We all know his National Anthem.
Imagine if he’d played Happy Birthday?
November 27, 1942
Too often media ask us questions like "Who is the greatest guitar player of all time?" The answer, of course, depends on many things: who is asking? Who is answering? What does greatest mean? Perhaps the better questions is "Who is the most influential guitarist of all time?" or simply, "What guitarist influenced you the most?" Graffiti said Eric Clapton was "God." Woodstock devotees likely answer Hendrix. I think it's better to avoid the whole question and admit what all must: Hendrix was an amazing, groundbreaking, and immensely influential guitarist. Buddy Guy was one of Hendrix's influences.
Woodstock Music and Art Fair
There were many performers lined up for the Woodstock Music and Art Fair that easily convinced me that I had to attend. The Who. Jefferson Airplane. Crosby, Stills, and Nash. The Band. At the top of that list was Jimi Hendrix. Joe Cocker played. The skies darkened and torrents fell. Tired, wet, hungry, worried whether our car was still parked on the side of the road nine miles away, having to be at work in 1 4 hours, friend Tony and reluctantly left Max's field that muddy Sunday afternoon and headed back to Jersey. No Hendrix.
I have been very fortunate in many ways and missing Hendrix simply meant I did not see him a second time. On August 23, 1968 I saw the Experience with the Soft Machine, the Chambers Brothers, and Big Brother and the Holding Company. Big Brother featured, of course, Janis Poplin. That's how the program listed Joplin. Twice.
Though no Woodstock, the New York Rock Festival was drier and we didn't have to walk nine miles to get to our seats. A great night. I was on my dorm's elevator that September 18 when I heard Jimi had died. I was on the same elevator 16 days later when I heard Janis died. Two of the greatest to many Boomers. Two of the greatest to anyone with ears to listen.