James Marshal Hendrix was born on November 27, 1942 in Seattle, Washington. His ancestry was a combination of African, European, Cherokee Indian, and Mexican blood and he lived with his grandmother in Canada for quite some time.
At the age of twelve, Jimi got his first electric guitar and began developing a serious interest in music playing. His mother died when he was fifteen years old and at the age of sixteen he was thrown out of school for holding the hand of a white girl during class. In his spare time, he began playing with local bands until he joined the army when he was seventeen.
Jimi spent a little over a year as a paratrooper before he suffered an injury that caused him to be discharged. After returning to Seattle, he immediately returned to playing guitar and sought positions in local bands. Over the next four years, he played as a backup guitarist for a number of musicians including Little Richard, Ike and Tina Turner, and King Curtis. After touring, he moved to New York, where he made some recordings with popular artists.
In 1965, Jimi decided to start his own band and named it "Jimmy James and the Blue Flames". Word of his talent spread around quickly after the band played in local clubs and bars, eventually reaching a man named Chas Chandler. Chas was a bass guitarist who had previously played with "The Animals" and convinced Jimi to come to England with him.
In England, Chas worked as Jimi's manager and the two managed to round up some other musicians, including Noel Redding and Mitch Mitchell. The new group called itself "The Jimi Hendrix Experience" and began touring Europe. Their music was an instant hit and Jimi's playing style dazzled the crowds with its uniqueness and obvious skill. It didn't take long for the group to get a recording contract and release a series of hit singles.
When the group played at the Monterey Pop Festival, Jimi made a famous performance that culminated with him holding his burning guitar over his head. The performance made him famous in the United States overnight and the group's albums sold millions of copies. From then on, the group's tours always sold out completely and Jimi continued his stage antics that included smashing guitars and other equipment on stage.
Despite his success, Jimi was often withdrawn from his friends and had a violent temperament. In 1968, he was thrown in jail while on tour in Sweden when he destroyed an entire hotel room. That same year, the group released "Electric Ladyland", which produced hits including "All Along the Watchtower" and "Voodoo Chile".
In 1969, Jimi split from his band mates after artistic disagreement. At the Woodstock Music Festival, he teamed up with Billy Cox and played his famous rendition of the "Star Spangled Banner", partially using his teeth. After that, he kept a low profile and formed a music group with Buddy Miles and Billy Cox for a while. Their album "Band of Gypsies" was released in 1970 and became a huge hit.
Later that year, Jimi went to England with Experience drummer Mitch Mitchell to play at the Third Isle of Wight Festival. They continued to do a tour of Europe with Billy Cox on bass, but Billy had a nervous breakdown that forced them to end the tour early.
On September 15, 1970, Jimi was scheduled to meet with lawyers and potential managers, but didn't show up for the meeting. He appeared later that day at an apartment owned by a woman named Lorraine James. She said that "He was obviously high on drugs and had a lot of cannabis on him. He was in a terrible state, highly nervous." After spending a few hours on the building's pay phone, he engaged in a threesome until 5 am.
The next day, he visited several houses around London and did a lot of drugs. He spent a lot of the day running around his girlfriend's house screaming before passing out and sleeping through the next day. On September 18th, he was supposed to return to New York City, where he was supposed to meet with his manager about his next recording. However, he didn't show up. Instead, he had stayed at his girlfriend Monika's apartment and taken a lot of sleeping pills. Monika woke up and found Jimi dead with vomit over his nose and mouth. He was pronounced dead, passing away at the height of his popularity.