Exploring the purple afterglow of the guitar god.
No stranger to otherness, even at the height of his tragically brief career, stateside crowds didn’t immediately take to the ferocious fuzz of the Seattle native. After a short mid-’60s stint in backing bands for Little Richard, The Isley Brothers, and Curtis Knight – and little success as a solo performer – Hendrix shipped himself to London with barely more than his ax. There he found a home in a fledgling countercultural movement, and would soon be known for wielding six strings like few did or have since.
After upstaging England’s holy psyche trinity, Cream, at London’s Regent Street Polytechnic in 1966, the legend of Hendrix poured out across the Atlantic. His rise was immediate and drastic, plastering pop and R&B with an irrevocably purple tinge, electrifying traditional blues with uncanny grace, diabolical decibels, and mountains of reverb. By the end of the next year, there were only two eras in music history: before “Voodoo Chile” and after.
In celebration of the OG Purple One, we’ve gathered some of Hendrix’s most sampled suites into a new episode of our In Hip-Hop and Beyond playlist series. Curated by our own, Michael Eric Gonik, the sequence illuminates how DJ Premier, Ali Shaheed Muhammad, MF DOOM, Frank Ocean, and countless others, borrowed Hendrix’s hits and singular riffs – much like the guitarist flipped the licks of his own blues heroes – to create some of hip-hop’s dearest daggers.
Stream it down below. Hit the link to subscribe to Okayplayer’s Spotify channel for previous installments of the series and a continuous flow of the most essential sounds of yesterday, today, and tomorrow.