After all these years since Jimi died on September the 18th 1970 at the tender age of 27 he is still widely regarded as the best and one of the most influential guitarists of all time. Given that he has been gone for over 40 years its a testament to the man and his extraordinary playing that he is still held in such high regard.
I suppose to be regarded as one of the true greats in music you need to take music in a new direction, invent a new style as it were. Chuck berry with his country rock guitar playing on classic tracks Johnny B Goode and roll over Beethoven to name a few influenced countless guitarists. Dylan did it fusing folk and rock, muddy waters in Chicago electrifying his blues with his fantastic band including the legend little Walter. One could argue that Jimmy Page should be included here by distorting his bluesy riffs with zeppelin and creating the early seeds of heavy metal.
Of course Jimi’s technique was flawless, his mastery of his instrument there for all to see. As with most great rock players Hendrix’s roots were deep in the blues. In Red House we hear Jimi’s control of his guitar with his bending, vibrato and tasteful blues licks.
But Hendrix was much more than a great blues player. It was his mix of psychedelic rock riffs fusing with the heavy blues he loved [check out machine gun ] where he excelled and his genius really showed. From Purple Haze with its unique solo mixing the pentatonic and harmonic minor scales to the wah riff of voodoo child’ his sound was new and innovative. Using Marshall amplification and his white Fender Stratocaster Hendrix used a variety of pedals to create new sounds even using a Leslie speaker usually used for Hammond organs on his wonderful little wing.
Of course great playing is no good without the songs to match and Hendrix was a brilliant songwriter and lyricist often writing lyrics that were poetic and dreamlike.
We will certainly never see the like of Jimi Hendrix again. Check out his version of the star spangled banner live at Woodstock in 1969. with his famous white strat, his Marshall amps on full volume, foot on his wah pedal he creates sounds on the guitar we never knew existed. Hendrix still the greatest? You bet!