Rock/R&B/psychedelia superstar Jimi Hendrix was actually left-handed, obliging him to learn to play the guitar while holding the instrument upside down. An excellent student, Hendrix was nonetheless kicked out of school in the 11th grade; he would later claim that this was because he was seen holding hands with a white girl. After serving as an Air Force paratrooper, Hendrix played backup and lead electric guitar with several bands. In 1966, he formed The Jimi Hendrix Experience with Noel Redding and Mitch Mitchell. The release of the group's first album, 1967's Are You Experienced?, preceded its first public appearance at the Monterey Pop Festival. Like most of his contemporaries, Hendrix never entertained thoughts of a movie career; his big-screen appearances came by way of such concert films as Popcorn (1969) and Woodstock (1970). In 1973, audiences were treated to no fewer than three Hendrix film appearances: Jimi Plays Berkeley, Keep on Rockin': Jimi Hendrix, and Rainbow Bridge. All were released posthumously; three years earlier, 27-year-old Jimi Hendrix had died in London of a drug overdose.
Biography by Hal Erickson
- Name changed to James Marshall Hendrix by his father when he was a toddler.
- Could not read music so he taught himself to play the guitar by listening to well known guitarists.
- Got his first electric guitar, a Supro Ozark 1560S, in 1959.
- In 1966, on the advice of his manager, shortened and changed his first name to Jimi.
- Enlisted in the Army in 1961, but was later discharged after only one year. The official reason for the discharge was listed as injury, though the book Room Full of Mirrors by Charles Cross alleges that Hendrix claimed to be a homosexual in in order to be discharged.
- Called his 1967 legendary guitar-burning performance at the Monterey International Pop Festival a sacrifice because he destroyed his cherished musical instrument.
- Became the first rock idol to pose for The Plaster Casters of Chicago, two artistic rock and roll groupies who made mold replicas of musicians' body parts.
- Recorded only three albums in his career: Are You Experienced?, Axis: Bold as Love and Electric Ladyland.
- Inducted, along with other members of The Jimi Hendrix Experience, into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on January 15, 1992.
- Took top honors in Rolling Stone magazine's list of 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time.