Jimi Hendrix - "An African Prince"
What’s this ??
Surly this must be a "retouched" photo........Jimi Hendrix looking like an African prince, at a Harlem street fair and surrounded by Black children ?
Nah, no way.......right ??
This doesn’t look anything like the "drug sniffing rock star Uncle Tom who OD’ed in the apartment of some Swedish model". What the hell does Jimi Hendrix have to do with the FUNK ?
Damn right my main man is Jimi Hendrix !!!
Blues, Rock, Funk, Soul, whatever....he was on his own planet & he did his own thang !!!
"The Blues In Technicolor".
Many times while I was younger I heard the lament from Black folk "we invented rock and roll & whitey stole it from us"..........well Jimi Hendrix snatched it right back from em and did so with style and flair.
Unfortunately for Jimi Hendrix during his lifetime Black people never really accepted him......openly.
He dressed and acted very differently than other Black entertainers of that era and was largely dismissed within the Black community.
They thought he was an "Uncle Tom" and had "sold out".
Of course the truth was the exact opposite......Jimi Hendrix was fighting for the integrity of the music that had been stolen away and did so successfully.
Often imitated (ex. Lenny Kravitz, Prince, Stevie Ray Vaughn & Vernon Reid), but never duplicated !!!!
In my mind he is the “prototypical funkateer”
After his death a funny thing happened......people started dressing like him, talking like him, it even became “cool” to have white friends and not be called an “Uncle Tom”. Jimi Hendrix had an enormous, although unspoken influence on an entire generation of people. For example my recollection is that he was the first figure of national prominence to wear an Afro in 1967 (yeah even before Linc came along). Speaking of good old "Linc"......isn’t it obvious that Hendrix is the model for that character ? (get me a big tough lookin Black dude, with a big Afro, who can also get along with white people and not scare em).
Beyond all of this Hendrix was a man who embodied both “power and peace” at the same time. His scorching guitar riffs combined with sensitive and relevant lyrics almost define the FUNK for me.
Jimi Hendrix began his career in the 1960's playing as a "sideman" to some of the greatest performers in soul music. In the picture you can see him jamming with none other than Wilson Picket. He also played in the bands of Little Richard, King Curtis, Isley Brothers, O'Jays, Ronnetes, Ike and Tina Turner and others. Jimi cut his teeth, playing on the rough and tumble "chitlin circuit" touring the south and dealing with the racism of the circuit. Jimi was a master guitar player both in the studio and on tour. His his most lasting output from this period can be heard on the Isley Brothers hit song from 1964 "Testify" Pt's 1 & 2.
The echoes of Jimi Hendrix music can be heard in artists as diverse as WAR, Funkadelic, Mandrill, "The Artist Formerly Known as Prince", Living Colour, Sly and the Family Stone, Lakeside, Ohio Players, Slave and many others.
Jimi Hendrix influence can even be seen in hip hop where groups such as De La Soul, Digable Planets PM Dawn, etc will from time to time invoke Jimi’s name, guitar riffs and/or “spirit in their music.
Unfortunately Jimi Hendrix has had his greatest influence over “Black Music” in death as opposed to the influence and acceptance that he sought from the “brothers” while he was with us on this earth.
For a preview of what Jimi might have sounded like in the 70’s had he lived, check out Ernie Isley’s guitar solo on the song “That Lady” from the album 3+3. It is in my opinion the greatest guitar solo in the history of Funk music and probably the greatest tribute to Jimi ever performed on record. It is so good that at the time it came out, there was a rumor going around that it actually was Hendrix.
It wasn’t, I have seen the Isley Brothers perform the song live, Ernie Isley is just that good !!!
|"The Rock Star"|
Rock Historians tell us that this is the only phase of Jimi Hendrix career that is of any real importance. I strongly disagree !!!
Jimi Hendrix himself hated the persona that had been created for him during this period. Jimi produced some great music during this period and had his greatest comercial sucess. But he felt as if he had fallen in to a formula that he needed to escape from. That's why he broke up the "Jimi Hendrix Experience", at the height of their fame and moved forward.
"All Along The Watchtower" is a good example of the genius of Hendrix. The song was originally written & performed by Bob Dylan. Hendrix took the song and made it his own. His version of "All Along The Watchtower" bears little resemblance to Dylan's version and became a big hit for Jimi Hendrix back in 1967. Interestingly enough when Dylan performs the song today........he performs it using the same style that Jimi Hendrix did, rather than his own !!!
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