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Why Jimi Hendrix Was A Genius

James Marshall Hendrix has been my favorite musical artist for quite some time now. I have pretty much memorized every note and lyric from his entire discography. There is something about Hendrix's artistry that fascinates and resonates inside of me; his genius knew no bounds. We all know he was a pioneer of distortion and feedback and an experimenter with effect pedals and recording techniques. What impresses me personally was his ability to push his instrument and genre forwards while simultaneously making music that was popular, original, and timeless.


As the rock band 311 once sung, "you've got to come original." Looking back at 1967, we can see that Hendrix did exactly that. Rolling Stone has called Are You Experienced? an "epochal debut", saying that, "every idea we have of the guitarist as groundbreaking individual artist comes from this record."[1]

What personally draws me into this record and Hendrix's sound as a whole is his use of pop song structure and hooks combined with incendiary guitar and recording techniques. As a modern day songwriter/guitarist/producer myself, this combination of traits was impressive - to say in the least -for what was a pop music debut.

From his knowledge and use of bass lines on "Hey Joe", to his poetic lyrics and delicate playing on "The Wind Cries Mary", to the studio complexity of "Are You Experienced?", Hendrix had an all encompassing talent and vision that was just ... listenable, unlike some other virtuoso's I have never had to force myself to appreciate his music or listen to it just for guitar sake.

Some artists that remind me of Hendrix in the modern day ( just to give this essay a little more reach and understanding) are singer/songwriter John Mayer and producer Noah "40" Shebib. John Mayer because he has the virtuosity of the guitar paired with an indelible gift for songwriting and pop melody, and 40 because he shaped and influenced an entire generation of hip hop with his moody and low pass filtered arrangements that defied purists yet are now the mainstream norm.

To conclude for today, I hope you enjoyed my insights into Hendrix and I will try to write more pieces about Hendrix and other artists as to what I think makes them truly great.


1. "The 100 Best Debut Albums of All Time: number 3".Rolling Stone. Retrieved March 24, 2014.

2. Picture credits: © EDDIE KRAMER, 1967

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