COVER STORY: THE INNOVATORS
From the ultra-suave Jimi Hendrix to the rule-destroying Tom Morello, the guitar has found a home with some of the world’s most inventive and ingenious creatives. In this 16-page special, we take a deeper look at the instrument’s biggest game-changers.
Between 1966 and 1970, Jimi Hendrix redefined what the guitar is. That he could do so much in such a short timespan speaks volumes for his talent, and his death in 1970 left the rock world with perhaps its greatest ‘what if?’ moment: If Hendrix could go from the rock of “Foxy Lady” (recorded in late ‘66) to the science fiction soundscapes of “And The Gods Made Love” or “1983… (A Merman I Should Turn To Be)” – both recorded between July ‘67 and August ‘68 – in such a short time span, where would he be now if he was still with us?
Unfortunately, it wasn’t to be, and Hendrix left us all too soon with only three studio LPs to his name: AreYou
Experienced (1967), Axis:BoldAsLove (1967) and ElectricLadyland (1968).
Before Hendrix came along, guitar basically sounded like ‘dink dinkadink dink’. After Jimi, guitar sounded like ‘Booooooowwwwwrrrrowrrlll’.
He took it from a polite sounding instrument to the ultimate expression of the human condition: love, just, anger, inspiration, peace, violence…
Hendrix treated the guitar as an extension of his personality, and he wasn’t afraid to get abstract in order to get his point across. When we think of Hendrix, we tend to think of fuzz, wah wah, whammy bar dips, burning Stratocasters and weird sounds – but even players who don’t do any of those things are influenced by Hendrix whether they know it or not, simply because he made it okay to really be yourself on the instrument.
WHERE TO START Purple Haze
Relatively straightforward riffs make learning this funky track a lot of fun to learn and play.
BOSS LEVEL Machine Gun
A jam-based war protest where Hendrix wrings 12 minutes of intense solos, percussive riffs and hellish battleground sounds out of his instrument. If you can make this song your own, you’re a true guitarist.