Court Polls: Defense for Jimi Hendrix

17 Oct

Jmi Hendrix

With this post, the poll for who is the greatest guitarist of all time shall be closed. The ending results: Jimi Hendrix: 6 and Eric Clapton: 2. I know, so many people voted! Therefore, since Hendrix won, my post should be relatively easy. Because of the large sample size of voters we can logically deduce that Hendrix is clearly the best. Well, no, even if I was not being sarcastic and we did have thousands of voters, I feel as if many would choose Hendrix just because they feel obligated to do so. Jimi Hendrix has always had a strange mystical quality to him; almost to the point where he is looked at today as a spirit, rather than a person who once existed. Because of his shortened career and his large amount of tremendous guitar playing, he is sometimes looked at as the default greatest guitarist. People know Jimi Hendrix. They know the story of Woodstock. They know how he used to set his guitars on fire. People do not know as much as Eric Clapton, simply because he does not surround himself with the similar aura that Hendrix did. Clapton’s guitar playing was certainly undermined by Hendrix, mainly because Hendrix had that crazy, hippie-like persona that has never left him, even in death.

It is not hard to defend Jimi Hendrix. Hell, it is not hard to defend Eric Clapton either. Both are two different guitarists, who took the blues and re-shaped it into their own particular niches. But, it is in Hendrix’s ability to make a guitar sing that I find him to be better then Clapton. Clapton can certainly make a guitar cry, but Hendrix may be the only guitarist ever that was able to make that electric sing like there was no tomorrow. In all of his distortion, wacky chords and riffs, and gritty solos, Hendrix’s guitar sang to any crowd he played for. This is a large contributor to the aura that surrounds him. His guitar sang and the way he played with it on stage was incredible.

Ask anyone why they think Hendrix was the greatest guitarist of all time and they will certainly mention his stage antics. No one felt a guitar like Jimi. He manipulated the string of the guitar and made love to it on stage. Hendrix’s salacious playing was not a negative attribute though. His style of playing just echoed the times he was playing in. His guitar shot sounds of free love and hate to an audience. It is his feeling of playing the guitar that sets him apart from Eric Clapton and others.

Clapton, King, Johnson, Allman, all feel the guitar. If you don’t feel a solo it will come out detached and unnecessary. Out of that list of names, I would go so far in saying that Clapton certainly feels the guitar better than any of them. But, he just does not compare to Hendrix in this respect. Career-wise, Clapton has stayed alive for over 35 years past the death of Hendrix at 27. He has had the ability to hone on his guitar skills and become a dignified master. Yet, over the quick span of Hendrix’s life he proved that he was just as proficient as Clapton. His use of distortion was not masking mistakes and this can be proved in his early performances before distortion became one of his staples. His skilful use of music is certainly there. While my roommate, Josh, may not be able to listen to Hendrix on repeat, I can. In the short amount of years that he existed he created such a variety of music that went from funk, acid, hard, psychedelic rock. I understand one cannot put credit into what could of been, so I am not. Look at his body of work. This proves that he is the greatest.

When Hendrix got up on stage his singing guitar and remarkable phrasing sounded like he was putting together understandable sentences. The sound penetrated listeners to the point that the venue holding Hendrix’s performance collapsed around them, only leaving Jimi, his guitar, and them. His guitar was the music of the stars, of  sheer wonderment, and it will forever have the ability to entrap with its skilfulness and leave anyone in awe of its beauty.

“Purple Haze” from Isle of Wight:

One Response to “Court Polls: Defense for Jimi Hendrix”


  1. Top 100 Lyricists #68: Jimi Hendrix « The Music Court - July 14, 2010

    […] is being written is not to celebrate Hendrix’s guitar ingenuity. That can be seen right here: This, instead, celebrates an art that Hendrix fans do not usually comment enough on. Hendrix was a […]

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