Examining Jimi Hendrix’s Legacy Nearly 50 Years since His Death
Jimi Hendrix was one of the most creative and influential musicians of the 20th century. In other words, he is a legend, with an enduring legacy that outgrew his tragically short career.
Number 1 in Rolling Stone’s ‘100 Greatest Guitarists’ list, Hendrix was both virtuoso and a pioneer. He was a man who used his now iconic Fender Stratocaster, turned upside down and restrung for left-hand playing, to make some exceptional music. He was a maestro, deftly exploring the boundaries of his guitar, only to push past them, seemingly refusing to be constrained by the limits of his instrument of choice. And with Hendrix, there seemed to be no limits — only possibilities. He developed playing techniques never before seen, popularized the use of both guitar amplifier feedback and the wah-wah pedal, and turned his guitar into an electronic sound source.
Influenced heavily growing up by rock and roll artists like Elvis Presley and Chuck Berry, as well as electric blues pioneers such as Muddy Waters and B.B. King, Hendrix also synthesized various genres, including blues, R ‘n’ B, soul, rock and roll, jazz, psychedelic rock, and even American folk music. What’s more, he contributed to the development of heavy metal, funk, hard rock, and even hip-hop, among others.
Hendrix’s outsize legacy is also evident in the vast influence he has wielded long after his tragic death in London in 1970. Modern electric guitar players stand on the shoulders of Hendrix, and he was also Time’s choice as the greatest electric guitar player ever. The Seattle, Washington native opened a world of possibilities as far as guitar playing is concerned, and naturally, his techniques and delivery have been widely imitated. He has also influenced many a number of great artists, including Prince, John Frusciante, Stevie Ray Vaughnan, Joe Satriani, Kirk Hammett, David Bowie, and Yngwie Malmsteen, who credits Hendrix as having created modern electric guitar playing.
Finally, there is the music. Hendrix in his relatively short career was as prolific as anyone in the industry, and he left behind an amazing catalog of songs. There is “Testify,” which Hendrix recorded with the Isley Brothers in 1964; “Voodoo Chile,” a 15-minute track described by music critic Charles Murray as “a chronological guided tour of blues styles”; “Purple Haze,” regarded by many as his signature track; and so many more.
These songs, like Hendrix, have endured the test of time and are now being used in a variety of ways across various platforms. The aforementioned “Purple Haze” has been referenced in The Simpsons and included in the soundtracks of White Men Can’t Jump and Minions. “The Wind Cries Mary” is featured in Guitar Hero, while “All Along the Watchtower” is one of the many all-time hits in the video game Mafia 3. The Jimi Hendrix game on Foxy Casino features a number of his famous songs, including four of his biggest hits: “Little Wing,” “Crosstown Traffic,” “Purple Haze,” (again) and “Foxy Lady.” The game even incorporates a graphic representation of the guitar legend in the heady, psychedelic ’60s, which makes for a more immersive experience. The fact that media companies are continually using these songs is not only a testament to Hendrix’s incomparable legacy. But it is also an acknowledgement that the edgy lefty is as relevant as ever, with his songs continuing to resonate even some 50 years after his death.
Yes, Jimi Hendrix has been gone for nearly half a century already, but his legacy is anything but dead. It is alive and well, and will definitely be around for a very long time.