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Jimi Hendrix would have turned 77 last week. Here's how Seattle's hometown music legend lives on

Anika Varty, The Seattle Times on

Published in Entertainment News

SEATTLE -- Jimi Hendrix would have been 77 years old on Nov. 27, 2019. Born at Seattle's Harborview hospital, he is remembered by many as the greatest electric guitarist of all time. The Seattle Times has published many stories covering Hendrix's continuing influence on music and his lasting status as a hometown hero. Here are some of them:

In September 2010, Steven Roby, co-author of "Becoming Jimi Hendrix: From Southern Crossroads to Psychedelic London, the Untold Story of a Musical Genius," published an opinion piece in The Times titled "Why Jimi Hendrix still matters today":

"Not only did the gutsy guitarist set out to break the rules of fashion -- think purple boa with orange-striped pants -- but also the rules of music. Although Hendrix never finished high school and did not read music, during his lifetime he released three studio albums in the U.S. that contained 35 original compositions that still culturally resonate for listeners worldwide. ...

"Jimi Hendrix remained a determined man during his brief 27 years, and cared little about critics of his music or style of clothes. He figured out how to inventively play a right-handed guitar left-handed. His passion was music, and nothing could stop him from playing it."

In his review of the four-CD box set "West Coast Seattle Boy," Charles R. Cross, author of a best-selling biography of Jimi Hendrix, examines how the music collection charts Hendrix's career:

"He may be the single most famous Harborview baby, and he certainly has cast the longest shadow of any Seattle-born musician. Though Hendrix died at 27, he lived a remarkable life, and his records are revered as part of rock's holy grail. ...

"Perhaps the oddest thing about 'West Coast Seattle Boy' is that despite the title there is nothing from Seattle on this set, and only a handful of tracks even recorded on the West Coast. Jimi never had a studio session in Seattle, but some of those who grew up with him say tapes do exist of the teenaged Jimi playing in a garage, but have been lost for decades. If these tapes are ever unearthed, they might truly deserve the title 'Seattle Boy.' Those recordings, the true holy Hendrix grail, would be the first noise from a Seattle baby who came into Harborview screaming, and can still be heard decades later."

Earlier this year, Seattle Times music writer Michael Rietmulder wrote about how Hendrix's Army buddy and bassist, Billy Cox, helps keep his spirit alive with the ongoing Experience Hendrix concert tour:

"Hendrix's Woodstock performance 50 years ago, including his famous rendition of 'The Star-Spangled Banner' that Cox had no idea Hendrix would play, became a defining moment for the festival (if not a generation), and certainly for Hendrix's legacy. Decades later, Cox continues to serve that legacy, anchoring the Experience Hendrix Tour, a recurring tribute run that kicks off its most recent leg Oct. 1 at the Paramount Theatre.

"'It's more spiritual than anything else,' Cox says of playing his close friend's music after all these years. 'I miss Jimi more as the years go by.'"

In December 2018, Rietmulder reported that a Renton post office changed its name to the James Marshall "Jimi" Hendrix Post Office. It stands less than one mile from where the legendary guitarist is buried at Greenwood Memorial Park cemetery:

 

"No amount of public memorials may ever match the cultural impact Jimi Hendrix had during his all-too-short life, but that hasn't stopped local officials from further cementing his legacy around our region. Once a leading figure of the counterculture viewed warily by the federal government, the music icon will now have a post office near his hometown named after him. ...

"Before rising to international fame in the late 1960s, Hendrix grew up in Seattle, spending much of his youth in the Central District and attending Garfield High School. There's no shortage of Hendrix tributes scattered around his hometown -- from the statue on Broadway to his namesake park adjacent to the Northwest African American Museum (NAAM) -- etching 'Seattle's most recognizable son,' as the museum's director LaNesha DeBardelaben described him, into the city's history."

The Hendrix Post Office joined a list of many local Hendrix tributes. In 2011, as planning for the Jimi Hendrix Park continued, The Seattle Times compiled a list of Seattle-area Hendrix memorials. His childhood home is not listed, as it was demolished in March 2009:

"After Seattle spent years struggling to find a way to meaningfully honor the famed rock star, the Jimi Hendrix Park opened in June 2017.

"Purple guitars, purple walkways and a crowd of purple-clad families adorned the newest park in the Central District on Saturday -- the long awaited Jimi Hendrix Park.

Every inch of the park is a testament to Hendrix's work and legacy -- down to the shape of the park itself. The walkways form the outline of a guitar, and 12 'frets' in the instrument's neck tell the timeline of Hendrix's life."

(c)2019 The Seattle Times

Visit The Seattle Times at www.seattletimes.com

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

 

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