Born James Marshall Hendrix, on November 27, 1942, in Seattle, Washington. Often called the greatest guitarist of all time, Hendrix pioneered the explosive popularity of the electric guitar. Hendrix's unique style of combining fuzz, feedback and controlled distortion created a new musical form Hendrixs legacy grew far beyond the wide popularity he achieved during his short career. He taught himself to play guitar as an adolescent, learning from the albums of blues men like Muddy Waters and B.B. King and rock musicians such as Chuck Berry. In 1961 Hendrix moved to New York City and began playing under the stage name Jimmy James as a side guitarist for prominent rock acts, including Ike & Tina Turner, the Isley Brothers, and Little Richard. In 1965, after clashing with Little Richard, he formed his own band, Jimmy James and the Blue Flames, and began playing extensively in Greenwich Village bars and coffeehouses.
In the fall of 1966, Hendrix moved to London, England, where he created a new band, the Jimi Hendrix Experience with bassist Noel Redding and bassist Mitch Mitchell... Their first single, Hey Joe, reached No. 6 on the U.K. pop charts; their debut album, Are You Experienced, released in 1967, also featured the now-classic songs Purple Haze, Foxy Lady, and Manic Depression. Hendrix was a superstar in England by the time the Experience made its American debut at the Monterey Pop Festival in June 1967, in a performance that reached its climax when Hendrix set his guitar on fire. With his innovative playing and outrageous performance style he became known for playing his right-handed Fender Stratocaster, the Electric Lady, upside down and left-handed and behind his back Hendrix became internationally popular, releasing two more albums with the Experience in 1968, Axis: Bold As Love and Electric Lady land. Hendrix recorded in his own New York city studio, named Electric Lady after his beloved guitar. In mid-1970 Hendrix was also recording another album, tentatively titled First Rays of the Rising Sun, with former Experience drummer Mitchell and Billy Cox, who played bass for the Band of Gypsy's.
He performed with Mitchell and Cox at his last concert in August of that year, at the Isle of Wight rock festival. The album was still unfinished on September 19, 1970, when the 27-year-old Hendrix died in London of drug-related causes (the coroners report said he had inhaled his own vomit after taking barbiturates). The authorities pronounced his death an accident; though Scotland Yard reopened the investigation in 1993, no new evidence was found and the matter was dropped. Since his tragic death in 1970, the cult of personality surrounding Hendrix has only grown, as has the undeniable effect of his innovative style on later blues and rock musicians, especially such virtuoso guitarists as Stevie Ray Vaughan and Vernon Reid. An estimated 100 posthumously released recordings ensured his legacy, along with several tribute albums including the all-star 1993 tribute Stone Free, featuring Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, the Pretenders, the Cure, and Ice-T, among others. Three different versions of Hendrixs last unfinished studio album have been released with different titles: The Cry of Love (1971), Voodoo Soup (1995), and its original title, First Rays of the Rising Sun (1997).
In addition, a number of books have been published about his life and career, ranging from an acclaimed 1983 biography Sc use Me While I Kiss the Sky: The Life of Jimi Hendrix by David Henderson to two memoirs by former bandmates, 1996's Are You Experienced: The Inside Story of the Jimi Hendrix Experience by Redding, and 1998's The Hendrix Experience, by Mitchell. Hendrix was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1992.