American guitarist and musical genius. He was a rock superstar for just four years, but in that time, he transformed the way the electric guitar was played. He was so damn good he could play a right-handed guitar even though he was left-handed (he played the guitar upside-down). He pushed the limits of the guitar farther than anyone ever has.

Born James Marshall Hendricks in Seattle, Washington on November 27, 1942. After serving some time in the military, he started his musical career playing backup guitar for Little Richard, the Isley Brothers, and King Curtis. But even then, Jimi was an incredible showman, and many of the stars, particularly Little Richard, were unhappy with his show-stealing antics.

When Jimi went solo in the mid-1960s, he was encouraged by Animals bassist Chas Chandler to record in England. On the other side of the pond, the Jimi Hendrix Experience was formed around Jimi, with Noel Redding on bass and Mitch Mitchell on drums. They got popular fast in Britain, and after Jimi's sensational performance at 1967's Monterey Pop Festival, their debut album, "Are You Experienced?" sold like crazy in the United States.

The Experience's follow-up albums, "Axis: Bold as Love" and "Electric Ladyland" were both more experimental, but less popular. Jimi disbanded the Experience in 1969 and formed the Band of Gypsys with drummer Buddy Miles and bassist Billy Cox.

But after blowing Woodstock away with his performance of "The Star-Spangled Banner", Hendrix did not record another studio album. He was unable to decide which lineup he wanted to play with, disbanding the Gypsys, reforming the Experience, then disbanding the Experience again soon afterwards. He was unable to decide which musical direction he wanted to go--jazz, funk, blues, rock, experimental, or something else.

He died in London on September 18, 1970 of drug-related complications. Much of his unreleased studio and live concert material (some of it good, some of it bad) was released posthumously. After lengthy court proceedings, all rights to Jimi's estate have been returned to his father, Al.

Addendum: sideways sez: "Just for total accuracy, you should probably note that he restrung the right-handed guitar "the left-handed way", so for all intents and purposes, he was playing a left-handed guitar. As a guitarist I can tell you that it's the stringing that matters, not the shape of the instrument. Robert Cray, on the other hand, plays a right-handed guitar upside-down without restringing it. Don't get me wrong -- Hendrix is one of my all-time favourites, but there's got to be better examples of how good he was than his left-handedness."

Addendum II: Uri E Bakay sez: "A better example of how good he was would be, playing Wild Thing one-handed (then killing his guitar after humping it hahaha)"

Thanks to bradnowell for corrections.

One of Hendrix's guitars, an Epiphone, that he played from 1967 to 1970, was sold at Bonhams & Brooks auction house in London Thursday (June 21, 2001) for $87,000(US).

A black pen that he once used to sign a recording contract fetched $5,800.

A stars and stripes shirt went for $26,000.

A set of stacked amplifiers that he used at Woodstock sold for $41,000.

Total proceeds reached $272,000 and will go to DrugScope, a group that researches drug policy.

I reckon ol' Jimi mighta turned over in his grave at the irony of it all..

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