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James Marshall "Jimi" Hendrix (born Johnny Allen Hendrix - 1942-1970) is widely considered the greatest guitarist of all time and he revolutionized the use of the electric guitar inspiring a generation of up-and-coming artists. Jimmy's father bought him his first guitar when he was 16 and purchased him his first electric a year later. Jimmy spent the next few years honing his ability and learning to stretch the limits of his guitar. Jimmy began playing with the Rocking Kings, before enlisting in the United States Army in 1961 where he became a paratrooper with the famous "Screaming Eagles". He also started his own band in the military, the King Kasuals, before he was discharged due to an injury suffered during a jump. Upon his return from service, Hendrix became a renowned session guitarist playing under the name Jimmy James with Ike and Tine Turner, Little Richard, Jackie Wilson, Sam Cooke and the Isley Brothers, to name a few.
Hendrix started his own band in 1966 called Jimmy James and the Blue Flames that frequented bars and venues around the Greenwich Village, New York scene. That year as he built a following in New York, former Animals bassist Chas Chandler began managing Hendrix, convinced him to move to London and change the spelling of his name to "Jimi". Jimi was teamed with Noel Redding and Mitch Mitchell to form The Jimi Hendrix Experience, a potent psychedelic rock trio. Hendrix's new band experienced a meteoric rise to fame as their first album, "Are You Experienced?" rocketed up the charts to number two in the U.K and number five in the United States. The band members, including Jimi, began experimenting with psychedelic drugs like LSD and "Are You Experienced?" posed that question to listeners who kept the LP on the charts for two years. "Hey, Joe", "Purple Haze", "Foxy Lady", "Manic Depression", "The Wind Cries Mary" and the titles track "Are You Experienced?" made the album one of the greatest compilations from the late 1960s. His performances at the Monterey Pop Festival - where he famously lit his guitar on fire on stage - and the Woodstock Festival solidified Hendrix status as a superstar and the era's most unique guitar player. The Jimi Hendrix Experience released two more studio albums before the end of 1968, Axis: Bold as Love (1967) and Electric Ladyland (1968) which were both among top ten records in the UK and the USA, the latter of which produced rock anthems like "Voodoo Chile", "Crosstown Traffic" and a remake of Bob Dylan's "All Along the Watchtower." In March 1970, "Band of Gypsys" was released, a live recording highlighting Hendrix' two-night stage shows at the Fillmore East in San Francisco.
In August of 1970, Hendrix and partner/manager Michael Jeffery opened Electric Lady Studios in New York. Soon after the opening, Jimi and Mitch Mitchell appeared at the Isle of Wight Festival on August 31 in England, a festival that included The Who, The Doors, Miles Davis, Emerson, Lake & Palmer, Free and numerous other artists over five days. He briefly toured Europe after the festival as his drug and alcohol usage increased, which it had been since his rise to stardom. On September 18, 1970, Jimi Hendrix was found dead in his London hotel room from asphyxiation having ingested red wine and an overdose of sleeping pills. Jimi Hendrix unique and innovative guitar mastery was silenced forever as he became the first of three rock music icons to die prematurely at the age of 27 in a ten-month period (Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison). His whirlwind career only lasted four years, but his amazing riffs and guitar licks have helped influence a generation of guitarists and revolutionized rock and roll. In 1992, Jimi Hendrix was given a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Grammys and in 2003 and 2011 Rolling Stone Magazine named him the Greatest Guitarist of All-Time.