The list of artists who have been affected by the great Jimi Hendrix is pretty endless. Nearly every guitarist around the world has a favorite Hendrix story or moment.
In thinking about the Strat legend, we’ve selected five comments from prominent guitarists who hold a special reverence for the legendary icon.
Imagine Hendrix and Jeff Beck on stage at the same time. That pairing actually happened several times over a six-night run at the Scene club in New York in 1968. But Beck and Hendrix had a mutual appreciation that dated several years prior to those amazing shows, as told to Guitar World in 2014.
“I wasn’t looking for compliments, but before I met Jimi someone told me that he knew all about my recordings with the Yardbirds. He had to, because for someone so utterly flamboyant and who played so inventively, I knew he was one for listening out. He wasn’t one of those staid, insular kinds of blues players; he would listen to everything. And that alone thrilled me. He’d also seen the Yardbirds live in 1965/1966 when he was playing sideman to Little Richard, I believe.
“It was amazing to see him play, and I’d met him before I saw him perform. I saw him at this tiny little club in London, with all of these ‘dolly birds,’ which is what they called girls dressed in their miniskirts. I think they all thought he was going to be a folky, Bob Dylan–type of character [laughs], and he blew the place apart with his version of [Dylan’s] ‘Like a Rolling Stone.’
“I just went, ‘Ah…this is so great!’ It overshadowed any feelings of inferiority or competitiveness. It was so amazing. To see someone doing what I wanted to do… I came out a little crestfallen, but on the positive side, here was this guy opening big doors for us. Instead of looking on the negative side and saying, ‘We’re finished,’ I was thinking, ‘No, we’ve just started!’ I was delighted to have known him for the short time that I did. It was the magical watering hole of the Speakeasy, the club where we hung out in London, that enabled that to happen. It was the one place you could go and be guaranteed to see Eric or Jimi and have fun playing. Those places don’t seem to exist anymore.”
See Beck’s cover of “Manic Depression” with vocalist Seal below.
John Mayer penned a beautiful essay about Hendrix in Rolling Stone‘s 2004 list of the 100 Greatest Artists, in which he waxed rhapsodic about the guitar legend’s profound affect on musicians around the world.
“When I listen to Hendrix, I just hear a man, and that’s when it’s most beautiful — when you remember that another human being was capable of what he achieved,” he wrote. “Who I am as a guitarist is defined by my failure to become Jimi Hendrix. However far you stop on your climb to be like him, that’s who you are.”
Watch Mayer cover “Voodoo Child (Slight Return)” below.
It’s not difficult to hear how deeply former Red Hot Chili Peppers guitarist and solo artist John Frusciante was touched by Hendrix. Like Hendrix, Frusciante comes at the guitar with an exploratory ear, willing to take things to the next level and infuse new energy into the music.
In a 2007 Q&A with Rolling Stone, Frusciante discussed his reverence for Hendrix’s pioneering spirit.
“I’m an Electric Ladyland guy. His music always sounds perfect to me, because he’s bending sound, taking care of music in every dimension. Where most people think of it in two dimensions, he’s thinking of it in four. I don’t think there’s a better guitar player in history. He’s not something that can be improved on. And there’s the spirit that goes into it. He creates a place where you can be high and hang out and lose yourself. He’s bringing out aspects of sound we didn’t know were there. I feel there are people moving ahead on that front, but they’re not so much guitar players – like [electronic artists] Aphex Twin and Squarepusher. They continue the work Jimi Hendrix started, but not on the guitar.”
Watch the Red Hot Chili Peppers with Frusciante on guitar cover “Castles Made of Sand” below.
Stevie Ray Vaughan
Texas bluesman Stevie Ray Vaughan was a big Hendrix fan. His live shows would regularly feature a few Hendrix covers, and he even featured “Voodoo Chile” on his second album. And while comparisons between the two men existed among music critic circles, it was all about respect for the Hendrix legacy in his mind, which he explained in a 1985 interview with Guitar World.
“I loved his music and I feel like it’s important to hear what [Hendrix] was doing, just like anybody else, like Albert [King], or B.B.[King], or any of that stuff. I wanted to do the song, but I didn’t want to mistreat it. I feel like, I try to take care of his music, and it takes care of me. Treat it with respect, not as a burden – like you have to put a guy down ’cause he plays from it. That’s crazy. I respect him for his life and his music.”
Watch Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble cover “Little Wing / Third Stone from the Sun” below.
Kenny Wayne Shepherd
A longtime participant in the Experience Hendrix Tour, Shepherd makes no secret about his Hendrix fanaticism. Most, if not all, of his concerts end with a cover of “Voodoo Child (Slight Return).”
“Hendrix played a lot of blues, and for me, that’s one of the reasons why I really related to him musically. His music really resonated deep within me because I come rom the school of the blues. Listening to songs like ‘Red House,’ or when Jimi covered ‘Catfish Blues’ or ‘Killing Floor,’ Jimi covered a lot of blues songs over the course of his career, especially in live performances. And I think it really showed a lot of his roots and the foundation which he built his music from. That was the blues. That’s been my similar approach with my music, too.”
Watch Shepherd cover “Voodoo Chile” below.
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