Guitar legend Jimi Hendrix is born in Seattle. Hendrix grew up playing guitar, imitating blues greats like Muddy Waters as well as early rockers. He joined the army in 1959 and became a paratrooper but was honorably discharged in 1961 after an injury that exempted him from duty in Vietnam. In the early 1960s, Hendrix worked as a pickup guitarist, backing musicians including Little Richard, B.B. King, Ike and Tina Turner, and Sam Cooke. In 1964, he moved to New York and played in coffeehouses, where bassist Chas Chandler of the British group the Animals heard him. Chandler arranged to manage Hendrix and brought him to London in 1966, where they created the Jimi Hendrix Experience with bassist Noel Redding and drummer Mitch Mitchell. The band’s first single, “Hey Joe,” hit No. 6 on the British pop charts, and the band became an instant sensation.
In 1967, the Jimi Hendrix Experience made its first U.S. appearance, at the Monterey Pop Festival. Hendrix made a splash by burning his guitar and was quickly established as a rock superstar. In the next two years, before the band broke up in 1969, it had released such classic songs as “Purple Haze,” “Foxy Lady,” and “The Wind Cries Mary.” The band’s albums included Are You Experienced? (1967), Axis: Bold as Love (1969) and Electric Ladyland (1969).
After the band dissolved because of creative tensions, Hendrix made his famous appearance at Woodstock, playing a masterful, intricate version of “The Star Spangled Banner.” Later that year, he put together a new group called the Band of Gypsies, which debuted on New Year’s Eve in 1969. The band put out only one album, Band of Gypsies (1969). (A second album, Band of Gypsies II, was released in 1986.) Hendrix then recorded another album, without the band, called The Cry of Love, which was released in 1971.
Hendrix, one of the most innovative guitar players of the rock era, established an advanced recording studio in New York called the Electric Lady, boasting 46-track recording technology. The studio opened in August 1970, shortly before Hendrix died in London in September 1970, following a drug overdose. He was 27.