Jimi Hendrix would have been 70 today. He was born Johnny Allen Hendrix on Nov. 27, 1942 in Seattle. He died in London just 27 years later. But in that short time, he established himself as one of the most important figures in rock & roll history.
Hendrix’ legacy isn’t something that can be quantified, though he has sold more than 80 million records worldwide. His true legacy lies in the limitless influence of his guitar playing and in the enduring appeal of his music. There’s hardly a guitarist alive who doesn’t cite Hendrix as an inspiration, just as there’s hardly a college dorm in America where his songs don’t echo through the halls once in a while. He’s an artist revered by both teacher and student, one that both parents and their children can dig without a shred of irony or embarrassment. His reach extends across generations and continues to yield admirers and imitators.
The point is that Jimi Hendrix’ music is timeless. His work is so popular that he continues to sell millions of albums every year, more than 40 years after his death. And the crazy thing is, it all still holds up. “Voodoo Child (Slight Return)” sounds as ferocious today as it did in 1968; “Manic Depression” remains a marvel of sonic anarchy; “The Star-Spangled Banner” from Woodstock would make headlines tomorrow.
Very few artists can claim to have made a forceful impact on rock music, yet Hendrix did so in just four years. There’s a reason we’re all still listening.
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