James Marshall "Jimi" Hendrix (born Johnny Allen Hendrix, November 27, 1942 – September 18, 1970) was an American guitarist and singer-songwriter. He is widely considered to be the greatest electric guitarist in the history of rock music, and one of the most influential musicians of his era across a range of genres.
In September 1966, ex-Animals bassist Chas Chandler brought Hendrix from the United States to the United Kingdom, where an eponymous band, The Jimi Hendrix Experience, was formed around him. The Experience's first record was a cover of Billy Roberts' "Hey Joe", released in the UK on 16 December, where it peaked at #6.
The B-Side of that record was "Stone Free", written by Hendrix. "Purple Haze" and "The Wind Cries Mary", original Hendrix compositions, were subsequently released on 17 March and 5 May 1967 and reached #3 and #6 respectively, before the band's debut LP, “Are You Experienced,” was released on Track Records on 12 May. The album reached #2 in the UK and a version with a different track listing reached #5 in the US. "Hey Joe" and "Purple Haze" were also released in the States, the latter of which peaked at #65.
A Reprise single from “Are You Experienced” was released on 27 November; "Foxy Lady" managed only to reach #67, despite the success of “Are You Experienced.” “Axis: Bold as Love” was released on 1 December 1967. The follow-up to the band's successful debut was well-received, peaking at #5 in the UK and #3 in the US upon its later release there on January 15, 1968. The only single released from “Axis” was a non-UK release; "Up from the Skies" reached #82 in the Billboard Hot 100 chart.
On September 9 the band released the first single from their upcoming third album in the US; their now famous cover of Bob Dylan's "All Along the Watchtower" became their highest-charting single in the States when it reached #20. The song was released in the UK after the album's North America release and peaked at #5.
The first album produced by Hendrix himself, “Electric Ladyland” became the band's first #1 album when it reached the top spot in the Billboard 200 chart. After the UK and international release of "All Along the Watchtower", "Crosstown Traffic" was released in the US on November 18, where it peaked at #52.
Hendrix went through a series of changes to his backing band with bassist Noel Redding and drummer Mitch Mitchell leaving. During this transitional phase, two more singles were released: firstly, "Stone Free" was released in North America on September 15 (and reached #130), followed by "Fire" (under the title "Let Me Light Your Fire") internationally on 14 November.
Jimi and his old friend bassist Billy Cox enlisted the help of another old friend of Jimi's, drummer and vocalist Buddy Miles. Dubbing themselves the Band of Gypsys, the all-black trio performed together at only two venues. One of these venues was the Fillmore East, where the band's performances on December 31, 1969 and January 1, 1970 were recorded and later released as “Band of Gypsys” on March 25 and 12 June in the North America and internationally respectively. This live album reached #6 in the States and #5 in Britain, but by this time the Gypsys had already split up. The Band also released one single; "Stepping Stone" was issued by Reprise in the US on April 13, but did not chart.
Mitch Mitchell returned to Hendrix and Cox and the 'new Jimi Hendrix Experience' was formed, now known unofficially, after the name of their 1970 tour, as The Cry of Love. This lineup remained until the guitarist's death, a run which resulted in many hours of studio recordings and a tour which ran for over three months. The last record issued before Hendrix's death was “Historic Performances Recorded at the Monterey International Pop Festival” on August 26 in the US, which partly documented The Experience's performance at the Monterey Pop Festival on June 18, 1967. Jimi Hendrix died on September 18, 1970.