James Marshall “Jimi” Hendrix was born Johnny Allen Hendrix on November 27, 1942. Although his mainstream career spanned only four years, he is widely regarded as one of the most influential electric guitarists in the history of popular music, and one of the most celebrated musicians of the 20th century. Born in Seattle, Washington, Hendrix began playing guitar at the age of 15. In 1961, he enlisted in the U.S. Army and was granted an honorable discharge the following year. Soon afterward, he moved to Clarksville, Tennessee, and began playing gigs on the chitlin’ circuit, earning a place in the Isley Brothers’ backing band and later with Little Richard, with whom he continued to work through mid-1965. He then played with Curtis Knight and the Squires before moving to England in late 1966 after being discovered by Linda Keith, who in turn convinced bassist Chas Chandler of the Animals in becoming his first manager. Within months, Hendrix had earned three U.K. top ten hits with the Jimi Hendrix Experience: “Hey Joe,” “Purple Haze,” and “The Wind Cries Mary.” He achieved fame in the U.S. after his performance at the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967, and in 1968 with his third and final studio album, Electric Ladyland. Reaching number one in the U.S., it was Hendrix’s most commercially successful release and his first and only number one album. Then the world’s highest-paid performer, he headlined the Woodstock Festival in 1969 and the Isle of Wight Festival in 1970 before his accidental death from barbiturate-related asphyxia on September 18, 1970, at the age of 27.
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