Jimi’s progression as a guitar player is so wrapped up in myths that it’s VERY hard to get the truth.
Before he mesmerised his audience at the Monterey Pop Festival….you know, the fest where he burned his guitar at the end……he was playing in dive bars just like most.
There’s even one story I read of where he was attempting to do some BB King type solos, and was BOOED for it. The audience hated his guts, and he ended up feeling horrible about it.
This all started when he was a part of the 101st Airborne and met Billy Cox, his future bandmate in the Band Of Gypsies project.
What did he play? Covers of Chuck Berry, Elvis, Muddy Waters, Howlin Wolf, you name it. Just like everybody else did.
How did things start to change for Jimi? When he started challenging himself, and got out of the cover band routine.
(And yes, he played by ear up till this point too. Keep reading as it gets interesting……)
He started touring with several bands who are now legends in rock, pop, and R&B.
These bands included the Isley Brothers, Little Richard (pictured above), Jackie Wilson, Sam Cooke, Wilson Pickett, and Curtis Mayfield.
During this time, he recorded guitar with several of these bands in the studio and of course got lots of chances to learn and refine his technique.
He also met several bluesmen along the way like Albert King, who I read had laughed at Jimi for asking his secrets……but told him anyway.
Albert King and many others thought Jimi was just a strange kid who wouldn’t amount to nothing.
Strange isn’t it?
Besides meeting Albert King, he also met and jammed with Steve Cropper, the famous guitarist for Booker T & The MGs, the house band for Stax Records.
He also met Albert Collins the famous Texas Blues Man before playing Monterey Pop.
Can you imagine how incredible an influence these meetings had on the younger Jimi Hendrix???