To anyone who’s ever picked up a guitar, Jimi Hendrix is a name worshipped like few others. But, prior to showing off his legendary chops at Woodstock, the musician had to put up with military service. Luckily, however, not even the discipline of the armed forces could keep this star from following his dreams.
It’s hard to believe it now, but before Hendrix, guitarists sounded very different. Utilizing a mixture of distortion and unparalleled virtuosity, he created a raucous sound that would influence countless generations of musicians. Meanwhile, his onstage showboating set the template for how future stars should act in front of an audience.
Originally a backing musician for stars like Little Richard and Sam Cooke, Hendrix moved to London to pursue a solo career in 1966. Thanks to hits like his debut single “Hey Joe” released the following year, the guitarist quickly became a major celebrity. More than this, however, the star’s sound and image would ultimately define the 1960’s counterculture.