The legend Jimi Hendrix is the perfect example of the counter culture movement during the 1960’s. During a movement of love, peace, music and sex Jimi Hendrix was a key figure that played the role of both a rebel and a revolutionary. The musician changed the lives of the everyday young American through the power of music promoting peace, love and drugs onto the people.
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Him along with other musicians such as Janis Joplin pushed the young American into a new direction turning previously conservative America (4)(2). Jimi Hendrix was born on November 27th, 1942 in the city of Seattle. He was born the Lucille and Al Hendrix; Al was enlisted in the army when his son was born and didn’t return until three years later. His son was born John Allen Hendrix, when Al did return he decided to change his son’s name to James Marshall Hendrix, a name he would remain with until his music career began. From a young age James was very reserved and quiet, his only true passion was playing guitar.
He listened to the great music of Muddy Waters and B. B. king, which were the main influence for his interest in blues. James was a self-taught musician and would often use his friend’s guitars. One of James signature moves began as a young boy when he began playing guitar upright due to the fact that he was left handed. (3) James followed in his father’s footsteps and at 17 dropped out of high school to join the army.
His love of music followed along with him until he was granted honorable discharge. Hendrix moved around playing and getting jobs in bands, never sticking with one job for very long due to his impulsive personality he often became bored. When Hendrix achieved his first song writing credits the band Curtis Knight began its attempt to make it on the charts. Eventually Hendrix was recognized for his outstanding skills even though he only played a back ground role. He then put together his own band known as Jimmy James and the Blue Flames. Hendrix had never sang before but his career as a musician had really taken off.
His insecurities only grew as he lived in comparison to his great blues heroes. Eventually Jimi Hendrix changed his name and moved to London. After just a few short years of musical achievements and winning the hearts of Americans Jimi Hendrix died. His death was ruled a suicide until it was dies covered years later that he in fact died of a drug overdose (5). Jimi Hendrix affected the lives of Americans through his music.
His personal life also had an effect on the people of America in which he was able to contribute to their lives in more than one way. One of the ways Jimi Hendrix contributed to the lives of Americans was through his beliefs. He shared his beliefs of Buddhism with his followers. Not as direct as actually promoting the religion but by sharing the idea of peace and love with all that listened to his music. After a time of such discourse due to the Vietnam War the idea of peace was one the people took kindly to.
People where thrilled by the message his music conveyed. This began the counter culture movement of the 60’s that caused a social revolution among the American youth. Jimi Hendrix specifically has an effect on one American in specific. Jerry Valez, the second percussionist during his performance at the Woodstock festival had just returned from the Vietnam War. Jimi Hendrix and his band helped Jerry Valez begin a new life where music could have a power over his life. Jimi Hendrix’s contributed to the world through his music.
The Woodstock music festival was one of his main contributions to the music industry. This festival was named as “ three days of peace and music”. What more could the American youth ask for? His following only grew with ideas such as Woodstock, which promoted music along with a message. Jimi Hendrix preformed with his new band, Gypsy Sons and Rainbows, and created a legendary jazz experience that would follow the American people and is still known as one of the most legendary musical experience of the 60’s. Jimi Hendrix’s band, the Jimi Hendrix Experience revolutionized the counter culture movement when the music hit the streets of London in 1966. This rock and roll band changed the face of music and the life that came along with it.
Unfortunately his carefree hippie life style was seen as a bad influence on some. As a lead figure in the counter culture movement representing a rock and roll lifestyle of drugs, parting and sex some people were out raged by what Jimi stood for. Out of Jimi’s death did come something good, this new found love for drugs was soon seen for what it really was when he died. The American public and the followers of the hippie movement then understood the dangers of drugs and the effect that they can have on the body. Out of his death came an awareness for the consequences of drugs and opened the eyes of many in an utter awe for the young musician whom died much too soon. Though what Jimi Hendrix stood for was not the best influence on youth his work was very admired.
Him along with other key figures in the counter culture movement revolutionized what America stood for at the time. Jimi Hendrix was a rebel and a revolutionary of the counter culture movement having an affect, unknown to him, on the American people. During a time where tensions in the United States were high due to war and political chaos Jimi Hendrix broke all the rules. He began breaking the rules when he started playing guitar up right. Though it may seem like a trivial thing on which to base him as a rebel it is nonetheless true. As signature move he rewrote the rule on the classics and gave everything his own flair.
Jimi Hendrix was a rebel with no concern for anything other than his love for music and the message he was trying to share with the war. He shared a message of peace and love, which the public listened to. His music filled the ears and hearts of all the people completely revolutionizing the way they thought. Jimi Hendrix rebelled against the army that he had joined in which all he saw was hate and fighting. He made people understand the importance of being at peace with your self and being content. Jimi Hendrix supported finding that happiness through illicit drugs.
He severely influenced the public and many people followed in his steps. That began the era of the hippie movement. The hippie movement was not just a distraction for the people that had been harmed by oppression and war in the United States. It was a form of expression for anyone looking for a way out, a way to find themselves and find internal happiness. Jimi Hendrix was a fan of expression.
He aimed to be like the greats he admired so much but he focused on creating his own form of music. Something that he could be proud of, expressing himself like the true rebel he was. Jimi Hendrix was also a form of expression for those who did not know how to express themselves. People could connect with his music, they were also very impressionable due to his music. Just like in the song where Jimi wrote, ” Purple Haze all around, am I happy or in misery?” (6) The song purple haze was a form of Jimi Hendrix’s expression through music and many at the time could find some meaning in these lyrics and connect on an emotional level. This connection was what made Jimi Hendrix so popular and influential among the American people.
From the time that Jimi Hendrix began playing guitar at friend’s houses at the age of 5 little did he know the effect he would have on the American people. He revolutionized the American people and the conservative mentality that had been in place previously. He has most likely influenced how socially liberal society is today. Not only did this rebel and revolutionary have an impact on society but also he had an impact in the individual American’s life giving a sense of hope and freedom to the world. (1) His death came much too soon but did give the world an understanding of the mind altering drugs they were using at the time. Works cited (1) “ JIMI HENDRIX : FINAL INTERVIEW .
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09 Apr. 2014. (2) “ Jimi Hendrix, 1942-1970.” Rolling Stone. N.
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(3) “ Jimi Hendrix Biography.” Bio. com. A Networks Television, n. d.
Web. 09 Apr. 2014. (4) Wenner, Jann S., ed. “ A Brief History of the 27 Club Pictures.
” Rolling Stone 2014: 1-12. Rolling Stone. Print. 10 Apr. 2014. (5) Hall, Tony.
They Died Too Young: The Brief Lives and Tragic Deaths of the Mega-star Legends of Our Time. New York: Smithmark, 1996. Print. (6) Piccoli, Sean. Jimi Hendrix.
Philadelphia: Chelsea House, 1997. Print (6)”” Purple Haze” Lyrics.” JIMI HENDRIX LYRICS. N. p.
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