A number of Kansas City guitarists, including yours truly, were recently asked by the Kansas City Star’s Tim Finn what Jimi Hendrix meant to them. The Star is running a piece in conjunction with the Experience Hendrix tour which is coming to town. It was an honor to be asked and I was glad to contribute. The article was published in the March 11 “Preview” section and can also be read right here.

For the hell of it, here is the complete, overly verbose piece I submitted. You can see why newspapers employ editors.


I started playing guitar in about 1983, more than a decade after Jimi Hendrix began drifting on a sea of forgotten teardrops. At that point he was already familiar to me as a rock icon, if not as a guitarist. I knew I liked the music: “Crosstown Traffic,” “The Wind Cries Mary” and others stood out from the contemporary radio noise of my youth. And I was sucked into the overall vibe, plumbing the gatefold of Electric Ladyland for the psychedelic wisdom of Letter to the Room Full of Mirrors: “And on he walked after crowning Ethel the dog the Only Queen of Ears, the sky cracked wide open and split many of his brothers’ and sisters’ heads all over the world apart …” What the hell does that mean? Who cares, it’s so trippy, man!

Once I got serious about guitar, I had to get a serious guitar. When I decided on a Fender Stratocaster ($375 for a ’74 out of the Omaha World-Herald, baby!), it sure as hell wasn’t to emulate that other notable titan of the Strat Eric Clapton, but instead the likes of Ritchie Blackmore—and Jimi Hendrix. Of course, if you happen to be a teenager in possession of a bitchen Strat, you must attempt to play Jimi. It didn’t take long to figure out that there was a lot more going on than “Purple Haze” and a purple velvet jacket. To a novice, the extended and fractured chords of “Spanish Castle Magic” or “Angel” —perhaps the essence of Hendrixian magiccan seem nearly as impenetrable as … Letter to the Room Full of Mirrors. This is to say nothing of Jimi’s masterful, multi-hued lead playing, writing, and producing. Once digested, the musical language of Hendrix becomes something you hear everywhere and draw from constantly.

That’s a lot of substance and essence, but it boils down to this: Hendrix’ flamboyant individuality as an artist is something that’s stayed with me through the better part of a lifetime trying to make music on the third stone.


One Response to “Jimi”

  1. […] a lot of Hendrix writing on the web today. Here’s some more, a follow up to a Kansas City Star piece that ran earlier this year in conjunction with the […]

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