Performing Arts

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Jimi Hendrix

Jimi Henrix

James Marshall "Jimi" Hendrix (1942 – 1970) was an American musician, singer, and songwriter. He was born in Seattle to 17-year-old Lucille and James “Al” Hendrix. On her own, Lucille struggled with caring for her baby so her mother, Clarice Jeter, moved in to help. Both women worked low paid jobs which often meant baby Jimi wasn’t cared for. Eventually, Jimi was given to a Mrs. Champ—one of Clarice’s friends—and was moved to Berkeley, California.

Al retrieved his son from Mrs. Champ in 1945 and returned to live with Lucille in Seattle. In 1946, Al and Lucille changed their son's name to James Marshall Hendrix to honour both Al and Al's brother Leon Marshall. After the couple divorced in 1951, Al was given custody of Jimi and his younger brother, Leon.

After Lucille died in 1958, Al bought Jimi a ukulele and music became a way for the boy to express his feelings. As music began to dominate in Jimi’s life, he lost interest in school. He left high school early and worked as a landscape gardener with his father for a while, but didn’t enjoy the work. Jimi Hendrix was in the military for less than 12 months before he was discharged. From 1962 he was on the road for 7 years with a “motley succession of club bands”, making his recording debut with Lonnie Youngblood (b. 1941) at the end of 1963.

In 1966, Hendrix joined with bassist Noel Redding (1945-2003) and drummer John Mitchell (1946-2008) to form the Jimi Hendrix Experience. Hendrix quickly shot to fame in London and then in America at the Monterey Pop Festival in June 1967.