Though his mainstream career lasted only four years back in the late 1960s, Jimi Hendrix is widely regarded by music critics and fans alike as one of of the most influential rock musicians of all time. Born on this day in Seattle in 1942, Hendrix was obsessed with guitars at a early age and was encouraged by his father Al, who bought him his first electric instrument in 1959.
After a stint with the 101st Airborne Division in Fort Campbell, Kentucky, where he would meet his future bandmate Billy Cox, Hendrix played backup for Wilson Pickett, Sam Cooke and as a member of the Isley Brothers in the early 1960s. By 1966, he formed the Jimi Hendrix Experience and would eventually churn out a chart-topping version of “Hey Joe” and other epic hits such as “Purple Haze” and “Foxy Lady.”
It was his appearance at Woodstock in 1969, however, that would end up being the defining moment for a generation, with his raw rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner” as well as his hit song “Voodoo Child (Slight Return).”
Hendrix died in 1970 from a drug overdose inside a London flat at the age of 27. Today, his legacy is carried on by fans and individuals such as Steven Roby, who currently works as an Hendrix archivist and biographer. Roby discusses the lost sessions of Hendrix’s music in the following video from Book Passage.