Gibson Guitar tell us that they will be revealing a unique and exclusive partnership between themselves and Authentic Hendrix later this week. Here's the initial press release that they have sent us...
How Jimi Hendrix Raised The Bar For Everything:
Gibson Guitar preserves the legacy of the most creative and influential musician of the 20th Century.
Jimi Hendrix was the greatest guitarist of the rock 'n' roll era. He never said that, of course, but such reliable sources as Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, and Pete Townshend did.
Thirty-nine-years after his death Hendrix's list of innovations and accomplishments remains unequaled by any other rock star. Set to paper, they appear exactly as staggering as they are -- and they cross all kinds of musical and cultural lines.
Hendrix's pyrotechnic stage and studio performances are his most obvious legacy, but he also changed the reference points for all guitarists with his explorations of volume, feedback, and effects, and the extended technique he coupled to an improvisational sensibility akin to jazz giant John Coltrane's.
Truly, his influence extends beyond guitar. Hendrix inspired daring horn players -- Miles Davis and Morphine's Dana Colley among them -- to play through amps and effects. Electric violinists and cellists, synthesizer players, and a host of others who stretch sonic boundaries still bow to his lead.
Jimi and John, Paul, George, and Ringo were the first artists to build their own commercial studios -- the better for Hendrix to master the recording innovations that made albums like Axis: Bold As Love and Electric Ladyland cornerstones of the psychedelic era.
And yet, it's possible that Hendrix's most important contributions weren't musical. With his Technicolor clothing, expressionist sound, conked and Afro'd hair, and grounding in chitlin circuit blues and R&B, he crossed all sorts of cultural lines to become a living symbol of the personal and social freedoms the Woodstock generation hungered for.
Nonetheless, it was the nuts and bolts of Hendrix's music that first captured the imagination of his fellow virtuosos and the public. Guitarists had employed distortion since the birth of rock 'n' roll, when Ike Turner and His Kings of Rhythm cut "Rocket 88" in 1951. But nobody harnessed the sound of overdriven amps like Hendrix.
"Purple Haze," his first self-penned single in 1967, and that year's debut LP Are You Experienced struck the international music scene like bolts from Zeus. Feedback swelled to introduce solos and melodic lines. "Purple Haze" 's intro was the heaviest riff recorded to date, opening doors for both the hard rock and metal revolutions to come. The layered and reversed guitars in the title track were the most ambitious excursions in overdubbing and tape manipulation since Les Paul's multi-tracked showpieces of the early 1950s. And Jimi's studio version of "The Star Spangled Banner" remains a textbook example of the technique.
All of this wouldn't have occurred if Hendrix wasn't consumed by curiosity. The original guitar hero's guitar hero was driven to expand his creative palette, so access to the latest gear was as important to him as oxygen.
Before Hendrix walked into his shop in 1966, Jim Marshall was a small music-store owner and struggling amp manufacturer. A year later Marshall's amplifiers were becoming the new standard for rock thanks to Hendrix's quest for warm, powerful distortion and easily conjured and controlled feedback. Today, Marshall remains one of the most popular brands and the foundation for modern high gain amplification.
Of course, Hendrix didn't let his Marconi-tubed stacks of 4x12 cabinets rest on their own laurels. Early in his quest for sonic thrills he met British electronics guru Roger Mayer. Wah-wah, volume, and distortion pedals were already a familiar part of the guitar vocabulary. But Hendrix desired more interesting sounds to match the rainbows he heard in his head, as well as distortion pedals that wouldn't just disappear into the howl of a Marshall.
Hendrix took Mayer's Octavia -- a UFO-shaped box that produces a tone an octave higher than the one being played, thereby doubling the struck notes -- in the studio to cut "Purple Haze." The device played a prominent role in "Little Wing," "One Rainy Wish," "Fire," and the epochal "Machine Gun," too.
Mayer also developed the fuzz box Hendrix used on "Axis Bold As Love," the Uni-Vibe heard at the beginning of Jimi's Woodstock performance of "Star Spangled Banner," and a host of other effects. He remains a major player in the business today thanks to Jimi's endorsement.
The Mosrite Fuzzrite and Dallas-Arbiter Fuzz Face were also staples of Hendrix's toy box. And occasionally he used a Leslie cabinet in the studio for whirlwind tremolo. Electric Ladyland's scalding blues-rock masterpiece "House Burning Down" is an especially thrilling example of the latter.
But it takes more than amps, effects, and a fleet of guitars -- primarily Stratocasters, SGs, and three magnificent Flying Vs that still survive today -- to make a great guitarist. Hendrix was so devoted to the instrument that he slept with guitars as if they were Teddy Bears and often fiddled with licks and riffs as he conversed with friends. He played constantly, and had a hard-working apprenticeship on the chitlin circuit fomenting his own fiery take on blues, R&B, and soul with Chuck Jackson, Slim Harpo, Little Richard, and even his own King Kasuals, a band he formed with his bass playing Army buddy Billy Cox. Thanks to his extreme practice regimen, Hendrix took that vocabulary -- which included the most ferocious hammer-ons and pull-offs ever displayed -- to frightening levels of speed, duration, articulation, and intensity.
He blended that style with the chordal structures of Bob Dylan, whose writing Hendrix idolized, and the attack of the garage rock he'd played with bands as a fledgling guitarist around his native Seattle. And then Hendrix upped the ante by developing the whammy bar as a melodic tool and extending his playing to picking above the nut, slamming his guitar into his hips to generate a roar, and tricks like playing behind his head and picking with his teeth.
While stunts like that were a requirement for wowing hard-to-please chitlin circuit audiences, they were unprecedented in rock 'n' roll. The sheer physicality of playing behind his back or somersaulting as he soloed raised the bar for live rock performances to a level that's never been topped.
And Hendrix was well rewarded for his innovations. By the time of his historic Woodstock performance on August 18, 1969 he was the highest paid musician on the planet, commanding $100,000 for major concert appearances.
This was an astounding figure for any African-American to earn at the time -- just a year after Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., was assassinated in Memphis while defending the rights of Black sanitation workers who earned an average of $1.80 an hour.
The boiling troubles of the era -- the Vietnam War, the Civil Rights struggle -- bubbled in Hendrix's soul and in his music. And he addressed them eloquently and fearlessly, giving voice to the vast, integrated, progressive audience who considered him their champion.
Two epochal live performances captured this best. When Hendrix played the "Star Spangled Banner" at Woodstock he rekindled the conflict of the song's -- and of the nation's -- birth. And the bombs he yanked out with his whammy bar, the shimmering rockets of feedback that burst from his Marshalls, and the incoming fire of strings bent to the breaking point were channeling more than a century-and-a-half of history. Slavery, Jim Crow, the Klan, San Juan Hill, two world wars, Japanese internment, two slain Kennedys and a King, Vietnam, and -- most important -- the sheer beauty of hope all came spilling from his fingers. And again he tapped into the violence of the war abroad and in the American streets on New Year's Eve 1969 at the Fillmore East when he played the instrumental epic "Machine Gun" with his Band of Gypsys. There Hendrix used his guitar to conjure battlefields, and concluded the song with a simple wish: "No more bullets."
Jimi Hendrix received a Lifetime Achievement Grammy in 1992, but this musical giant's achievements had already earned him the highest honor: immortality. Hendrix's music and his message will surely endure forever through a unique and exclusive partnership between Gibson Guitar and Authentic Hendrix. News of the collaboration will be announced this week.