Jimi Hendrix at 70: What Did We Miss?

That could have been Hendrix soloing on Michael Jackson's "Beat It," for Jesus' sake, instead of Eddie Van Halen. Coming out of a subway car in a long black duster, shades, and spangly earrings, wrenching out a flawless solo that would have brought Nina Blackwood and Mark Goodman to tears on MTV.

We could have ended the Cold War, dammit.

Of course as with Janis, Jim, Kurt, and the rest, we didn't get to see the nasty downsides of fame: The rehabs, the arrests, the bankruptcies, the Pepsi commercials, the neon sport coats, the processed drums, the synth-harmonicas, the mullets, and the Grammy appearances.

Mind you, I am also the guy who daydreams about Freddie Mercury getting into Twitter fights with Lady Gaga, John Lennon and Thurston Moore starting a supergroup, GG Allin's reality show on A&E, and Tupac Shakur sitcoms on ABC.

By now Jimi could either be sporting the most fantastic wig of all-time, or going sleek and chic like Isaac Hayes. Imagine him doped up on religion with Bob Dylan, and putting down the guitar for a gospel pulpit.

"I tell ya I tell ya, I used to be all 'Hey Joe' but now I'm all 'Hey God!' I used to be stone free, but now I am trying to be sin-free!" he would howl, pounding and sweating on a church stage, before playing a great version of "Swing Low Sweet Chariot" that would get everyone pregnant.

That's assuming that he wouldn't have taken a shine to crack or something in the '80s, and be in jail for stabbing Phil Spector to death. Bravo.

For all we know, in an alternate universe he could be playing a smaller venue like Arena Theatre on that revolving stage too.

"Dude, he didn't even play 'Crosstown Traffic.' Shit sucked," you would squeal on Twitter to your friends.

(Chuck Berry, the man who invented rock and roll, played Nutty Jerry's in Winnie a few years back. That's not a knock on Jerry's as a venue, just a comment on how we treat our pioneers in their twilight. Berry's live performance notwithstanding.)

I wouldn't care what or where Hendrix played as long as he played "Red House" real loud and dirty.

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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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