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Joe Bonamassa’s homage to Jimi Hendrix

Nowadays, the term “game changer” is used a lot. From the latest enviro-friendly hybrid cars, to smart phones and massive hard drives tablets masquerading as books, it’s used to describe a lot of over-hyped nonsense that turns out to be obsolete within a year. Come to think of it now, in the history of modern media (music, movies and print) there have been very few actual “game changers” that have actually come on the scene and did as advertised—changed the game.

One such example is from 1967 when Francis Albert Sinatra’s Reprise Records released “Are You Experienced?” from a Seattle-born guitarist named James Marshall Hendrix. The game changed quickly.

With help from Eddie Kramer and Chas Chandler, every guitar player from New York to London and back was sent scrambling for inspiration on the fuzz box in response to the former 51st airborne division, ex-Little Richard/Isley brothers guitarist’s first solo album.

It was a monster. I mean, “Move over Rover, let Jimi take over.” That’s worth the price of admission right there. “Axis Bold as Love” is the less fiery, more tuneful follow up.

PS: If you want to be the too-hip-for-the-room Hendrix fan, you say that’s your favorite at all the dinner parties. It wins you brownie points and good champagne among the muso glitterati.

Then there is Jimi’s Electric Ladyland—simply from another world. For me as a guitarist, Electric Lady is the best. I’ll never forget the sound of “Voodoo Chile” billowing from my dad’s cobalt blue McIntosh hi-fi. Steve Winwood’s Hammond organ summoned the spirit of a great gospel church revival and Jimi was on fire. It changed my life. It changed the way I looked at music. It changed the way I played my guitar.

Bottom line: Guitar music today would be simply different and frankly boring if it wasn’t for Hendrix. He was our “game changer.” Don’t believe me? Ask Pete Townshend.

-Joe B.

Joe’s favorite songs of Jimi:

Spanish Castle Magic,
Rainy Day Dream Away,
Voodoo Child (Slight Return)

“Hendrix 70: Live At Woodstock” is the title of the legendary 1969 Woodstock performance now playing in cinemas worldwide under the auspices of Experience Hendrix, L.L.C., and features Jimi’s fascinating road to the Woodstock festival, revealed by way of never before seen footage and interviews with his band members. For more information, go to the official Jimi Hendrix Website at http://www.jimihendrix.com/us/news/hendrix-70-live-woodstock.

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