So by 1966 Jimi had met Chas Chandler, the Animals former bass player, and as luck would have it he was looking for an upcoming star to manage. Chandler went to work convincing Hendrix to travel to England with him, once there he teamed him up with British musicians Noel Redding (bass) and Mitch Mitchell (drums) and formed The Jimi Hendrix Experience. The idea was originally that they were Hendrix’s backing band, but it became clear that they were more like a super group in the mould of bands like Cream, as they all brought unique and exciting offerings to the band. Together they release three excellent albums that features some of rock’s most influential guitar work. Are You Experienced?(1967), Axis: Bold as Love (1967) and Electric Ladyland (1968) all rank highly in Rolling Stone magazine’s top 500 albums of all time.
The Jimi Hendrix Experience quickly established themselves in England and other parts of Europe. The UK often ahead of the curve when it comes to new music fully embraced the band. Their fans in high places such as The Who’s Pete Townsend, Eric Clapton and The Beatles aided their rise to popularity. Paul McCartney himself recommended that the band were booked to play the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival in California. This performance proved a seminal moment for the band, coinciding with the “Summer of Love” it catapulted Hendrix to stardom in the United States. The explosive set ended with the legendary burning and smashing of Hendrix’s guitar during a cover of Wild Thing.
Jimi Hendrix’s astronomical rise was not without tensions. Redding left the group in ‘68 and Hendrix was caught up in a series of legal troubles that included drug arrests and contract disputes.
Another defining moment came on August 18th, 1969, at the Woodstock Music Festival as Hendrix performed with a group called “A Band of Gypsies”. During this infamous set, they performed the reinterpretation of The Star Spangled Banner which caused shock and awe across America. This was a defining musical moment of the 1960's hippie movement, it was this five minute psychedelic blues improvisation. Hendrix had always maintained an avid interest in the hippie movement and this moment for which he is often remembered become iconic.
Hendrix was lauded for not only his flamboyant shows and guitar stage tricks, but also his true-to-roots blues arrangements and his pioneering work with multi-tracking and use of effects. He toured and recorded constantly creating over three hundred unreleased recordings. Tragically, Jimi Hendrix was found dead on September 18, 1970 under circumstances that have never been fully explained. Drugs and alcohol are often blamed, but like most legends that die young the causes of their death are often shrouded in mystery.
Understandably, Jimi Hendrix’s image has taken on an iconic stature but nothing really overshadows his musical achievements. Endless praise is often heaped on him for his innovations and contributions to popular music, but it should never be forgotten that he also created amazing and brilliant three minute songs like Purple Haze, Little Wing, The Wind Cries Mary, If 6 Was 9, Rainy Day Dream Away and Angel will always be as memorable as they are incomparable.