Jimi Hendrix’s contribution to rock and roll music will forever be unmatched. Inducted in 1992, the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame notes that Hendrix could be regarded a talent unlike any other, stating that he is “the most gifted instrumentalist of all time, a self-taught electric guitarist whose fluid, immersive style was perfectly suited to embrace—and then revolutionize—the late 60’s psychedelic rock movement.” With a musical career that spanned just four years, we can only begin to imagine how Hendrix could have continued to define and change rock and music. As we commemorate his recently celebrated 75th birthday, we look back at three of Hendrix’s most powerful and electrifying live performances on stage.
1967 Monterey Pop Festival
Hendrix also had an electric stage presence and this was best shown at the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival. During his rendition of the popular hit “Wild Thing”, Hendrix laid down his guitar at the centre of the stage. As if he were putting it to sleep, Hendrix gave his Fender Stratocaster guitar’s neck a gentle kiss. Already doused in lighter fluid at this point, the guitar is enveloped in flames when Hendrix flicks a lighted match on it. What ensues thereafter would then become an iconic part of rock and roll history: with thumping drums in the background, Hendrix happily whirls and smashes his guitar all over the place, even throwing broken guitar pieces in to the crowd to the shock of many audience members.
The United States National Anthem has been performed in many versions over the years, even before Hendrix had the opportunity to stamp his own style on the tune. However, what makes this performance stand out is that no one had ever seen or heard anything like it before. Today described how it was only possible due to Hendrix and his unbelievable technical ability. “The jarring, uplifting, haunting, energizing anthem was done at times in straight single notes, but the entire song is spiced with trademark Hendrix innovations, especially the use of amplifier feedback, sometimes to convey the sounds of war — bombs falling, jets overhead, perhaps even the cries of human anguish. At one point, Hendrix interrupts the anthem to play “Taps,” then resumes.” The result: concertgoers were tearing their hair out in awe and amazement.
1968 Miami Pop Festival
This is Jimi Hendrix at the peak of his powers. Raw, vibrant, ever-brilliant, and almost magical – Hendrix commanded the stage unlike any other performer, from his unique fashion sense to his animated on-stage energy. His movements and the way he engaged the audience have inspired countless musicians since.
Even after many years since his passing, Hendrix’s presence is very much alive in different forms of multimedia. In film, Hendrix has been a subject of multiple documentaries such as Woodstock and American Masters: Jimi Hendrix – Hear My Train a Comin’ as his musical genius continues to be celebrated by music lovers all around the world. Another example of how he defined not only rock and roll, but also an entire era, is in the gaming industry. Hendrix’s many songs continue to live on in the music game series Guitar Hero where fans can try and replicate his talents themselves. In the online gaming world, the Jimi Hendrix Online Slot is featured on Slingo and is another testament to Hendrix’s legacy. It shows how his presence in the music industry not only remains healthy and well, but also how his appeal has translated into different modes of entertainment. Whether you are a music, film, or gaming fan, there are many ways to honour the great musician.
Additionally, his influence has truly stretched beyond music and into different spaces of pop culture. Rolling Stone stresses that even in style and fashion over the years, Hendrix contributions can be identified because they were followed by various artists from different eras. “Beyond his virtuosic guitar playing, gifted songwriting, ahead-of-his-time attention to studio production, and electric stage presence, Hendrix was also an icon that transcended music; nobody else from his era wore an afro better. In the decades since Hendrix’s death, pop stars from Rick James and Prince to Lenny Kravitz and Erykah Badu have evoked his look and style.”