Jimi Hendrix at 70: What Did We Miss?

Most everyone in the 27 Club have fanciful alternate lives in the minds of fans, where they didn't die at such a stupidly young ages, and they all "grew up" to be breathing interesting, road-tested people in the 21st century.


R.I.P.: Remembering The 27 Club -- Jimi, Jim, Janis, Kurt...

Kurt Cobain, dubstep DJ. Janis Joplin, grandma rocker. Jim Morrison, putting out Rick Rubin-produced acoustic albums. That sort of thing.

And then there is Jimi Hendrix, who would have been 70 years old today. Mind you, 70 isn't what 70 was just a few years ago. Now you can be Paul McCartney and be 70. Ann-Margret and Raquel Welch are both over 70 and still smoke hotter than girls who are younger than their first facelifts.

Born November 27, 1942, Hendrix died September 18, 1970 of asphyxia related to a drug overdose. At his age he was obviously just warming up. We hope.

His influence is massive, lighting sparks in Prince, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Lenny Kravitz, Eddie Van Halen, John Frusciante, and P-Funk's Eddie Hazel, who some would say should be right up there in terms of artistry next to Hendrix himself.

When we asked Rocks Off fans on Facebook what they thought, some said Hendrix would have probably done jail time, recorded with Nickelback or Santana, or been a commercial sell-out. Not necessarily in that order, presumably.

Another commenter made the point that had Hendrix lived, Eric Clapton's station as a guitar god would have been diminished. I honestly don't put them in the same master class, but to each his or her own. I think Hendrix was a lot weirder, or at least had a more esoteric future ahead of him, far less straight than Clapton's.

But then again...

Sometimes I am haunted/excited with thoughts of Hendrix disco-fying his hits by the late '70s, flying his freaky flag at Studio 54 with Jagger and Warhol. It could have sounded sort of like this, but better, which I guess that depends on your inherent fright of disco production.

What would his relationship been with Prince, who more or less fused Hendrix shit-hot licks with a 25-cent peepshow and a gang of synths? Lemmy Kilmister of Motorhead once said that he had no use for Prince, since he experienced Hendrix firsthand himself.

A tandem Hendrix and Prince concert, with Prince opening for Buster in arenas across the land? Sounds decent. A cameo in Purple Rain? Sure. Marauding America in the early '80s on twin purple motorcycles? Fuck yes.

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Jimi was experimenting with going in a jazz direction before he died. I don't think it's odd to suggest he would have started a band similar to the Head Hunters or Miles' Bitches Brew sound. I also think he might have joined a band as more of a band member instead of leader in something like the Weather Report or Mahavishnu Orchestra. With the way we treat pioneers like Berry et al I could have seen him falling out of favor by the mid 70s as most fans wouldn't 'get' the jazz thing. 

Collaborations I believe would have happened and would have been great to see come to fruition: Jimi and Marvin Gaye. Could you imagine Jimi throwing down a 'Little Wing' type solo on What's Going On? Or better yet, Jimi rescuing Marvin in Europe later in the 70s? Damn. Jimi and Miles was a shoe-in. There's no way that was not happening. Jimi in Blind Faith? Almost definitely. Or Derek and the Dominoes with Eric and Duane? Wowzers. Jimi with Keith Moon and Jack Bruce? Jimi touring with Marley? Jimi and Bill Laswell making some weirdness! The list goes on and on. I couldn't really see him playing with Nickelback or many of the popular bands of today. I see him more of being a recluse in Europe after the mid 80s

MadMac topcommenter

That's good plotting on the trajectory. I have one caveat--genius can only take so much chemical tampering before, well, Sly Stone.

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