Jimi Hendrix and Psychedelic Rock.

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(ThyBlackMan.com) Jimi Hendrix is one of the earliest guitar gods in rock history. The things we did with and to a guitar were groundbreaking in the 1960s. His playing became one of the concrete tracks in hard rock with a number of musicians pointing to him as an inspiration for their playing. Having that much influence out of a career that didn’t make a full decade and spawned three albums isn’t bad at all.

And yes, I know there is a ton of Jimi Hendrix albums. He had three full lengths in a year. After his death in September 1970, live albums and compilations were just dropping. The exception would be The Cry of Love which was original stuff.

Jimi Hendrix and Discovering Psychedelic Rock

Growing up, there were a few Hendrix songs that you were going to hear on the radio. “Foxy Lady”, “Voodoo Chile”, “Purple Haze”, and “All Along the Watch Tower”. That last one much less than the first three.

When you mainly hear the hits, it doesn’t give you too much incentive to dive into an artist’s other stuff. It’s like “If the radio and MTV only show this then it must be the best on the album.” In reality, those are usually singles and the ones that get music videos. So, for a long time I didn’t really follow up on Jimi Hendrix’s music. You’d think he was played in the house growing up but that wasn’t the case. If we heard him, it was on the classic rock station.

When I got back into rock music and began exploring the genres, the psychedelic rock of the 1960s and early 1970s caught my interest. Jimi would come along early in the decade before become a star towards the end of it. Psychedelic rock started off as heavily folk rock-inspired with an emphasis on politics and mind-expanding psychedelic drugs.

Also riding right long psychedelic rock was Parliament’s brand of funk which would be Black music’s version of psychedelic rock, really. A lot of psychedelic rock early on was acoustic. Me and acoustic rock don’t get along well and I ended up missing a lot of good stuff like Jefferson Airplane’s debut from 1966.

It wasn’t until giving Jimi Hendrix a listen that I really began to consider psychedelic rock.

Jimi Hendrix

Ear-Opening Guitar Playing

Hendrix shouldn’t be considered the end all-be all of psychedelic rock but he is a great ambassador. His playing was close enough to the sound I was looking for early on.

The lyrical content never did it for me but his playing was the first time I remember putting guitar before vocals and lyrics. It was also in listening to everything but “Foxy Lady” on Are You Experienced. “Fire” and “Manic Depression” are the songs that really sold me on Hendrix.

Originally, when his name was thrown out, I’d go right to the known songs. As I said, I’d heard those so much that it was like “Please. Enough.” Enjoyable songs but I needed something extra. So, I got into the rest of Jimi Hendrix’s stuff. Seeing video of him playing also sealed him further for me. It was the same vibe I got when I watched Phil Lynott and his showmanship.

Finding The Sound Through Hendrix

So, we have Jimi Hendrix delivering some really good music for the time and after. I can’t think “Well, Jimi’s it. That’s it for anything in this genre.” I had to dig and a lot of it didn’t hit with me. That is until I came across bands that were just shy of floating over into hard rock and progressive rock territory. These bands mainly released their first and often sole album in the late 60s and early 70s.

Bands like Coven, Black Widow, and Iron Claw took the heavier sound of Hendrix’s brand of psychedelic rock and ran with it. Coven did it while mixing in lyrics about Hell, horror, and witchcraft—outside of the genre’s scope. Going from Jimi Hendrix to Black Sabbath wasn’t a far trek. After finding little I enjoyed in the genre, I just went from there until I found the sound I was looking for.

How Much Potential Did He Have Left?

It makes me wonder what Jimi Hendrix could’ve done past 27. It’s something I wonder about artists who go early. Tupac and The Notorious B.I.G are canonized in hip hop for a career that ran eleven years between the two of them. How much could Jimi Hendrix had done going forward.

There’s a lot of speculation and recollections about where he wanted to go creatively. I would’ve loved to have seen how he stood out in the 1970s as a lot of his contemporaries either hung it up or changed their style. Some branched out into more complex music, others went the mainstream route, and others never stopped playing psychedelic rock.

Through his playing you can see Jimi Hendrix is someone who likes to push his talent. He created new sounds in the genre by bringing a ton of blues with him. Hard rock, funk, heavy metal, and genres more on the punk side were all on the bubble at the time of his death in 1970. Where would he have staked a new flag? Would he have attempted to keep psychedelic rock relevant into the 1970s?

What kind of music do you believe Jimi Hendrix would’ve made? He also did production and played with a number of R&B and blues artists in his last year. Could you have seen Jimi going that route? Let us know in the comments.

Staff Writer; M. Swift

This talented writer is also a podcast host, and comic book fan who loves all things old school. One may also find him on Twitter at; metalswift.