Jimi Hendrix – 45 Impressive Facts You Didn’t Know
Jimi Hendrix is probably one, if not the most famous guitarist in the world, with every moment of his personal and work life fully documented. However, we’ve come up with some interesting and otherwise not so well known facts about Jimi. Some you might know, but we guarantee there’ll be a few you’ve never heard before.
So let’s jump straight into 45 impressive facts about Jimi Hendrix you didn’t know.
1. It’s All In A Name
Jimi Hendrix was born on the 27th of November 1942 and was named Johnny Allen Hendrix by his mother. Which was changed by his father to James Marshall Hendrix when he returned home after world war II.
2. When He Came To England He Was Called Jimmy Hendrix
In 1966 when he came to London hoping to be discovered, his name was spelled Jimmy, but his manager Chas Chandler who was formerly the bassist with the band “The Animals” said “Jimi” sounded more exotic.
3. Jimi Was Discovered By Keith Richards’ Girlfriend
Linda Keith, the girlfriend of Keith Richards persuaded Chas Chandler to watch Jimmy play at Café Wha? in New York City. He didn’t think Jimi was that special until he saw him play using his teeth, Chas said he thought to himself “ I could do something with this kid”. He signed Hendrix as his manager and convinced him to come to London where he said he’d introduce him to Eric Clapton.
Within 48 hours of arriving at Heathrow airport Hendrix was jamming onstage with Cream, the band which consisted of Jack Bruce, Ginger Baker and Eric Clapton.
4. Hendrix The Paratrooper
When Jimi was 18, on his second charge of joyriding, he was given the option of serving a sentence in prison or joining the US army. He chose the army and did 8 weeks basic training in Fort Campbell Kentucky for the 101st Airborne Division. He received the famous Screaming Eagles patch and completed 8 months of paratrooper training, but he was such a bad soldier that he received an honourable discharge.
With his platoon sergeant saying “ He has no interest whatsoever in the Army … It is my opinion that Private Hendrix will never come up to the standards required of a soldier. I feel that the military service will benefit if he is discharged as soon as possible.” Jimi always lied about this saying he was discharged because he broke his ankle when landing after a parachute jump.
5. Jimi Played A Right-Handed Guitar left-Handed
We know what you’re thinking, “that’s common knowledge” but what’s not so common is he strung them upside down or right way up. His strings were the correct way round with the thicker 6th string on top running down to the highest string the 1st string at the bottom as he held the guitar.
6. He Considered London England As His Home Town
Even though when he died, Jimi was buried in Seattle Washington USA, Jimi considered London England as his home because it’s where his success came from.
7. Jimi Hendrix Was Once Kidnapped
After a show in Greenwich Village, he left with a fan to get drugs and was held hostage for 48 hours, according to “According to Room Full of Mirrors”, a biography of Jimi Hendrix by Charles Cross. His kidnappers demanded that Jimi’s manager hand over his contract. But Michael Jeffrey, Jimi’s manager hired some private investigators to find Jimi and he was returned unharmed. Some have suggested that the kidnapping was orchestrated by Jeffrey to end a dispute about his contract.
8. Jimi Met His Bassist In The Army
It was while he was serving as a US soldier that Jimi Hendrix first met Billy Cox who would become his bassist in the Jimi Hendrix Experience and other bands.
9. Two Of Jimi’s Songs Are About His Mother
Jimi’s mother died when he was just 15 years old. The songs “Little Wing” and “ Angel” are about her.
10. Jimi Hendrix Didn’t Have A Driving Licence
Even though Jimi owned 6 Corvette Stingrays, which he liked to drive fast, he never had a licence to drive due to poor eyesight and his refusal to wear glasses.
11. Jimi’s Nickname Was The Bat
The members of his band called him the bat because he would darken his windows and sleep all day. Other nicknames included “The wild man from Borneo” and “the black Elvis”.
12. Ringo Starr Was Jimi’s Landlord At One Time
During his early days of living in London, Jimi rented a flat from Ringo Starr (the Beatles drummer) along with his manager at the time Chas Chandler. Ringo eventually threw them out because Jimi wrecked the place during a bad acid trip. He apparently threw whitewash all over the walls.
13. Jimi Was Mistaken For A Clown
Whilst in Liverpool in the North West of England, Jimi was refused from being served in a bar because they thought he was a clown. The circus was in town and the bar had a no clown rule in place.
14. Jimi’s Jacket Was Designed By Mick Jagger’s Brother
Jimi’s famous hand painted silk jacket which he wore when he burned his guitar at the Monterey International Pop Music Festival in June 1967, was designed by Chris Jagger, Mick’s brother.
15. Jimi Has One Son
Although Jimi never married and had at least 6 paternity suits brought against him, he only acknowledged one son, James Daniel Sundquist the son of his former girlfriend Eva Sundquist was born in October 1969.
16. Jimi Started Playing The Ukulele
Jimi was constantly asking his dad for a guitar which was denied. He found an old beaten up ukulele dumped in a pile of rubbish. It only had one string but that never stopped Jimi learning to play songs by Elvis Presley on it. When he was 15 his dad bought him his first guitar.
17. Jimi’s Early Influences Were All Blues Guitarists
When he got his first guitar at 15 he learned to play blues songs by B.B.King, Robert Johnson, Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf.
18. Jimi Was Handel’s Neighbour
When he lived in London with his then girlfriend Kathy Etchingham, Jimi lived in a flat next door to the house where the composer George Friderick Handel used to live. Jimi was at 23 Brook Street and Handel had lived at 25 Brook street more than 200 years before. Both houses now have a commemorative plaque outside.
19. Jimi Used To Hide In A Cupboard
When he was young and his parents Al and Lucille were engaged in a drunken fight (which was often) Jimi used to hide in a cupboard.
20. Jimi Used The Alias Jimmy James
When he was a young session musician, Hendrix used the name Jimmy James. His first band was named “Jimmy James and the Blue Flames”.
21. Hendrix The One Hit Wonder
In the USA, Jimi only had one number one album (Electric Ladyland) and one top 40 single (All Along The Watchtower).
22. Jimi Hendrix Designed Cars
When he was a teenager, Jimi used to draw designs for cars which he sent to the Ford Motor Company. It’s not known if any were ever used or if Ford replied to his letters.
23. He Also Sketched NCAA Footballers
Around the same time as he was designing cars, Jimi also drew many action shots of NCAA college footballers and in particular those now known as the Pac-12 teams.
24. Hendrix Was An Irish Cherokee
Although he is considered to be an African-American, Jimi Hendrix’s roots can be traced back to the Cherokee Nation and Ireland. His great-great grandmother on his father’s side was a Cherokee Indian who was married to an Irishman by the name of Moore.
25. The Secret To The Hendrix Sound
Jimi used 3 Super Lead Marshall 100-watt amplifiers all played together with the volume and tone cranked to full. This became known as the Hendrix setting.
26. Jimi Watched Elvis From A Hill Close To The Show
Jimi’s family were poor when he was a kid, so when Elvis Presley was performing at Sick’s Stadium in Seattle Washington, Jimi stood on a hilltop nearby to watch the show.
27. Hendrix And The Beatles Movie – Nearly
When the Beatles were making their TV movie “Magical Mystery Tour” Jimi was scheduled to appear but he was also duty bound to do other work so he was replaced by the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band.
28. Purple Haze Is A Love Song
Contrary to popular belief, Purple Haze is not about drugs. Even though LSD chemist Owsley Stanley named the acid he sold at the Monterey Pop Festival purple haze. The clue is in the line from the song which says; “Am I happy or in misery? Whatever it is – that girl put a spell on me”.
29. Jimi Could Play Guitar With Either Hand
Ronnie Wood of the Rolling Stones said in this youtube video that Jimi Hendrix could play the guitar left or right-handed.
30. Jimi Never Considered Himself The Greatest Guitarist
When Jimi first saw Terry Kath (from the band Chicago) play guitar, he said that he (Terry Kath) was “The best guitarist in the universe”.
31. Jimmy Nearly Missed A Gig Once Due To A Dream
According to Billy Cox, Jimi’s friend and bass guitarist, once before they were famous Jimi was more than half an hour late for a show in Nashville Tennessee where they were living. Billy knocked on Jimi’s door and Jimi said he woke up after dreaming the gig was cancelled so he went back to sleep.
32. Jimi Often Played Guitar All Night Long
Billy Cox also said that most nights, after gigging until 2.30 am, Jimi would fall asleep still holding his guitar and awake still holding it and continue to play. He even played his guitar while walking down the street.
33. Jimi Played Guitar In The Movies
Not on the screen, but in the audience, Jimi would sit watching the film plucking his unplugged electric guitar all the while.
34. In His Younger Days Jimi Opened For Some Famous Acts
Before he found fame, and while living and performing in Nashville Tennessee, Jimi and his band opened for acts such as Little Richard, Wilson Pickett and Mitty Collier.
35. Jimi Played Guitar With Sam Cooke & Jackie Wilson
In an impromptu gig in a club in Nashville, Cooke and Wilson came in unannounced, got up on stage and the resident band never knew their songs. But in the audience were Billy Cox and Jimi Hendrix who knew all of their songs. So they got up and played with them.
36. Jimi Was Classed As A Famous American Star Before He Found Fame
When he arrived at Heathrow airport in London he never had a work permit. His manager Tony Garland filled out his customs forms and wrote that he was a famous American star coming back to the UK to collect his royalties.
37. The Music Of The Electric Church
Jimi called his music “electric church” and said it was a religion. This belief has been honoured to this day in the museum of popular culture in Seattle Washington. There is a room called the sky church which was inspired by Jimi’s belief that people of all backgrounds, no matter how different, can be united through music.
38. Jimi’s Impressive Teeth
Jimi’s trick of playing guitar with his teeth is what impressed Chas Chandler enough to sign him immediately and bring him to London. Jimi got the idea from Butch Snipes who was another musician from Seattle Washington.
39. JImi Travelled Light
On his first trip to London Jimi got off the plane armed only with a set of pink plastic hair curlers, Valderma acne cream, a change of clothes and his guitar.
40. Jimi Played By Ear
Hendrix couldn’t read music and learned to play every tune he played purely by ear.
41. Wrong Headstone Inscription
On Jimi’s headstone in Seattle, there is an image of his Fender Stratocaster which is correct. However, the guitar is shown the right side up as opposed to the way Jimi played it, upside down.
42. Hendrix Got Paid The Most At Woodstock
Of all the artists that appeared at The Woodstock music festival, Jimi Hendrix was paid the most. He went on stage at 9 am on Monday morning and performed for two hours straight. For his performance, he was paid $18,000, the most any performer got paid during Woodstock.
43. The Jimi Hendrix Post Office
In 2018, less than a mile from his grave, congressman Adam Smith passed a bill naming a post office the “James Marshall ‘Jimi’ Hendrix Post Office” in Renton Seattle.
44. ELP Or HELP?
When Keith Emerson and Greg Lake were forming what would become Emerson, Lake and Palmer (ELP) they were considering Mitch Mitchell for drummer on the understanding he would bring Jimi Hendrix with him. They eventually chose Carl Palmer as their drummer, and soon after, the British press started spreading rumours that Hendrix would soon be joining the band.
We’ll never know how they could’ve sounded as Jimi sadly died shortly afterwards.
45. Was Jimi’s Death Really Accidental?
The official cause of Jimi Hendrix’s death was “barbiturate intoxication and inhalation of vomit” according to the coroner’s report. According to his then girlfriend Monika Dannemann, Jimi had taken 9 Vesparax tablets before retiring to bed to help him sleep. He apparently never realised they were stronger than his regular barbiturates.
There are, however, two different theories on why Jimi Hendrix died that night. One theory is that the Black Panthers murdered him because he wasn’t political enough. Or the CIA killed him because he was too political.
There is also a third theory that his manager Mike Jeffrey had murdered him because he believed that Jimi was about to fire him and go to a different manager. It is alleged he has said that if he could no longer manage him then no-one else would either. He also stood to inherit £1,200,000 in life insurance. There could be some credence to this story as Jeffrey was connected to a number of underworld characters and it was rumoured that he had Hendrix kidnapped earlier on in his career.
Whether Jimi was murdered, committed suicide (as has also been suggested) or died accidentally, we’ll probably never know. All we do know is the world lost an immense wealth of talent that night as Jimi Hendrix became yet another celebrity member of the exclusive 27 club. Other artists who died at the age of 27 include; Amy Winehouse, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison and Brian Jones.
Frequently Asked Questions
Jimi Hendrix was born in 1942 (27th of November) in Seattle, Washington, U.S
Jimi Hendrix was 27 when he died, making him part of the “27 Club” (popular musicians & actors that die at age 27).
Jimi Hendrix never actually married a wife, though he did have serious relations with Kathleen Etchingham, Betty Jean Morgan and Lithofayne Pridgon.
Jimi Hendrix was left handed and didn’t like left handed guitars so he decided to play his right handed guitar upside down.
Jimi Hendrix’s original first name was Johnny (John Allen Hendrix). His mother named him Johnny Allen but on his return from active service during WWII, his father named him James Marshall Hendrix.
Jimi Hendrix’s first manager was Chas Chandler. Chas was the bassist for the “Animals” who was also responsible for giving him his “Jimi” first name.
Jimi Hendrix’s mother, Lucille Jeter, was 17 when she gave birth to Jimi Hendrix (originally named John Allen Hendrix) on the 27th of November 1942 in Seattle, Washington, U.S
The Jimi Hendrix Experience’s first single was Hey Joe. Taken from the album “Are you experienced” and released as a single in 1967.
Jimi Hendrix’s New York City recording studio was called Electric Lady Studios
Jimi Hendrix died on September 18 1970. The coroner concluded that he died from asphyxiation while intoxicated with barbiturates.
Jimi Hendrix was born in Seattle, Washington, U.S on the 27th of November 1942.
Jimi Hendrix had 3 songs on the Rolling Stone’s list of the 100 Greatest Guitar Songs of All Time. They were “Purple Haze”, “Voodoo Child” and “Machine Gun”.
Jimi Hendrix’s songs “Little Wing” and “Angel” were about his mother Lucille Jeter.
Jimi Hendrix did not have a driving license, even though he owned 6 Corvette Stingrays, which he liked to drive fast. The reason he never had a license was because Jimi suffered from poor eyesight and refused to wear glasses.
Jimi’s first instrument was a Ukulele that he found on a rubbish pile. He learned to play Elvis Presley songs on the one stringed-uke until his father bought him a guitar at the age of 15.
Jimi did get paid the most for his appearance at Woodstock which took place at 8 am on Monday morning. Although he was paid the most of any performer at Woodstock, he was paid substantially less than his regular fee.
Those words are taken from the song “Hey Joe” which was written by Billy Roberts.
Jimi Hendrix shared the flat with his then manager Chas Chandler but was evicted by Ringo Starr after he wrecked the place during a bad acid trip.
The song containing those lines is “Purple Haze” which was the first track Jimi ever used the octavia, octave doub;ing effect pedal.
Jimi served in the 101st Airborne Division of the US army. He did his basic training at Fort Campbell Kentucky and received the famous screaming eagles patch after completing 8 months of paratrooper training.
The guitar carved into Jimi’s headstone is a Fender Stratocaster. However, it is shown right side up and Jimi played his upside down.
Jimi’s first band were called the Velvetones which he played in using an acoustic guitar as he never owned an electric guitar at that time.
Jimi was 15 years old when he got his first acoustic guitar which was bought for him by his father. After he had been playing a one-stringed ukulele he had found in a rubbish pile.
Jimi received $18,000 for his appearance at Woodstock which was substantially more than any other artist was paid for the 4 day event.
Jimi never took any guitar lessons, he learned to play by listening to blues legends like Elmore James, B.B. King and Muddy Waters.
The Jimi Hendrix Experience’s first hit single was “Hey Joe” which was first released in 1967.
Jimi performed at Woodstock at 8 am on Monday Aug. 18, 1969. He was supposed to have performed on the Sunday night at midnight but he refused which is why he was onstage at 8am on the Monday morning.
Do You Know Any Other Rare Facts About Jimi Hendrix?
That’s our 45 impressive facts about Jimi Hendrix, do you know any others that are not widely known? Let us know in the comments.