by Geoffrey Churchman
It would be hard to justify the accolade of the most influential guitar player in history being applied to anyone other than Jimi Hendrix.
Although born in Seattle USA, it was the four years from the time he arrived in London in 1966 to his death at the age of 27 in the same city four years later (from barbiturate intoxication) that an astonishing musical legacy was created.
He quickly transformed the nascent rock and blues music scene in London by demonstrating where the electric guitar and its accoutrements could be taken and influenced many contemporary players like Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, Ritchie Blackmore and Pete Townshend. He wasn’t just a genius guitar player but composed many classic songs which nearly every budding guitar player still studies and many bands cover. He fully embraced the likewise nascent psychedelic era and his stage shows were often flamboyant with flashy tricks like playing behind his back and with his teeth.
But his interest wasn’t only in rock, he was interested in more grandiose orchested sonic creations and that direction is likely where he would have ventured had he lived.
Half a century on his influence on rock guitar around the world is just as strong and his recordings are much listened to and studied.