From Freddy King to “Purple Haze”

With so many years past since Jimi Hendrix turned the music world inside out, it is sometimes easy to forget the complete transformation of the electric guitar, which he single-handedly brought about during his short lifetime. One way to gauge Hendrix’s transformative significance is to view his music in the context of other players of his day, in particular 1960s blues players – the creative and artistic pool from which Hendrix came.

The clip below is a very early recording from a British TV show taken a few months before his seminal performance at Monterey Pop. Chronologically hardly a year separates Freddy King’s clip of “She Put a Whammy on Me” in my previous post from this rendition of “Hey Joe/Purple Haze”. Musically, however, Hendrix is already in another universe.

Even though the audio is slightly out of sync with the video in this example, it nevertheless provides a telling glimpse of the immense displacement that will soon be thrust upon the music scene in general and guitar players’ vocabulary in particular. This changes everything.

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