- Legendary rock guitarist Jimi Hendrix died exactly 50 years ago today.
- From September 1966 to his death, he performed over 450 times.
- This spectacular 'gigograph' shows the geographic dimension of his short but busy career.
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On September 17, 1970, Jimi Hendrix awoke at the Samarkand Hotel in Notting Hill, London, in the basement flat where his German girlfriend Monika Dannemann was staying. At around 2 p.m., they had tea in the hotel’s garden and Monika took some snaps of Jimi with ‘Black Beauty,’ his favorite Fender Stratocaster guitar. Those were the last pictures ever taken of him.
Later in the afternoon, the couple went out – visiting local hipness hotspot Kensington Market, an antiques market in Chelsea and Jimi’s suite at the Cumberland Hotel, near Marble Arch. They had tea and wine at a friend’s flat, argued and made up, and went back to the Samarkand Hotel, where they had a late meal, drank a bottle of wine and Jimi wrote a poem titled ‘The Story of Life.’
Well after midnight, Hendrix went to a party, where he took some amphetamine. Dannemann showed up at the party, and around 3 a.m. the couple returned to the Samarkand. Unable to sleep, Jimi took nine of Monika’s sleeping pills (the recommended dose was half a pill). When she awoke that morning, she found him unresponsive and covered in vomit. Around noon of the 18th of September – exactly 50 years ago today – Jimi Hendrix was pronounced dead.
The last stanza of the poem he wrote the night before reads:
The story of life is quicker than the wink of an eye.
The story of love is hello and goodbye.
Until we meet again.
Amid the initial confusion surrounding his death, the poem was mistaken by some for a suicide note. Several subsequent investigations have provided nothing but indications of an accidental death.
Credit: A. Vente, CC BY-SA 3.0
Arguably the greatest guitarist in rock history, Hendrix was one of the first modern members of the ’27 Club’ – musicians immortalised mid-fame, dead at the still-tender age of 27. Earlier members include Robert Johnson (d. 1938) and Brian Jones (d. 1969), later ones Janis Joplin (who died two weeks after Hendrix), Jim Morrison (d. 1971), Kurt Cobain (d. 1994) and Amy Winehouse (d. 2011).
In the States, Hendrix had made a name for himself as a band guitarist, playing for both Little Richard and Ike Turner. Not an undividedly positive name: he got fired from both of those bands. His own career – as a solo artist, and as the leader of the Jimi Hendrix Experience – only took off when he moved to London.
The graph above connects over 450 dots, one for each gig he played. It shows the amount of hard work Hendrix put into his career, and how it paid off – after criss-crossing Northwestern Europe, but mainly England, his fame hops back across the Atlantic and becomes transcontinental. A few samples from his gig database:
Credit: public domain
- 24 September 1966: first solo performance in London, at Scotch of St James.
- 13 October 1966: first concert of the Jimi Hendrix Experience, supporting Johnny Halliday in Évreux, France.
- 18 January 1967: performing ‘Hey Joe’ on ‘Top of the Pops’, at the BBC TV’s Lime Grove Studios in London.
- 18 June 1967: first stateside gig, at the Monterey International Pop Festival in California.
- 3 July 1967: first East Coast show, at the Scene Club in NYC.
- 9 October 1967: L’Olympia, Paris.
- 14 November 1967: at the Royal Albert Hall in London; first gig of package tour with Pink Floyd, The Nice and others.
- 31 December 1967: at the Speakeasy in London. Jimi plays a 30-minute rendition of Auld Lang Syne.
- 12 March 1968: jam session with Jim Morrison, Buddy Miles and others at The Scene in NYC.
- 22 June 1968: at The Scene in NYC, Jimi jams with the original lineup of the Jeff Beck Group, which also includes Rod Stewart and Ron Wood.
- 14 September 1968: Hollywood Bowl, Los Angeles.
- 23 January 1969: two shows at the Sportpalast in Berlin, Germany.
- 18 May 1969: Madison Square Garden, NYC.
- 29 June 1969: Mile High Stadium, Denver – the last performance of the Jimi Hendrix Experience.
- 17 August 1969: Woodstock, New York.
- 30 August 1970: Isle of Wight Festival, England.
- 16 September 1970: jam with Eric Burdon’s new band War at Ronnie Scott’s in Soho, London. Jimi’s last public performance.
This bit of ‘fan art’ was created by Owen Powell, who points out that “it’s not an academic study of Jimi Hendrix’s movements, more a visualisation of the data mapped in sequential order.” So if he flew home between gigs, that’s not recorded here.
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