Jimi Hendrix was born in Seattle, WA November 27, 1942 (My birthdate). Hendrix's groundbreaking style has been imitated and replicated but he alone pioneered many of the things taken for granted in today's music. We have one of his albums on our wall. My husband's brother Greg died in a motorcycle accident when he was in his early 30's. The album belonged to him. I knew the name Hendrix as a great guitarist from the 60's but hadn't really known much about him before watching a couple documentaries on the history of Rock & Roll. His name keeps coming up and in honor of the electric guitar, I decided to feature him as a musical hero.
Hendrix came from very humble beginnings; even his genealogy revealed a long path of poverty and misfortunes. Jimi was described as introspective, sensitive and shy. In elementary school, he started gravitating toward a broomstick and pretending to play the guitar. So much so, one of the school staff tried to purchase him a guitar under an "underprivileged children's act" saying that not allowing him to play guitar could cause him emotional scars as this natural inclination toward the guitar served as a type of "security blanket" for him. The plea was rejected.
Years later, Jimi finally got the break he was hoping for. He found an old ukulele with one string in the trash. With that, he taught himself how to play. He learned single chord notes and perfected his craft. At 15, he purchased his first guitar for $5. It was acoustic. His musical inspirations were artists such as Muddy Waters, BB King, Howlin' Wolf and Robert Johnson. Even while drafted into the army, the guitar seemed to give him strength.
Eventually, people began to hear him play. One friend led to another until his rocky and cobblestoned beginning began to glitter with gold. In mid- November of 1966, he and his band played at "Bag O'Nails" nightclub in London. In attendance were musicians, Eric Clapton, John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Jeff Beck, Pete Townsend, Brian Jones and Mick Jagger. In a three year period, Jimi Hendrix would go on to receive recognition and in August, 1969 "Hendrix was the world's highest-paid rock musician" and headlined for Woodstock Music and Art Fair.
The one word that came to mind when I was reading about Jimi Hendrix was the word, perseverance. What discouragement he must have encountered those early years growing up. Poverty and racism in the 40's and 50's were profound. Yet, clearly, he was born with a gift to play music.
I was thinking about this post today as I was weeding out in the yard. The interesting thing about weeds is the many types of weeds there are; I must have had a dozen or more varieties. Most of them brought me a great sense of accomplishment as I gently tugged and patiently sunk a spear into the root system and was able to successfully pull up a weed with the root intact. Some had single roots while others had an intricate web of roots. There was one weed, however, that it didn't matter how carefully I prepped the ground or how gently I pulled, the root just would not come up. The weed would break leaving the root intact.
I think Jimi Hendrix must have had a weed whose roots were just too deep. In September, 1970 Hendrix died of a drug overdose. Can you imagine what he could have accomplished musically if he had lived past the age of 27? Having played the guitar for maybe 12 years and yet, in those 12 years, he taught himself to play using only one string, he was in a band barely after he begun playing the guitar, he changed and forged a new sound, implementing the "wawa" sound. Left handed, he played the guitar upside down and mesmerized his audience with this stage presence. He was on the fast track and yet deep inside he must have been the same little boy whose humble beginnings gave him a depth in music few could replicate.
If you step into a church and only discover perfect people that have it all figured out, then you better walk into a different church. The truth is… we all have weeds. We all have those places in our hearts that need attention. The last entry under my chapter heading called "Video" talks about a movie clip from "Les Miserable" where the main character is offered an opportunity for a new life. All of us will have moments of loneliness, discouragement or maybe things not going as we had planned.
In Matthew 11:28, Jesus says "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." (This is from the Life Application Bible, New International Version)
Heroes rise up everyday. They are all around you. They are in hospital rooms, classrooms, on athletic fields and in mission fields. They have the perseverance to run the race set before them. Will you?
Perseverance, I believe, originates out of a place of humility and requires introspection and strength. It is exactly the type of ingredient featured in TimbreNotes. Our next hero is one of character.
www.jimihendrix.com (Official site)
wikipedia and discogs
www.usps.com (US Postal Service)
A person who searches for depth and beauty in the simple things.