The 1960s, Psychedelia, and Jimi Hendrix

by Stacy Popke
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Music evolved in the 1960s. It began losing that prim-and-proper presence associated with earlier musical sounds. The Vietnam War was underway, Beatlemania was in full-swing, Americans were defending their civil rights, and the Woodstock of 1969 was an underground success.

In the 1960s, certain teenagers and young adults were grooving to the new psychedelic music style enriched with unusual sound effects and often drug-inspired lyrics. Mix this with stage performances that included flashing lights and burning guitars, and born are some mystifying times.

Who were these psychedelic singers and bands? The Beatles, Pink Floyd, Jefferson Airplane, The Grateful Dead were all among the mix. Even The Beach Boys experimented with the psychedelic sound in their Pet Sounds album.

One singer that most likely stands out in your mind, regardless of whether or not you grew up in the '60s, is Jimi Hendrix. He led quite a life, and gave his fans much to think about. Hendrix' adult music career began after his discharge from the United States Army due to an injury. He had joined at age 17, and served as a paratrooper for 14 months. Moving on, he set out on the road, playing guitar for acts such as Ike & Tina Turner, Little Richard, and The Isley Brothers.

In 1965, Jimi Hendrix formed a band known as Jimmy James and the Blue Flames. That gig led to him to England, where he became an instant success there. A recording contract was in the works.

Fans loved Hendrix' wild stage presence; at one point, Jimi even set his guitar on fire after finishing a performance at the Monterey Pop Festival in England. Hendrix was also known to smash his guitar onstage if he felt his performance had been bad.

In 1969, after several successful albums, Jimi's band The Experience broke up. He then started a new band called the Band of Gypsies with Buddy Miles and Billy Cox and they created a successful album together. After canceling a tour of Europe due to a nervous breakdown by Cox, Hendrix ended up partying carelessly and apparently overdosed on sleeping pills.

He was pronounced dead on September 18, 1970. Some insist that Hendrix could have been saved if greater care had been taken by ambulance workers during the ride to St. Mary Abbot's Hospital. Jimi Hendrix choked to death on his own vomit. He was 27 years young.

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