In his brief four-year reign as a superstar, Jimi Hendrix expanded the vocabulary of the electric rock guitar more than anyone before or since. Hendrix was a master at obtaining a manner of sounds from his instrument, often with innovative amplification experiments that produced high feedback and deafening distortion. His frequent blasts of noise and amazing showmanship has sometimes obscured his significant gifts as a songwriter, singer, and master of a range of blues, R&B, and rock styles.
When Hendrix became an international superstar in 1967, it seemed as if he'd dropped out of nowhere. In fact he'd served his apprenticeship the long, hard way in numerous R&B acts before. During the early and mid-'60s, he worked with such R&B/soul greats as Little Richard, the Isley Brothers, and King Curtis as a backup guitarist. Occasionally he recorded as a session man. But the stars didn't appreciate his show-stealing showmanship, and Hendrix was held down by sideman roles that didn't allow him to develop as a soloist.
The logical step was for Hendrix to go out on his own, which he did in New York in the mid-'60s, playing with various musicians in local clubs, and joining white blues-rock singer John Hammond Jr. 's band for a while.
It was in a New York club that Hendrix was spotted by Animals bassist Chas Chandler. The first lineup of the Animals was about to separate, and Chandler , looking to move into management, convinced Hendrix to move to London and record as a solo act in England. There a group was built around Jimi, also featuring Mitch Mitchell on drums and Noel Redding on bass, which was called the Jimi Hendrix Experience. The trio became stars with great speed in the U. K., where Hey Joe, Purple Haze, and The Wind...