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Jimi Hendrix And His Influence On Music History Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: History
Wordcount: 2542 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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Jimi Hendrix is considered a key force in the 20 century music. The American rock songster, guitarist and songwriter was born and brought up in Seattle where he practiced most of the basic skills in playing guitar. Even though he was a self-trained guitarist, Jimi is today acknowledged as a musical intellectual. He is recognized for his precision and speed while playing, management of feedback as one of the melodic elements as well as his ability to play, sing and dance at the same time. As a rock singer and guitarist, Jim Hendrix won several awards for his major contributions to the rock music during his time. It is widely agreed that he was among the most influential musicians in the history of rock music. At the same time, his skills on playing guitar were celebrated (Evans 1).

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Jimi Hendrix’s major contributions to rock music

As the star of the rock music during his time, Jimi did not just play music but improved its image as well. While it is the dream of every artist to make a contribution through his/her work and performance, not all of them successfully make their dreams to come true. Through his singing and performance, Jimi is today acknowledged for the impact he had on the rock music; he moved rock to a higher level. Some of his major contributions to rock music are; he improved the styles that were used to play a guitar thus flipping the music upside down as well as influenced other singers on how they would sing and play the lead at the same time (Evans 1). During that time, a rock band only consisted of at least two people, a separate player for the lead and a singer. However, Jimi changed this trend by singing and playing the lead at the same time. This attracted many musicians of that time and as a result they practiced it thus changing the look of rock significantly.

How might rock have been different without them?

Without Jimi’s contributions, rock would still be on its grass roots. His innovation and energy in performing boosted the music industry and moved it to higher level. For instance, it is him who introduced the system in which one person would sing and play the guitar and the lead at the same time. Without him, rock artists would hire a large group of people in their bands which would be more expensive.

Did the area that this artist hailed from have a significant effect upon their musical development?

The area in which Jimi was born and brought up has some significant effect upon his musical development. Jimi was hailed in Seattle where he did most of his guitar practices as a little boy. Seattle also had several studios from which music concerts were held. Jimi would sometimes go to these concerts where artists such as Elvis Presley were performing. Jimi was also given a chance to perform at the Arena in 1968 after he became a star, an opportunity that developed his musical career (Chipkin 4). It is therefore in these concerts that he became motivate and learnt the basics on how to play a guitar and eventually performed all on his development ladder.

Did the artist have any formal musical training?

As a successful musician, most people would think that Jimi had some formal training in music before joining the rock band. However, he did not have any formal training but he leant and identified his talent through self-training. He started training when he was still a young boy. He had been given an old ukulele by his father which he loved so dearly and used it in his practices. He later purchased a used guitar and practiced at home during his free time. After one year, his father bought him a used electronic guitar which was presented as a gift. He did not have an amplifier of his own thus he was forced to practice from his friend’s homes (Doggett 17). Besides, Jimi had little formal education since he dropped out of high school and could not even read music. Thus his knowledge in music; writing, playing and performing are attributed not to a formal musical training, but to his own effort, determination and self-interest.

Types of music and what artists influenced this artist

Jimi Hendrix loved rock music from the time he was still a young boy. He occasionally listened to rock and roll from his home and attended some of the locally organized music concerts. His influence as the master of rock can be attributed to the people he admired such as the Beatles, Chuck Berry, Elvis Presley and Little Richard among others. Much of influence can however be attributed to Elvis Presley whose performance and music made Jimi’s spirit boil within himself. At the age of 15, Jimi has Elvis Presley’s little image which he drew himself. On the picture, Elvis was drawn standing and holding a guitar. Jimi drew this picture two months after attending Elvis Presley’s concert that was organized at the local stadium, Sick’s Stadium, in Seattle (Chipkin 4). Jimi was also influenced by the innovations of artists such as Albert King, B. King, Buddy Guy, Muddy Waters, and T-Bone Walker. His work was influenced by jazz as well. Occasionally, Jimi was heard acknowledging Roland Kirk as his preferred musician (Doggett 114). Nevertheless, for as much as these artists played a key role in motivating Jimi to pursue his talent as a rock music artist, he did not just settled for what they offered. Jimi went an extra mile and modified, made better and unique that which existed.

How Jimi Hendrix was unique and innovative?

Throughout his performance and production, Jimi displayed a sense of uniqueness that influenced the way rock music is played today. His style of guitar playing was different from any rock artist that lived before him thus taking rock guitar to new levels. The magnified the vocabulary of the electric guitar and coaxed all manner of unanticipated sonic from his guitar with innovative intensification experiments that produced roaring distortion and an excellent feedback. The most controversial nature of his style is characterized by the loud and sharp sounds he produced from his guitar as they were accompanied by the imitated sounds of screams, bombs and gun fire. To begin, Jimi’s basics of playing were total different from everyone else; he did not play with the C Major Chord like many guitarists would, instead he did it outside the box. Besides, Jimi used the wah-wah pedal constantly, a feature that made him unique from all other guitar players (Evans 1).

Another surprising thing with Jimi is that he was left handed yet he used right handed guitars. This is to imply that he played it with the strings upside down. He removed the strings, replaced the guide and restrung them in a unique fashion. Thus all his guitars had some substantial adjustments before he could use them. With his recurrent hurricane explosions of noise and stunning showmanship, Jimi would play the guitar with his teeth while it was behind his back. Thus it is widely accepted that Jimi had a unique way of playing the guitar; an aspect that was motivated by his spirit to do what he wants, play what he has in the head and to strive for that quality sound. This took rock guitar to greater levels and consequently making him one of the most significant musicians of his time (Evans 2).

Was this artist controversial or did they make any social contributions in their time?

Jimi Hendrix’s music came to its peak in the 1960’s when music, especially rock music was still developing. During that time there were very few artists thus entertainment through live concerts was rare. Therefore when Jimi settled on his career as a rock musician, he did not become a controversy to the other artist instead, he joined several bands where he travelled from town to town performing hence entertaining and enlightening the society as well (Evans 2). He did this with several bands among them the Velvetones and the Rolling Kings before he formed his own. Throughout his life time as a musician, Jimi held concerts in different places thus reuniting people and bridging the social gaps that existed between societies. For instance, between 1962 and 1965, Jimi travel around the country as a backup player for Little Richard, Jackie Wilson, Sam Cooke and the Isley Brothers among others.

After disbanding with these artists, Jimi formed his own bands; ‘Jimmy James’ and ‘Blue Flames’ with which he explored Greenwich Village entertainment house entertaining, educating and uniting people particularly the youth with his music and manner of performance. He also travelled to London and England not to mention his hometown Seattle where he changed the lives of many. This can therefore be related to John Lennon’s famous quote about Christianity in the 1965. John Lennon commented that individuals were becoming more popular than Jesus himself. He was wondering which one would go first between rock and roll and Christianity since rock was everywhere as Christianity was shrinking and varnishing. John’s comment can therefore be used in this context to imply that rock and roll artists were becoming famous and were widely known compared to Christianity (John 1). In the same line of thought, Jimi Hindrex’s popularity in rock was an attribute to the many movements he made as he went to perform in different parts of the world thus impacting the social lives of the people he came across.

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Jimi Hendrix’s major contributions in terms of important recordings, songwriting and live performances

Apart from the social contributions that Jimi Hendrix made to the society, there are also other contributions that he made in terms of the important recordings, songwriting and live performance as well. Through his songs, important records have been kept since it is during his time that rock and roll made a new turn and was revolutionized to what it is today. His time will be remembered for great innovations in the music industry; something that earn him several rewards. Some of his recordings include; Are You Experienced, Axis: Bold as Love , , Electric Ladyland and The Cry of Love which became among the top five songs on the best songs charts of the United States and the United Kingdom. In terms of song writing, Jimi’s songs were exceptional despite the fact that he could not read music (Browne 376). He composed his songs from what he had in his head and as well as the events that were happening then. Song writing therefore got a new look since the belief and music composition and writing was only for the literates was disapproved.

Jimi also contributed greatly to how music was performed. While it was like a custom that rock was performed by a lead player and a singer, Jimi did these two tasks alone. His live performance inspired many people who consequently improved they way they performed. In other words, Jimi Hendrix has acted as a tool in bridging the gap between the rock music before his time and that which was played after him. He brought a totally new start to the rock music and the music industry at large (Doggett 152). His music has been emulated by many and the improvement in sound, song writing, performance and guitar playing is attributed to his innovations and the uniqueness of his talent to sing, play the guitar and the lead at the same time.

Did charisma, image or promotion play a role in the popularity of this artist?

As it is the trend for most musicians and performers, popularity is a product of charisma, image and promotion. Throughout his life, Jimi had a good personality and related well with other people. He believed in team work, a personality that made him work with groups and eventually formed his own band. Despite the fact that he had some differences with Little Richard, his charisma was admired by many and that is the main reason as to why he managed to form several bands as he worked with other people as well thus promoting his popularity. Image also played a role in the popularity of Jimi (Bio 1). Following his image as the best performer and guitarist of his time, coupled with his innovative nature, Jimi was spotted by Chas Chandler, the Animals’s bassist, and was convinced to join the band and go to London where he would be recorded as a solo performer in England (Chipkin 98). Chandler was looking for a manager when his band was almost collapsing and he found the qualities he wanted in Jimi due to his outstanding image as a guitarist, singer and dancer. After playing for several bands, Jimi formed his own and become even more popular when he named his first band ‘Jimmy James’ after his name and the ‘Are You Experienced?’ (Evans 1).

How prolific was this artist over their career, and did their work change in any significant ways over their career?

As a committed artist who did his songs with passion, Jimi was very productive in his career especially during a time like his when the music industry was still developing. His prolific effort is seen when he produced numerous songs and the awards that he won when his songs and/or performance emerged the best. Most of his songs made it to the top when competing with other artists (Evans 2). His work was always perfect and it was more of a passion and talent other than a career.

Critics’, contemporaries’ or other musicians’ say about Jimi’s work and influence

Jimi’s influence and work was admired by many and as it is usual for every public figure, critics, contemporaries and fellow artists had something to say about his work and performance. Different groups and individuals had expressed different feelings about his work and experienced. While there were those who cherished him others criticized him. However, most of them approved his performance as they were astonished at how he played his guitar in a style only known to him. For instance, Pete Blecha, the music historian once commented that Jimi had a unique way of manipulating his guitar. As a left-handed person, he borrowed right-handed guitars but did some considerable adjustments before using them (Chipkin 98).

Degree to which Jimi has been influential upon their specific style, other musicians and rock music in general

Jimi Hendrix has been influential to other musicians and the rock music in general in that most of them as striving to improve the music industry. He laid a strong foundation for the rock music by setting greater standards that only the talented and committed young stars would achieve; his records have been met by very few artists. Jimi has also influenced the way rock music is performed and artists have discarded the old fashion and embrace his. For instance, today the Stratocaster has become a very popular musical instrument because it was associated with him (Chipkin 98). Jimi used the Stratocaster throughout and it can be argued that it is during his time that this instrument was the best selling musical instrument. Thus his work has not only impacted the artists but the rock music at large.


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