Playing With Fire: Jimi Hendrix


By: Nathan Chandler

6 Min Quiz

Image: tmdb

About This Quiz

Jimi Hendrix wasn't just a guitarist. He was a musician and composer who pushed himself to ever greater artistic heights, until one day he suddenly took a fall. How much do you know about this timeless rock star?

When Hendrix was born, he was given which name?

When he was born in 1942, Hendrix was given the name Johnny. A few years later, his parents changed it to James in honor of his father and uncle. That, of course, eventually became Jimi.


What was Hendrix's upbringing like?

Both of his parents struggled with substance abuse -- and with each other. Their up-and-down relationship scarred their children and eventually ended in divorce.


What was his first instrument?

Hendrix's father refused to buy him a guitar when Jimi was a little boy. But the boy found a ukulele in the garbage -- it turned out to be his first instrument. The little instrument had just one working string.


As a child, Hendrix had which nickname?

He was known as Buster, because his favorite actor was Buster Crabbe, who played "Flash Gordon" in major Hollywood productions of the 30s and 40s.


The boy got his first guitar (an acoustic version) at age 15. What did he do with it?

The cheap acoustic guitar immediately caught his attention and he practiced every day. He took many of his cues from famous musicians such as Elvis Presley and Howlin' Wolf, among others.


Why did Hendrix decide to join the Army?

After a couple of run-ins with the police, he was given a choice -- he could join the service or do some jail time. He opted for military service.


What sort of job did Hendrix have in the Army?

He didn't get just any job, he wound up jumping from planes as a paratrooper. He served with the 101st Airborne, a division renowned for its World War II heroics at the Battle of the Bulge.


Why was Hendrix discharged from the Army?

His commanding officers were constantly exasperated with his undisciplined behavior. They eventually discharged him simply because he wasn't fit to be a soldier.


Early in his career, Hendrix learned to play guitar with which body part?

Other musicians played guitar with their teeth as a stunt. Hendrix learned to do the same, mostly as an attention-getting gimmick.


Hendrix sometimes slept with his guitar.

His devotion to the craft of music was legendary. Jimi even slept with his guitar at times, all the better to connect with his favorite instrument.


How did his mother die?

Jimi's mother never could give up a life of hard drinking. She was just 33 when she developed cirrhosis, and then her spleen ruptured. Some of his most famous songs are supposedly about her.


Jimi spent months touring with the Isley Brothers. Why did he quit the band?

The Isley Brothers gig was a steady one, but they did the same exact show every night. Hendrix needed more flexibility to spread his wings, so he moved on in less than a year.


Hendrix learned the life of touring musician as a backing member of several bands in the South. Then he decided to go solo. Where did he go?

Jimi found his way to Harlem, a predominantly black borough of New York City. Then he began playing the local club scene hoping to make a name for himself.


Jimi made his first TV appearance with which famous musician?

Hendrix traveled to Nashville and appeared on a local TV show with Little Richard. The two famously argued about everything and eventually, Jimi was kicked out of the band.


In 1967, during a show at London’s Finsbury Park Astoria, Hendrix did what for the first time?

His band played the song "Fire," and then Hendrix doused his guitar with lighter fluid and set it ablaze. He repeated the stunt for enthusiastic audiences at later shows.


What happened after Hendrix set his guitar on fire for the first time?

Hendrix used too much lighter fluid, which resulted in larger-than-expected flames. He burned his hands and wound up in the hospital … but not before he finished the set.


Why did Jimi's father reportedly try to force him to play guitar with his right hand instead of his left?

The elder Hendrix was more than a bit superstitious. Throughout history, left-handedness has sometimes been associated with the devil … and he was afraid that Jimi might be channeling Satan by using his left hand.


In 1966, a manager for a major band heard Jimi's music … but didn't like it. Which band was the manager working for?

Andrew Oldham, who worked with The Rolling Stones, heard Jimi's music but didn't really like it. But Chas Chandler, of the Animals fame, realized that Jimi had potential and signed him to a contract.


What was the name of Jimi's first really successful band?

Chas Chandler helped Hendrix assemble a band meant to showcase the artist's amazing guitar work. It was called the Jimi Hendrix Experience.


How many studio albums did The Jimi Hendrix Experience record?

The band released three albums. The first, "Are You Experienced," was a new chapter in rock history. It made Hendrix into a star and proved his artistic value.


Which music festival rocketed Hendrix into fame in the United States?

At the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival in California, Hendrix stunned the crowd with his musicianship and then set his guitar on fire. The fire stunt got him on the cover of "Rolling Stone" magazine and his life was never the same.


Why did Hendrix change the spelling of his name from Jimmy to Jimi?

Chas Chandler twisted Hendrix's arm a bit. But Jimi soon realized that the new spelling was a good marketing ploy to help him stand out in the music scene.


Hendrix's best-selling single was a cover of a song created by which artist?

Hendrix recorded Dylan's "All Along the Watchtower," and the song turned out to be his best-selling single. The song helped propel the album "Electric Ladyland" to the top of the U.S. charts.


Why was Hendrix arrested in Sweden in 1968?

Jimi drank way too much, got into a fight and broke a window in the city of Gothenburg. He was arrested and forced to pay a fine.


What happens if you speed up the song "Third Stone from the Sun"?

Hendrix and Chas Chandler recorded a silly bit of conversation about aliens and then slowed it down for the recorded song. Speed it back up, though, and you can understand their back-and-forth dialogue.


"Electric Ladyland" was the last album recorded by The Jimi Hendrix Experience. Why did manager Chas Chandler get exasperated with Hendrix in the studio?

Hendrix wanted the album to be perfect, so he played the parts over and over and over again. It frustrated his manager, but the album is now regarded as one of the best in rock history.


At 1969's Woodstock Festival, Hendrix played an epic, feedback-driven version of "The Star-Spangled Banner." Why did he play the national anthem?

Jimi was embracing the best parts of America when he played his famous, feedback-strewn version of the anthem. There was no irony intended.


How did Hendrix die?

The official report was inconclusive, but it's likely that Hendrix took too many drugs, threw up and then choked on his own vomit. It was a hideous end to a beautiful life.


What happened to his body after he died?

Hendrix didn't have any elaborate plans for his body. He was simply buried next to his mother in Seattle.


How old was Hendrix when he died?

Hendrix was just 27 years old when he died. His short life left a lasting, worldwide legacy and he is still considered perhaps the best guitarist ever.


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