Unfortunately, the rock and roll lifestyle has been known to claim the lives of many prolific recording artists far earlier than their audiences would like.
This has been true of legends such as Elvis Presley, John Lennon and Johnny Cash, whose deaths left behind them a wake of unproduced works.
Luckily for fans of James Marshall “Jimi” Hendrix, whose life was claimed too soon in September of 1970 at the young age of 28, the guitar legend left behind a plethora of recorded and previously unreleased works, allowing new albums to be produced posthumously.
Hendrix, father of a vast library of music, was actually only alive long enough to produce three of his albums: Are You Experienced, Axis: Bold as Love and Electronic Ladyland.
Since his death, nine of his albums have been produced. These are sometimes of dubious origin, however, as his family only recently gained control of his music.
The most recent posthumous release, titled People, Hell and Angels, is being supervised by Hendrix’s sister, Janie Hendrix.
The Hendrix family has fought extensively to gain control of his music, recently acquiring it and ensuring validity for the production of any upcoming posthumous albums. People, Hell and Angels was released officially on March 5 to the joy of casual fans as well as rock and roll aficionados.
Hendrix numbers alongside some of the world’s most prolific musicians, ranked by Rolling Stone to be the sixth best of all time.
He was inducted into the U.S. Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1992 and the U.K. equivalent in 2005.
His three non-posthumous albums all number among Rolling Stone’s top 100 of all time, and he is perhaps best remembered for his headlining performance at the Woodstock Music Festival in 1969.
Hendrix is known in the guitar community for popularizing the wah-wah pedal, a pedal that warps the sound of an electric guitar in a way that mimics the human voice.
He is also known for bringing the effect of stereophonic phasing—changing the audible perspective to give the illusion that different sounds are coming from different directions—into mainstream use.
Both of these effects are seen as common in modern music, and hark back to Hendrix’s innovations.
This newest production, People, Hell and Angels, is much more unified as a work than much of Hendrix’s previously explosive and emotional creations.
The album alternates between purely instrumental works and pieces that have Hendrix’s solitary vocal overlays. People, Hell and Angels has been reviewed by aficionados to be some of Hendrix’s best guitar work.
Much of Henrix’s work was developed and recorded as he grew restless in The Jimi Hendrix Experience. Hendrix recorded and played independently in order to pursue his musical experimentation.
It is important to recognize that 43 years after Hendrix’s death, he is still releasing rock albums and further solidifying his place in the musical world as the father of the modern electric guitar.
Through these bold and previously unreleased experimentations, Hendrix continues to reveal the genius he released in his short four-year career. The legend of Hendrix is extraordinary and arguably unmatched by any other recording artist to date.
People, Hell and Angels is available online at the iTunes store or on NPR’s “First Listen” program.
Those knowledgeable in the history and performance of guitar as well as newcomers to the genre will enjoy Hendrix’s new album as a reiteration of his many talents and the versatility of the instrument and genre.
For more information about Jimi Hendrix, and the legacy that was left behind and continues please visit: http://www.jimihendrix.com/us/home.
PHOTO COURTESY / ROLLINGSTONE.COM