Forty years ago Saturday, we lost a guitarist who literally changed the way we played rock and roll.
"His influence can be felt in every important musical movement that followed him, whether because of his sheer technical brilliance on the electric guitar—alternating between long wailing notes and rapid-fire attack—or his flamboyant way with the instrument, sometimes setting it on fire," wrote Riz Rollins in our 50 Most Influential Musicians issue. "Whereas most legends take a lifetime to make their mark, Hendrix’s output is confined to barely a decade—less than 10 years ended in a suffocating death brought on by an overdose of sleeping pills. He remains Seattle’s most reluctant and tragic prodigal son."
Experience Music Project honors Hendrix with a weekend of anniversary programming, including a screening of the documentary Jimi Hendrix Voodoo Child (coproduced by his sister Jani Hendrix), which premiered on the Biography Channel in August. It boasts new photos and film footage circa 1966-1970 from the Hendrix family archives (that vault is deep, and securely locked), plus interviews, letters, and recordings of songs like "Purple Haze," "Hey, Joe" and "Fire." Janie will introduce the first screening on Saturday at 11am; additional showings are at 11, 1 and 3 on Sunday.
A few valuables have escaped the vault, too: the handwritten lyrics to one of Jimi’s last songs, "Black Gold"; his 1968 Martin D-45 guitar; and an invite to the August 26, 1970 opening of his recording site Electric Lady Studio. For more info, go to empsfm.org.
Had enough of Jimi? How about a little more…just a little. It’s too good.