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Hendrix, Jimi

Entry updated 30 October 2015. Tagged: Music, People.

(1942-1970) US singer and performer, acclaimed by many as the most gifted guitarist ever captured on recording. After mixed success on the American circuit Hendrix came to London in 1966 and formed "The Jimi Hendrix Experience", whose blend of rock, blues, psychedelia and Hendrix's inspired guitar soloing established his reputation. Science fiction was always an important influence upon Hendrix's spacey, futuristic sound – for example the title of his second single, "Purple Haze" (1967), though taken by many to encode a reference to drugs, is actually from Philip José Farmer's novel Night of Light (June 1957 F&SF; exp 1966), which Hendrix was reading at the time. Hendrix's first album, Are You Experienced? (1967) mixes songs about love and altered states of consciousness with sf tracks such as "Third Stone From the Sun"; an instrumental piece that begins with a spoken voice interlude in which two alien spacefarers discuss Earth. UFOs featured again on his next album, Axis, Bold as Love (1967). The album's first track "EXP" is not so much a song as it is a conversation between Hendrix and his drummer about UFOs, and "Up From the Skies" is sung from the point of view of a visiting extraterrestrial. A third album, Electric Ladyland (1968), though perhaps Hendrix's greatest release, does without the space-alien motif and is much less science-fictional, except for one song, "1983", which concerns a future war from which the narrator intends to escape by mutating into a sea creature. His band disintegrated in mid-1969, and Hendrix put out one more release, the live-album Band of Gypsies (1970). He died later that year in London of that distinctly rock-star ailment, choking on his own vomit after ingesting too much wine and too many pills. Unfinished at his death was a concept album to be called Black Gold, with a Superhero theme. Demo versions of all the songs for this album exist, and from time to time its release in one form or another is mooted. Hendrix's influence on popular music has been incalculable; his influence on sf less pronounced, although Gwyneth Jones took titles and many other incidental details of her Bold as Love sequence of novels from his releases. He is cited but does not appear in Tim Sandlin's Jimi Hendrix Turns Eighty (2007). [AR]

James Marshall Hendrix

born Seattle, Washington State: 27 November 1942

died London: 18 September 1970

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