Jimi Hendrix A legend was born on November 27, 1942 in Seattle with the name of James Allen Hendrix. He was a true American of Black, White and Cherokee blood. As a child, James who later changed his name to Jimi, was very shy and was raised by friends and family. He grew up in different homes that ranged from city life to living on the Cherokee reservation with his grandmother. With all of the difficulties that he struggled with in his early life he found refuge in music.
His father bought him a guitar at the age of 13 and his love for music had begun. He grew up he listening to the music of the 40’s and 50’s and became well aquatinted with the sounds of other eras preserved in his father’s record collection. There was a great influence of blues as well of R music that influenced his style and play. He spent what free time he had on the guitar and dropped out of school in 1959 so he would be able to further pursue his dreams. After he dropped out he enlisted in the army and spent this time trying to figure out who he really was.
He followed his dreams and after his discharge from the army he became a musician. For the next ten years Hendrix played with a countless number of bands on the way to his notoriety. His greatest success occurred when he formed the Jimi Hendrix Experience in 66′. With this he exposed to America who he was and what he stood for. During his reign he confidently rose to success with powerful and inspiring music.
He was, “a prolific and profligate creator who left almost everyone who heard or saw him with the distinct impression that the heart center of his work remained tantalizingly out of reach.”1 Jimi Hendrix remains an enigma, an innovator that remains unparalleled in what he brought to the world as well as what he accomplished with his music. How Jimi is perceived rests on his controversial life style and the handful of recordings that he left behind. But if his life is examined one finds a man that is trying to find true love. One who expresses himself freely and encourages others to do the same. “Being an artist is a heavy trip, if you’re totally committed to what you do, you pay a lot of different types of dues.”2 Jimi paid these dues with a struggle with alcoholism and a heavy drug addiction.
He like so many other great artist, paid with his life during his constant struggle. But during this struggle Jimi expressed himself and lived a life for others. He came from an age of l! loving everyone and a constant quest for peace and happiness. He was outspoken in his political views and he used the stage to voice his opinion. Hendrix appeal came from not only his musical achievements but also from what he stood for. He was not a part of any existing musical or social movement, but he was true, he was what America stood for.
Jimi Hendrix truly was a “man for others” and this Jesuit philosophy is exemplified throughout his life. Hendrix was a man that was full of love and he wanted most to attain peace from his music. He followed his soul and it made him holy. St. Paul said, “The greatest gift of all is the gift of love.
Make love your aim”. No one has ever seen God, but as long as we love each other God remains in us and his love comes to its perfection in us. This is the proof that we remain in him and he in us, that he has given us a share in his Spirit. God is love, and whoever remains in love remains in God and God in him (1 Jn 4:12-13,16). Through the act of love the Holy Spirit makes us Christ like. Jimi Hendrix portrayed love for all people and his beliefs coincided with his actions.
During his life he sent the message of love, joy, peace, endurance, kindness, and generosity which all coincide with the benefits of the Holy Spirit. Despite some obvious flaws in his life Jimi essentially represented a kind and loving person to all people. As a young boy Jimi had always loved to attend church because of the music. Jimi and his family attended a black Baptist church and Jimi was especially interested in the hand clapping boisterous choral. When he was eight years old he was sent home from service because of his scruffy, raggedy clothes.
He never forgot the humiliation and he rarely if ever went back to church. Although he was not very religious he led a life that was consistent to his beliefs in being a good person. “You have to forget about what other people say, when you’re supposed to die, or when you’re supposed to be loving. You have to forget about all these things. You have to go on and be crazy. Craziness is like heaven”.3 This is truly what Hendrix believed in and this was his interpretation of religion.
He expressed a vision of freedom and what he believed America stood for. His views in political life were apparent through his life as well as his music. Jimi’s rendition of the Star Spangled Anthem, that he played during Woodstook, summed up what his beliefs consisted of. He wanted freedom of expression and believed that each individual should have the right to express themselves in whatever way they wanted. He took this traditional song and added what he was best known for with his electric guitar. The symbolism between his actions with the Star Spangle Banner and his political views is immense. He took this traditional song that is best known for representing our country and inflicted his owns views on it.
He was quoted as saying, “I think anybody should be able to do whatever he wants.”4 He lived by this and he encouraged others to do the same. He portrayed a sense of freedom in what he wanted in his own life as well as what he wanted politically for America. He took a r! radical approach at expressing his feelings and thoughts of what was going on around him. Jimi had a very liberal view on what he believed to be true. He was very left wing and his actions represent what he believed.
Jimi’s attitude towards Nixon was very hostile but not in a bad way. He was just looking for peace and his beliefs conflicted with the general public and especially Vietnam. He brought out the sense of freedom in the people that listened to his music. He inspired them to pursue what they believed in rather than following set traditions. He was a iconoclast who fit right in with the hippie generation.
His political views showed a man with a meaning, a man that wanted a change. He brought this change and he was a great influence in the major hippie movements that took place in the 60’s. It was best stated by Jimi on what he really wanted to accomplish with his music. “I try to use my music as a machine to move these people to act – to get changes done”.5 Although Jimi is perceived by many as being socially unacceptable, it is a misconception. Jimi was an active member in the community and he strided to help others.
He reached out to his followers and showed them the way to success. To truly be a man for others one must use there talents to help others. He certainly did this and it effected thousands. The goal of his life was to make the world a better place and he certainly did. Jimi took these people and enabled them to show there own identity.
He used his talents and put them to good work. He made a lasting impression on the world and people are still effected by his music three decades later. For his actions he is remembered, and for his inspiration he was a man for others. Not only did Hendrix create a new frontier in music but he started one with race. He broke down racial barriers and strived for equality for all.
A recorded incident occurred in 67′ while Jimi was boarding a train in London. He ran into a group of angry football fans who despised his music and thought of him as a long hared freak. These people approached Jimi with hatred and Jimi just looked at them with a “magnetic grin”. It was said that these people were so effected by this jester that they, “became so transformed to go home and tell their daughters, ‘Oh, I met that blolce Freddie Hendrix, he’s a nice guy.’6 This is the kind of impact Jimi had and it was part of his integrity. Throughout his life Jimi did what he believed was right. He knew no other way, but maintained his integrity.
“A musician, if he’s a messenger, is like a child who hasn’t been handled too many times by man, hasn’t had too many fingerprints across his brain. That’s why music is so much heavier than anything you’ve ever felt.”7 As stated by Hendrix in 69′. In life, Hendrix wanted the same thing as everyone else. He wanted to enjoy life and his occupation and he wanted to do something which added something positive to the world. He wanted to live life to the fullest and at the same time he wanted to have peace, an open mind, the freedom to be creative and the ability to make the world a better place for the next generations.
Jimi Hendrix exemplified the Jesuit philosophy of being a man for others through his religious freedom, his opinionated political views and his positive influence on the community.