo arm – a
key feature of early Sixties surf music – enabled him to bend
single notes or entire chords, and he is known to have removed at least
two of the tremolo unit's five springs in order to allow him to bend
the strings up or down.
The Strat's easy action and relatively narrow neck were also ideally
suited to Hendrix's evolving style and enhanced his tremendous dexterity — Hendrix'
hands were large enough to fret across all six strings with the top
joint of his thumb alone, and he could reputedly play lead and rhythm
parts simultaneously. A more amazing fact about Hendrix is that he
was left-handed, yet used a right-handed Stratocaster, meaning he played
the guitar upside down. While Hendrix was capable of playing with the
strings upside down per se, he restrung his guitars so that the heavier
strings were in their standard position at the top of the neck. He
preferred this layout because the tremolo arm and volume/tone controls
were more easily accessible above the strings.
The burnt and broken parts of the Stratocaster he destroyed at the
1968 Miami Pop Festival were given to Frank Zappa, who later rebuilt
it and played it extensively during the 1970s and 1980s. In May 2002,
Zappa's son Dweezil put the guitar up for auction in the U.S., hoping
it would fetch $1 million, but it failed to sell. The legendary white
1968 Strat that Hendrix played at Woodstock sold at Sotheby's auction
house in London in 1990 for £174,000 (295,800 Euros) and resold
in 1993 for £750,000 (1,275,000 Euros). Both it and a shard of
the burnt and broken guitar now reside in a permanent exhibit at the
Experience Music Project in Seattle.
Hendrix was also a catalyst in the development of modern guitar amplification
and guitar effects. His high-energy stage act and the blistering volume
at which he played required robust and powerful amplifiers. For the
first few months of his touring career he used Vox and Fender amplifiers,
but he soon found that they could not stand up to the rigours of an
Experience show. But he soon discovered a new range of high-powered
guitar amps being made by London audio engineer Jim Marshall and they
proved perfect for his needs. Along with the Strat, the Marshall stack
and Marshall amplifiers were crucial in shaping his heavily overdriven
sound, enabling him to master the creative use of feedback as a musical
effect, and his exclusive use of this brand soon made it the most popular
amplifier in rock.
It is believed that the Marshall Super 100 amp, purchased by Hendrix
on 8 October 1966, was the first he ever bought. Rich Dickinson of
Thrupp, near Stroud, Gloucestershire, bought the second-hand Marshall
amp in 1971 for just £65. In May, 2005, experts at Marshall Amplifiers
in Milton Keynes unearthed photos of the rock star with the amp that
proved beyond doubt that it was the genuine article. In a local news
story, Dickinson said that he had to part with the beloved amp because
insuring it would cost thousands.
"I'm not in any rush to sell it and will wait for the best price,
not just jump at whoever offers the first silly money."
The amp, of which there were only four ever made, had been fully serviced
by Marshall and was to be sold in a private sale. It was believed that
it would fetch over £1 million.
Hendrix also constantly looked for new guitar effects. He was one
of the first guitarists to move past simple gimmickry and to exploit
the full expressive possibilities of electronic effects such as the
wah-wah pedal. He had a fruitful association with engineer Roger Mayer
and made extensive use of several Mayer devices including the Axis
fuzz unit, the Octavia octave doubler and especially the UniVibe, a
vibrato unit designed to electronically simulate the modulation effects
of the Leslie speaker.
Hendrix's sound is a unique blend of high volume and high power, precise
control of feedback and a range of cutting-edge guitar effects, especially
the UniVibe-Octavia combination, which can be heard to full effect
on the Band of Gypsys' live version of Machine Gun. He was also known
for his trick playing, which included using his teeth or playing behind
his back, although he soon tired of audience demands to perform these
Despite his hectic touring schedule and his notorious perfectionism,
he was a prolific recording artist and left behind more than 300 unreleased
recordings besides his five official LPs and various singles.
He became legendary as one of the great 1960s rock'n'roll musicians
who, like Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, and Brian Jones, rose to stardom,
flourished for just a few years and died young.
Rolling Stone magazine named Hendrix the number 1 guitarist of all
time. His influence almost cannot be overstated.
After Hendrix's death, hundreds of unreleased recordings emerged. Controversy
arose when producer Alan Douglas supervised the mixing, overdubbing,
and release of two albums' worth of material that Hendrix left in various
states of completion. These include the LPs Crash Landing and Midnight
Lightning and although they contain several important tracks, the albums
are generally considered to be of substandard quality.
In 1972 British producer Joe Boyd put together a film documentary
on Hendrix's life, titled simply Jimi Hendrix, which played in art-house
cinemas around the world for many years. The double-album soundtrack
to the film, including live performances from Monterey, Berkeley and
the Isle of Wight, is considered the best of the posthumous release.
Another LP to emerge in the 1970s was the live compilation Hendrix
In The West, consisting of top-shelf American live recordings from
the last two years of his life, including an outstanding rendition
of the concert favourite "Red House."
Although the film Rainbow Bridge is generally regarded as being of
minor interest, what was billed as a soundtrack to the film (it is
not the soundtrack) includes several superb tracks intended for Hendrix's
fourth studio album, First Rays Of The New Rising Sun, the never-completed
follow-up to Electric Ladyland. The studio tracks, "Dolly Dagger", "Earth
Blues", "Room Full of Mirrors" and the melancholy improvised
instrumental "Pali Gap", showed Hendrix advancing his studio
technique to new levels, as well as, absorbing influences from contemporary
black soul and funk acts such as James Brown and Sly & The Family
The Rainbow Bridge album is highlighted by the full-length live version
of another of Hendrix's concert performances, a tour-de-force 10-minute
electric version of the blues standard "Hear My Train A-Comin." He
originally recorded the song in 1967 for promotional film, performing
it impromptu as a short but engaging Delta-style acoustic blues played
on a borrowed 12-string guitar. The 1970 electric version saw the song
transformed almost beyond recognition; like Machine Gun it showcased
the classic elements of the Hendrix electric sound and featured some
of his most inspired improvisation. The track was taped live at a concert
at the Berkeley Community Theater in California. An edited filmed segment
of this performance was also included in the concert film Jimi Plays
Interest in Hendrix waned during the 1980s, but with the advent of
the compact disc, Polygram and Warner-Reprise reissued many Hendrix
recordings on CD in the late 1980s and early 1990s. The earliest Polygram
reissues are of a poor standard and Electric Ladyland suffered particularly,
being evidently a direct transfer from the existing LP masters, with
tracks placed out of their correct order. This reflected the original
LP running order, an artifact of the days when double-LPs were pressed
with sides 1 and 4 on one LP and sides 2 and 3 on the other, so that
the records could be placed on an automatic changer and played in sequence
by turning them over only once.
Polygram subsequently released a superior-quality double boxed set
of eight CDs with studio tracks in one four-CD box and the live tracks
in the other. This was followed by an excellent four-CD set of live
concerts on Reprise. An audio documentary, originally made for radio
and later released on four CDs, also appeared around this time, and
included previously unreleased material.
In the late 1990s, after Hendrix's father Al regained control of his
son's estate, he and daughter Janie established the Experience Hendrix
company to curate and promote Jimi's extensive recorded legacy. Working
in collaboration with Jimi's original engineer, Eddie Kramer, the company
embarked on an extensive reissue program, including fully remastered
editions of the studio albums and compilation CDs of remixed and remastered
tracks intended for the First Rays of the New Rising Sun album. To
date, the Experience Hendrix company has made more than $44 million
from the recordings and associated merchandising.
Estate, legal wranglings
In the absence of a will, Jimi's father Al Hendrix inherited Jimi's
recordings and royalty rights, and entrusted this estate to an attorney,
who allegedly tricked Al into selling these rights to shell companies
owned by the attorney. Al sued in 1993 for mismanaging these assets.
The litigation was funded by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, a lifelong
and devoted Hendrix fan. In a 1995 settlement, Al Hendrix regained
control over all his son's recordings. Several albums were then re-mastered
from the original tapes and re-released. Al Hendrix died in 2002 at
age 82. Control of the estate and the Experience Hendrix company that
was set up to administer the Hendrix legacy then passed to Jimi's half-sister
In 2004, Janie Hendrix was sued by her step-brother, Leon Hendrix,
Jimi's younger brother, who was written out of his father's will in
1997. He was seeking to have his inheritance restored and Janie removed
from her position of control over the Hendrix estate. Superior Court
Judge Jeffrey Ramsdell sided with Janie explaining, "Janie was
the family member Al trusted the most." He added that Leon's battles
with drug addiction, his failure to complete a treatment program, his
unwillingness to work and his continual demands for money were the
main reasons that Al Hendrix cut his younger son from his will.
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