When it comes to guitar sound, Jimi Hendrix is more or less the alpha and omega. Oh yeah, I know that there have been other guitarists who have built a whole lot on what he did. But he’s the guy who really started us on this path where the guitar was something more than just a musical instrument. It probably isn’t a coincidence that he came around at the same time that the Moog really started to enter popular music.
What is there to say about Jimi Hendrix? Really, there isn’t much that I can add. I do think that people tend to forget just how experimental those first few albums were. They are amazing. And I can only imagine what they must have sounded like at the time. When I was introduced to them when I first went to college, they blew me away and I had grown up listening to plenty of people who were ripping him off to one degree or another.
I’d like to highlight something that doesn’t exactly speak to the full complexity of his work, “All Along The Watchtower,” off his third album, Electric Ladyland. It is, of course, a Bob Dylan tune. But Hendrix makes it so much more. And it shows that he could play a straight rock guitar solo as well as anyone. It also shows his absolute mastery of the wah-wah pedal. You don’t much hear that kind of total control of an instrument ever. It’s almost like listening to the very best classical music. And I fully expect that it will still be admired in hundreds of years.