Remembering Jimi Hendrix, Warrior Poet

by Michael Hewett
Posted Sep 18, 2013 at 8:13am

September 18 marks the anniversary of Jimi Hendrix’s death.

In my last few blogs, I’ve been appealing to the mystic side of the guitar-playing community and feel it's safe to say that between the unending variations of deified imagery of Jimi -- and that even his self-proclaimed "mistakes" have become standard licks passed down through the new generations of guitarists -- we all acknowledge Jimi Hendrix as high priest of the Muse.

His ferocity, humor, virtuosity, and genius have stood the test of time and continue to incite bliss and reverence in his innumerable fans.

In this blog we’ll explore other facets of Jimi’s influence through some his lesser-known quotes on how he viewed himself and his world.

"I just hate to be in one corner. I hate to be put as only a guitar player, or either only as a songwriter, or only as a tap dancer. I like to move around."

To pigeonhole Jimi as just an entertainer would be to ignore his very public and disruptive role as an anti-war activist. One of his most famous performances was to a relatively empty field at the end of the Woodstock festival on a rainy monday morning. His improvised performance [read: sonic flag burning] of the "Star Spangled Banner" reinvented the anthem forever, and expressed his distinct voice apart from "sheeple" blindly following the establishment and legitimacy of the Vietnam War.

In "If 6 was 9," he pushes back against "white-collar conservatives pointing their plastic fingers at [him]" by acknowledging the fact that everyone must meet their death alone, and so should be respected as an individual while they are alive. I still get chills when I hear him speak, "I’m the one who’s got to die when it's time for me to die. So let me live my life, the way I want to."

"In order to change the world, you have to get your head together first..."

As a warrior poet, Hendrix acknowledges the necessity of discipline and training to reach artistic and individual freedom, and that no one else can do this work for us. Heart by heart, minute by minute, we practice until we can trust ourselves to completely let go of the work of discipline, like atmospheric pressure slowly building up until lighting strikes.

His prowess as a poet is as developed as his mastery of twisting the feedback from his Marshall into music. On "Bold as Love," Jimi’s dedication to his inner-struggle for peace is laid bare in his lyrics:

Anger he smiles tow'ring shiny metallic purple armour
Queen jealousy, envy waits behind him
Her fiery green gown sneers at the grassy ground
Blue are the life giving waters taking for granted
They quietly understand
Once happy turquoise armies lay opposite ready
But wonder why the fight is on.
But they're all, bold as love.

"When the power of love overcomes the love of power, the world will know peace."

Finally, his gentleness as a person and wildness as a performer were in no way a contradiction. Jimi was able to lay bare for his audiences the two sided coin of being humble and ferocious at the same time: "You have to go on and be crazy. Craziness is like heaven."

"Knowledge speaks, but wisdom listens."

Michael Hewett is a composer, producer, guitarist and recording artist who has released four full-length albums and numerous singles. He played lead guitar in the hit Broadway musical “Wicked” (2004 to 2009), is a video instructor and blogger at Guitar World magazine and tours internationally with his own project. Preview his catalog of music on iTunes.


Add a Comment
0 Comments

Similar Guitar News

Jimi Hendrix's Playing Secrets Revealed in New Lesson Series! (4/30/2015)
Jimi Hendrix Playing Secrets, Guitar World's exclusive new lesson series, is now available through the Guitar World Lessons App and Webstore. It joins the ranks of the hundreds of lessons already available through Guitar World Lessons.
Jimi Hendrix's Curtis Knight Recordings to Be Released in March — Hear "Hornet's Nest" (2/24/2015)
On March 24, we'll finally get to hear early recordings of Jimi Hendrix when he was a member of Curtis Knight and the Squires. A new album, You Can’t Use My Name: Curtis Knight & The Squires (featuring Jimi Hendrix) The RSVP/PPX Sessions, wi...
Crosstown Traffic: Dave Mason Talks "Traffic Jam" Tour and Recording with Jimi Hendrix (2/11/2015)
Dave Mason’s name is synonymous with Traffic, a legendary British band that was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2004. These days, the guitarist can be found doing shows from coast to coast with his “Traffic Jam” project. But Mas...
Micky Dolenz Talks Music, Monkees, Jimi Hendrix and The Beatles (2/6/2015)
Fifty years ago, Micky Dolenz’s agent called him about an audition for a new pilot about music and comedy. It was the beginning of a journey that would take Dolenz, Davy Jones, Michael Nesmith and Peter Tork to the world of super-stardom. ...
Doug Wimbish, 11-Year-Old Brandon Niederauer and Friends Play Jimi Hendrix's "Voodoo Child (Slight Return)" — Video (2/5/2015)
Even though the 2015 Winter NAMM Show has come and gone, there's still a fair amount of NAMM coverage in the pipeline. Case in point, this new video of a fine performance at the Behringer/Bugera booth at the Anaheim Convention Center. Below, che...
In Deep with Andy Aledort: Constructing Solo Phrases in the Style of Jimi Hendrix (12/30/2014)
These videos and audio files are bonus content related to the February 2015 issue of Guitar World. For the full range of interviews, features, tabs and more, pick up the new issue on newsstands now or at the Guitar World Online Store. All things...
Jimi Hendrix Biopic, ‘All Is By My Side,' to Be Released on DVD January 13 (12/5/2014)
If you—like a lot of us—haven't seen Jimi: All Is by My Side, the Jimi Hendrix biopic that was released earlier this year, you're in luck. It'll be released on DVD and Blu-ray January 13. The movie, which was written and directed by Academy Awar...
Jim Dunlop Effect Pedal Throwdown, Final Four: MXR Super Badass Distortion Vs. Dunlop Jimi Hendrix Fuzz Face (12/1/2014)
GuitarWorld.com's latest readers poll—the first annual Jim Dunlop Effect Pedal Throwdown—has reached the Final Four! For the past month, we've been pitting Dunlop, MXR and Way Huge pedals against each other in a no-holds-barred shootout. Now the...
Jim Dunlop Effect Pedal Throwdown, Round 3: Dunlop Jimi Hendrix Fuzz Face Vs. Way Huge Angry Troll Boost (11/21/2014)
GuitarWorld.com's latest readers poll—the first annual Jim Dunlop Effect Pedal Throwdown—has reached Round 3! For the past month, we've been pitting Dunlop, MXR and Way Huge pedals against each other in a no-holds-barred shootout. Now the compet...
Jim Dunlop Effect Pedal Throwdown, Round 2: Jimi Hendrix Fuzz Face Vs. Joe Bonamassa Fuzz Face (11/11/2014)
GuitarWorld.com's latest readers poll—the first annual Jim Dunlop Effect Pedal Throwdown—has reached Round 2! For the past month, we've been pitting Dunlop, MXR and Way Huge pedals against each other in a no-holds-barred shootout. Now the compet...
Jim Dunlop Effect Pedal Throwdown, Round 1: JHF1 Jimi Hendrix Fuzz Face Vs. JDF2 Fuzz Face Distortion (10/22/2014)
It's time to compare the mettle of Jim Dunlop pedals! In GuitarWorld.com's latest readers poll — the first annual Jim Dunlop Effect Pedal Throwdown — we're pitting Dunlop, MXR and Way Huge pedals against each other in a no-holds-barred shootout....
Jazz Guitar Corner: How to Play Jazzy Jimi Hendrix Chords (10/13/2014)
As guitarists, many of us are fans of the late, great Jimi Hendrix, who has influenced players in all genres of music, including jazz. While Hendrix left a legacy as one of the greatest rock improvisers of all time, he also left his stamp on th...
Stevie Ray Vaughan's "Testify" Source: Jimi Hendrix's Original Version with The Isley Brothers — Listen (10/2/2014)
The idea of Stevie Ray Vaughan covering a funky song by the great R&B band the Isley Brothers might seem bizarre until you consider that rhythm and blues was a big part of the Double Trouble playbook. Besides, his choice of “Testify” makes ...
Jimi Hendrix's 'The Cry of Love' and 'Rainbow Bridge' to Be Reissued in September (8/20/2014)
Newly remastered versions of The Cry of Love and Rainbow Bridge — the first two Jimi Hendrix albums to be released after the guitarist's death in 1970 — will become available in September. Audio engineer Bernie Grundman, who mastered Prince's Pu...
LA Sessions: 14-Year-Old Guitarist Ray Goren Talks New EP and Working with Jimi Hendrix Producer Eddie Kramer (7/14/2014)
Fourteen-year-old guitarist Ray Goren describes LA Sessions, his new EP, as a unique mixture of everything from Jimi Hendrix to Stevie Wonder. Considering the fact that Hendrix’s producer, Eddie Kramer, worked on the EP, it’s hard to argue. Gore...
JamPlay with Kenny Ray: Enhancing Blues Progressions with Seventh and "Jimi Hendrix" Chords (7/1/2014)
Kenny "Blue" Ray is a life-long blues musician who has played with greats such as Stevie Ray Vaughan. Kenny also is a JamPlay instructor who teaches live and pre-recorded classes on blues guitar. In this lesson, Kenny discusses 7th chords and ho...