On the plains of the rock n’ roll vista, when it came to the electric guitar, there was only one generalissimo.
Before him, people had ran 10 yard dashes, handing the torch from person to person. Then Jimi received the torch and ran 10 miles with it.
When he played the guitar, it was like the instrument was wholly different. What was that thing? Surely not what George Harrison or Clapton have in their hands?
Only having a career, practically, from 1966 to 1970, Hendrix was a comet. Out of nowhere, he glistened brightly, passing over the sky, and just as randomly as he appeared, he disappeared.
A consequence of that is few tapes of him exist. And among the few that exist, most are blocked from Youtube by his family (that’s another tale, though).
Also, as he craved everyday to touch his electric guitar, he rarely played acoustic guitar. Yet, on that too, he created magic.
On a rare, colour videotaping, the crew hands Jimi a 12 string guitar. A beautiful thing with its excess wound string curled majestically on the headstock.
Hendrix nervous? Yes. A master though he was, like many capable people, he was tortuously difficult on himself, striving for his best version.
Of course, it’s all in his head. The film crew, scrambling to make the most of the limited colour video tape they have, urge him to simply play. And play he does.
On the first take (and on both intro takes) he literally splurges magic. A master, he nails it on the spot, divulging his wonderful tune, Hear My Train Comin’.
For a moment, a lucid moment, it’s breathtaking, nostalgic, terrifying even, to ponder the length of Jimi’s career. Just 1966 to 1970.
Imagine an artist just having his or her start in 2016 and being over by 2020. Dead. How brief.
Even Timberlake’s career has been five times that.
And yet, Jimi lives on. Those 10 miles he ran, fending off fog and hurdles in his path, have led music and the guitar so much further as a result.