Jimi Hendrix would be 70 today were he still around to have birthdays. And I am sure that if he were still around he would not be opening his concerts with “Purple Haze”.

.Odds are Jimi would be a pretty cool 70 year old

A70-year-old Hendrix would not be playing anything like the virtuoso pop he was trying to escape at the time of his death.

The Rolling Stones this week opened the first concert of their - probably the last - tour with “I Want to be Your Man”, the debut record which Lennon/McCartney wrote for them in 1963 -19-flippin-63, about 50 years ago

It wasn’t particularly good then and it still isn’t, except as a piece of music archeology which is probably what the Stones have become.

Fifty years ago Hendrix was playing in the Isly Brothers band and it is hugely unlikely he would open a concert today with “Testify”, the first recording on which he appeared. (Cue up Jimi’s song ``51st Anniversary’’ on the turntable).

Radio today is playing Hendrix songs to salute his birth and this small taste gives an idea of how he had revolutionised music in a way the Rolling Stones couldn’t. And in a way which is still influential.

Hendrix died in September, 1970, after taking nine of his girlfriend’s sleeping pills instead of the half a tablet her doctor had prescribed.

He drowned in red wine, which he had vomited until it choked his lungs. His death confirmed the creation of the 27 Club made up of music greats who died at that age. Robert Johnson, Brian Jones, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, Kurt Cobain, and Amy Winehouse are others on the list.

In those 27 years he became household name. Well, in some households. Around 1990 Kevin Rudd was listening in on a discussion among Queensland colleagues.

“During some music banter, the cultural icon and guitar-playing Hendrix was mentioned, which drew a complete blank from a 33-year-old Rudd: ‘Who’s he?’,’’ reported Dennis Atkins in 2009.

Clearly there were still audiences for Jimi to conqueror.

It’s fair to speculate that had Hendrix not encountered overdoses and other dumb and fatal aspects of his rock’n'roll lifestyle he would still be playing. His brother-in-law Guitar Shorty, like Jimi a career musician, was born three years before him and is still performing.

Hendrix’s first recording with the Experience was “Are You Experienced’‘, which included “Purple Haze”,  and the fourth and last he released before his death was the live “Band of Gypsys’‘. A lot happened to his music in the four years between “Are You Experienced’ and “Band of Gypsys”.

Hendrix was talking about collaborations with Miles Davis and he and Buddy Miles were heading into more jazz fusion. He was moving deeper into the new territories being pioneered by African American musicians.

It was a period of great change in music. In late 1969 the Rolling Stones release “Let it Bleed” which includes the brilliance of “Gimme Shelter’‘, “Love in Vain”, “Midnight Rambler” and “You Can’t Always Get What You Want’‘. It also was Brian Jones last appearance on a record.

But in 1968 Hendrix had pushed boundaries further than the Stones could contemplate with the hugely advanced and highly self-indulgent “Electric Ladyland”, a stunning production which influenced a wide range of musicians.

The notion Hendrix would today return to “Are You Experienced’’ in a concert today is like imagining John Lennon would open a show with “She Loves You Yeah, Yeah, Yeah’‘. The Stones were admirers of Hendrix when he was London based but took a while to rate him.

In early 1966 a former girlfriend of Keith Richards, Linda Keith, saw Hendrix at a New York club and introduced him to LSD. She also urged the Stones’ management to take him on.

The idea was rejected.

Comments on this post close at 8pm AEST

Most commented


Show oldest | newest first

    • Hammy says:

      12:52pm | 27/11/12

      Should of been there for Joan of Arc’s 600th birthday, man it was a hoot!

    • Voodoo Child says:

      12:55pm | 27/11/12

      Jimi Hendrix played the electric guitar the way god design it WILD !!! Gen Y forget about 80’s music and watch the greatest of all time go about it.

    • ian f says:

      01:41pm | 27/11/12

      Saw Jim play live at the troutbeck hotel in Ilkley Yorkshire 67/68 not sure exactly its all in a purple haze but I remember the concert well and he was better live than on 45!

    • alan k says:

      01:03pm | 27/11/12

      RIP Jimi - too often treated as super-human or sub-human by the industry and many people of the day.  Like all true artists, he was inherently pure.  Lies in State with Amadeus.

    • SM says:

      01:10pm | 27/11/12

      Always thought Hendrix was massively overrated myself.  His most well known song is a Dylan cover, whom, along with the Stones, he doesn’t hold a candle to.

      Far from still performing today if he was alive, I think he’d have drifted off into obscurity long ago, like a good portion of the 27 Club

    • Shane* says:

      01:33pm | 27/11/12

      You can hold that opinion if you want, but the fact remains that if an Alien civilisation with resurrective technology ever challenge Earth to a guitar-solo-to-the-death contest, we’d be picking Hendrix over Clapton, Richards, Vai, Beck, or anyone since…

      And I’ll be polite and not mention the fact that Dlyan built an entire career on “honouring” his forefathers and other songwriters by using their melodies.

      Whoops. Mentioned it.

    • RobJ says:

      01:54pm | 27/11/12

      ““His most well known song is a Dylan cover”“

      Purple Haze was a Dylan number? Oh, maybe you mean Foxy Lady???? ;o)

      Seriously though Dylan is a great song writer but others perform his songs better, eg Hendrix, “All Along the Watchtower’ and “Rolling Stone” or Chili Peppers with Subterranean Homesick Blues”. This is of course only in my humble opinion and I do rate Hendrix, Axis Bold As Love being my favourite album (of Hendrix)

    • Markus says:

      02:03pm | 27/11/12

      We definitely wouldn’t be picking Vai. The devil already made that mistake, and Vai couldn’t even beat the frikkin’ Karate Kid for our dark lord…


    • Bear says:

      02:22pm | 27/11/12

      He’d be the black Jesus if he was alive today.

    • Whammy Bar says:

      02:36pm | 27/11/12

      SM you obviously don’t play the guitar. Bob Dylan absolutely loved the cover of All Along the Watchtower and is still one of Hendrix biggest fans.  SM go back to your XBOX and play Guitar Hero.

    • PW says:

      03:42pm | 27/11/12

      My feeling is that Carlos Santana was/is at the very least Hendrix’s equal, and in terms of his ability to integrate his guitar into a rock song structure (as opposed to jamming), comfortably Hendrix’s superior. Likewise Jimmy Page at his peak. Hewndrix made some quite good recordings but he made an awful lot of shit too.

      Like most 27 Club members, his death was an excellent career move in terms of record sales and becoming an “icon”

    • JoniM says:

      04:02pm | 27/11/12

      Seriously, SM !

      Not sure if you are just a boring troll or totally ignorant of modern music !
      Hendrix revolutionised modern music via the impact of his creative guitar sounds. No other musician had created such unique sounds from the guitar that then became so integral to most new modern music, at least prior to the release of PC Music programmes ! Without Hendrix we would not have had guitar based blues bands, or progressive rock bands, or heavy metal bands or the stadium rock gods ! There would have just been 50 years of Beatles or Beach Boys clones churned out wiith lots of merchandise and sexy promotional video clips rather than just the last 30 years of that sameness !!

    • PW says:

      04:43pm | 27/11/12

      Joni- Most of the great progressive bands of the 1970’s (the heyday of the genre), that is Yes, Genesis, Emerson Lake and Palmer, King Crimson, etc, are keyboard based, and none of them owe a thing to Jimi Hendrix.

      It’s also a bit rich to give Hendrix credit for guitar based blues (although there is no doubt he was a proponent of it for a short time, and far from the best or only one). The British Blues Boom was in full swing well before Hendrix was even heard of. The Stones were playing guitar based R&B when Hendrix was little more than a kid. Clapton, Page and Beck all grew up at the same time, and their seminal influences would have been artists from the 1950’s, not one of their contemporaries.

    • I hate pies says:

      05:06pm | 27/11/12

      OzTrucker, that was a low blow about the great man. I get your point about dying; sort of like Jim Morrison. He was a genuine wanker who playing music for teenagers, yet he got notoriety because he died young.
      I concur about May though, he’s also a genius - some of the greatest riffs of all time
      If you going to talk greatest guitarists, Bo Diddley’s gotta be in there too

    • subotic is experienced says:

      01:16pm | 27/11/12

      And for the really adventurous out there, I’d encourage a spin of “Black Gold”, the Wu-Tang Clan/ Jimi Hendrix mash-up album.

      Ol’ Dirty Bastard & Jimi Hendrix together at last.

      Honest, does it get any better? Hendrix AND Hip-Hop?

      Swear I’d turn the whole 5% if only they’d let me….

    • RobJ says:

      01:28pm | 27/11/12


      I recommend an album called ‘If 60s were 90s’ by beautiful people. It’s Hendrix samples made into dance music.

    • iansand says:

      01:17pm | 27/11/12

      It is the difference between the Stones and a lot of bands.  The Stones were a really good rock/blues band and still are.  That’s it.  There is no more.  People like Hendrix and Lennon/McCartney saw what there was and wondered where it could go.

    • TRBNGR says:

      01:20pm | 27/11/12

      Played Little Wing on my very under used (almost neglected) Strat before I left home this morning and I’ll be cranking some more of Jimmys tunes this afternoon, advanced apologies to the neighbours.

    • Mr. Jordon says:

      02:24pm | 27/11/12

      How strange.

      I too was playing little wing this morning on my very old Fender acoustic.

    • TRBNGR says:

      02:40pm | 27/11/12

      High 5

    • Bear says:

      01:35pm | 27/11/12

      He was hard core for his time. I could see him jamming with Slayer. That’s a wet dream. Damn you God!

    • gobsmack says:

      01:42pm | 27/11/12

      I think he would be playing the blues if he were still alive today.

      His best tracks were blues numbers.

    • I hate pies says:

      03:26pm | 27/11/12

      “There’s a red house over yonder”...That’s alright, I’ve still got my guitar!”

    • Rowdy says:

      03:39pm | 27/11/12

      “I might as well go on back down,
      Go back ‘cross yonder over the hill.
      I might as well go back over yonder
      Way back yonder ‘cross the hill, (That’s where I come from)
      ‘Cos if my baby don’t love me no more.
      I know her sister will!”

      Red House…..what a great song!!

    • OzTrucker says:

      02:09pm | 27/11/12

      So no-one has heard of (in no order of preference) Santana, Ted Nugent, Brian Setzer, Tommy Emanuel (an Aussie BTW) or Joe Satriani.

      All still breathing. All still entertaining audiences. All better guitarists than Hendrix.

    • PsychoHyena says:

      02:25pm | 27/11/12

      @Oz, I’m a Brian May fan myself. Though the guys from Children of Bodom absolutely rock Vivaldi’s Four Seasons - Summer.

    • BrianB says:

      02:27pm | 27/11/12

      Yes all good guitarists…not “better” than Hendrix, I would suggest.

    • RobJ says:

      02:31pm | 27/11/12

      I’ve heard of them. All guitar greats but I still like Jimi best.

    • Mr. Jordon says:

      02:44pm | 27/11/12

      And everyone of them would say that Hendrix was the best electric guitarist ever.

      This is what Nugent had to say about Hendrix

      JIMI HENDRIX: “A master craftsman, a pilot of an emotional roller coaster who came the closest to anyone in the history of the guitar to master the unlimited dimensions of the tonal and lyrical capabilities of the instrument. ”

    • OzTrucker says:

      03:03pm | 27/11/12


      Just to pick one.

      Download Satriani’s “Summer Song” and then tell me he’s not better than Hendrix.

      OR Ted Nugent: Hibernation

      OR Tommy Emanuel: Sleepwalk (I know it a Shadows song but it shows the talent)

      OR Setzer: well you could do his version of Sleepwalk for a direct comparison.

      OR Santana. just google Santana and pick ANYTHING.

      Do yourself a favour and just listen to some true artists plying their trade.


      If you really do like Brian May and I suspect you may be seeing stars wink seriously though yes he is pretty good Queen rock. At least I am assuming you mean Brian May lead guitarist of Queen as opposed to Brian May of Channel Nine Orchestra fame.

    • subotic says:

      03:12pm | 27/11/12

      All those guys play the guitar.

      Hendrix never played guitar…...

    • Rowdy says:

      03:31pm | 27/11/12

      @Oz Trucker….my opinion of your list, tongue wink:

      Santanna: Most over-rated player in the history of the instrument

      Satriani: Just after Santanna…see above;

      Ted Nugent: Redneck who’s huge ego is inversely proportional to his talent;

      Tommy Emmanuel: I agree…a great fingerstyle player in the mould of Chet Atkins, Alvin Lee et al…a little too country for my taste. You should try some Brad Paisley, Brent Mason or James Burton;

      Setzer: Great player who seamlessly combines rockabilly, jazz, blues and a little country. Great sound out os his Gretsch and 1950’s Bassman.

      A guy called Danny Gatton shits all over the above though.

      Personally, I am a more SRV, Robben Ford, Duanne Allman, EVH, Gatton, Derek Trucks, Gary Clarks Jr, James Muller, Pat Methany, John Lee Hooker, Kenny Burrell, Larry Carlton, Michael Bloomfield, Dave Gilmour, Robert Johnson, Rory Gallagher, Wes Montgomery type of guy..  wink

      PS - yes these “Who’s Best” lists are mundane and pointless….but they’re fun and any new players I can get my ears into the better!

    • I hate pies says:

      03:31pm | 27/11/12

      They’re all great guitarists, but the essence of true genius is to do things that others are incapable of thinking of - Jimi was a genius. Like Shane Warne, he redefined his trade and everyone wants to play like him.
      Technical proficiency doesn’t make you a genius. Doing something truly unique makes you a genius.

    • Markus says:

      03:38pm | 27/11/12

      We have heard of all of them. More technically proficient guitarist does not equal better.

      “OR Santana. just google Santana and pick ANYTHING.”
      Anything? How about his god-awful collaborations with Chad Kroeger, Steven Tyler and Michelle Branch?

    • Mr. Jordon says:

      03:40pm | 27/11/12

      OzTrucker says: 03:03pm | 27/11/12

      Who is and who isn’t the best is nothing more than personal choice. My personal favourite is Clapton. I saw a list of the 100 greatest guitarist ever recently. There was only one classical guitarist on the list and that was Segovia and he was at no. 50.

      The whole argument is absurd.

      But will say one thing, Hendrix will still be remembered in a hundred years. I don’t think you could say the same for Ted Nugent.

    • PsychoHyena says:

      04:00pm | 27/11/12

      @Oz, yes I am referring to he of Queen fame. I once watched a clip of him performing a 30 minute guitar solo that was just brilliant.

    • PW says:

      04:01pm | 27/11/12

      Jimi could get sounds out of an instrument no-one else could achieve. For ten or 20 minute jams a la Woodstock, Hendrix was your man.

      Unfortunately, this stuff got boring very very quickly, for some of us at least, as people like Page, Santana and Clapton began to integrate superb musicianship into tight rock songs.

      When it comes to use of the guitar as an instrument in rock/pop songs, Hendrix fell behind at least half a dozen guitarists, quite possibly more.

    • OzTrucker says:

      04:15pm | 27/11/12

      This has gone a whole lot further than I intended or expected. No doubt we all like different artists for different reasons. Hendrix was good but I think hendrix is as famous for how he died as he is for his music. That was really my original point.

      Marcus you do have a point with your observation…... I was being a bit passionate and had just blocked out the bad stuff…. a bit like a politition when cornered smile

      Mr Jordan, Hendrix will still be remembered in 100 years because he died in a pool of his own vomit after a cocktail of drugs and alcohol just like a heap of other 27 year olds who are famous for the same reason.

      Pies, Shane Warne…... please we are talking about musicians here. Not little punters who a punching waaaaaaaaaay above their weight with the women. raspberry

    • Mr. Jordon says:

      04:30pm | 27/11/12

      OzTrucker says: 04:15pm | 27/11/12

      No, he will be remembered for changing the course of guitar music and how the guitar come be used.

      What people forget is to look at people like Hendrix or Elvis in the context of their time. They changed the course of music for ever by doing stuff that nobody before them had ever done and influencing entire generation.

      Being the first takes more genius then more “copycats” no matter how good they are.

    • Ohcomeon says:

      06:03pm | 27/11/12

      Sure, all great guitarists. Well except Nugent, hes average at best.

      Santana, technically excellent. Bland and boring as all hell, no fire, no edge.

      Brian Setzer - man can absolutely shred.

      Tommy E - See Santana. Incredible, incredible guitarist, but his music leaves me completely cold.

      Satriani - a bit of both, shows both technical flair and fire. Just doesnt write blues songs with catchy choruses.

      Brian May and David Gilmour - my ying and yang of guitar gods.

      Pete Townsend, Tony Iommi, Danny Gatton.

      Hell, im off to rock out.

    • BASSMAN says:

      02:16pm | 27/11/12

      A great read. I think Come On was the Stones 1st go at recording. That aside, I have just finished reading Bill Wyman’s “Stone Alone” A 400 page history of The Stones. The thing that came out of it was what I DIDN’T appreciate or know. Brian Jones played about 16 instruments and was a brilliant musician. Bill Wyman credits him with many of “Richards’ riffs” including the intro to Honkey Tonk Women, The Last Time and heaps of others. He was also the Harp sound behind the Stones.He was on the outer because Jagger and Richards controlled the songwriting and would not let him in. Ditto for Randy Meisner and Timothy Schmidt of the Eagles. Funnily enough, Hendrix was playing jazz for many years before he invented those magical guitar hooks. For sure, he would be playing other stuff if he were still alive but if you think he would be allowed off stage before he played Red House, All Along The Watch Tower, Foxy Lady, Purple Haze etc…er well I don’t know Mal. And I know YOU would not let him off the stage before you heard them! For mine The Stones have not written anything significant since their early albums but neither have Billy Joel, Macca, David Gates, Elton John,Neil Young, Cliff Richard, Van Morrison, Pete Townsend,Burt Bacharach,Leiber and Stoller,Neil Sedaka,Springsteen,Neil Diamond…just to name a few. The songwriting window of opportunity is a very very short one and if you waste the short time to have hits well…the opportunity is lost.

    • Chris says:

      04:30pm | 27/11/12

      Hang on… so, Billy Joel has not written anything significant since his early albums? Given that his early albums were in the mid-70s, are you suggesting that he wrote nothing significant in the 80s or 90s? Nothing significant on “The Bridge”, “Storm Front” or “River of Dreams”? I think I get the picture.
      Moving on to more considered opinions.

    • Ohcomeon says:

      06:17pm | 27/11/12


      yes, I would say exactly that. I still listen to Joels 70s output which I love, and never those albums you listed. Why? Because they are lame corporate rock that was phoned in by a lazy rich guy who didnt care anymore.

      Bassman, i agree with you on all counts except Springsteen and Neil Young. They are both still thrilling audiences with excellent new music and legendary 3 hour stage shows. They never got bored and fat and lazy like the others on your list.

    • DaveB says:

      02:33pm | 27/11/12

      Malcolm, I don’t agree with you calling Electric Lady land’ “self indulgent”, even though I acknowledge it influenced a lot of musicians. Hendrix had taken recording techniques to an astronomical level with the advent of ‘Electric Lady Studios’, and yes, he was “moving deeper into new territories”. Jimi’s music had moved into another spectrum with the release of the album ‘The Cry of Love’, incorporating tracks that he’d originally intended to release in an LP under another name. I do wonder what he’d be playing today, if he were still alive. Hey, my claim to fame is that I was born in the same hospital Hendrix was pronounced dead in!
      ‘The Stone’s’ are still to my mind, the greatest rhythm & blues / rock band to have graced the planet. To confuse the two genres is wrong.

    • iansand says:

      02:37pm | 27/11/12

      He might have done a Keith Jarret or Winton Marsalis and drifted in and out of classical and jazz.

    • RJ says:

      02:40pm | 27/11/12

      Hey Joe..nuff said

    • Mayday says:

      02:49pm | 27/11/12

      Hendrix was a maestro, his version of All Along the Watchtower is my favourite as is his version of the Star Spangled Banner at Woodstock.

      As a young 15 year old it was one of the most amazing things I had seen or heard and to this day it takes me back to innocent yet wild times.

    • Black Dynamite says:

      02:55pm | 27/11/12

      All these lists of “who’s better” are so mundane. Is it impossible to remember a pioneer/great guitarist without trying to bring him down a peg by indulging us with your own personal music tastes?

      I will be jamming Jimi tonight on my strat with the volume up. Salut Jimi wherever you are.

      Black Dynamite.

    • sunny says:

      05:31pm | 27/11/12

      “wherever you are”

      He’s in Electric Ladyland ..jammin with some other great musos who died young like Pergolesi, Schubert and Chopin ..at the Electric Ladyland Woodstock Festival where all the chicks go wild and put some clothes on.

    • Lilithia says:

      04:25pm | 27/11/12

      All you people arguing in these comments is ridiculous. Fact of the matter is that he’s dead. So get over it. Instead of trying to argue about who would have been better comparing those who are dead, why not go out and look for real talent that is STILL ALIVE?

    • OzTrucker says:

      06:47pm | 27/11/12

      Um…. We are…

    • PJ says:

      04:45pm | 27/11/12

      I read the article suspiciously, expecting the passing of Hendrix to be pinned on Abbott.

      As usual.

    • Shredder says:

      05:05pm | 27/11/12

      Santana and Clapton are two of the greatest lead guitarists ever but their contributions to rock rhythm guitar are minimal. I wasn’t around in the 60’s but it was clear that back in the late 60’s / early 70’s music was more about the rhythmic groove than just blazing lead solos all over the place a la Van Halen or Satriani (two awesome guitarists in their own right). With the possible exception of the aforementioned E Van Halen, no one else has contributed as much to rock rhythm guitar as Hendrix, or the lead / rhythm combination that he pioneered. Stevie Ray Vaughan, the premier blues guitarists of the last 30 years or so, built on Hendrix’s contributions but didn’t really push them a lot further. In short, don’t just think about lead guitar all the time - rhythm is what makes you as a guitarist and Hendrix was an absolute master of it and one of the few rock guitarists at that time who could transition seamlessly between lead melodies and rhythmic strumming.

    • Gordon says:

      05:11pm | 27/11/12

      Suddenly half the Punch are guitar hero freaks?

    • James says:

      05:27pm | 27/11/12

      I don’t know, but listen to this sappy, sentimental pap being discussed here. Did someone say “better live than on 45”?!?!?! or “up there with Amadeus, Alien resurrective technology”?!?!?!

      Pass the joint, chug down the Mogadon and clean up the tee pee folks.


Facebook Recommendations

Read all about it

Punch live

Up to the minute Twitter chatter

Recent posts

The latest and greatest

The Punch is moving house

The Punch is moving house

Good morning Punchers. After four years of excellent fun and great conversation, this is the final post…

Will Pope Francis have the vision to tackle this?

Will Pope Francis have the vision to tackle this?

I have had some close calls, one that involved what looked to me like an AK47 pointed my way, followed…

Advocating risk management is not “victim blaming”

Advocating risk management is not “victim blaming”

In a world in which there are still people who subscribe to the vile notion that certain victims of sexual…

Nosebleed Section

choice ringside rantings

From: Hasbro, go straight to gaol, do not pass go

Tim says:

They should update other things in the game too. Instead of a get out of jail free card, they should have a Dodgy Lawyer card that not only gets you out of jail straight away but also gives you a fat payout in compensation for daring to arrest you in the first place. Instead of getting a hotel when you… [read more]

From: A guide to summer festivals especially if you wouldn’t go

Kel says:

If you want a festival for older people or for families alike, get amongst the respectable punters at Bluesfest. A truly amazing festival experience to be had of ALL AGES. And all the young "festivalgoers" usually write themselves off on the first night, only to never hear from them again the rest of… [read more]

Gentle jabs to the ribs

Superman needs saving

Superman needs saving

Can somebody please save Superman? He seems to be going through a bit of a crisis. Eighteen months ago,… Read more



Read all about it

Sign up to the free News.com.au newsletter