Sunday, September 19, 2010

Forever bound by that Hendrix sound

This weekend marks the 40th anniversary of the death of Jimi Hendrix.  That's a long time -- more than enough time for an entire new generation of fans to discover and appreciate the music of a legendary guitarist.  Sanctuary contributor Wayne Shelor discusses the signature sound.

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By Wayne Shelor

From the first electrified moments of this song, most people guess immediately who’s playing the guitar.

Like most of us, I’ve long believed handwriting -- a person’s signature in particular -- says something about the person. I know one of America’s Founding Fathers is recalled specifically for his signature on the Declaration of Independence.

And like the most of us, the first time I heard this guitarist’s sound I knew I’d recognize his signature anywhere else, from his “Wild Thing” performance at 1967’s Monterey Pop Festival to his mind-blowing “Star-Spangled Banner“ closing August 1969’s Woodstock.

This is a recording called “Move Over, Let Me Dance (Pt. II”), one of just a handful of tracks Jimi Hendrix recorded with the Isley Brothers in 1964/65. His guitar dominates this instruments-only edit, on which you can hear that the funk and the jangling, chuggling rhythm work that's a spinal staple of Hendrix’ musical canon, right up to his death in 1970.

Hendrix, dead at 27, is arguably the top rock ‘n’ roll guitarist of all time and easily the most recognizable, fully 40 years after his death, because of his sonic signature.

Hendrix’s “handwriting” ranged from the heavy crayon scrawls of “Purple Haze” to the filigreed fretwork on “Little Wing,” and whether he was attacking or seducing, his signature was always … bold as love.

(To hear the unedited original version of “Move Over…” – in which the Isley’s vocals and the production are every bit as spacey as Hendrix’ guitar work - go to

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