1604 Broadway, Seattle, Washington, USA
Jimi Hendrix’s career was brief. As was his life. But that brief time was all Jimi Hendrix needed to become one of the most famous popular musicians of all time. He was born in 1942 in a poor part of Seattle. His dad struggled with alcohol. So did his mum. And when they’d been drinking, they’d fight. Three of his younger siblings were taken into foster care and adopted, and the precarious financial situation his parents were in meant young Jimi’s childhood was lived out in a series of dingy, Seattle motel rooms. His escape from the hard-knock reality of his daily life was music. At first, he’d make believe a broom-handle was a guitar. And then, in 1957, when he was 15, he found it – an old ukulele someone had thrown out. Jimi quickly taught himself to play it, strumming along to the Elvis Presley songs he listened to on the radio. A year later, he’d saved $5 to buy his first guitar, one that had been previously owned, but never previously loved as much as Jimi loved it. After that, he played in bands in clubs and bars, and he played on his own in clubs and bars. It was tough going, but Jimi wanted to play, wanted to make music, wanted to be heard. The hard work paid off. Jimi Hendrix became a superstar. He played behind his back, he played with his teeth, he’d set guitars alight and smash them to pieces on stage. All to the rapturous applause of his audience. The rest of his story is well-known. He enjoyed drink, and he enjoyed drugs. The official cause of his death at the age of 27 was ‘asphyxia while intoxicated with barbiturates.’ He’d choked to death on his own vomit while asleep. The music that he’d played so loudly was silenced. And so was the music yet to come and yet to be performed. I’m the one that’s got to die when it’s time for me to die, so let me live my life the way I want to, Jimi sang on his album Axis – Bold As Love. He’d lived his life on his terms.