Volunteers (Jefferson Airplane album)

Studio album by Jefferson Airplane
Released November 1969
Recorded April 1969 at Wally Heider Studios, San Francisco
Genre Hard rock, country rock, psychedelic rock, acid rock
Length 44:19
69:36 (2004 reissue)
Label RCA Victor
Producer Al Schmitt
Jefferson Airplane chronology
Bless Its Pointed Little Head
The Worst of Jefferson Airplane
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 4/5 stars[1]
Robert Christgau (B)[2]
Rolling Stone 4.5/5 stars[3]

Volunteers is a 1969 album by American psychedelic rock band, Jefferson Airplane, released as RCA Victor LSP-4238. It was also released in a Quadrophonic version in 1973 as RCA Quadradisc APD1-0320. It was controversial at the time because of anti-war messages of certain songs and occasional use of profanity in the lyrics.[citation needed] The original title of the album was intended to be Volunteers of Amerika, but after objections from Volunteers of America the name was shortened.


This was the sixth album recorded by the group and the first to be wholly recorded in San Francisco, at Wally Heider’s then state-of-the-art 16-track studio. Guests included Jerry Garcia on pedal steel guitar, veteran session pianist Nicky Hopkins, future Airplane drummer Joey Covington on percussion, David Crosby, and Stephen Stills. It was one of the earliest 16-track recordings. The back cover of the album shows a picture of the MM-1000 professional 16-track tape recorder built by Ampex which was used to record the album.

The album was marked with strong anti-war and pro-anarchism songs. The theme of nature, communities and ecology was also explored with the songs “The Farm” and “Eskimo Blue Day”. The title track was inspired by a “Volunteers of America” garbage truck that awoke singer Marty Balin one morning. The original title of the album was intended to be Volunteers of Amerika, a corruption of Volunteers of America, an American version of the Salvation Army charity; the term being in vogue as an ironic expression of dissatisfaction with America; however the charity objected so the name was shortened to Volunteers.[4]

The album provoked even more controversy with lyrics such as “Up against the wall, motherfucker” (from the song “We Can Be Together”) which appeared on the opening track. The offending word was mixed lower on the 45 RPM release of the track to partially ‘obscure’ it, but it was still audible. The word “motherfucker” was censored on the album lyric sheet as “fred,” however.[5] At the time, RCA Records was refusing to allow “fuck” on the album until they were confronted with the fact that they had already set precedent on the Cast Recording Soundtrack of “Hair”. “Eskimo Blue Day” was also a point of contention with the chorus line of “doesn’t mean shit to a tree” repeated throughout. Musically, the album is characterized by lead guitarist Jorma Kaukonen’s razor-sharp guitar work (the dueling solos on “Hey Fredrick”, plus “Good Shepherd” and “Wooden Ships”) and the distinctive piano playing of Nicky Hopkins. It also featured that band dabbling in a country rock sound, particularly in “The Farm” and “Song For All Seasons”.

Despite its controversies, the album was a commercial success becoming the band’s fourth top twenty hit record and went gold within two months of its release.[6]

This was to be both Jefferson Airplane’s founder Marty Balin and drummer Spencer Dryden’s last album with the group, (although they did both appear on the “Mexico” single released in 1970 and its B-side “Have You Seen the Saucers?”) signifying the end of the best-remembered “classic” lineup. It was to be the last all-new LP for two years; Jack Casady and Jorma Kaukonen would now devote more of their energy to their embryonic blues group “Hot Tuna”, while Paul Kantner and Grace Slick celebrated the birth of their daughter China in 1971.


Even though the album was released in late 1969, the cover photo dates back to 1967, and features the band wearing disguises, and was taken during the filming of a promotional film made for their single “Martha.”

A specially remixed Quadraphonic (4 channel) version of the album was also released in 1973. The Quad version was available on LP Record using the discrete JVC / RCA CD-4 / Quadradisc system, and Reel to reel, and 8-track cartridge tape. The Quad mixes are noticeably different from the usual (2 channel) stereo mixes (actually, “Hey Fredrick” has a completely different lead vocal, “Volunteers” is a totally different recording, Jorma’s guitar lines are different on “We Can Be Together”, “Wooden Ships” lacks the ‘sailboat sounds’ opener, and “The Farm”‘s backing vocals by the Ace of Cups is brought up to front). A few tracks from the Quad version were included on the 3-CD box set Jefferson Airplane Loves You, however on the box set the four channel recordings have been reduced to two channels due to the technical limitations of Compact Disc .

The 2004 CD rerelease features five additional bonus tracks from the group’s annual Thanksgiving concert at the Fillmore East, New York in 1969.


In 2003, the album was ranked number 370 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.

The album was released again in 2009 along with the entirety of the Airplane’s live performance at the Woodstock Festival in 1969 as Jefferson Airplane Woodstock Experience.

Richie Havens



From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Richard Pierce Havens[1] (January 21, 1941 – April 22, 2013), known as Richie Havens, was an American singer-songwriter and guitarist.[2] His music encompassed elements of folk, soul, and rhythm and blues. He is best known for his intense and rhythmic guitar style (often in open tunings), soulful covers of pop and folk songs, and his opening performance at the 1969 Woodstock Festival.

Life and career

Early life

Born in Brooklyn, Havens was the eldest of nine children.[2] He was of American Indian (Blackfoot) descent on his father’s side, and of the British West Indies on his mother’s.[3] His grandfather was Blackfoot of the Montana/South Dakota area. Havens’ grandfather and great-uncle joined Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show, got off in New York City and ended up on the Shinnecock Reservation in Long Island. There he got married then moved to Brooklyn.[4]

As a youth, Havens began organizing his neighborhood friends into street corner doo-wop groups and was performing with the McCrea Gospel Singers at age 16.[2]

Early career

At age 20, Havens left Brooklyn, seeking artistic stimulation in Greenwich Village. “I saw the Village as a place to escape to, in order to express yourself,” he recalled. “I had first gone there during the Beatnik days of the 1950s to perform poetry, then I drew portraits for two years and stayed up all night listening to folk music in the clubs. It took a while before I thought of picking up a guitar.”[citation needed]
Publicity photo released in 1974 by his management at the William Morris Agency

Havens’ solo performances quickly spread beyond the Village folk circles.[2] After cutting two records for Douglas Records, he signed on with Bob Dylan’s manager, Albert Grossman, and landed a record deal with the Verve Forecast label. Verve released Mixed Bag in 1967, which featured tracks such as “Handsome Johnny” (co-written by Havens and future Oscar-winning actor Louis Gossett Jr.), “Follow,” and a cover of Bob Dylan’s “Just Like a Woman.”

By 1969, Havens had released five more albums. Something Else Again (1968) became his first album to hit the Billboard charts and also pulled Mixed Bag back onto the charts. Two of those albums were unauthorized “exploitation albums” released by Douglas Records (or Douglas International[5]): Electric Havens (released June 1, 1968[5][6][7]) and Richie Havens Record (1969).[6][8]

Woodstock and increased visibility

Havens playing at Woodstock Music Festival 1969

Havens as a live performer earned widespread notice. His Woodstock appearance in 1969 catapulted him into stardom and was a major turning point in his career.[2] As the festival’s first performer, he held the crowd for nearly three hours. In part, Havens was told to continue playing, because many artists scheduled to perform after him were delayed in reaching the festival location with highways at a virtual standstill. He was called back for several encores. Having run out of tunes, he improvised a song based on the old spiritual Motherless Child that became Freedom. The subsequent Woodstock movie release helped Havens reach a worldwide audience. He also appeared at the Isle of Wight Festival in late August 1969.[9][10]

Havens performing in Hamburg, Germany, May 1972

Following the success of his Woodstock performance, Havens started his own record label, Stormy Forest, and released Stonehenge in 1970. Later that year came Alarm Clock, which included the George Harrison-penned hit single, Here Comes the Sun. This was Havens’ first album to reach Billboard’s Top 30 Chart.[2] Stormy Forest went on to release four more of his albums: The Great Blind Degree (1971), Live On Stage (1972), Portfolio (1973), and Mixed Bag II (1974).[2] Memorable television appearances included performances on The Ed Sullivan Show and The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson. On the latter program, the audience reacted with such enthusiasm that when the applause continued even after the commercial break, Carson asked Havens to return the following night.

Havens also began acting during the 1970s. He was featured in the original 1972 stage presentation of The Who’s Tommy,[11] as Othello in the 1974 film Catch My Soul, in Greased Lightning alongside Richard Pryor and in Bob Dylan’s Hearts of Fire.[12]

Havens increasingly devoted his energies to educating young people about ecological issues. In the mid-1970s, he co-founded the Northwind Undersea Institute, an oceanographic children’s museum on City Island in the Bronx. That, in turn, led to the creation of the Natural Guard, an organization Havens describes as, “…a way of helping kids learn that they can have a hands-on role in affecting the environment. Children study the land, water, and air in their own communities and see how they can make positive changes from something as simple as planting a garden in an abandoned lot.”[13] In July 1978 he also was a featured performer at the Benefit Concert for The Longest Walk, an American Indian spiritual walk from Alcatraz to Washington DC affirming treaty rights, as a result of legislation that had been introduced to abrogate Indian treaties.

Branching out more into the media

During the 1980s and 1990s, Havens continued a world touring schedule and a steady release of albums. The release of the 1993 Resume, The Best Of Richie Havens Rhino collected his late 1960s and early 1970s recordings. In 1982, Havens composed and performed a promotional slogan for NBC’s 1982–83 television season entitled, We’re NBC, Just Watch Us Now. He also performed slogans for CBS and ABC,[14] and recorded commercials for Amtrak, singing the slogan “There’s something about a train that’s magic”; and in 1985, for Coca-Cola. Havens also has done corporate commercial work for Maxwell House Coffee as well as singing “The Fabric of Our Lives” theme for the cotton industry.

In 1993, Havens performed at the inauguration of President Bill Clinton. Among the selections was the “Cotton” song, made famous by a series of television ads in the early 1990s.[15] In 1999, Havens played at the Tibetan Freedom Concert for an audience of more than 100,000.[16]

Havens also played a small role as a character named Daze in a 1990 film named Street Hunter starring John Leguizamo.

Havens was the twentieth living recipient of the Peace Abbey Courage of Conscience Award, presented in Sherborn, Massachusetts,[17] on April 12, 1991.

In addition to performing at charity benefit concerts, Havens formed the Northwind Undersea Institute, an oceanographic children’s museum on City Island in The Bronx. The museum led to the creation of The Natural Guard, an organization that educates children about the environment.[13]

Final years

In 2000, Havens teamed with the electronic music duo Groove Armada for the retro 1970s-style song, “Hands of Time.”[18] The song was featured on the soundtrack of the film Collateral; the same song was also used in the films Domino, A Lot Like Love, and Tell No One.[1] Havens was also featured on “Little By Little” and “Healing” on the band’s third album, Goodbye Country (Hello Nightclub).[18]

In 2000, Havens published They Can’t Hide Us Anymore, an autobiography co-written with Steve Davidowitz. He maintained his status as a folk icon and continued to tour. In 2002, he released Wishing Well, followed by the 2004 album Grace of the Sun.

Havens playing in Piermont, New York, January 4, 2009

In 2003, the National Music Council awarded Havens the American Eagle Award for his place as part of America’s musical heritage and for providing “a rare and inspiring voice of eloquence, integrity and social responsibility.”[19]

On October 15, 2006, Havens was inducted into the Long Island Music Hall of Fame.[20]

In 2007, Havens appeared as “Old Man Arvin” in the Todd Haynes film I’m Not There. In a classic front-porch jam scene, he is shown singing the Bob Dylan song “Tombstone Blues” with Marcus Carl Franklin and Tyrone Benskin. Havens’ version of the song also appears on the I’m Not There soundtrack.

Havens was invited to perform at the 2008 Cannes Film Festival opening ceremony. He played “Freedom” at the request of the jury president, Sean Penn. He also performed at the London, Ontario, Blues Festival in July 2008.[21]

In March 2008, Havens released a new studio album entitled, Nobody Left To Crown.[22] The first single release was the country-tinged “The Key.”[citation needed]

Havens appeared in the acclaimed 2009 film Soundtrack for a Revolution, which provided a general history of the modern civil rights movement, and had modern artists performing many of the era’s musical classics. In the film, Havens performed a haunting rendition of Will the Circle Be Unbroken?.[23]
Havens with journalist Phil Konstantin, on January 25, 2010

On May 3, 2009, Havens performed at the fundraising concert in honor of Pete Seeger’s 90th birthday. In June 2009, he performed at the fifth annual Mountain Jam Festival. The event, hosted by Allman Brothers Band and Gov’t Mule guitarist Warren Haynes, was held at the Hunter Mountain Ski Resort in Hunter, New York. As is the tradition, the festival took place on the weekend following Memorial Day. On June 20, 2009, Havens performed at the Clearwater Festival. On July 4, 2009, he performed at the Woodstock Tribute festival in Ramsey, New Jersey. On August 8, 2010, he performed at Musikfest 2010 at Foy Hall at Moravian College in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.

Health problems and death

In 2010, Havens had kidney surgery but did not recover fully enough to perform as he had before.[24] On March 20, 2012, he announced on his Facebook page that he would stop touring after 45 years due to health concerns.[25]

On April 22, 2013, Havens died of a heart attack at home in Jersey City, New Jersey at age 72.[26][27][28] The BBC referred to him as a “Woodstock icon,”[29] while Stephen Stills of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young said Havens “could never be replicated.”[29] The Daily Telegraph stated Havens “made an indelible mark on contemporary music,”[30] while Douglas Martin of The New York Times reported that Havens had “riveted Woodstock.”[31]

Pursuant to Havens’s request, his ashes were scattered from a plane over the site of the Woodstock festival, in a ceremony held on August 18, 2013, the 44th anniversary of the last day of the festival.[32]

Havens is survived by three children, five grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren.[33]

The Who ~ My Generation

“My Generation”

People try to put us d-down (Talkin’ ’bout my generation)
Just because we get around (Talkin’ ’bout my generation)
Things they do look awful c-c-cold (Talkin’ ’bout my generation)
I hope I die before I get old (Talkin’ ’bout my generation)

This is my generation
This is my generation, baby

Why don’t you all f-fade away (Talkin’ ’bout my generation)
And don’t try to dig what we all s-s-say (Talkin’ ’bout my generation)
I’m not trying to cause a big s-s-sensation (Talkin’ ’bout my generation)
I’m just talkin’ ’bout my g-g-g-generation (Talkin’ ’bout my generation)

This is my generation
This is my generation, baby

Why don’t you all f-fade away (Talkin’ ’bout my generation)
And don’t try to d-dig what we all s-s-say (Talkin’ ’bout my generation)
I’m not trying to cause a b-big s-s-sensation (Talkin’ ’bout my generation)
I’m just talkin’ ’bout my g-g-generation (Talkin’ ’bout my generation)

This is my generation
This is my generation, baby

People try to put us d-down (Talkin’ ’bout my generation)
Just because we g-g-get around (Talkin’ ’bout my generation)
Things they do look awful c-c-cold (Talkin’ ’bout my generation)
Yeah, I hope I die before I get old (Talkin’ ’bout my generation)

This is my generation
This is my generation, baby


It’s why parents hated rock and roll. It’s the musical embodiment of running with scissors, disrespecting your elders, and refusing to clean up your room.

At Woodstock, Pete Townshend called “My Generation” a “hymn”—but for millions of parents it was simply bad music. It started with an artless pounding of two chords, and it ended with a chaotic banging of drums and guitars. And the lyrics were even worse (not to mention the sophomoric stuttering): old people were “c-c-c-cold,” were told to “f-f-f-f-fade away” (although you might initially suspect it’s heading somewhere different with that “f”), and, of course, there’s that doozy of a line: “I hope I die before I get old.” To parents, the song was all about contempt for traditional values, disrespect for life, and mockery of the experience and wisdom that come with age. To add insult to considerable injury, the performance always ended with the smashing of a guitar.

But while parents hated it, young people went crazy for the song. It only reached #75 in the US, but “My Generation” reached #2 in Britain, and over time, it gained more and more recognition. Rolling Stone named “My Generation” the 11th greatest rock song of all time; it was also placed on the magazine’s list of songs that changed rock and roll, and in the Grammy Hall of Fame.

Pete Townshend didn’t have such grand ambitions when he wrote it. He was only twenty at the time, and his motivations were more impish than revolutionary or diabolical. As he explained to a journalist, he was angry with the Queen Mother, who, upset by the sight of his Packard Hearse (it stirred memories of her husband’s death), had supposedly ordered it towed. Over the next twenty years, Townshend would craft a more substantive explanation for the song, saying it was all tied to the alienation felt by young mods, their demand for a voice, and his own sense of displacement. “‘My Generation’ was very much about trying to find a place in society,” Townshend eventually explained. “I was very, very lost” (“Pete Townshend,” Rolling Stone, 5 November 1987, 180). But is this more full-bodied explanation just a forty-year-old’s attempt to add dimension to his past? We’ll let you make your own judgment there.

Roger Daltrey’s stuttering also seems to have been more mindless than artistic or political. There are at least half a dozen explanations for it that circulate in the guise of analysis.  Among them: the stutter was a device used to capture the anger and emotion of a troubled generation; it was intended to suggest a person on speed; Daltrey was channeling a stuttering friend whose stilted speech echoed the frustration felt by misunderstood kids; he was mocking older people who believed that kids were stupid and slow; and so on. According to Daltrey, though, the real reason is much simpler. He stuttered in the studio on early takes because he was having trouble with the lyrics, and everyone liked how it sounded.

Townshend’s motivations may have been shallow, and Daltrey’s stutter may have been (as his producer called it) “a happy accident,” but the song took. It was embraced by the young and hated by the old. It grew into an anthem more of generational contempt than of rebellion – it was a pounding, exploding declaration of disgust for age and everything that came with it.

The only problem is that if you live life acting like you’ll never get old, you might not take care of yourself quite as well as you could. As members of The Who began to suffer the consequences of their rock and roll lifestyles, the finger-wagging parents who had hated the song were able to say, “I told you so.”

Townshend’s hearing faded, the result of too many decibels over too many years, or perhaps due to the infamous explosion crazily engineered by drummer Keith Moon for an appearance on the American TV show The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour. More tragically, Moon was killed in 1978 by an overdose of Heminevrin, a drug used to ease the symptoms of acute alcohol withdrawal. In 2002, bass player John Entwistle was also killed—by a cocaine-induced heart attack while partying with a Las Vegas stripper.

Roger Daltrey survived intact, but three-fourths of the legendary age-condemning band had been killed or maimed by their rock and roll lives—lives, said vindictive old folks, captured and encouraged by the hard-pounding opening chords of “My Generation.”

Perhaps more surprisingly (or perhaps not), Who survivors began to sound a bit like the wisdom-peddling old folks they had formerly dismissed. Townshend, so succinct and emphatic in 1965 while making his Peter Pan pledge, tried to look sincere while explaining in 1989 (at age 44) that “old” meant “rich.” It had never really been an age thing, he insisted, it was “somebody who had achieved everything and looked to anybody who was on the ladder up, you know, with an eye to kick in the mouth.” True fans (aging themselves) may have bought it, but they must have found it harder to parse the learn-from-my-mistakes speech on the dangers of over-amplification offered in the same interview. Sure, rock and roll was supposed to be fun, Townshend essentially tells us, but heed the advice of your hard-rocking elder. “We’ve been the guinea pigs—and we can tell you the results,” he said. “The results aren’t very good—be careful.”

Actually, in many ways Townsend’s outlook and work began to evolve almost immediately after releasing “My Generation.” On the very next album, A Quick One, he began toying with rock opera. The Who’s next release (The Who Sell Out) was a concept album that explored commercialization. By the time The Who released Tommy (1969) and Quadrophenia (1973), they were at the forefront in exploring new applications for rock and roll.

Thematically, Townshend and The Who also moved quickly beyond the age-denouncing simplicities of “My Generation.” In 1968, just three years after the hit single was recorded, Townshend suggested that the song was rooted in a peculiar sort of pressure tied to fears of impermanence. Believing that the band would not last, and that his chance to do something would soon pass, he frantically produced a “blustering kind of blurting thing.” But when The Who did last, Townshend discovered an amazingly old-fashioned form of contentment: “Nothing can be better really than waking up in the morning and everything is still the same as it was the day before. That’s the best thing you can have in life, consistency of some kind” (“The Rolling Stone Interview: Pete Townshend,” Rolling Stone, 28 September 1968, 14).

By 1980 and the release of a solo project, Empty Glass, Townshend’s music had moved from contempt for age to the typical obsessions of middle age—religion, marriage, the loss of friends. On one track, “Keep On Working,” he offered a somewhat sad, but sincere, look at the small things that provide some lives with meaning.

And if your luck is in
You might have kids at play
To make you laugh and sing
When you’re old and gray

By mid-life and mid-career, in other words, Townshend had turned into a different artist. Yet lurking in the past was his most famous and, for some, greatest song. His legacy, therefore, was not entirely uncomplicated.

The Who may have known they were building a problematic legacy with “My Generation” as early as 1966, when they re-recorded their hit for Ready Steady Who. Unlike earlier versions, they ended the song with a sloppy rendition of Edward Elgar’s “Land of Hope and Glory”—aka “Pomp and Circumstance”—the song that marches high school graduates toward adulthood year after year after year after year. The revision no doubt mocked the pie-eyed dreams each generation was supposed to carry with them as they left school. But the eternally repeated march also captured a more ironic and sobering truth: a new, younger generation is always waiting in the wings, and no matter how hard we try, no matter what oath we take, every generation gets old.

Townshend has long moved beyond a literal reading of the song, but this has not prevented many bands from enthusiastically covering it. Artists young enough to be Townshend’s grandchildren pay tribute to him by pounding his opening chords and repeating his iconic lines.

Every time traveler from Captain Kirk to Dr. Emmett Brown has wondered what might happen if he bumped into a younger or older version of himself. Pete Townshend could probably tell them. Even if it’s an uncomfortable experience, he can at least take solace in knowing that one of his greatest songs is being sung by serious younger musicians, such as Green Day and Oasis (in addition to some less serious ones). We’re guessing that, since there will never be a shortage of young people, “My Generation” will remain alive and well, even long after we’re old.


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Hippie woman giving a peace sign, Los Angeles, 1969

The hippie (or hippy) subculture was originally a youth movement that arose in the United States during the mid-1960s and spread to other countries around the world. The word ‘hippie’ came from hipster, and was initially used to describe beatniks who had moved into New York City’s Greenwich Village and San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury district. The origins of the terms hip and hep are uncertain, though by the 1940s both had become part of African American jive slang and meant “sophisticated; currently fashionable; fully up-to-date”.[1][2][3] The Beats adopted the term hip, and early hippies inherited the language and countercultural values of the Beat Generation. Hippies created their own communities, listened to psychedelic music, embraced the sexual revolution, and used drugs such as cannabis, LSD, and psilocybin mushrooms to explore altered states of consciousness.

In January 1967, the Human Be-In in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco popularized hippie culture, leading to the Summer of Love on the West Coast of the United States, and the 1969 Woodstock Festival on the East Coast. Hippies in Mexico, known as jipitecas, formed La Onda and gathered at Avándaro, while in New Zealand, nomadic housetruckers practiced alternative lifestyles and promoted sustainable energy at Nambassa. In the United Kingdom, mobile “peace convoys” of New age travellers made summer pilgrimages to free music festivals at Stonehenge and later (in 1970) to the gigantic Isle of Wight Festival with a crowd of around 400,000 people.[4] In Australia hippies gathered at Nimbin for the 1973 Aquarius Festival and the annual Cannabis Law Reform Rally or MardiGrass. “Piedra Roja Festival”, a major hippie event in Chile, was held in 1970.[5]

Hippie fashions and values had a major effect on culture, influencing popular music, television, film, literature, and the arts. One of the main early influential leaders in the hippie movement, affecting hippie culture very heavily, was Tom Nolan.[6] Since the 1960s, many aspects of hippie culture have been assimilated by mainstream society. The religious and cultural diversity espoused by the hippies has gained widespread acceptance, and Eastern philosophy and spiritual concepts have reached a larger audience. The hippie legacy can be observed in contemporary culture in myriad forms, including health food, music festivals, contemporary sexual mores, and even the cyberspace revolution.[7]


Main article: Hippie (etymology)

Lexicographer Jesse Sheidlower, the principal American editor of the Oxford English Dictionary, argues that the terms hipster and hippie derive from the word hip, whose origins are unknown.[8] The word hip in the sense of “aware, in the know” is first attested in a 1902 cartoon by Tad Dorgan,[9] and first appeared in print in a 1904 novel by George Vere Hobart, Jim Hickey, A Story of the One-Night Stands, where a black American character uses the slang phrase “Are you hip?”

The term hipster was coined by Harry Gibson in 1944.[6] By the 1940s, the terms hip, hep and hepcat were popular in Harlem jazz slang, although hep eventually came to denote an inferior status to hip.[10] In Greenwich Village in the early 1960s, New York City, young counterculture advocates were named hips because they were considered “in the know” or “cool”, as opposed to being square. In a 1961 essay, Kenneth Rexroth used both the terms hipster and hippies to refer to young people participating in black American or Beatnik nightlife.[11] According to Malcolm X‘s 1964 autobiography, the word hippie in 1940s Harlem had been used to describe a specific type of white man who “acted more Negro than Negroes”.[12] Andrew Loog Oldham refers to “all the Chicago hippies,” seemingly in reference to black blues/R&B musicians, in his rear sleeve notes to the 1965 LP The Rolling Stones, Now!

Although the word hippies made other isolated appearances in print during the early 1960s, the first use of the term on the West Coast appeared on September 5, 1965, in the article, “A New Haven for Beatniks“, by San Francisco journalist Michael Fallon. In that article, Fallon wrote about the Blue Unicorn coffeehouse, using the term hippie to refer to the new generation of beatniks who had moved from North Beach into the Haight-Ashbury district.[13][14] New York Times editor and usage writer Theodore M. Bernstein said the paper changed the spelling from hippy to hippie to avoid the ambiguous description of clothing as hippy fashions.[citation needed]



A Hippie-painted VW bug.

A July 1968 Time Magazine study on hippie philosophy credited the foundation of the hippie movement with historical precedent as far back as the counterculture of the Ancient Greeks, espoused by philosophers like Diogenes of Sinope and the Cynics also as early forms of hippie culture.[15] It also named as notable influences the religious and spiritual teachings of Henry David Thoreau, Hillel the Elder, Jesus, Buddha, St. Francis of Assisi, Gandhi, and J.R.R. Tolkien.[15]

The first signs of modern “proto-hippies” emerged in fin de siècle Europe. Between 1896 and 1908, a German youth movement arose as a countercultural reaction to the organized social and cultural clubs that centered around German folk music. Known as Der Wandervogel (“migratory bird”), the movement opposed the formality of traditional German clubs, instead emphasizing amateur music and singing, creative dress, and communal outings involving hiking and camping.[16] Inspired by the works of Friedrich Nietzsche, Goethe, Hermann Hesse, and Eduard Baltzer, Wandervogel attracted thousands of young Germans who rejected the rapid trend toward urbanization and yearned for the pagan, back-to-nature spiritual life of their ancestors.[17] During the first several decades of the 20th century, Germans settled around the United States, bringing the values of the Wandervogel with them. Some opened the first health food stores, and many moved to southern California where they could practice an alternative lifestyle in a warm climate. Over time, young Americans adopted the beliefs and practices of the new immigrants. One group, called the “Nature Boys”, took to the California desert and raised organic food, espousing a back-to-nature lifestyle like the Wandervogel.[18] Songwriter Eden Ahbez wrote a hit song called Nature Boy inspired by Robert Bootzin (Gypsy Boots), who helped popularize health-consciousness, yoga, and organic food in the United States.

American hippies smoking cannabis in Thailand.

Like Wandervogel, the hippie movement in the United States began as a youth movement. Composed mostly of white teenagers and young adults between 15 and 25 years old,[19][20] hippies inherited a tradition of cultural dissent from bohemians and beatniks of the Beat Generation in the late 1950s.[20] Beats like Allen Ginsberg crossed over from the beat movement and became fixtures of the burgeoning hippie and anti-war movements. By 1965, hippies had become an established social group in the U.S., and the movement eventually expanded to other countries,[21][22] extending as far as the United Kingdom and Europe, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Japan, Mexico, and Brazil.[23] The hippie ethos influenced The Beatles and others in the United Kingdom and other parts of Europe, and they in turn influenced their American counterparts.[24] Hippie culture spread worldwide through a fusion of rock music, folk, blues, and psychedelic rock; it also found expression in literature, the dramatic arts, fashion, and the visual arts, including film, posters advertising rock concerts, and album covers.[25] Self-described hippies had become a significant minority by 1968, representing just under 0.2% of the U.S. population[26] before declining in the mid-1970s.[21]

Along with the New Left and the American Civil Rights Movement, the hippie movement was one of three dissenting groups of the 1960s counterculture.[22] Hippies rejected established institutions, criticized middle class values, opposed nuclear weapons and the Vietnam War, embraced aspects of Eastern philosophy,[27] championed sexual liberation, were often vegetarian and eco-friendly, promoted the use of psychedelic drugs which they believed expanded one’s consciousness, and created intentional communities or communes. They used alternative arts, street theatre, folk music, and psychedelic rock as a part of their lifestyle and as a way of expressing their feelings, their protests and their vision of the world and life. Hippies opposed political and social orthodoxy, choosing a gentle and nondoctrinaire ideology that favored peace, love and personal freedom,[28][29] expressed for example in The Beatles‘ song “All You Need is Love“.[30] Hippies perceived the dominant culture as a corrupt, monolithic entity that exercised undue power over their lives, calling this culture “The Establishment“, “Big Brother“, or “The Man“.[31][32][33] Noting that they were “seekers of meaning and value”, scholars like Timothy Miller have described hippies as a new religious movement.[34]

Early hippies (1960–1966)

Escapin’ through the lily fields
I came across an empty space
It trembled and exploded
Left a bus stop in its place
The bus came by and I got on
That’s when it all began
There was cowboy Neal
At the wheel
Of a bus to never-ever land

Grateful Dead, lyrics from “That’s It for the Other One”[35]

During the early 1960s, novelist Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters lived communally in California. Members included Beat Generation hero Neal Cassady, Ken Babbs, Carolyn Adams (aka Mountain Girl/Carolyn Garcia), Stewart Brand, Del Close, Paul Foster, George Walker, Sandy Lehmann-Haupt and others. Their early escapades were documented in Tom Wolfe‘s book The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test. With Cassady at the wheel of a school bus named Further, the Merry Pranksters traveled across the United States to celebrate the publication of Kesey’s novel Sometimes a Great Notion and to visit the 1964 World’s Fair in New York City. The Merry Pranksters were known for using marijuana, amphetamines, and LSD, and during their journey they “turned on” many people to these drugs. The Merry Pranksters filmed and audio taped their bus trips, creating an immersive multimedia experience that would later be presented to the public in the form of festivals and concerts. The Grateful Dead wrote a song about the Merry Pranksters’ bus trips called “That’s It for the Other One”.[35]

During this period Greenwich Village in New York City and Berkeley, California anchored the American folk music circuit. Berkeley’s two coffee houses, the Cabale Creamery and the Jabberwock, sponsored performances by folk music artists in a beat setting.[36] In April 1963, Chandler A. Laughlin III, co-founder of the Cabale Creamery,[37] established a kind of tribal, family identity among approximately fifty people who attended a traditional, all-night Native American peyote ceremony in a rural setting. This ceremony combined a psychedelic experience with traditional Native American spiritual values; these people went on to sponsor a unique genre of musical expression and performance at the Red Dog Saloon in the isolated, old-time mining town of Virginia City, Nevada.[38]

During the summer of 1965, Laughlin recruited much of the original talent that led to a unique amalgam of traditional folk music and the developing psychedelic rock scene.[38] He and his cohorts created what became known as “The Red Dog Experience“, featuring previously unknown musical acts — Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, Big Brother and the Holding Company, Quicksilver Messenger Service, The Charlatans, and others — who played in the completely refurbished, intimate setting of Virginia City’s Red Dog Saloon. There was no clear delineation between “performers” and “audience” in “The Red Dog Experience”, during which music, psychedelic experimentation, a unique sense of personal style and Bill Ham’s first primitive light shows combined to create a new sense of community.[39] Laughlin and George Hunter of the Charlatans were true “proto-hippies”, with their long hair, boots and outrageous clothing of 19th-century American (and Native American) heritage.[38] LSD manufacturer Owsley Stanley lived in Berkeley during 1965 and provided much of the LSD that became a seminal part of the “Red Dog Experience”, the early evolution of psychedelic rock and budding hippie culture. At the Red Dog Saloon, The Charlatans were the first psychedelic rock band to play live (albeit unintentionally) loaded on LSD.[40]

When they returned to San Francisco, Red Dog participants Luria Castell, Ellen Harman and Alton Kelley created a collective called “The Family Dog.”[38] Modeled on their Red Dog experiences, on October 16, 1965, the Family Dog hosted “A Tribute to Dr. Strange” at Longshoreman’s Hall.[41] Attended by approximately 1,000 of the Bay Area’s original “hippies”, this was San Francisco’s first psychedelic rock performance, costumed dance and light show, featuring Jefferson Airplane, The Great Society and The Marbles.[42] Two other events followed before year’s end, one at California Hall and one at the Matrix.[38] After the first three Family Dog events, a much larger psychedelic event occurred at San Francisco’s Longshoreman’s Hall. Called “The Trips Festival”, it took place on January 21–January 23, 1966, and was organized by Stewart Brand, Ken Kesey, Owsley Stanley and others. Ten thousand people attended this sold-out event, with a thousand more turned away each night.[43] On Saturday January 22, the Grateful Dead and Big Brother and the Holding Company came on stage, and 6,000 people arrived to imbibe punch spiked with LSD and to witness one of the first fully developed light shows of the era.[44]

It is nothing new. We have a private revolution going on. A revolution of individuality and diversity that can only be private. Upon becoming a group movement, such a revolution ends up with imitators rather than participants…It is essentially a striving for realization of one’s relationship to life and other people…

Bob Stubbs, “Unicorn Philosophy”[45]

By February 1966, the Family Dog became Family Dog Productions under organizer Chet Helms, promoting happenings at the Avalon Ballroom and the Fillmore Auditorium in initial cooperation with Bill Graham. The Avalon Ballroom, the Fillmore Auditorium and other venues provided settings where participants could partake of the full psychedelic music experience. Bill Ham, who had pioneered the original Red Dog light shows, perfected his art of liquid light projection, which combined light shows and film projection and became synonymous with the San Francisco ballroom experience.[38][46] The sense of style and costume that began at the Red Dog Saloon flourished when San Francisco’s Fox Theater went out of business and hippies bought up its costume stock, reveling in the freedom to dress up for weekly musical performances at their favorite ballrooms. As San Francisco Chronicle music columnist Ralph J. Gleason put it, “They danced all night long, orgiastic, spontaneous and completely free form.”[38]

Some of the earliest San Francisco hippies were former students at San Francisco State College[47] who became intrigued by the developing psychedelic hippie music scene.[38] These students joined the bands they loved, living communally in the large, inexpensive Victorian apartments in the Haight-Ashbury.[48] Young Americans around the country began moving to San Francisco, and by June 1966, around 15,000 hippies had moved into the Haight.[49] The Charlatans, Jefferson Airplane, Big Brother and the Holding Company, and the Grateful Dead all moved to San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury neighborhood during this period. Activity centered around the Diggers, a guerrilla street theatre group that combined spontaneous street theatre, anarchistic action, and art happenings in their agenda to create a “free city”. By late 1966, the Diggers opened free stores which simply gave away their stock, provided free food, distributed free drugs, gave away money, organized free music concerts, and performed works of political art.[50]

On October 6, 1966, the state of California declared LSD a controlled substance, which made the drug illegal.[51] In response to the criminalization of psychedelics, San Francisco hippies staged a gathering in the Golden Gate Park panhandle, called the Love Pageant Rally,[51] attracting an estimated 700–800 people.[52] As explained by Allan Cohen, co-founder of the San Francisco Oracle, the purpose of the rally was twofold: to draw attention to the fact that LSD had just been made illegal — and to demonstrate that people who used LSD were not criminals, nor were they mentally ill. The Grateful Dead played, and some sources claim that LSD was consumed at the rally. According to Cohen, those who took LSD “were not guilty of using illegal substances…We were celebrating transcendental consciousness, the beauty of the universe, the beauty of being.”[53]

Summer of Love (1967)

Main article: Summer of Love

Poster for the Human Be-In by Michael Bowen

On January 14, 1967, the outdoor Human Be-In organized by Michael Bowen[54] helped to popularize hippie culture across the United States, with 20,000 hippies gathering in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park. On March 26, Lou Reed, Edie Sedgwick and 10,000 hippies came together in Manhattan for the Central Park Be-In on Easter Sunday.[55] The Monterey Pop Festival from June 16 to June 18 introduced the rock music of the counterculture to a wide audience and marked the start of the “Summer of Love”.[56] Scott McKenzie‘s rendition of John Phillips‘ song, “San Francisco“, became a hit in the United States and Europe. The lyrics, “If you’re going to San Francisco, be sure to wear some flowers in your hair”, inspired thousands of young people from all over the world to travel to San Francisco, sometimes wearing flowers in their hair and distributing flowers to passersby, earning them the name, “Flower Children“. Bands like the Grateful Dead, Big Brother and the Holding Company (with Janis Joplin), and Jefferson Airplane lived in the Haight.

In June 1967, Herb Caen was approached by “a distinguished magazine”[57] to write about why hippies were attracted to San Francisco. He declined the assignment but interviewed hippies in the Haight for his own newspaper column in the San Francisco Chronicle. Caen determined that, “Except in their music, they couldn’t care less about the approval of the straight world.”[57] Caen himself felt that the city of San Francisco was so straight that it provided a visible contrast with hippie culture.[57] On July 7, Time magazine featured a cover story entitled, “The Hippies: The Philosophy of a Subculture.” The article described the guidelines of the hippie code: “Do your own thing, wherever you have to do it and whenever you want. Drop out. Leave society as you have known it. Leave it utterly. Blow the mind of every straight person you can reach. Turn them on, if not to drugs, then to beauty, love, honesty, fun.”[58] It is estimated that around 100,000 people traveled to San Francisco in the summer of 1967. The media was right behind them, casting a spotlight on the Haight-Ashbury district and popularizing the “hippie” label. With this increased attention, hippies found support for their ideals of love and peace but were also criticized for their anti-work, pro-drug, and permissive ethos.[citation needed]

“According to the hippies, LSD was the glue that held the Haight together. It was the hippie sacrament, a mind detergent capable of washing away years of social programming, a re-imprinting device, a consciousness-expander, a tool that would push us up the evolutionary ladder.”

At this point, The Beatles had released their groundbreaking album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band which was quickly embraced by the hippie movement with its colorful psychedelic sonic imagery.[60]

By the end of the summer, the Haight-Ashbury scene had deteriorated. The incessant media coverage led the Diggers to declare the “death” of the hippie with a parade.[61][62][63] According to poet Susan ‘Stormi’ Chambless, the hippies buried an effigy of a hippie in the Panhandle to demonstrate the end of his/her reign. Haight-Ashbury could not accommodate the influx of crowds (mostly naive youngsters) with no place to live. Many took to living on the street, panhandling and drug-dealing. There were problems with malnourishment, disease, and drug addiction. Crime and violence skyrocketed. None of these trends reflected what the hippies had envisioned.[64] By the end of 1967, many of the hippies and musicians who initiated the Summer of Love had moved on. Beatle George Harrison had once visited Haight-Ashbury and found it to be just a haven for dropouts, inspiring him to give up LSD.[citation needed] Misgivings about the hippie culture, particularly with regard to drug abuse and lenient morality, fueled the moral panics of the late 1960s.[65]

Revolution (1967–1969)

By 1968, hippie-influenced fashions were beginning to take off in the mainstream, especially for youths and younger adults of the populous “Baby Boomer” generation, many of whom may have aspired to emulate the hardcore movements now living in tribalistic communes, but had no overt connections to them. This was noticed not only in terms of clothes and also longer hair for men, but also in music, film, art, and literature, and not just in the US, but around the world. Eugene McCarthy‘s brief presidential campaign successfully persuaded a significant minority of young adults to “get clean for Gene” by shaving their beards or wearing longer skirts; however the “Clean Genes” had little impact on the popular image in the media spotlight, of the hirsute hippy adorned in beads, feathers, flowers and bells.

A sign of this was the visibility that the hippie subculture gained in various mainstream and underground media. Hippie exploitation films are 1960s exploitation films about the hippie counterculture[66] with stereotypical situations associated with the movement such as marijuana and LSD use, sex and wild psychedelic parties. Examples include The Love-ins, Psych-Out, The Trip, and Wild in the Streets. Other more serious and more critically acclaimed films about the hippie counterculture also appeared such as Easy Rider and Alice’s Restaurant (for more information on hippie related films see List of films related to the hippie subculture). Documentaries and television programs have also been produced until today as well as fiction and nonfiction books. Also the popular broadway musical Hair was presented in 1967.

The Yippies, who were seen as an offshoot of the hippie movements parodying as a political party, came to national attention during their celebration of the 1968 spring equinox, when some 3,000 of them took over Grand Central Terminal in New York — eventually resulting in 61 arrests. The Yippies, especially their leaders Abbie Hoffman and Jerry Rubin, became notorious for their theatrics, such as trying to levitate the Pentagon at the October 1967 war protest, and such slogans as “Rise up and abandon the creeping meatball!” Their stated intention to protest the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago in August, including nominating their own candidate, “Lyndon Pigasus Pig” (an actual pig), was also widely publicized in the media at this time.[67] In Cambridge, hippies congregated each Sunday for a large “be-in” at Cambridge Park with swarms of drummers and those beginning the Women’s Movement. In the US the Hippie movement started to be seen as part of the “New Left” which was associated with anti-war college campus protest movements.[68] The New Left was a term used mainly in the United Kingdom and United States in reference to activists, educators, agitators and others in the 1960s and 1970s who sought to implement a broad range of reforms on issues such as gay rights, abortion, gender roles and drugs[68] in contrast to earlier leftist or Marxist movements that had taken a more vanguardist approach to social justice and focused mostly on labor unionization and questions of social class.[69][70]

In April 1969, the building of People’s Park in Berkeley, California received international attention. The University of California, Berkeley had demolished all the buildings on a 2.8-acre (11,000 m2) parcel near campus, intending to use the land to build playing fields and a parking lot. After a long delay, during which the site became a dangerous eyesore, thousands of ordinary Berkeley citizens, merchants, students, and hippies took matters into their own hands, planting trees, shrubs, flowers and grass to convert the land into a park. A major confrontation ensued on May 15, 1969, when Governor Ronald Reagan ordered the park destroyed, which led to a two-week occupation of the city of Berkeley by the California National Guard.[71][72] Flower power came into its own during this occupation as hippies engaged in acts of civil disobedience to plant flowers in empty lots all over Berkeley under the slogan “Let a Thousand Parks Bloom”.

In August 1969, the Woodstock Music and Art Fair took place in Bethel, New York, which for many, exemplified the best of hippie counterculture. Over 500,000 people arrived[73] to hear some of the most notable musicians and bands of the era, among them Canned Heat, Richie Havens, Joan Baez, Janis Joplin, The Grateful Dead, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, Carlos Santana, The Who, Jefferson Airplane, and Jimi Hendrix. Wavy Gravy’s Hog Farm provided security and attended to practical needs, and the hippie ideals of love and human fellowship seemed to have gained real-world expression. Similar rock festivals occurred in other parts of the country, which played a significant role in spreading hippie ideals throughout America.[74]

In December 1969, a rock festival took place in Altamont, California, about 30 miles (45 km) east of San Francisco. Initially billed as “Woodstock West”, its official name was The Altamont Free Concert. About 300,000 people gathered to hear The Rolling Stones; Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young; Jefferson Airplane and other bands. The Hells Angels provided security that proved far less benevolent than the security provided at the Woodstock event: 18-year-old Meredith Hunter was stabbed and killed during The Rolling Stones’ performance after he brandished a gun and waved it toward the stage.[75]

Aftershocks (1970–present)

Contemporary hippie at the Rainbow Gathering in Russia, 2005.

By the 1970s, the 1960s zeitgeist that had spawned hippie culture seemed to be on the wane.[76][77][78] The events at Altamont Free Concert[79] shocked many Americans,[80] including those who had strongly identified with hippie culture. Another shock came in the form of the Sharon Tate and Leno and Rosemary LaBianca murders committed in August 1969 by Charles Manson and his “family” of followers. Nevertheless, the turbulent political atmosphere that featured the bombing of Cambodia and shootings by National Guardsmen at Jackson State University and Kent State University still brought people together. These shootings inspired the May 1970 song by Quicksilver Messenger Service “What About Me?”, where they sang, “You keep adding to my numbers as you shoot my people down”, as well as Neil Young‘s “Ohio“, recorded by Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young.

Much of hippie style had been integrated into mainstream American society by the early 1970s.[81][82] Large rock concerts that originated with the 1967 KFRC Fantasy Fair and Magic Mountain Music Festival and Monterey Pop Festival and the 1968 Isle of Wight Festival became the norm, evolving into stadium rock in the process. The anti-war movement reached its peak at the 1971 May Day Protests as over 12,000 protesters were arrested in Washington DC. President Nixon himself actually ventured out of the White House and chatted with a group of the ‘hippie’ protesters. The draft was ended soon thereafter, in 1973. During the mid 1970s, with the end of the draft and the Vietnam War, a renewal of patriotic sentiment associated with the approach of the United States Bicentennial and the emergence of punk in London, Manchester, New York and Los Angeles, the mainstream media lost interest in the hippie counterculture. At the same time there was a revival of the Mod subculture, skinheads, teddy boys and the emergence of new youth cultures, like the goths (an arty offshoot of punk) and football casuals. Acid rock gave way to prog rock, heavy metal, disco, and punk rock.

Starting in the late 1960s, hippies began to come under attack by skinheads.[83][84][85] Hippies were also vilified and sometimes attacked by punks, revivalist mods, greasers, football casuals, Teddy boys, rednecks and members of other youth subcultures of the 1970s and 1980s. The countercultural movement was also under covert assault by J. Edgar Hoover‘s infamous “Counter Intelligence Program” (COINTELPRO), but in some countries it was other youth groups that were a threat. Hippie ideals had a marked influence on anarcho-punk and some post-punk youth subcultures, especially during the Second Summer of Love.

Couple attending Snoqualmie Moondance Festival, Aug. 1993

Hippie communes, where members tried to live the ideals of the hippie movement continued to flourish. On the west coast, Oregon had quite a few.[86] Some faded away. Some are still around.

While many hippies made a long-term commitment to the lifestyle, some people argue that hippies “sold out” during the 1980s and became part of the materialist, consumer culture.[87][88] Although not as visible as it once was, hippie culture has never died out completely: hippies and neo-hippies can still be found on college campuses, on communes, and at gatherings and festivals. Many embrace the hippie values of peace, love, and community, and hippies may still be found in bohemian enclaves around the world.[23]

Towards the end of the 20th century, a trend of “cyber hippies” emerged, that embraced some of the qualities of the 1960s psychedelic counterculture. The hippie subculture is also linked to the psychedelic trance or psytrance scene, born out of the Goa scene in India.[89][90]

Ethos and characteristics

A hippie wearing tie-dyed clothes.

Hippies sought to free themselves from societal restrictions, choose their own way, and find new meaning in life. One expression of hippie independence from societal norms was found in their standard of dress and grooming, which made hippies instantly recognizable to one another, and served as a visual symbol of their respect for individual rights. Through their appearance, hippies declared their willingness to question authority, and distanced themselves from the “straight” and “square” (i.e., conformist) segments of society.[91] Personality traits and values that hippies tend to be associated with are “altruism and mysticism, honesty, joy and nonviolence“.[92]

At the same time, many thoughtful hippies distanced themselves from the very idea that the way a person dresses could be a reliable signal of who he was — especially after outright criminals such as Charles Manson began to adopt superficial hippie characteristics, and also after plainclothes policemen started to “dress like hippies” to divide and conquer legitimate members of the counterculture. Frank Zappa, known for lampooning hippie ethos, particularly with songs like “Who Needs the Peace Corps?” (1968), admonished his audience that “we all wear a uniform”. The San Francisco clown/hippie Wavy Gravy said in 1987 that he could still see fellow-feeling in the eyes of Market Street businessmen who had dressed conventionally to survive.

Art and fashion

See also: Psychedelia

A 1967 VW Kombi bus decorated with hand-painting

Leading proponents of the 1960s Psychedelic Art movement were San Francisco poster artists such as: Rick Griffin, Victor Moscoso, Bonnie MacLean, Stanley Mouse & Alton Kelley, and Wes Wilson. Their Psychedelic Rock concert posters were inspired by Art Nouveau, Victoriana, Dada, and Pop Art. The “Fillmore Posters” were among the most notable of the time. Richly saturated colors in glaring contrast, elaborately ornate lettering, strongly symmetrical composition, collage elements, rubber-like distortions, and bizarre iconography are all hallmarks of the San Francisco psychedelic poster art style. The style flourished from roughly the years 1966 to 1972. Their work was immediately influential to album cover art, and indeed all of the aforementioned artists also created album covers. Psychedelic light-shows were a new art-form developed for rock concerts. Using oil and dye in an emulsion that was set between large convex lenses upon overhead projectors, the lightshow artists created bubbling liquid visuals that pulsed in rhythm to the music. This was mixed with slideshows and film loops to create an improvisational motion picture art form, and to give visual representation to the improvisational jams of the rock bands and create a completely “trippy” atmosphere for the audience. The Brotherhood of Light were responsible for many of the light-shows in San Francisco psychedelic rock concerts.

No. 1 of the cult underground comic strip The Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers which dealt with the adventures and lifestyles of three fictional hippies

Out of the psychedelic counterculture there also arose a new genre of comic books: underground comix. “Zap Comix” was among the original underground comics, and featured the work of Robert Crumb, S. Clay Wilson, Victor Moscoso, Rick Griffin, and Robert Williams among others. Underground Comix were ribald, intensely satirical, and seemed to pursue weirdness for the sake of weirdness. Gilbert Shelton created perhaps the most enduring of underground cartoon characters, “The Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers“, whose drugged-out exploits held a hilarious mirror up to the hippy lifestyle of the 1960s.

As in the beat movement preceding them, and the punk movement that followed soon after, hippie symbols and iconography were purposely borrowed from either “low” or “primitive” cultures, with hippie fashion reflecting a disorderly, often vagrant style.[93] As with other adolescent, white middle-class movements, deviant behavior of the hippies involved challenging the prevailing gender differences of their time: both men and women in the hippie movement wore jeans and maintained long hair,[94] and both genders wore sandals or went barefoot.[49] Men often wore beards,[95] while women wore little or no makeup, with many going braless.[49] Hippies often chose brightly colored clothing and wore unusual styles, such as bell-bottom pants, vests, tie-dyed garments, dashikis, peasant blouses, and long, full skirts; non-Western inspired clothing with Native American, Asian, Indian, African and Latin American motifs were also popular. Much hippie clothing was self-made in defiance of corporate culture, and hippies often purchased their clothes from flea markets and second-hand shops.[95] Favored accessories for both men and women included Native American jewelry, head scarves, headbands and long beaded necklaces.[49] Hippie homes, vehicles and other possessions were often decorated with psychedelic art. The bold colors, hand-made clothing and loose fitting clothes, opposed the tight and uniform clothing of the 1940s and 1950s. It also rejected consumerism is that the hand-production of clothing called for -self-efficiency and individuality.[96]

Love and sex

See also: Free love

Oz number 28, also known as the “Schoolkids issue of OZ“, which was the main cause of a 1971 high-profile obscenity case in the United Kingdom. Oz was a UK underground publication with a general hippie / counter-cultural point of view.

The common stereotype on the issues of love and sex had it that the hippies were “promiscuous, having wild sex orgies, seducing innocent teenagers and every manner of sexual perversion.”[97] The hippie movement appeared concurrently in the midst of a rising Sexual Revolution, in which many views of the status quo on this subject were being challenged.

The clinical study Human Sexual Response was published by Masters and Johnson in 1966, and the topic suddenly became more commonplace in America. The 1969 book Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex (But Were Afraid to Ask) by Dr. David Reuben was a more popular attempt at answering the public’s curiosity regarding such matters. Then in 1972 appeared The Joy of Sex by Alex Comfort, reflecting an even more candid perception of love-making. By this time, the recreational or ‘fun’ aspects of sexual behavior were being discussed more openly than ever before, and this more ‘enlightened’ outlook resulted not just from the publication of such new books as these, but from a more pervasive Sexual Revolution that had already been well underway for some time.[97]

The hippies inherited various countercultural views and practices regarding sex and love from the Beat Generation; “their writings influenced the hippies to open up when it came to sex, and to experiment without guilt or jealousy.”[98] One popular hippie slogan that appeared was “If it feels good, do it!”[97] which for many “meant you were free to love whomever you pleased, whenever you pleased, however you pleased. This encouraged spontaneous sexual activity and experimentation. Group sex, public sexhomosexuality, all the taboos went out the window. This doesn’t mean that straight sex…or monogamy were unknown, quite the contrary. Nevertheless, the open relationship became an accepted part of the hippy lifestyle. This meant that you might have a primary relationship with one person, but if another attracted you, you could explore that relationship without rancor or jealousy.”[97]

Hippies embraced the old slogan of free love of the radical social reformers of other eras; it was accordingly observed that “Free love made the whole love, marriage, sex, baby package obsolete. Love was no longer limited to one person, you could love anyone you chose. In fact love was something you shared with everyone, not just your sex partners. Love exists to be shared freely. We also discovered the more you share, the more you get! So why reserve your love for a select few? This profound truth was one of the great hippie revelations.”[97] Sexual experimentation alongside psychedelics also occurred, due to the perception of their being uninhibitors.[99] Others explored the spiritual aspects of sex.[100]


Hand-crafted Hippie Truck, 1968

Hippies tended to travel light, and could pick up and go wherever the action was at any time. Whether at a “love-in” on Mount Tamalpais near San Francisco, a demonstration against the Vietnam War in Berkeley, or one of Ken Kesey‘s “Acid Tests”, if the “vibe” wasn’t right and a change of scene was desired, hippies were mobile at a moment’s notice. Planning was eschewed, as hippies were happy to put a few clothes in a backpack, stick out their thumbs and hitchhike anywhere. Hippies seldom worried whether they had money, hotel reservations or any of the other standard accoutrements of travel. Hippie households welcomed overnight guests on an impromptu basis, and the reciprocal nature of the lifestyle permitted greater freedom of movement. People generally cooperated to meet each other’s needs in ways that became less common after the early 1970s.[31] This way of life is still seen among Rainbow Family groups, new age travellers and New Zealand’s housetruckers.[101]

Hippie Truck interior

A derivative of this free-flow style of travel were the hippie trucks and buses, hand-crafted mobile houses built on a truck or bus chassis to facilitate a nomadic lifestyle, as documented in the 1974 book Roll Your Own.[102] Some of these mobile gypsy houses were quite elaborate, with beds, toilets, showers and cooking facilities.

On the West Coast, a unique lifestyle developed around the Renaissance Faires that Phyllis and Ron Patterson first organized in 1963. During the summer and fall months, entire families traveled together in their trucks and buses, parked at Renaissance Pleasure Faire sites in Southern and Northern California, worked their crafts during the week, and donned Elizabethan costume for weekend performances, and to attend booths where handmade goods were sold to the public. The sheer number of young people living at the time made for unprecedented travel opportunities to special happenings. The peak experience of this type was the Woodstock Festival near Bethel, New York, from August 15 to 18, 1969, which drew between 400,000 to 500,000 people.[103][104]

Hippie trail

Main article: Hippie trail

One travel experience, undertaken by hundreds of thousands of hippies between 1969 and 1971, was the Hippie trail overland route to India. Carrying little or no luggage, and with small amounts of cash, almost all followed the same route, hitch-hiking across Europe to Athens and on to Istanbul, then by train through central Turkey via Erzurum, continuing by bus into Iran, via Tabriz and Tehran to Mashhad, across the Afghan border into Herat, through southern Afghanistan via Kandahar to Kabul, over the Khyber Pass into Pakistan, via Rawalpindi and Lahore to the Indian frontier. Once in India, hippies went to many different destinations, but gathered in large numbers on the beaches of Goa and Kovalam in Trivandrum (Kerala),[105] or crossed the border into Nepal to spend months in Kathmandu. In Kathmandu, most of the hippies hung out in the tranquil surroundings of a place called Freak Street,[106] (Nepal Bhasa: Jhoo Chhen) which still exists near Kathmandu Durbar Square.

Spirituality and religion

Many hippies rejected mainstream organized religion in favor of a more personal spiritual experience, often drawing on indigenous and folk beliefs. If they adhered to mainstream faiths, hippies were likely to embrace Buddhism, Unitarian Universalism, Hinduism and the restorationist Christianity of the Jesus Movement. Some hippies embraced neo-paganism, especially Wicca.[107]

In his 1991 book, “Hippies and American Values”, Timothy Miller described the hippie ethos as essentially a “religious movement” whose goal was to transcend the limitations of mainstream religious institutions. “Like many dissenting religions, the hippies were enormously hostile to the religious institutions of the dominant culture, and they tried to find new and adequate ways to do the tasks the dominant religions failed to perform.”[108] In his seminal, contemporaneous work, “The Hippie Trip”, author Lewis Yablonsky notes that those who were most respected in hippie settings were the spiritual leaders, the so-called “high priests” who emerged during that era.[109]

Timothy Leary, family and band on a lecture tour at State University of New York at Buffalo in 1969

One such hippie “high priest” was San Francisco State University Professor Stephen Gaskin. Beginning in 1966, Gaskin’s “Monday Night Class” eventually outgrew the lecture hall, and attracted 1,500 hippie followers in an open discussion of spiritual values, drawing from Christian, Buddhist, and Hindu teachings. In 1970 Gaskin founded a Tennessee community called The Farm, and he still lists his religion as “Hippie.”[110][111][112]

Timothy Leary was an American psychologist and writer, known for his advocacy of psychedelic drugs. On September 19, 1966, Leary founded the League for Spiritual Discovery, a religion declaring LSD as its holy sacrament, in part as an unsuccessful attempt to maintain legal status for the use of LSD and other psychedelics for the religion’s adherents based on a “freedom of religion” argument. The Psychedelic Experience was the inspiration for John Lennon‘s song “Tomorrow Never Knows” in The Beatles‘ album Revolver.[113] He published a pamphlet in 1967 called Start Your Own Religion to encourage just that[114] and was invited to attend the January 14, 1967 Human Be-In a gathering of 30,000 hippies in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park In speaking to the group, he coined the famous phrase “Turn on, tune in, drop out“.[115] The English magician Aleister Crowley became an influential icon to the new alternative spiritual movements of the decade as well as for rock musicians. The Beatles included him as one of the many figures on the cover sleeve of their 1967 album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band while Jimmy Page, the guitarist of The Yardbirds and co-founder of 1970s rock band Led Zeppelin was fascinated by Crowley, and owned some of his clothing, manuscripts and ritual objects, and during the 1970s bought Boleskine House, which also appears in the band’s movie The Song Remains the Same. On the back cover of the Doors 13 album, Jim Morrison and the other members of the Doors are shown posing with a bust of Aleister Crowley. Timothy Leary also openly acknowledged the inspiration of English occultist Aleister Crowley.[116]


Iconic photo of a female demonstrator offering a flower to a Military Police officer during an anti-war protest, 10/21/1967.

The hippies were heirs to a long line of bohemians that includes William Blake, Walt Whitman, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, Herman Hesse, Arthur Rimbaud, Oscar Wilde, Aldous Huxley, utopian movements like the Rosicrucians and the Theosophists, and most directly the Beatniks. Hippies emerged from a society that had produced birth-control pills, a counterproductive war in Vietnam, the liberation and idealism of the civil rights movement, feminism, homosexual rights, FM radio, mass-produced LSD, a strong economy, and a huge number of baby-boom teenagers. These elements allowed the hippies to have a mainstream impact that dwarfed that of the Beats and earlier avant-garde cultures.

In Defense of Hippies by Danny Goldberg[107]

For the historian of the anarchist movement Ronald Creagh, the hippie movement could be considered as the last spectacular resurgence of utopian socialism[117] For Creagh, a characteristic of this is the desire for the transformation of society not through political revolution, or through reformist action pushed forward by the state, but through the creation of a counter-society of a socialist character in the midst of the current system, which will be made up of ideal communities of a more or less libertarian social form.[117]

The peace symbol was developed in the UK as a logo for the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, and was embraced by U.S. anti-war protesters during the 1960s. Hippies were often pacifists, and participated in non-violent political demonstrations, such as civil rights marches, the marches on Washington D.C., and anti–Vietnam War demonstrations, including draft-card burnings and the 1968 Democratic National Convention protests.[118] The degree of political involvement varied widely among hippies, from those who were active in peace demonstrations, to the more anti-authority street theater and demonstrations of the Yippies, the most politically active hippie sub-group.[119] Bobby Seale discussed the differences between Yippies and hippies with Jerry Rubin, who told him that Yippies were the political wing of the hippie movement, as hippies have not “necessarily become political yet”. Regarding the political activity of hippies, Rubin said, “They mostly prefer to be stoned, but most of them want peace, and they want an end to this stuff.”[120]

In addition to non-violent political demonstrations, hippie opposition to the Vietnam War included organizing political action groups to oppose the war, refusal to serve in the military and conducting “teach-ins” on college campuses that covered Vietnamese history and the larger political context of the war.[121]

Scott McKenzie’s 1967 rendition of John Phillips’ song “San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair)“, which helped to inspire the hippie Summer of Love, became a homecoming song for all Vietnam veterans arriving in San Francisco from 1967 onward. McKenzie has dedicated every American performance of “San Francisco” to Vietnam veterans, and he sang in 2002 at the 20th anniversary of the dedication of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Hippie political expression often took the form of “dropping out” of society to implement the changes they sought.

Politically motivated movements aided by hippies include the back to the land movement of the 1960s, cooperative business enterprises, alternative energy, the free press movement, and organic farming.[82][122] The San Francisco group known as the Diggers articulated an influential radical criticism of contemporary mass consumer society, and so they opened free stores which simply gave away their stock, provided free food, distributed free drugs, gave away money, organized free music concerts, and performed works of political art.[50] The Diggers took their name from the original English Diggers (1649–50) led by Gerrard Winstanley,[123] and they sought to create a mini-society free of money and capitalism.[124]

Such activism was ideally carried through anti-authoritarian and non-violent means; thus it was observed that “The way of the hippie is antithetical to all repressive hierarchical power structures since they are adverse to the hippie goals of peace, love and freedom… Hippies don’t impose their beliefs on others. Instead, hippies seek to change the world through reason and by living what they believe.”[125]

The political ideals of hippies influenced other movements, such as anarcho-punk, rave culture, green politics, stoner culture and the new age movement. Penny Rimbaud of the English anarcho-punk band Crass said in interviews, and in an essay called The Last Of The Hippies, that Crass was formed in memory of his friend, Wally Hope.[126] Crass had its roots in Dial House, which was established in 1967 as a commune.[127] Some punks were often critical of Crass for their involvement in the hippie movement. Like Crass, Jello Biafra was influenced by the hippie movement, and cited the yippies as a key influence on his political activism and thinking, though he also wrote songs critical of hippies.[128][129]


Tahquitz Canyon, Palm Springs, California, 1969, sharing a joint

Following in the footsteps of the Beats, many hippies used cannabis (marijuana), considering it pleasurable and benign. They enlarged their spiritual pharmacopeia to include hallucinogens such as LSD, psilocybin, Datura Stramonium, Brugmansia suaveolens, Ibogaine, Atropa Belladonna, Amanita Muscaria and mescaline, while often renouncing the use of alcohol. On the East Coast of the United States, Harvard University professors Timothy Leary, Ralph Metzner and Richard Alpert (Ram Dass) advocated psychotropic drugs for psychotherapy, self-exploration, religious and spiritual use. Regarding LSD, Leary said, “Expand your consciousness and find ecstasy and revelation within.”[130]

On the West Coast of the United States, Ken Kesey was an important figure in promoting the recreational use of psychotropic drugs, especially LSD, also known as “acid.” By holding what he called “Acid Tests“, and touring the country with his band of Merry Pranksters, Kesey became a magnet for media attention that drew many young people to the fledgling movement. The Grateful Dead (originally billed as “The Warlocks”) played some of their first shows at the Acid Tests, often as high on LSD as their audiences. Kesey and the Pranksters had a “vision of turning on the world.”[130] Harder drugs, such as amphetamines and heroin, were also sometimes used in hippie settings; however, these drugs were often disdained, even among those who used them, because they were recognized as harmful and addictive.[91]


Newcomers to the Internet are often startled to discover themselves not so much in some soulless colony of technocrats as in a kind of cultural Brigadoon – a flowering remnant of the ’60s, when hippie communalism and libertarian politics formed the roots of the modern cyberrevolution…

Stewart Brand, “We Owe It All To The Hippies”.[7]

The legacy of the hippie movement continues to permeate Western society.[131] In general, unmarried couples of all ages feel free to travel and live together without societal disapproval.[82][132] Frankness regarding sexual matters has become more common, and the rights of homosexual, bisexual and transsexual people, as well as people who choose not to categorize themselves at all, have expanded.[133] Religious and cultural diversity has gained greater acceptance.[134] Co-operative business enterprises and creative community living arrangements are more accepted than before.[135] Some of the little hippie health food stores of the 1960s and 1970s are now large-scale, profitable businesses, due to greater interest in natural foods, herbal remedies, vitamins and other nutritional supplements.[136] Authors Stewart Brand and John Markoff argue that the development and popularization of personal computers and the Internet find one of their primary roots in the anti-authoritarian ethos promoted by hippie culture.[7][137]

A hippie in Stockholm, Sweden, in August 1971.

Distinct appearance and clothing was one of the immediate legacies of hippies worldwide.[95][138] During the 1960s and 1970s, mustaches, beards and long hair became more commonplace and colorful, while multi-ethnic clothing dominated the fashion world. Since that time, a wide range of personal appearance options and clothing styles, including nudity, have become more widely acceptable, all of which was uncommon before the hippie era.[95][138] Hippies also inspired the decline in popularity of the necktie and other business clothing, which had been unavoidable for men during the 1950s and early 1960s. Additionally, hippie fashion itself has been commonplace in the years since the 1960s in clothing and accessories, particularly the peace symbol.[139] Astrology, including everything from serious study to whimsical amusement regarding personal traits, was integral to hippie culture.[140] The generation of the 1970s became influenced by the hippie and the 60s countercultural legacy. As such in New York City musicians and audiences from the female, homosexual, black, and Latino communities adopted several traits from the hippies and psychedelia. They included overwhelming sound, free-form dancing, weird lighting, colorful costumes, and hallucinogens.[141][142][143] Psychedelic soul groups like the Chambers Brothers and especially Sly and The Family Stone influenced proto-disco acts such as Isaac Hayes, Willie Hutch and the Philadelphia Sound.[144] In addition, the perceived positivity, lack of irony, and earnestness of the hippies informed proto-disco music like M.F.S.B.‘s album Love Is the Message.[141][145]

The hippie legacy in literature includes the lasting popularity of books reflecting the hippie experience, such as The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test.[146] In music, the folk rock and psychedelic rock popular among hippies evolved into genres such as acid rock, world beat and heavy metal music. Psychedelic trance (also known as psytrance) is a type of electronic music music influenced by 1960s psychedelic rock. The tradition of hippie music festivals began in the United States in 1965 with Ken Kesey’s Acid Tests, where the Grateful Dead played tripping on LSD and initiated psychedelic jamming. For the next several decades, many hippies and neo-hippies became part of the Deadhead community, attending music and art festivals held around the country. The Grateful Dead toured continuously, with few interruptions between 1965 and 1995. Phish and their fans (called Phish Heads) operated in the same manner, with the band touring continuously between 1983 and 2004. Many contemporary bands performing at hippie festivals and their derivatives are called jam bands, since they play songs that contain long instrumentals similar to the original hippie bands of the 1960s.[147]

With the demise of Grateful Dead and Phish, nomadic touring hippies attend a growing series of summer festivals, the largest of which is called the Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival, which premiered in 2002. The Oregon Country Fair is a three-day festival featuring handmade crafts, educational displays and costumed entertainment. The annual Starwood Festival, founded in 1981, is a seven-day event indicative of the spiritual quest of hippies through an exploration of non-mainstream religions and world-views, and has offered performances and classes by a variety of hippie and counter-culture icons.

“The ’60s were a leap in human consciousness. Mahatma Gandhi, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, Che Guevara, they led a revolution of conscience. The Beatles, The Doors, Jimi Hendrix created revolution and evolution themes. The music was like Dalí, with many colors and revolutionary ways. The youth of today must go there to find themselves.”

The Burning Man festival began in 1986 at a San Francisco beach party and is now held in the Black Rock Desert northeast of Reno, Nevada. Although few participants would accept the hippie label, Burning Man is a contemporary expression of alternative community in the same spirit as early hippie events. The gathering becomes a temporary city (36,500 occupants in 2005, 50,000+ in 2011), with elaborate encampments, displays, and many art cars. Other events that enjoy a large attendance include the Rainbow Family Gatherings, The Gathering of the Vibes, Community Peace Festivals, and the Woodstock Festivals.

In the UK, there are many new age travellers who are known as hippies to outsiders, but prefer to call themselves the Peace Convoy. They started the Stonehenge Free Festival in 1974, but English Heritage later banned the festival in 1985, resulting in the Battle of the Beanfield. With Stonehenge banned as a festival site, new age travellers gather at the annual Glastonbury Festival. Today, hippies in the UK can be found in parts of South West England, such as Bristol (particularly the neighborhoods of Montpelier, Stokes Croft, St Werburghs, Bishopston, Easton and Totterdown), Glastonbury in Somerset, Totnes in Devon, and Stroud in Gloucestershire, as well as areas of London and Brighton. In the summer, many hippies and those of similar subcultures gather at numerous outdoor festivals in the countryside.

In New Zealand between 1976 and 1981 tens of thousands of hippies gathered from around the world on large farms around Waihi and Waikino for music and alternatives festivals. Named Nambassa, the festivals focused on peace, love, and a balanced lifestyle. The events featured practical workshops and displays advocating alternative lifestyles, self sufficiency, clean and sustainable energy and sustainable living.[149]

Hippies at the Nambassa 1981 Festival in New Zealand

In the UK and Europe, the years 1987 to 1989 were marked by a large-scale revival of many characteristics of the hippie movement. This later movement, composed mostly of people aged 18 to 25, adopted much of the original hippie philosophy of love, peace and freedom. The summer of 1988 became known as the Second Summer of Love. Although the music favored by this movement was modern electronic music, especially house music and acid house, one could often hear songs from the original hippie era in the chill out rooms at raves. In the UK, many of the well-known figures of this movement first lived communally in Stroud Green, an area of north London located in Finsbury Park. In 1995, The Sekhmet Hypothesis attempted to link both hippie and rave culture together in relation to transactional analysis, suggesting that rave culture was a social archetype based on the mood of friendly strength, compared to the gentle hippie archetype, based on friendly weakness.[150] The later electronic dance genres known as goa trance and psychedelic trance and its related events and culture have important hippie legacies and neo hippie elements. The popular DJ of the genre Goa Gil, like other hippies from the 1960s, decided to leave the US and Western Europe to travel on the hippie trail and later developing psychedelic parties and music in the Indian island of Goa in which the goa and psytrance genres were born and exported around the world in the 1990s and 2000s.[151]

Goa Gil, original 1960s hippie who later became a pioneering electronic dance music DJ and party organizer, here appearing in the 2001 film Last Hippie Standing

Popular films depicting the hippie ethos and lifestyle include Woodstock, Easy Rider, Hair, The Doors, Across the Universe, Taking Woodstock, and Crumb.

In 2002, photojournalist John Bassett McCleary published a 650-page, 6,000-entry unabridged slang dictionary devoted to the language of the hippies titled The Hippie Dictionary: A Cultural Encyclopedia of the 1960s and 1970s. The book was revised and expanded to 700 pages in 2004.[152][153] McCleary believes that the hippie counterculture added a significant number of words to the English language by borrowing from the lexicon of the Beat Generation, through the hippies’ shortening of beatnik words and then popularizing their usage.[154]

In 2005, journalist Oliver Benjamin founded The Church of Latter-Day Dude, a website-philosophy and mock religion inspired by the character “the Dude”, a former hippie, in the 1998 movie The Big Lebowski. Dudeism, as it is known, holds many connections to the hippie ethos, from its “take it easy” attitude and rebel shrug, to its come-as-you-are sense of individual freedom and expression. Dudeism is very much influenced by the hippie movement, maintaining that the “revolution is not over”,[155] that it actually began a very long time ago, and will continue far into the future. Dudeist literature even claims that Dudeism has provided a contemporary spiritual home for the hippie philosophy.[156]

See also

Carlos Santana

Carlos Santana

Santana in Indianapolis, 2010
Background information
Born July 20, 1947 (age 67)
Autlán de Navarro, Jalisco, Mexico
Origin San Francisco, California, United States
Genres Latin rock, chicano rock, rock, blues rock, jazz rock, tejano, free jazz, psychedelic rock
Occupations Musician, songwriter, bandleader
Instruments Guitar, percussion, vocals
Years active 1966–present
Labels RCA,[1] Arista, Polydor, Columbia, Polygram, CBS
Associated acts Santana, Los Lonely Boys, John McLaughlin, Maná
Website santana.com
Notable instruments
PRS Santana II
Yamaha SG2000 Devadip
Yamaha SG175
Gibson SG

Carlos Santana (born July 20, 1947) is a Mexican and American musician who first became famous in the late 1960s and early 1970s with his band, Santana, which pioneered a fusion of rock and Latin American music. The band’s sound featured his melodic, blues-based guitar lines set against Latin and African rhythms featuring percussion instruments such as timbales and congas not generally heard in rock music. Santana continued to work in these forms over the following decades. He experienced a resurgence of popularity and critical acclaim in the late 1990s. In 2003 Rolling Stone magazine listed Santana at number 20[2] on their list of the 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time.[3] He has won 10 Grammy Awards and three Latin Grammy Awards.[4]


Early life

Carlos Santana was born in Autlán de Navarro, Jalisco, Mexico. He learned to play the violin at age five and the guitar at age eight. His younger brother, Jorge Santana, would also become a professional guitarist. Young Carlos was heavily influenced by Ritchie Valens at a time when there were very few Latinos in American rock and pop music. The family moved from Autlán de Navarro to Tijuana, the city on Mexico’s border with California, and then San Francisco. Carlos stayed in Tijuana but later joined his family in San Francisco, graduating from James Lick Middle School, and in 1965 from Mission High School. Carlos was accepted at California State University, Northridge, and Humboldt State University, but turned down these offers.

Early career

“The ’60s were a leap in human consciousness. Mahatma Gandhi, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, Che Guevara, Mother Teresa, they led a revolution of conscience. The Beatles, The Doors, Jimi Hendrix created revolution and evolution themes. The music was like Dalí, with many colors and revolutionary ways. The youth of today must go there to find themselves.”

— Carlos Santana [5]

He got the chance to see his idols (most notably B.B. King) perform live in San Francisco. He was also introduced to a variety of new musical influences, including jazz and folk music, and witnessed the growing hippie movement centered in San Francisco in the 1960s. After several years spent working as a dishwasher in a diner and busking for spare change, Santana decided to become a full-time musician. In 1966 he gained prominence due to a series of accidental events, all happening on the same day. Santana was a frequent spectator at Bill Graham‘s Fillmore West. During a Sunday matinee show, Paul Butterfield was slated to perform there but was unable to do so as a result of being intoxicated. Bill Graham assembled an impromptu band of musicians he knew primarily through his connections with the Grateful Dead, Butterfield’s own band, and Jefferson Airplane, but he had not yet chosen all the guitarists. Santana’s manager, Stan Marcum, immediately suggested to Graham that Santana join the impromptu band and Graham agreed. During the jam session, Santana’s guitar playing and solo gained the notice of both the audience and Graham.[6] During the same year, Santana formed the Santana Blues Band, with fellow street musicians David Brown (bass guitar), Marcus Malone (percussion) and Gregg Rolie (lead vocals, Hammond Organ B3).[7]

With their highly original blend of Latin-infused rock, jazz, blues, salsa and African rhythms, the band (which quickly adopted their frontman‘s name, Santana) gained an immediate following on the San Francisco club circuit. The band’s early success, capped off by a memorable performance at Woodstock in 1969, led to him signing a recording contract with Columbia Records, then run by Clive Davis.


Record deal, Woodstock breakthrough and height of success: 1969-72

Santana was signed by CBS Records and went into the studio to record their first album. They were not satisfied with the release and decided changes needed to be made. This resulted in the dismissal of drummer Bob Livingston. Santana replaced him with Mike Shrieve, who had a strong background in both jazz and rock. Percussionist Marcus Malone was forced to quit the band due to involuntary manslaughter charges, and the band re-enlisted Michael Carabello. Carabello brought with him percussionist Jose Chepito Areas, who was already well known in his country, Nicaragua, and, with his skills and professional experience, was a major contributor to the band.

Bill Graham, a Latin Music aficionado, had been a fan of the band from its inception, and arranged for them to appear at the Woodstock Music and Art Festival before their debut album was even released. They were one of the surprises of the festival; their set was legendary and later the exposure of their eleven-minute instrumental “Soul Sacrifice” in the Woodstock film and soundtrack album vastly increased their popularity. Graham also gave the band some key advice to record the Willie Bobo song “Evil Ways“, as he felt it would get them radio airplay. Their first album, Santana, was released in August 1969 and became a huge hit, reaching #4 on the U.S. album charts, with the catchy single “Evil Ways” reaching number nine on the Billboard Hot 100.[citation needed]

Santana performing in Hamburg in November of 1973

In 1969, the band’s performance at the Woodstock festival introduced them to an international audience and garnered critical acclaim, although the band’s sudden success put pressure on the group, highlighting the different musical directions in which Rolie and Santana were starting to go. Rolie, along with some of the other band members, wanted to emphasize a basic hard rock sound which had been a key component in establishing the band from the start. Santana, however, was increasingly interested in moving beyond his love of blues and rock and wanted more jazzy, ethereal elements in the music, which were influenced by his fascination with Gábor Szabó, Miles Davis, Pharoah Sanders, and John Coltrane, as well as his growing interest in spirituality. At the same time, Chepito Areas was stricken with a near-fatal brain hemorrhage, and Santana hoped to continue by finding a temporary replacement (first Willie Bobo, then Coke Escovedo), while others in the band, especially Michael Carabello, felt it was wrong to perform publicly without Areas. Cliques formed, and the band started to disintegrate.

Consolidating the interest generated by their first album, and their highly acclaimed live performance at the Woodstock Festival in August 1969, the band followed up with their second album, Abraxas, in September 1970. The album’s mix of rock, blues, jazz, salsa and other influences was very well received, showing a musical maturation from their first album and refining the band’s early sound. Abraxas included two of Santana’s most enduring and well-known hits, “Oye Como Va“, and “Black Magic Woman/Gypsy Queen“. Abraxas spent six weeks at #1 on the Billboard chart at the end of 1970.[8] The album remained on the charts for 88 weeks and was certified 4x platinum in 1986.[9] In 2003 the album was ranked number 205 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.[10]

Teenage San Francisco Bay Area guitar prodigy Neal Schon was asked to join the band in 1971, in time to complete the third album, Santana III. The band now boasted a powerful dual-lead-guitar act that gave the album a tougher sound. The sound of the band was also helped by the return of a recuperated Chepito Areas and the assistance of Coke Escovedo in the percussion section. Enhancing the band’s sound further was the support of popular Bay Area group Tower of Power‘s horn section, Luis Gasca of Malo, and other session musicians which added to both percussion and vocals, injecting more energy to the proceedings. Santana III was another success, reaching #1 on the album charts, selling two million copies, and yielding the hits “Everybody’s Everything” and “No One to Depend On“.

New Year’s Eve 1976 at the Cow Palace in San Francisco

Tension between members of the band continued, however. Along with musical differences, drug use became a problem, and Santana was deeply worried that it was affecting the band’s performance. Coke Escovedo encouraged Santana to take more control of the band’s musical direction, much to the dismay of some of the others who thought that the band and its sound was a collective effort. Also, financial irregularities were exposed while under the management of Stan Marcum, whom Bill Graham criticized as being incompetent. Growing resentments between Santana and Michael Carabello over lifestyle issues resulted in his departure on bad terms. James Mingo Lewis was hired at the last minute as a replacement at a concert in New York City. David Brown later left due to substance abuse problems. A South American tour was cut short in Lima, Peru, due to student protests against U.S. governmental policies and unruly fans. The madness of the tour convinced Santana that changes needed to be made in the band and in his life.[citation needed]

In January 1972, Santana, Schon, Escovedo, and Lewis joined former Band of Gypsys drummer, Buddy Miles, for a concert at Hawaii’s Diamond Head Crater, which was recorded for the album Carlos Santana & Buddy Miles! Live!. The performance was erratic and uneven, but the album managed to achieve gold-record status on the weight of Santana’s popularity.


In early 1972, Santana and the remaining members of the band started working on their fourth album, Caravanserai. During the studio sessions, Santana and Michael Shrieve brought in other musicians: percussionists James Mingo Lewis and Latin-Jazz veteran, Armando Peraza replacing Michael Carabello, and bassists Tom Rutley and Doug Rauch replacing David Brown. Also assisting on keyboards were Wendy Haas and Tom Coster. With the unsettling influx of new players in the studio, Gregg Rolie and Neal Schon decided that it was time to leave after the completion of the album, even though both contributed to the session. Rolie returned home to Seattle, and later became a founding member of Journey (which Schon would later join as well).

When Caravanserai did emerge in 1972, it marked a strong change in musical direction towards jazz fusion. The album received critical praise, but CBS executive Clive Davis warned Santana and the band that it would sabotage the band’s position as a “Top 40” act. Nevertheless, over the years, the album would achieve platinum status. The difficulties Santana and the band went through during this period were chronicled in Ben Fong-TorresRolling Stone 1972 cover story “The Resurrection of Carlos Santana”.

Santana met Deborah King, whom he later married in 1973. She is the daughter of late blues singer and guitarist Saunders King. They have three children: Salvador, Stella and Angelica. Together with wife Deborah, Santana founded a not-for-profit organization, the Milagro (“Miracle”) Foundation, which provides financial aid for educational, medical, and other needs.

Shifting styles and spirituality: 1972-79

In 1972, Santana became interested in the pioneering fusion band The Mahavishnu Orchestra and its guitarist, John McLaughlin. Aware of Santana’s interest in meditation, McLaughlin introduced Santana and Deborah to his guru, Sri Chinmoy. Chinmoy accepted them as disciples in 1973. Santana was given the name Devadip, meaning “The lamp, light and eye of God”. Santana and McLaughlin recorded an album together, Love, Devotion, Surrender (1973) with members of Santana and The Mahavishnu Orchestra, along with percussionist Don Alias and organist Larry Young, who both had made appearances on Miles Davis‘ classic album Bitches Brew in 1969.

In 1973 Santana, having obtained legal rights to the band’s name, Santana, formed a new version of the band with Armando Peraza and Chepito Areas on percussion, Doug Rauch on bass, Michael Shrieve on drums, and Tom Coster and Richard Kermode on keyboards. Santana later was able to recruit jazz vocalist Leon Thomas for a tour in Japan on 3 and 4 July 1973, which was recorded for the live, sprawling, high-energy triple vinyl LP fusion album Lotus (1974). CBS records would not allow its release unless the material was condensed. Santana did not agree to those terms, and Lotus was available in the U.S. only as an expensive, imported, three-record set. The group later went into the studio and recorded Welcome (1973), which further reflected Santana’s interests in jazz fusion and his increasing commitment to the spiritual life of Sri Chinmoy.

Santana during his “inner secrets” tour in the Netherlands in 1978

A collaboration with John Coltrane‘s widow, Alice Coltrane, Illuminations (1974), followed. The album delved into avant-garde esoteric free jazz, Eastern Indian and classical influences with other ex-Miles Davis sidemen Jack DeJohnette and Dave Holland. Soon after, Santana replaced his band members again. This time Kermode, Thomas and Rauch departed from the group and were replaced by vocalist Leon Patillo (later a successful Contemporary Christian artist) and returning bassist David Brown. He also recruited soprano saxophonist, Jules Broussard for the lineup. The band recorded one studio album Borboletta, which was released in 1974. Drummer Leon “Ndugu” Chancler later joined the band as a replacement for Michael Shrieve, who left to pursue a solo career.

By this time Bill Graham‘s management company had assumed responsibility for the affairs of the group. Graham was critical of Santana’s move into jazz and felt he needed to concentrate on getting Santana back into the charts with the edgy, streetwise ethnic sound that had made them famous. Santana himself was seeing that the group’s direction was alienating many fans. Although the albums and performances were given good reviews by critics in jazz and jazz fusion circles, sales had plummeted.

Santana, along with Tom Coster, producer David Rubinson, and Chancler, formed yet another version of Santana, adding vocalist Greg Walker. The 1976 album Amigos, which featured the songs “Dance, Sister, Dance” and “Let It Shine”, had a strong funk and Latin sound. The album received considerable airplay on FM album-oriented rock stations with the instrumental “Europa (Earth’s Cry Heaven’s Smile)” and re-introduced Santana to the charts. In 1976 Rolling Stone ran a second cover story on Santana entitled “Santana Comes Home”.

The albums conceived through the late 1970s followed the same formula, although with several lineup changes. Among the new personnel who joined was current percussionist Raul Rekow, who joined in early 1977. Most notable of the band’s commercial efforts of this era was a version of the 1960s Zombies hit, “She’s Not There“, on the 1977 double album Moonflower.

The relative success of the band’s albums in this era allowed Santana to pursue a solo career funded by CBS. First, Oneness: Silver Dreams – Golden Reality, in 1979 and The Swing of Delight in 1980, which featured some of his musical heroes: Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, Ron Carter and Tony Williams from Miles Davis‘ legendary 1960s quintet.[citation needed]

The pressures and temptations of being a high-profile rock musician and requirements of the spiritual lifestyle which guru Sri Chinmoy and his followers demanded were in conflict, and imposed considerable stress upon Santana’s lifestyle and marriage. He was becoming increasingly disillusioned with what he thought were the unreasonable rules that Chinmoy imposed on his life, and in particular with his refusal to allow Santana and Deborah to start a family. He felt too that his fame was being used to increase the guru’s visibility. Santana and Deborah eventually ended their relationship with Chinmoy in 1982.

The 1980s

Santana in Barcelona, Spain, 1984

More radio-friendly singles followed from Santana and the band. “Winning” in 1981 (from Zebop) and “Hold On” (a remake of Canadian artist Ian Thomas‘ song) in 1982 both reached the top twenty. After his break with Sri Chinmoy, Santana went into the studio to record another solo album with Keith Olson and legendary R&B producer Jerry Wexler. The 1983 album Havana Moon revisited Santana’s early musical experiences in Tijuana with Bo Diddley‘s “Who Do You Love” and the title cut, Chuck Berry‘s “Havana Moon”. The album’s guests included Booker T. Jones, The Fabulous Thunderbirds, Willie Nelson and even Santana’s father’s mariachi orchestra. Santana again paid tribute to his early rock roots by doing the film score to La Bamba, which was based on the tragically short life of rock and roll legend Ritchie Valens and starred Lou Diamond Phillips.

Although the band had concentrated on trying to produce albums with commercial appeal during the 1980s, changing tastes in popular culture began to reflect in the band’s sagging record sales of their latest effort Beyond Appearances (1985). In 1985, Bill Graham had to once again pull strings for Santana to convince principal Live Aid concert organizer Bob Geldof to allow the band to appear at the festival.[citation needed] The group’s high-energy performance proved they were still a top concert draw the world over despite their poor performance on the charts. Santana regained a great deal of respect in both jazz and rock circles, with Prince and guitarist Kirk Hammett of Metallica citing him as an influence.[citation needed]

The band Santana returned in 1987 with a new album Freedom.

L to R: Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, and Santana in Hamburg, May 1984

Growing weary of trying to appease record company executives with formulaic hit records, Santana took great pleasure in jamming and making guest appearances with notables such as the jazz fusion group Weather Report, jazz pianist McCoy Tyner, Blues legend John Lee Hooker, Frank Franklin, Living Colour guitarist Vernon Reid, and West African singer Salif Keita. He and Mickey Hart of the Grateful Dead later recorded and performed with Nigerian drummer Babatunde Olatunji, who conceived one of Santana’s famous 1960s drum jams, “Jingo“. In 1988 Santana organized a reunion with past members from the Santana band for a series of concert dates. CBS records released a 20-year retrospective of the band’s accomplishments with Viva Santana! double CD compilation. That same year Santana formed an all-instrumental group featuring jazz legend Wayne Shorter on tenor and soprano saxophone. The group also included Patrice Rushen on keyboards, Alphonso Johnson on bass, Armando Peraza and Chepito Areas on percussion, and Leon “Ndugu” Chancler on drums. They toured briefly and received much acclaim from the music press, who compared the effort with the era of Caravanserai (1972). Santana released another solo record, Blues for Salvador (1987), which won a Grammy Award for Best Rock Instrumental Performance.

In 1990 Santana left Columbia Records after twenty-two years and signed with Polygram. The following year he made a guest appearance on Ottmar Liebert‘s album, Solo Para Ti (1991), on the songs “Reaching out 2 U” and on a cover of his own song, “Samba Pa Ti”. In 1992 Santana hired jam band Phish as his opening act.

Return to commercial success

Santana performing in 2000

Santana kicked off the 1990s with a new album Spirits Dancing in the Flesh in 1990. This was followed by Milagro in 1992, a live album Sacred Fire in 1993 and Brothers (a collaboration with his brother Jorge and nephew Carlos Hernandez) in 1994. But sales were relatively poor. Santana toured widely over the next few years but there were no further new album releases, and eventually he was even without a recording contract. However, Arista RecordsClive Davis, who had worked with Santana at Columbia Records, signed him and encouraged him to record a star-studded album with mostly younger artists. The result was 1999’s Supernatural, which included collaborations with Everlast, Rob Thomas of Matchbox Twenty, Eric Clapton, Lauryn Hill, Wyclef Jean, Cee Lo Green, Maná, Dave Matthews, K. C. Porter, J. B. Eckl, and others.

However, the lead single was what grabbed the attention of both fans and the music industry. “Smooth“, a dynamic cha-cha stop-start number co-written and sung by Rob Thomas of Matchbox Twenty, was laced throughout with Santana’s guitar fills and runs. The track’s energy was immediately apparent on radio, and it was played on a wide variety of station formats. “Smooth” spent twelve weeks at number one on the Billboard Hot 100, becoming in the process the last #1 single of the 1990s. The music video, set on a hot barrio street, was also very popular. Supernatural reached number one on the US album charts and the follow-up single, “Maria Maria“, featuring the R&B duo The Product G&B, also hit number one, spending ten weeks there in the spring of 2000. Supernatural eventually sold over 15 million copies in the United States, making it Santana’s biggest sales success by far.

Carlos Santana, alongside the classic Santana lineup of their first two albums, was inducted as an individual, into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1998. He performed “Black Magic Woman” with the writer of the song, Fleetwood Mac’s founder Peter Green. Green was inducted the same night.

In 2000 Supernatural won nine Grammy Awards (eight for Santana personally), including Album of the Year, Record of the Year for “Smooth”, and Song of the Year for Thomas and Itaal Shur. Santana’s acceptance speeches described his feelings about music’s place in one’s spiritual existence. Later that year at the Latin Grammy Awards he won three awards including Record of the Year. In 2001, Santana’s guitar skills were featured in Michael Jackson‘s song “Whatever Happens”, from the album Invincible.

In 2002, Santana released Shaman, revisiting the Supernatural format of guest artists including P.O.D. and Seal. Although the album was not the runaway success its predecessor had been, it produced two radio-friendly hits. “The Game of Love” featuring Michelle Branch, rose to number five on the Billboard Hot 100 and spent many weeks at the top of the Billboard Adult Contemporary chart, and “Why Don’t You & I” written by and featuring Chad Kroeger from the group Nickelback (the original and a remix with Alex Band from the group The Calling were combined towards chart performance) which reached number eight on the Billboard Hot 100. “The Game of Love” went on to win the Grammy Award for Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals.

In early August 2003, Santana was named fifteenth on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the “100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time”.

On April 21, 2005, Santana was honored as a BMI Icon at the 12th annual BMI Latin Awards. Santana was the first songwriter designated a BMI Icon at the company’s Latin Awards. The honor is given to a creator who has been “a unique and indelible influence on generations of music makers.” [11]

Carlos Santana during a concert in 2005

In 2005, Herbie Hancock approached Santana to collaborate on an album again using the Supernatural formula. Possibilities was released on August 30, 2005, featuring Carlos Santana and Angélique Kidjo on “Safiatou”. Also, in 2005, fellow Latin star Shakira invited Santana to play the soft rock guitar ballad “Illegal” on her second English-language studio album Oral Fixation Vol. 2.

Santana’s 2005 album All That I Am consists primarily of collaborations with other artists; the first single, the peppy “I’m Feeling You“, was again with Michelle Branch and The Wreckers. Other musicians joining the mix this time included Steven Tyler of Aerosmith, Kirk Hammett from Metallica, hip-hop/reggae star Sean Paul and R&B singer Joss Stone. In April and May 2006, Santana toured Europe, where he promoted his son Salvador Santana‘s band as his opening act.

In 2007, Santana appeared, along with Sheila E. and José Feliciano, on Gloria Estefan‘s album 90 Millas, on the single “No Llores“. He also teamed again with Chad Kroeger for the hit single “Into the Night“. He also played guitar in Eros Ramazzotti‘s hit Fuoco nel fuoco from the album

In 2008, Santana was reported to be working with his longtime friend, Marcelo Vieira, on his solo album Acoustic Demos, which was released at the end of the year. It features tracks such as “For Flavia” and “Across the Grave”, the latter said to feature heavy melodic riffs by Santana.

Carlos Santana performed at the 2009 American Idol Finale with the top 13 finalists, which starred many acts such as KISS, Queen and Rod Stewart. On July 8, 2009, Carlos Santana appeared at the Athens Olympic Stadium in Athens with his 10-member all-star band as part of his “Supernatural Santana – A Trip through the Hits” European tour. On July 10, 2009, he also appeared at Philip II Stadium in Skopje, Macedonia. With a 2.5 hour long concert and 20 000 people, Santana appeared for the first time in that region. “Supernatural Santana – A Trip through the Hits” was played at The Hard Rock hotel in Las Vegas, where it was played through 2011.

Santana is featured as a playable character in the music video game Guitar Hero 5. A live recording of his song “No One to Depend On” is included in game, which was released on September 1, 2009.[12] More recently, in 2011, three Santana songs were offered as downloadable content (DLC) for guitar learning software Rocksmith: “Oye Como Va”, “Smooth”, and “Black Magic Woman/Gypsy Queen”.

Santana, since 2007, has opened a chain of upscale Mexican restaurants called “Maria Maria”. It is a combined effort with Chef Roberto Santibañez. They are located in Tempe, Arizona; Mill Valley (now closed), Walnut Creek, Danville and San Diego, California; Austin, Texas; and Boca Raton, Florida.[13]

In 2012 Santana released an album Shape Shifter consisting of mostly instrumental tracks.


Around the age of eight, Santana “fell under the influence” of blues performers like B.B. King, Javier Bátiz, and John Lee Hooker.[14] Gábor Szabó‘s mid-1960s jazz/gypsy guitar work also strongly influenced Santana’s playing. Indeed, Szabó’s composition “Gypsy Queen” was used as the second part of Santana’s 1970 treatment of Peter Green’s composition “Black Magic Woman“, almost down to identical guitar licks. Santana’s 2012 instrumental album Shape Shifter includes a song called “Mr. Szabo”, played in tribute in the style of Gábor Szabó. Santana also credits Jimi Hendrix, Mike Bloomfield, Hank Marvin and Peter Green as important influences; he considered Bloomfield a direct mentor, writing of a key meeting with Bloomfield in San Francisco in the foreword he wrote to a biography of Bloomfield, Michael Bloomfield: If You Love These Blues – An Oral History in 2000.[15]


Guitars and effects

Santana’s Yamaha SG2000 Devadip (1976, with inlay) on exhibit in the Berlin Musical Instrument Museum

Santana played a red Gibson SG Special with P-90 pickups at the Woodstock festival. During the time between the release of Abraxas and Santana III (1970–1972), he used different Gibson Les Pauls and a Black Gibson SG Special. From 1976 until 1982 his main guitar was a Yamaha SG 175B, and sometimes a white Gibson SG Custom with 3 single coil pick-ups. In 1982 he started to use a custom made PRS Custom 24 guitar. In 1988 PRS Guitars began making Santana signature model guitars, which Santana has played through its various iterations ever since (see below).

Santana currently uses a Santana II model guitar fitted with PRS Santana III nickel covered pickups, a tremolo bar, and .009-.042 gauge D’Addario strings. He also plays a PRS Santana Multidimensional (MD)[16] The Santana guitars feature necks made of a single piece of mahogany topped with Rosewood fretboards (some feature highly sought-after Brazilian Rosewood[17]). This helps create the smooth, singing, glass-like tone for which he is known.

Santana Signature Models:

  • PRS Santana I “The Yellow”(1988)
  • PRS Santana II “Supernatural” (1999)
  • PRS Santana III (2001)
  • PRS Santana SE (2001)
  • PRS Santana SE II (2003)
  • PRS Santana Shaman SE-Limited Edition (2003)
  • PRS Santana MD “The Multidimensional” (2008)
  • PRS Santana Abraxas SE-Limited Edition (2009)
  • PRS Santana SE “The Multidimensional” (2011)

Santana also uses a classical guitar, he used the Alvarez Yairi CY127CE with Alvarez tension nylon strings,[18] in the last years from 2009 he uses custom made, semi-hollow Toru Nittono’s “Model-T” Jazz Electric Nylon.[19]

Santana does not use many effects pedals. His PRS guitar is connected to a Mu-Tron wah wah pedal (or, more recently, a Dunlop 535Q wah[20] and a T-Rex Replica delay pedal.[20][21] then through a customized Jim Dunlop amp switcher which in turn is connected to the different amps or cabinets.

Previous setups include an Ibanez Tube Screamer[22] right after the guitar. He is also to have been known to use an Electro Harmonix Big Muff distortion for his famous sustain. In the song “Stand Up” from the album Marathon (1980), Santana uses a Heil talk box in the guitar solo. He has also used the Audiotech Guitar Products 1×6 Rack Mount Audio Switcher in rehearsals for the 2008 “Live Your Light” tour.

Santana uses two different guitar picks: the large triangular Dunlop he has used for so many years, and the V-Pick Freakishly Large Round.


Carlos Santana’s distinctive guitar tone is produced by PRS Santana signature guitars plugged into multiple amplifiers. The amps consist of a Mesa Boogie Mark I, Dumble Overdrive Reverb and more recently a Bludotone amplifier. Santana compares the tonal qualities of each amplifier to that of a singer producing head/nasal tones, chest tones, and belly tones. A three-way amp switcher is employed on Carlos’s pedal board to enable him to switch between amps. Often the unique tones of each amplifier are blended together, complementing each other producing a richer tone.

He also put the “Boogie” in Mesa Boogie. Santana is credited with coining the popular Mesa amplifier name when he tried one and exclaimed, “That little thing really Boogies!”[23]

Specifically, Santana combines a Mesa/Boogie Mark I head running through a Boogie cabinet with Altec 417-8H (or recently JBL E120s) speakers, and a Dumble Overdrive Reverb and/or a Dumble Overdrive Special running through a Brown or Marshall 4×12 cabinet with Celestion G12M “Greenback” speakers, depending on the desired sound. Shure KSM-32 microphones are used to pick up the sound, going to the PA. Additionally, a Fender Cyber-Twin Amp is mostly used at home.

During his early career Santana used a GMT transistor amplifier stack and a silverface Fender Twin. The GMT 226A rig was used at the Woodstock concert as well as during recording Santana’s debut album. During this era Santana had also began to use the Fender Twin, which was also used on the debut and proceedingly at the recording sessions of Abraxas.

Personal life

Carlos Santana became a naturalized US citizen in 1965.[24]

On October 19, 2007, his wife of 34 years, Deborah Santana, filed for divorce citing “irreconcilable differences”.[25]

Carlos Santana became engaged to drummer Cindy Blackman, after proposing to her during a concert of the Universal Tone Tour at Tinley Park in Chicago, Illinois, on July 9, 2010. The two were married in December 2010.[26][27] They currently live in Las Vegas.[28]


Awards and nominations

Santana’s star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame

Year Recipient Award Result
1973 Caravanserai Best Pop Instrumental Performance – With Vocal Coloring Nominated
1988 Blues for Salvador Best Rock Instrumental Performance (Orchestra, Group Or Soloist) Won
1993 Gypsy/Grajonca Best Rock Instrumental Performance Nominated
1996 Every Now And Then Best Rock Instrumental Performance Nominated
2000 Smooth Record of the Year Won
Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals Won
Supernatural Album of the Year Won
Best Rock Album Won
Maria Maria Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal Won
El Farol Best Pop Instrumental Performance Won
The Calling Best Rock Instrumental Performance Won
Put Your Lights On Best Rock Vocal Performance by a Duo or Group Won
Love Of My Life Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals Nominated
2002 The Game of Love Best Pop Collaboration With Vocals Won

On December 29, 2013, Carlos Santana became a Kennedy Center Honoree.[29]

Jimi Hendrix

This article is about the guitarist. For the band, see the Jimi Hendrix Experience. For other uses of Hendrix, see Hendrix (disambiguation).
Jimi Hendrix
Jimi Hendrix 1967.png

Hendrix performing on the Dutch television show Hoepla in 1967
Background information
Birth name Johnny Allen Hendrix
Born November 27, 1942
Seattle, Washington, US
Died September 18, 1970 (aged 27)
Kensington, London, England
Genres Psychedelic rock, hard rock, blues, rhythm and blues
Occupations Musician, singer, songwriter
Instruments Guitar, vocals
Years active 1963–1970
Labels Vee-Jay, RSVP, Track, Barclay, Polydor, Reprise, Capitol, MCA
Associated acts The Isley Brothers, Little Richard, Curtis Knight and the Squires, Jimmy James and the Blue Flames, the Jimi Hendrix Experience, Band of Gypsys
Website jimihendrix.com
Notable instruments
Fender Stratocaster
Gibson Flying V

James MarshallJimiHendrix (born Johnny Allen Hendrix; November 27, 1942 – September 18, 1970) was an American musician, singer, and songwriter. Although his mainstream career spanned only four years, he is widely regarded as one of the most influential electric guitarists in the history of popular music, and one of the most celebrated musicians of the 20th century. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame describes him as “arguably the greatest instrumentalist in the history of rock music”.[1]

Born in Seattle, Washington, Hendrix began playing guitar at the age of 15. In 1961, he enlisted in the US Army; he was granted an honorable discharge the following year. Soon afterward, he moved to Clarksville, Tennessee, and began playing gigs on the chitlin’ circuit, earning a place in the Isley Brothers‘ backing band and later with Little Richard, with whom he continued to work through mid-1965. He then played with Curtis Knight and the Squires before moving to England in late 1966 after being discovered by bassist Chas Chandler of the Animals. Within months, Hendrix had earned three UK top ten hits with the Jimi Hendrix Experience: “Hey Joe“, “Purple Haze“, and “The Wind Cries Mary“. He achieved fame in the US after his performance at the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967, and in 1968 his third and final studio album, Electric Ladyland, reached number one in the US. The double LP was Hendrix’s most commercially successful release and his first and only number one album. The world’s highest-paid performer, he headlined the Woodstock Festival in 1969 and the Isle of Wight Festival in 1970 before his accidental death from barbiturate-related asphyxia on September 18, 1970, at the age of 27.

Hendrix was inspired musically by American rock and roll and electric blues. He favored overdriven amplifiers with high volume and gain, and was instrumental in developing the previously undesirable technique of guitar amplifier feedback. He helped to popularize the use of a wah-wah pedal in mainstream rock, and was the first artist to use stereophonic phasing effects in music recordings. Holly George-Warren of Rolling Stone commented: “Hendrix pioneered the use of the instrument as an electronic sound source. Players before him had experimented with feedback and distortion, but Hendrix turned those effects and others into a controlled, fluid vocabulary every bit as personal as the blues with which he began.”[2]

Hendrix was the recipient of several music awards during his lifetime and posthumously. In 1967, readers of Melody Maker voted him the Pop Musician of the Year and in 1968, Billboard named him the Artist of the Year and Rolling Stone declared him the Performer of the Year. Disc and Music Echo honored him with the World Top Musician of 1969 and in 1970, Guitar Player named him the Rock Guitarist of the Year. The Jimi Hendrix Experience was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1992 and the UK Music Hall of Fame in 2005. Rolling Stone ranked the band’s three studio albums, Are You Experienced, Axis: Bold as Love, and Electric Ladyland, among the 100 greatest albums of all time, and they ranked Hendrix as the greatest guitarist and the sixth greatest artist of all time.

Ancestry and childhood

Hendrix’s paternal grandparents, Ross and Nora Hendrix, pre-1912

Jimi Hendrix’s ancestry included African American, Irish, and Cherokee ancestors. His paternal great-great-grandmother was a full-blooded Cherokee from Georgia who married an Irishman named Moore. They had a son Robert, who married an African-American woman named Fanny. In 1883, Robert and Fanny had a daughter whom they named Zenora “Nora” Rose Moore, Hendrix’s paternal grandmother.[3][nb 1] Hendrix’s paternal grandfather, Bertran Philander Ross Hendrix (born 1866), was the result of an extramarital affair between a black slave woman, also named Fanny, and her white overseer, a grain merchant from Urbana, Ohio, and one of the wealthiest white men in the area at that time.[6] On June 10, 1919, Hendrix and Moore had a son they named James Allen Ross Hendrix; people called him Al.[7]

In 1941, Al met Lucille Jeter (1925–1958) at a dance in Seattle; they married on March 31, 1942.[8] Al, who had been drafted by the United States Army to serve in World War II, left to begin his basic training three days after the wedding.[9] Johnny Allen Hendrix was born on November 27, 1942, in Seattle, Washington; he was the first of Lucille’s five children. In 1946, Johnny’s parents changed his name to James Marshall Hendrix, in honor of Al and his late brother Leon Marshall.[10][nb 2]

Stationed in Alabama at the time of Hendrix’s birth, Al was denied the standard military furlough afforded servicemen for childbirth; his commanding officer placed him in the stockade to prevent him from going AWOL to see his infant son in Seattle. He spent two months locked up without trial, and while in the stockade received a telegram announcing his son’s birth.[12][nb 3] During Al’s three-year absence, Lucille struggled to raise their son, often neglecting him in favor of nightlife.[14] When Al was away, Hendrix was mostly cared for by family members and friends, especially Lucille’s sister Delores Hall and her friend Dorothy Harding.[15] Al received an honorable discharge from the US Army on September 1, 1945. Two months later, unable to find Lucille, Al went to the Berkeley, California home of a family friend named Mrs. Champ, who had taken care of and had attempted to adopt Hendrix. There Al saw his son for the first time.[16]

After returning from service, Al reunited with Lucille, but his inability to find steady work left the family impoverished. They both struggled with alcohol abuse, and often fought when intoxicated. The violence sometimes drove Hendrix to withdraw and hide in a closet in their home.[17] His relationship with his brother Leon (born 1948) was close but precarious; with Leon in and out of foster care, they lived with an almost constant threat of fraternal separation.[18] In addition to Leon, Hendrix had three younger siblings: Joseph, born in 1949, Kathy in 1950, and Pamela, 1951, all of whom Al and Lucille gave up to foster care and adoption.[19] The family frequently moved, staying in cheap hotels and apartments around Seattle. On occasion, family members would take Hendrix to Vancouver to stay at his grandmother’s. A shy and sensitive boy, he was deeply affected by his life experiences.[20] In later years, he confided to a girlfriend that he had been the victim of sexual abuse by a man in uniform.[21] On December 17, 1951, when Hendrix was nine years old, his parents divorced; the court granted Al custody of him and Leon.[22]

First instruments

At Horace Mann Elementary School in Seattle during the mid-1950s, Hendrix’s habit of carrying a broom with him to emulate a guitar gained the attention of the school’s social worker. After more than a year of his clinging to a broom like a security blanket, she wrote a letter requesting school funding intended for underprivileged children, insisting that leaving him without a guitar might result in psychological damage.[23] Her efforts failed, and Al refused to buy him a guitar.[23][nb 4]

In 1957, while helping his father with a side-job, Hendrix found a ukulele amongst the garbage that they were removing from an older woman’s home. She told him that he could keep the instrument, which had only one string.[25] Learning by ear, he played single notes, following along to Elvis Presley songs, particularly Presley’s cover of Leiber and Stoller’sHound Dog“.[26][nb 5] By the age of thirty-three, Hendrix’s mother Lucille had developed cirrhosis of the liver, and on February 2, 1958, she died when her spleen ruptured.[28] Al refused to take James and Leon to attend their mother’s funeral; he instead gave them shots of whiskey and instructed them that was how men were supposed to deal with loss.[28][nb 6] In mid-1958, at age 15, Hendrix acquired his first acoustic guitar, for $5.[29] Hendrix earnestly applied himself, playing the instrument for several hours daily, watching others and getting tips from more experienced guitarists, and listening to blues artists such as Muddy Waters, B.B. King, Howlin’ Wolf, and Robert Johnson.[30] The first tune Hendrix learned how to play was the theme from Peter Gunn.[31]

Soon after he acquired the acoustic guitar, Hendrix formed his first band, the Velvetones. Without an electric guitar, he could barely be heard over the sound of the group. After about three months, he realized that he needed an electric guitar in order to continue.[32] In mid-1959, his father relented and bought him a white Supro Ozark.[32] Hendrix’s first gig was with an unnamed band in the basement of a synagogue, Seattle’s Temple De Hirsch, but after too much showing off, the band fired him between sets.[33] He later joined the Rocking Kings, which played professionally at venues such as the Birdland club. When someone stole his guitar after he left it backstage overnight, Al bought him a red Silvertone Danelectro.[34] In 1958, Hendrix completed his studies at Washington Junior High School, though he did not graduate from Garfield High School.[35][nb 7]

Military service

Hendrix in the US Army, 1961

Before Hendrix was 19 years old, law enforcement authorities had twice caught him riding in stolen cars. When given a choice between spending time in prison or joining the Army, he chose the latter and enlisted on May 31, 1961.[38] After completing eight weeks of basic training at Fort Ord, California, he was assigned to the 101st Airborne Division and stationed at Fort Campbell, Kentucky.[39] He arrived there on November 8, and soon afterward he wrote to his father: “There’s nothing but physical training and harassment here for two weeks, then when you go to jump school … you get hell. They work you to death, fussing and fighting.”[40] In his next letter home, Hendrix, who had left his guitar at his girlfriend Betty Jean Morgan’s house in Seattle, asked his father to send it to him as soon as possible, stating: “I really need it now.”[40] His father obliged and sent the red Silvertone Danelectro on which Hendrix had hand-painted the words “Betty Jean”, to Fort Campbell.[41] His apparent obsession with the instrument contributed to his neglect of his duties, which led to verbal taunting and physical abuse from his peers, who at least once hid the guitar from him until he had begged for its return.[42]

In November 1961, fellow serviceman Billy Cox walked past an army club and heard Hendrix playing guitar.[43] Intrigued by the proficient playing, which he described as a combination of “John Lee Hooker and Beethoven“, Cox borrowed a bass guitar and the two jammed.[44] Within a few weeks, they began performing at base clubs on the weekends with other musicians in a loosely organized band called the Casuals.[45]

Hendrix completed his paratrooper training in just over eight months, and Major General C.W.G. Rich awarded him the prestigious Screaming Eagles patch on January 11, 1962.[40] By February, his personal conduct had begun to draw criticism from his superiors. They labeled him an unqualified marksman and often caught him napping while on duty and failing to report for bed checks.[46] On May 24, Hendrix’s platoon sergeant, James C. Spears filed a report in which he stated: “He has no interest whatsoever in the Army … It is my opinion that Private Hendrix will never come up to the standards required of a soldier. I feel that the military service will benefit if he is discharged as soon as possible.”[47] On June 29, 1962, Captain Gilbert Batchman granted Hendrix an honorable discharge on the basis of unsuitability.[48] Hendrix later spoke of his dislike of the army and falsely stated that he had received a medical discharge after breaking his ankle during his 26th parachute jump.[49][nb 8]

Music career

Early years

In September 1963, after Cox was discharged from the Army, he and Hendrix moved to Clarksville, Tennessee, and formed a band called the King Kasuals.[51] Hendrix had watched Butch Snipes play with his teeth in Seattle and by now Alphonso ‘Baby Boo’ Young, the other guitarist in the band, was performing this guitar gimmick.[52] Not to be upstaged, Hendrix learned to play with his teeth, he commented: “The idea of doing that came to me … in Tennessee. Down there you have to play with your teeth or else you get shot. There’s a trail of broken teeth all over the stage.”[53] Although they began playing low-paying gigs at obscure venues, the band eventually moved to Nashville‘s Jefferson Street, which was the traditional heart of the city’s black community and home to a thriving rhythm and blues music scene.[54] They earned a brief residency playing at a popular venue in town, the Club del Morocco, and for the next two years Hendrix made a living performing at a circuit of venues throughout the South who were affiliated with the Theater Owners’ Booking Association (TOBA), widely known as the Chitlin’ Circuit.[55] In addition to playing in his own band, Hendrix performed as a backing musician for various soul, R&B, and blues musicians, including Wilson Pickett, Slim Harpo, Sam Cooke, and Jackie Wilson.[56]

In January 1964, feeling he had outgrown the circuit artistically, and frustrated by having to follow the rules of bandleaders, Hendrix decided to venture out on his own. He moved into the Hotel Theresa in Harlem, where he befriended Lithofayne Pridgeon, known as “Faye”, who became his girlfriend.[57] A Harlem native with connections throughout the area’s music scene, Pridgeon provided him with shelter, support, and encouragement.[58] Hendrix also met the Allen twins, Arthur and Albert.[59][nb 9] In February 1964, Hendrix won first prize in the Apollo Theater amateur contest.[61] Hoping to secure a career opportunity, he played the Harlem club circuit and sat in with various bands. At the recommendation of a former associate of Joe Tex, Ronnie Isley granted Hendrix an audition that led to an offer to become the guitarist with the Isley Brothers‘ back-up band, the I.B. Specials, which he readily accepted.[62]

First recordings

In March 1964, Hendrix recorded the two-part single “Testify” with the Isley Brothers. Released in June, it failed to chart.[63] In May, he provided guitar instrumentation for the Don Covay song, “Mercy Mercy“. Issued in August by Rosemart Records and distributed by Atlantic, the track reached number 35 on the Billboard chart.[64]

Hendrix toured with the Isleys during much of 1964, but near the end of October, after growing tired of playing the same set every night, he left the band.[65][nb 10] Soon afterward, Hendrix joined Little Richard‘s touring band, the Upsetters.[67] During a stop in Los Angeles in February 1965, he recorded his first and only single with Richard, “I Don’t Know What You Got (But It’s Got Me)”, written by Don Covay and released by Vee-Jay Records.[68] Richard’s popularity was waning at the time, and the single peaked at number 92, where it remained for one week before dropping off the chart.[69][nb 11] Hendrix met singer Rosa Lee Brooks while staying at the Wilcox Hotel in Hollywood, and she invited him to participate in a recording session for her single, which included “My Diary” as the A-side, and “Utee” as the B-side.[71] He played guitar on both tracks, which also included background vocals by Arthur Lee. The single failed to chart, but Hendrix and Lee began a friendship that lasted several years; Hendrix later became an ardent supporter of Lee’s band, Love.[71]

In July 1965, on Nashville’s Channel 5 Night Train, Hendrix made his first television appearance. Performing in Little Richard’s ensemble band, he backed up vocalists Buddy and Stacy on “Shotgun”. The video recording of the show marks the earliest known footage of Hendrix performing.[67] Richard and Hendrix often clashed over tardiness, wardrobe, and Hendrix’s stage antics, and in late July, Richard’s brother Robert fired him.[72] He then briefly rejoined the Isley Brothers, and recorded a second single with them, “Move Over and Let Me Dance” backed with “Have You Ever Been Disappointed”.[73] Later that year, he joined a New York-based R&B band, Curtis Knight and the Squires, after meeting Knight in the lobby of a hotel where both men were staying.[74] Hendrix performed with them for eight months.[75] In October 1965, he and Knight recorded the single, “How Would You Feel” backed with “Welcome Home” and on October 15, Hendrix signed a three-year recording contract with entrepreneur Ed Chalpin.[76] While the relationship with Chalpin was short-lived, his contract remained in force, which later caused legal and career problems for Hendrix.[77][nb 12] During his time with Knight, Hendrix briefly toured with Joey Dee and the Starliters, and worked with King Curtis on several recordings including Ray Sharpe‘s two-part single, “Help Me”.[79] Hendrix earned his first composer credits for two instrumentals, “Hornets Nest” and “Knock Yourself Out”, released as a Curtis Knight and the Squires single in 1966.[80][nb 14]

Feeling restricted by his experiences as an R&B sideman, Hendrix moved to New York City’s Greenwich Village in 1966, which had a vibrant and diverse music scene.[85] There, he was offered a residency at the Cafe Wha? on MacDougal Street and formed his own band that June, Jimmy James and the Blue Flames, which included future Spirit guitarist Randy California.[86][nb 15] The Blue Flames played at several clubs in New York and Hendrix began developing his guitar style and material that he would soon use with the Experience.[88][89] In September, they gave some of their last concerts at the Cafe au Go Go, as John Hammond Jr.‘s backing group.[90][nb 16]

The Jimi Hendrix Experience

The Experience in 1968

By May 1966, Hendrix was struggling to earn a living wage playing the R&B circuit, so he briefly rejoined Curtis Knight and the Squires for an engagement at one of New York City’s most popular nightspots, the Cheetah Club.[91] During a performance, Linda Keith, the girlfriend of Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards noticed Hendrix. She remembered: “[His] playing mesmerised me”.[91] She invited him to join her for a drink; he accepted and the two became friends.[91]

Keith recommended Hendrix to Stones manager Andrew Loog Oldham and producer Seymour Stein. They failed to see Hendrix’s musical potential, and rejected him.[92] She then referred him to Chas Chandler, who was leaving the Animals and interested in managing and producing artists. Chandler liked the Billy Roberts song “Hey Joe“, and was convinced he could create a hit single with the right artist.[93] Impressed with Hendrix’s version of the song, he brought him to London on September 24, 1966,[94] and signed him to a management and production contract with himself and ex-Animals manager Michael Jeffery.[95] On September 24, Hendrix gave an impromptu solo performance at the Scotch-Club, and later that night he began a relationship with Kathy Etchingham that lasted for two and a half years.[96][nb 17]

Following Hendrix’s arrival in London, Chandler began recruiting members for a band designed to highlight the guitarist’s talents, the Jimi Hendrix Experience.[98] Hendrix met guitarist Noel Redding at an audition for the New Animals, where Redding’s knowledge of blues progressions impressed Hendrix, who stated that he also liked Redding’s hairstyle.[99] Chandler asked Redding if he wanted to play bass guitar in Hendrix’s band; Redding agreed.[99] Chandler then began looking for a drummer and soon after, he contacted Mitch Mitchell through a mutual friend. Mitchell, who had recently been fired from Georgie Fame and the Blue Flames, participated in a rehearsal with Redding and Hendrix where they found common ground in their shared interest in rhythm and blues. When Chandler phoned Mitchell later that day to offer him the position, he readily accepted.[100] Chandler also convinced Hendrix to change the spelling of his first name from Jimmy to the exotic looking Jimi.[101]

On September 30, Chandler brought Hendrix to the London Polytechnic at Regent Street, where Cream was scheduled to perform, and where Hendrix and Eric Clapton met. Clapton later commented: “He asked if he could play a couple of numbers. I said, ‘Of course’, but I had a funny feeling about him.”[98] Halfway through Cream’s set, Hendrix took the stage and performed a frantic version of the Howlin’ Wolf song “Killing Floor“.[98] In 1989, Clapton described the performance: “He played just about every style you could think of, and not in a flashy way. I mean he did a few of his tricks, like playing with his teeth and behind his back, but it wasn’t in an upstaging sense at all, and that was it … He walked off, and my life was never the same again”.[98]

UK success

In mid-October 1966, Chandler arranged an engagement for the Experience as Johnny Hallyday‘s supporting act during a brief tour of France.[101] Their enthusiastically received 15-minute performance at the Olympia theatre in Paris on October 18 marks the earliest known recording of the band.[101] In late October, Kit Lambert and Chris Stamp, managers of the Who, signed the Experience to their newly formed label, Track Records, which released the Experience’s first single on October 23.[102] “Hey Joe”, which included a female chorus provided by the Breakaways, was backed by Hendrix’s first songwriting effort after arriving in England, “Stone Free“.[103]

Hendrix on stage in 1967

In mid-November, they performed at the Bag O’Nails nightclub in London, with Clapton, John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Jeff Beck, Pete Townshend, Brian Jones, Mick Jagger, and Kevin Ayers in attendance.[104] Ayers described the crowd’s reaction as stunned disbelief: “All the stars were there, and I heard serious comments, you know ‘shit’, ‘Jesus’, ‘damn’ and other words worse than that.”[104] The successful performance earned Hendrix his first interview, published in Record Mirror with the headline: “Mr. Phenomenon”.[104] “Now hear this … we predict that [Hendrix] is going to whirl around the business like a tornado”, wrote Bill Harry, who asked the rhetorical question: “Is that full, big, swinging sound really being created by only three people?”[105] Hendrix commented: “We don’t want to be classed in any category … If it must have a tag, I’d like it to be called, ‘Free Feeling’. It’s a mixture of rock, freak-out, rave and blues”.[106] After appearances on the UK television shows Ready Steady Go! and the Top of the Pops, “Hey Joe” entered the UK charts on December 29, 1966, peaking at number six.[107] Further success came in March 1967 with the UK number three hit “Purple Haze“, and in May with “The Wind Cries Mary“, which remained on the UK charts for eleven weeks, peaking at number six.[108]

On March 31, 1967, while the Experience waited to perform at the London Astoria, Hendrix and Chandler discussed ways in which they could increase the band’s media exposure. When Chandler asked journalist Keith Altham for advice, Altham suggested that they needed to do something more dramatic than the stage show of the Who, which involved the smashing of instruments. Hendrix joked: “Maybe I can smash up an elephant”, to which Altham replied: “Well, it’s a pity you can’t set fire to your guitar”.[109] Chandler then asked road manager Gerry Stickells to procure some lighter fluid. During the show, Hendrix gave an especially dynamic performance before setting his guitar on fire at the end of a 45-minute set. In the wake of the stunt, members of London’s press labeled Hendrix the “Black Elvis” and the “Wild Man of Borneo”.[110][nb 18]

Are You Experienced

Main article: Are You Experienced

The cover of the US edition by graphic designer Karl Ferris

After the moderate UK chart success of their first two singles, “Hey Joe” and “Purple Haze”, the Experience began assembling material for a full-length LP.[112] Recording began at De Lane Lea Studios and later moved to the prestigious Olympic Studios.[112] The album, Are You Experienced, features a diversity of musical styles, including blues tracks such as “Red House” and “Highway Chile“, and the R&B song “Remember”.[113] It also included the experimental science fiction piece, “Third Stone from the Sun” and the post-modern soundscapes of the title track, with prominent backwards guitar and drums.[114] “I Don’t Live Today” served as a medium for Hendrix’s guitar feedback improvisation and “Fire” was driven by Mitchell’s drumming.[112]

Released in the UK on May 12, 1967, Are You Experienced spent 33 weeks on the charts, peaking at number two.[115][nb 19] It was prevented from reaching the top spot by the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.[117][nb 20] On June 4, 1967, Hendrix opened a show at the Saville Theatre in London with his rendition of Sgt. Pepper‘s title track, which was released just three days previous. Beatles manager Brian Epstein owned the Saville at the time, and both George Harrison and Paul McCartney attended the performance. McCartney described the moment: “The curtains flew back and he came walking forward playing ‘Sgt. Pepper’. It’s a pretty major compliment in anyone’s book. I put that down as one of the great honors of my career.”[118] Released in the US on August 23 by Reprise Records, Are You Experienced reached number five on the Billboard 200.[119][nb 21]

In 1989, Noe Goldwasser, the founding editor of Guitar World magazine, described Are You Experienced as “the album that shook the world … leaving it forever changed”.[121][nb 22] In 2005, Rolling Stone called the double-platinum LP Hendrix’s “epochal debut”, and they ranked it the 15th greatest album of all time, noting his “exploitation of amp howl”, and characterizing his guitar playing as “incendiary … historic in itself”.[123]

Monterey Pop Festival

Main article: Monterey Pop Festival

Author Michael Heatley wrote: “The iconic image by Ed Caraeff of Hendrix summoning the flames higher with his fingers will forever conjure up memories of Monterey for those who were there and the majority of us who weren’t.”[124]

Although popular in Europe at the time, the Experience’s first US single, “Hey Joe”, failed to reach the Billboard Hot 100 chart upon its release on May 1, 1967.[125] The group’s fortunes improved when McCartney recommended them to the organizers of the Monterey Pop Festival. He insisted that the event would be incomplete without Hendrix, whom he called “an absolute ace on the guitar”, and he agreed to join the board of organizers on the condition that the Experience perform at the festival in mid-June.[126]

Introduced by Brian Jones as “the most exciting performer [he had] ever heard”, Hendrix opened with a fast arrangement of Howlin’ Wolf’s song “Killing Floor”, wearing what author Keith Shadwick described as “clothes as exotic as any on display elsewhere.”[127] Shadwick wrote: “[Hendrix] was not only something utterly new musically, but an entirely original vision of what a black American entertainer should and could look like.”[128] The Experience went on to perform renditions of “Hey Joe”, B.B. King’s “Rock Me Baby”, Chip Taylor‘s “Wild Thing“, and Bob Dylan‘s “Like a Rolling Stone“, as well as four original compositions: “Foxy Lady“, “Can You See Me”, “The Wind Cries Mary”, and “Purple Haze”.[118] The set ended with Hendrix destroying his guitar and tossing pieces of it out to the audience.[129] Rolling Stone‘s Alex Vadukul wrote:

When Jimi Hendrix set his guitar on fire at the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival he created one of rock’s most perfect moments. Standing in the front row of that concert was a 17-year-old boy named Ed Caraeff. Caraeff had never seen Hendrix before nor heard his music, but he had a camera with him and there was one shot left in his roll of film. As Hendrix lit his guitar, Caraeff took a final photo. It would become one of the most famous images in rock and roll.[130][nb 23]

Caraeff stood on a chair next to the edge of the stage while taking a series of four monochrome pictures of Hendrix burning his guitar.[133][nb 24] Caraeff was close enough to the fire that he had to use his camera as a shield to protect his face from the heat. Rolling Stone later colorized the image, matching it with other pictures taken at the festival before using the shot for a 1987 magazine cover.[133] According to author Gail Buckland, the fourth and final frame of “Hendrix kneeling in front of his burning guitar, hands raised, is one of the most famous images in rock.”[133] Author and historian Matthew C. Whitaker wrote: “Hendrix’s burning of his guitar became an iconic image in rock history and brought him national attention.”[134] The Los Angeles Times asserted that, upon leaving the stage, Hendrix “graduated from rumor to legend”.[135] Author John McDermott commented: “Hendrix left the Monterey audience stunned and in disbelief at what they’d just heard and seen.”[136] According to Hendrix: “I decided to destroy my guitar at the end of a song as a sacrifice. You sacrifice things you love. I love my guitar.”[137] The performance was filmed by D. A. Pennebaker, and later included in the concert documentary Monterey Pop, which helped Hendrix gain popularity with the US public.[138]

Immediately after the festival, the Experience were booked for a series of five concerts at Bill Graham‘s Fillmore, with Big Brother and the Holding Company and Jefferson Airplane. The Experience outperformed Jefferson Airplane during the first two nights, and replaced them at the top of the bill on the fifth.[139] Following their successful West Coast introduction, which included a free open air concert at Golden Gate Park and a concert at the Whisky a Go Go, the Experience were booked as the opening act for the first American tour of the Monkees.[140] They requested Hendrix as a supporting act because they were fans, but their young audience disliked the Experience, who left the tour after six shows.[141] Chandler later admitted that he engineered the tour in an effort to gain publicity for Hendrix.[142]

Axis: Bold as Love

Main article: Axis: Bold as Love
An excerpt from the outro guitar solo. The sample demonstrates the first recording of stereo phasing.

Problems playing this file? See media help.

The second Experience album, Axis: Bold as Love, opens with the track “EXP”, which innovatively utilized microphonic and harmonic feedback.[143] It also showcased an experimental stereo panning effect in which sounds emanating from Hendrix’s guitar move through the stereo image, revolving around the listener.[144] The piece reflected his growing interest in science fiction and outer space.[145] He composed the album’s title track and finale around two verses and two choruses, during which he pairs emotions with personas, comparing them to colors.[146] The song’s coda features the first recording of stereo phasing.[147][nb 25] Shadwick described the composition as “possibly the most ambitious piece on Axis, the extravagant metaphors of the lyrics suggesting a growing confidence” in Hendrix’s songwriting.[149] His guitar playing throughout the song is marked by chordal arpeggios and contrapuntal motion, with tremolo-picked partial chords providing the musical foundation for the chorus, which culminates in what musicologist Andy Aledort described as “simply one of the greatest electric guitar solos ever played”.[150] The track fades out on tremolo-picked thirty-second note double stops.[151]

The scheduled release date for Axis was almost delayed when Hendrix lost the master tape of side one of the LP, leaving it in the back seat of a London taxi.[152] With the deadline looming, Hendrix, Chandler, and engineer Eddie Kramer remixed most of side one in a single overnight session, but they could not match the quality of the lost mix of “If 6 Was 9“. Bassist Noel Redding had a tape recording of this mix, which had to be smoothed out with an iron as it had gotten wrinkled.[153] During the verses, Hendrix doubled his singing with a guitar line which he played one octave lower than his vocals.[154] Hendrix voiced his disappointment about having re-mixed the album so quickly, and he felt that it could have been better had they been given more time.[152]

The cover of Axis: Bold as Love

Axis featured psychedelic cover art that depicts Hendrix and the Experience as various forms of Vishnu, incorporating a painting of them by Roger Law, from a photo-portrait by Karl Ferris.[155] The painting was then superimposed on a copy of a mass produced religious poster.[156] Hendrix stated that the cover, which Track spent $5,000 producing, would have been more appropriate had it highlighted his American Indian heritage.[157] He commented: “You got it wrong … I’m not that kind of Indian.”[157] Track released the album in the UK on December 1, 1967, where it peaked at number five, spending 16 weeks on the charts.[158] In February 1968, Axis: Bold as Love reached number three in the US.[159]

While author and journalist Richie Unterberger described Axis as the least impressive Experience album, according to author Peter Doggett, the release “heralded a new subtlety in Hendrix’s work”.[160] Mitchell commented: “Axis was the first time that it became apparent that Jimi was pretty good working behind the mixing board, as well as playing, and had some positive ideas of how he wanted things recorded. It could have been the start of any potential conflict between him and Chas in the studio.”[161]

Electric Ladyland

Main article: Electric Ladyland

Recording for the Experience’s third and final studio album, Electric Ladyland, began at the newly opened Record Plant Studios, with Chandler as producer and engineers Eddie Kramer and Gary Kellgren.[162] As the sessions progressed, Chandler became increasingly frustrated with Hendrix’s perfectionism and his demands for repeated takes.[163] Hendrix also allowed numerous friends and guests to join them in the studio, which contributed to a chaotic and crowded environment in the control room and led Chandler to sever his professional relationship with Hendrix.[163] Redding later recalled: “There were tons of people in the studio; you couldn’t move. It was a party, not a session.”[164] Redding, who had formed his own band in mid-1968, Fat Mattress, found it increasingly difficult to fulfill his commitments with the Experience, so Hendrix played many of the bass parts on Electric Ladyland.[163] The album’s cover stated that it was “produced and directed by Jimi Hendrix”.[163][nb 26]

During the Electric Ladyland recording sessions, Hendrix began experimenting with other combinations of musicians, including Jefferson Airplane’s Jack Casady and Traffic’s Steve Winwood, who played bass and organ respectively on the fifteen-minute slow-blues jam, “Voodoo Chile“.[163] During the album’s production, Hendrix appeared at an impromptu jam with B.B. King, Al Kooper, and Elvin Bishop.[166][nb 27] Electric Ladyland was released on October 25, and by mid-November it had reached number one in the US, spending two weeks at the top spot.[168] The double LP was Hendrix’s most commercially successful release and his only number one album.[169] It peaked at number six in the UK, spending 12 weeks on the chart.[108] Electric Ladyland included Hendrix’s cover of Bob Dylan’s song, “All Along the Watchtower“, which became Hendrix’s highest-selling single and his only US top 40 hit, peaking at number 20; the single reached number five in the UK.[170] The album also included his first recorded song to feature the use of a wah-wah pedal, “Burning of the Midnight Lamp“, which reached number 18 in the UK charts.[171]

In 1989, Noe Goldwasser, the founding editor of Guitar World magazine, described Electric Ladyland as “Hendrix’s masterpiece”.[172] According to author Michael Heatley, “most critics agree” that the album is “the fullest realization of Jimi’s far-reaching ambitions.”[163] In 2004, author Peter Doggett commented: “For pure experimental genius, melodic flair, conceptual vision and instrumental brilliance, Electric Ladyland remains a prime contender for the status of rock’s greatest album.”[173] Doggett described the LP as “a display of musical virtuosity never surpassed by any rock musician.”[173]

Break-up of the Experience

A color photograph of two adjacent buildings, the one on the left is white and the on the right is dark brown.

The white building (left) is 23 Brook Street; the building on the right is the Handel House Museum.

In January 1969, after an absence of more than six months, Hendrix briefly moved back into his girlfriend Kathy Etchingham’s Brook Street apartment, which was next door to the Handel House Museum in the West End of London.[174][nb 28] During this time, the Experience toured Scandinavia, Germany, and gave their final two performances in France.[176] On February 18 and 24, they played sold-out concerts at London’s Royal Albert Hall, which were the last European appearances of this line-up.[177][nb 29]

By February 1969, Redding had grown weary of Hendrix’s unpredictable work ethic and his creative control over the Experience’s music.[178] During the previous month’s European tour, interpersonal relations within the group had deteriorated, particularly between Hendrix and Redding.[179] In his diary, Redding documented the building frustration during early 1969 recording sessions: “On the first day, as I nearly expected, there was nothing doing … On the second it was no show at all. I went to the pub for three hours, came back, and it was still ages before Jimi ambled in. Then we argued … On the last day, I just watched it happen for a while, and then went back to my flat.”[179] The last Experience sessions that included Redding—a re-recording of “Stone Free” for use as a possible single release—took place on April 14 at Olmstead and the Record Plant in New York.[180] Hendrix then flew bassist Billy Cox to New York; they started recording and rehearsing together on April 21.[181]

The last performance of the original Experience line-up took place on June 29, 1969, at Barry Fey’s Denver Pop Festival, a three-day event held at Denver‘s Mile High Stadium that was marked by police using tear gas to control the audience.[182] The band narrowly escaped from the venue in the back of a rental truck, which was partly crushed by fans who had climbed on top of the vehicle.[183] Before the show, a journalist angered Redding by asking why he was there; the reporter then informed him that two weeks earlier Hendrix announced that he had been replaced with Billy Cox.[184] The next day, Redding quit the Experience and returned to London.[182] He announced that he had left the band and intended to pursue a solo career, blaming Hendrix’s plans to expand the group without allowing for his input as a primary reason for leaving.[185] Redding later commented: “Mitch and I hung out a lot together, but we’re English. If we’d go out, Jimi would stay in his room. But any bad feelings came from us being three guys who were traveling too hard, getting too tired, and taking too many drugs … I liked Hendrix. I don’t like Mitchell.”[186]

Soon after Redding’s departure, Hendrix began lodging at the eight-bedroom Ashokan House, in the hamlet of Boiceville near Woodstock in upstate New York, where he had spent some time vacationing in mid-1969.[187] Manager Michael Jeffery arranged the accommodations in the hope that the respite might encourage Hendrix to write material for a new album. During this time, Mitchell was unavailable for commitments made by Jeffery, which included Hendrix’s first appearance on US TV—on The Dick Cavett Show—where he was backed by the studio orchestra, and an appearance on The Tonight Show where he appeared with Cox and session drummer Ed Shaughnessy.[184]


Main article: Woodstock

Hendrix flashed a peace sign at the start of his performance of “The Star Spangled Banner” at Woodstock, August 18, 1969.[188]

By 1969, Hendrix was the world’s highest-paid rock musician.[189] In August, he headlined the Woodstock Music and Art Fair that included many of the most popular bands of the time.[190] For the concert, he added rhythm guitarist Larry Lee and conga players Juma Sultan and Jerry Velez. The band rehearsed for less than two weeks before the performance, and according to Mitchell, they never connected musically.[191] Before arriving at the engagement, he heard reports that the size of the audience had grown to epic proportions, which gave him cause for concern as he did not enjoy performing for large crowds.[192] He was an important draw for the event, and although he accepted substantially less money for the appearance than his usual fee he was the festival’s highest-paid performer.[193][nb 30] As his scheduled time slot of midnight on Sunday drew closer, he indicated that he preferred to wait and close the show in the morning; the band took the stage around 8:00 a.m. on Monday.[195] By the time of their set, Hendrix had been awake for more than three days.[196] The audience, which peaked at an estimated 400,000 people, was now reduced to 30–40,000, many of whom had waited to catch a glimpse of Hendrix before leaving during his performance.[192] The festival MC, Chip Monck, introduced the group as the Jimi Hendrix Experience, but Hendrix clarified: “We decided to change the whole thing around and call it Gypsy Sun and Rainbows. For short, it’s nothin’ but a Band of Gypsys“.[197]

An excerpt from the beginning of “The Star Spangled Banner”, at Woodstock, August 18, 1969. The sample demonstrates Hendrix’s cutting-edge use of feedback.

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Hendrix’s performance featured a rendition of the US national anthem, “The Star-Spangled Banner“, during which he used copious amounts of amplifier feedback, distortion, and sustain to replicate the sounds made by rockets and bombs.[198] Although contemporary political pundits described his interpretation as a statement against the Vietnam War, three weeks later Hendrix explained its meaning: “We’re all Americans … it was like ‘Go America!’… We play it the way the air is in America today. The air is slightly static, see”.[199] Immortalized in the 1970 documentary film, Woodstock, his guitar-driven version would become part of the sixties Zeitgeist.[200] Pop critic Al Aronowitz of The New York Post wrote: “It was the most electrifying moment of Woodstock, and it was probably the single greatest moment of the sixties.”[199] Images of the performance showing Hendrix wearing a blue-beaded white leather jacket with fringe, a red head-scarf, and blue jeans are widely regarded as iconic pictures that capture a defining moment of the era.[201][nb 31] He played “Hey Joe” during the encore, concluding the 3½-day festival. Upon leaving the stage, he collapsed from exhaustion.[200][nb 32] In 2011, the editors of Guitar World placed his rendition of “The Star Spangled Banner” at Woodstock at number one in their list of his 100 greatest performances.[204]

Band of Gypsys

Main article: Band of Gypsys

A legal dispute arose in 1966 regarding a record contract that Hendrix had entered into the previous year with producer Ed Chalpin.[205] After two years of litigation, the parties agreed to a resolution that granted Chalpin the distribution rights to an album of original Hendrix material. Hendrix decided that they would record the LP, Band of Gypsys, during two live appearances.[206] In preparation for the shows he formed an all-black power-trio with Cox and drummer Buddy Miles, formerly with Wilson Pickett, the Electric Flag, and the Buddy Miles Express.[207] Critic John Rockwell described Hendrix and Miles as jazz-rock fusionists, and their collaboration as pioneering.[208] Others identified a funk and soul influence in their music.[209] Concert promoter Bill Graham called the shows “the most brilliant, emotional display of virtuoso electric guitar” that he had ever heard.[210] Biographers have speculated that Hendrix formed the band in an effort to appease members of the Black Power movement and others in the black communities who called for him to use his fame to speak-up for civil rights.[211]

An excerpt from the first guitar solo that demonstrates Hendrix’s innovative use of high gain and overdrive to achieve an aggressive, sustained tone.

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Hendrix had been recording with Cox since April and jamming with Miles since September, and the trio wrote and rehearsed material which they performed at a series of four shows over two nights on December 31 and January 1, at the Fillmore East. They used recordings of these concerts to assemble the LP, which was produced by Hendrix.[212] The album includes the track “Machine Gun“, which musicologist Andy Aledort described as the pinnacle of Hendrix’s career, and “the premiere example of [his] unparalleled genius as a rock guitarist … In this performance, Jimi transcended the medium of rock music, and set an entirely new standard for the potential of electric guitar.”[213] During the song’s extended instrumental breaks, Hendrix created sounds with his guitar that sonically represented warfare, including rockets, bombs, and diving planes.[214]

The Band of Gypsys album was the only official live Hendrix LP made commercially available during his lifetime; several tracks from the Woodstock and Monterey shows were released later that year.[215] The album was released in April 1970 by Capitol Records; it reached the top ten in both the US and the UK.[210] That same month a single was issued with “Stepping Stone” as the A-side and “Izabella” as the B-side, but Hendrix was dissatisfied with the quality of the mastering and he demanded that it be withdrawn and re-mixed, preventing the songs from charting and resulting in Hendrix’s least successful single; it was also his last.[216]

On January 28, 1970, a third and final Band of Gypsys appearance took place; they performed during a music festival at Madison Square Garden benefiting the anti-Vietnam War Moratorium Committee titled the “Winter Festival for Peace”.[217] American blues guitarist Johnny Winter was backstage before the concert; he recalled: “[Hendrix] came in with his head down, sat on the couch alone, and put his head in his hands … He didn’t move until it was time for the show.”[218] Minutes after taking the stage he snapped a vulgar response at a woman who had shouted a request for “Foxy Lady”. He then began playing “Earth Blues” before telling the audience: “That’s what happens when earth fucks with space”.[218] Moments later, he briefly sat down on the drum riser before leaving the stage.[219] Both Miles and Redding later stated that Jeffery had given Hendrix LSD before the performance.[220] Miles believed that Jeffery gave Hendrix the drugs in an effort to sabotage the current band and bring about the return of the original Experience lineup.[219] Jeffery fired Miles after the show and Cox quit, ending the Band of Gypsys.[221]

Cry of Love Tour

Main article: The Cry of Love Tour

Soon after the abruptly ended Band of Gypsys performance and their subsequent dissolution, Jeffery made arrangements to reunite the original Experience line-up.[222] Although Hendrix, Mitchell, and Redding were interviewed by Rolling Stone in February 1970 as a united group, Hendrix never intended to work with Redding.[223] When Redding returned to New York in anticipation of rehearsals with a reformed Experience, he was told that he had been replaced with Cox.[224] During an interview with Rolling Stone‘s Keith Altham, Hendrix defended the decision: “It’s nothing personal against Noel, but we finished what we were doing with the Experience and Billy’s style of playing suits the new group better.”[222] Although the lineup of Hendrix, Mitchell, and Cox became known as the Cry of Love band, after their accompanying tour, billing, advertisements, and tickets were printed with the New Jimi Hendrix Experience or occasionally just Jimi Hendrix.[225]

During the first half of 1970, Hendrix sporadically worked on material for what would have been his next LP.[216] Many of the tracks were posthumously released in 1971 as The Cry of Love.[226] He had started writing songs for the album in 1968, but in April 1970 he told Keith Altham that the project had been abandoned.[216] Soon afterward, he and his band took a break from recording and began the Cry of Love tour at the L.A. Forum, performing for 20,000 people.[227] Set-lists during the tour included numerous Experience tracks as well as a selection of newer material.[227] Several shows were recorded, and they produced some of Hendrix’s most memorable live performances. At one of them, the second Atlanta International Pop Festival, on July 4, he played to the largest American audience of his career.[228] According to authors Scott Schinder and Andy Schwartz, as many as 500,000 people attended the concert.[228] On July 17, they appeared at the New York Pop Festival; Hendrix had again consumed too many drugs before the show, and the set was considered a disaster.[229] The American leg of the tour, which included 32 performances, ended at Honolulu, Hawaii, on August 1, 1970.[230] This would be Hendrix’s final concert appearance in the US.[231]

Electric Lady Studios

Main article: Electric Lady Studios

In 1968, Hendrix and Jeffery jointly invested in the purchase of the Generation Club in Greenwich Village.[175] They had initially planned to reopen the establishment, but after an audit revealed that Hendrix had incurred exorbitant fees by block-booking lengthy sessions at peak rates they decided that the building would better serve them as a recording studio.[232] With a facility of his own, Hendrix could work as much as he wanted while also reducing his recording expenditures, which had reached a reported $300,000 annually.[233] Architect and acoustician John Storyk designed Electric Lady Studios for Hendrix, who requested that they avoid right angles where possible. With round windows, an ambient lighting machine, and a psychedelic mural, Storyk wanted the studio to have a relaxing environment that would encourage Hendrix’s creativity.[233] The project took twice as long as planned and cost twice as much as Hendrix and Jeffery had budgeted, with their total investment estimated at $1 million.[234][nb 33] Electric Lady was the first artist owned and operated recording studio.[234]

Hendrix first used Electric Lady on June 15, 1970, when he jammed with Steve Winwood and Chris Wood of Traffic; the next day, he recorded his first track there, “Night Bird Flying”.[235] The studio officially opened for business on August 25, and a grand opening party was held the following day.[235] Immediately afterwards, Hendrix left for England; he never returned to the States.[236] He boarded an Air India flight for London with Cox, joining Mitchell for a performance as the headlining act of the Isle of Wight Festival.[237]

European tour

When the European leg of the Cry of Love tour began, Hendrix was longing for his new studio and creative outlet, and was not eager to fulfill the commitment. On September 2, 1970, he abandoned a performance in Aarhus after three songs, stating: “I’ve been dead a long time”.[238] Four days later, he gave his final concert appearance, at the Isle of Fehmarn Festival in Germany.[239] He was met with booing and jeering from fans in response to his cancellation of a show slated for the end of the previous night’s bill due to torrential rain and risk of electrocution.[240][nb 34] Immediately following the festival, Hendrix, Mitchell, and Cox travelled to London.[242]

Three days after the performance, Cox, who was suffering from severe paranoia after either taking LSD or being given it unknowingly, quit the tour and went to stay with his parents in Pennsylvania.[243] Within days of Hendrix’s arrival in England, he had spoken with Chas Chandler, Alan Douglas, and others about leaving his manager, Michael Jeffery.[244] On September 16, Hendrix performed in public for the last time during an informal jam at Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club in Soho with Eric Burdon and his latest band, War.[245] They began by playing a few of their recent hits, and after a brief intermission Hendrix joined them during “Mother Earth” and “Tobacco Road”. His performance was uncharacteristically subdued; he quietly played backing guitar, and refrained from the histrionics that people had come to expect from him.[246] He died less than 48 hours later.[247]

Death, post-mortem, and burial

Main article: Death of Jimi Hendrix
A color photograph of a white, multi-story building.

The Samarkand Hotel, where Hendrix spent his final hours

Although the details of Hendrix’s last day and death are widely disputed, he spent much of September 17, 1970, in London with Monika Dannemann, the only witness to his final hours.[248] Dannemann said that she prepared a meal for them at her apartment in the Samarkand Hotel, 22 Lansdowne Crescent, Notting Hill, sometime around 11 p.m., when they shared a bottle of wine.[249] She drove Hendrix to the residence of an acquaintance at approximately 1:45 a.m., where he remained for about an hour before she picked him up and drove them back to her flat at 3 a.m.[250] Dannemann said they talked until around 7 a.m., when they went to sleep. She awoke around 11 a.m., and found Hendrix breathing, but unconscious and unresponsive. She called for an ambulance at 11:18 a.m.; they arrived on the scene at 11:27 a.m.[251] Paramedics then transported Hendrix to St Mary Abbot’s Hospital where Dr. John Bannister pronounced him dead at 12:45 p.m. on September 18, 1970.[252]

To determine the cause of death, coroner Gavin Thurston ordered a post-mortem examination on Hendrix’s body, which was performed on September 21 by Professor Robert Donald Teare, a forensic pathologist.[253] Thurston completed the inquest on September 28, and concluded that Hendrix aspirated his own vomit and died of asphyxia while intoxicated with barbiturates.[254] Citing “insufficient evidence of the circumstances”, he declared an open verdict.[255] Dannemann later revealed that Hendrix had taken nine of her prescribed Vesparax sleeping tablets, 18 times the recommended dosage.[256]

After Hendrix’s body had been embalmed by Desmond Henley,[257] it was flown to Seattle, Washington, on September 29, 1970.[258] After a service at Dunlop Baptist Church on October 1, he was interred at Greenwood Cemetery in Renton, Washington, the location of his mother’s gravesite.[259] Hendrix’s family and friends traveled in twenty-four limousines and more than two hundred people attended the funeral, including several notable musicians such as original Experience members Mitch Mitchell and Noel Redding, as well as Miles Davis, John Hammond, and Johnny Winter.[260][nb 35]

Drugs and alcohol

In July 1962, after Hendrix was discharged from the US Army, he entered a small club in Clarksville, Tennessee. Drawn-in by live music, he stopped for a drink and ended up spending most of the $400 he had saved. He explained: “I went in this jazz joint and had a drink. I liked it and I stayed. People tell me I get foolish, good-natured sometimes. Anyway, I guess I felt real benevolent that day. I must have been handing out bills to anyone that asked me. I came out of that place with sixteen dollars left.”[262] According to the authors Steven Roby and Brad Schreiber: “Alcohol would later be the scourge of his existence, driving him to fits of pique, even rare bursts of atypical, physical violence.”[263]

Like most acid-heads, Jimi had visions and he wanted to create music to express what he saw. He would try to explain this to people, but it didn’t make sense because it was not linked to reality in any way.[264]

While Roby and Schreiber assert that Hendrix first experimented with LSD when he met Linda Keith in late 1966, according to the authors Harry Shapiro and Caesar Glebbeek, the earliest that Hendrix is known to have ingested the drug was in June 1967, while attending the Monterey Pop Festival.[265] According to Hendrix biographer Charles Cross, the subject of drugs came up one evening in 1966 at Keith’s New York apartment; when one of Keith’s friends offered Hendrix acid, which is the street name for lysergic acid diethylamide, Hendrix declined, asking instead for LSD, showing what Cross described as “his naivete and his complete inexperience with psychedelics”.[266] Before that, Hendrix had only sporadically used drugs, his experimentation was significantly limited by his dire financial circumstances to cannabis, hashish, amphetamines, and occasionally cocaine.[266] After 1967, he regularly smoked cannabis and hashish, and used LSD and amphetamines, particularly while touring.[267] According to Cross, by the time of his death in September 1970, “few stars were as closely associated with the drug culture as Jimi.”[268]

Substance abuse and violence

Hendrix would often become angry and violent when he drank too much alcohol, or when he mixed alcohol with illicit drugs.[269] His friend Herbie Worthington explained: “You wouldn’t expect somebody with that kind of love to be that violent … He just couldn’t drink … he simply turned into a bastard.”[270] According to journalist and friend Sharon Lawrence, Hendrix “admitted he could not handle hard liquor, which set off a bottled-up anger, a destructive fury he almost never displayed otherwise.”[271]

In January 1968, the Experience travelled to Sweden for a one-week tour of Europe. During the early morning hours of the first day, Hendrix became engaged in a drunken brawl in the Hotel Opalen, in Gothenburg, smashing a plate-glass window and injuring his right hand, for which he received medical treatment.[270] The incident culminated in his arrest and release, pending a court appearance that resulted in a large fine.[272] After the 1969 burglary of a house Hendrix was renting in Benedict Canyon, California, and while he was under the influence of drugs and alcohol, he punched his friend Paul Caruso and accused him of the theft. He then chased Caruso away from the residence while throwing stones at him.[273] A few days later, one of Hendrix’s girlfriends, Carmen Borrero, required stitches after he hit her above her eye with a vodka bottle during a drunken, jealous rage.[270]

Canadian drug charges and trial

On May 3, 1969, while Hendrix was passing through customs at Toronto International Airport, authorities detained him after finding a small amount of what they suspected to be heroin and hashish in his luggage.[274] Four hours later, he was formally charged with drug possession and released on $10,000 bail. He was required to return on May 5 for an arraignment hearing.[275] The incident proved stressful for Hendrix, and it weighed heavily on his mind during the seven months that he awaited trial.[274]

In order for the Crown to prove possession they had to show that Hendrix knew the drugs were there.[276] During the jury trial, which took place in December, he testified that a fan had given him a vial of what he thought was legal medication, which he put in his bag without knowledge of the illegal substances contained therein.[277] He was acquitted of the charges.[278] Both Mitchell and Redding later revealed that everyone had been warned about a planned drug bust the day before flying to Toronto; both men also stated that they believed that the drugs had been planted in Hendrix’s bag.[279]

Unauthorized and posthumous releases

By 1967, as Hendrix was gaining in popularity, many of his pre-Experience recordings were marketed to an unsuspecting public as Jimi Hendrix albums, sometimes with misleading later images of Hendrix.[280] The recordings, which came under the control of producer Ed Chalpin of PPX, with whom Hendrix had signed a recording contract in 1965, were often re-mixed between their repeated reissues, and licensed to record companies such as Decca and Capitol.[281] Hendrix publicly denounced the releases, describing them as “malicious” and “greatly inferior”, stating: “At PPX, we spent on average about one hour recording a song. Today I spend at least twelve hours on each song.”[282] These unauthorized releases have long constituted a substantial part of his recording catalogue, amounting to hundreds of albums.[283]

Some of Hendrix’s unfinished material was released as the 1971 title The Cry of Love.[226] Although the album reached number three in the US and number two in the UK, producers Mitchell and Kramer later complained that they were unable to make use of all the available songs because some tracks were used for 1971’s Rainbow Bridge; still others were issued on 1972’s War Heroes.[284] Material from The Cry of Love was re-released in 1997 as First Rays of the New Rising Sun, along with the other tracks that Mitchell and Kramer had wanted to include.[285][nb 36]

In 1993, MCA Records delayed a multi-million dollar sale of Hendrix’s publishing copyrights because Al Hendrix was unhappy about the arrangement.[287] He acknowledged that he had sold distribution rights to a foreign corporation in 1974, but stated that it did not include copyrights and argued that he had retained veto power of the sale of the catalogue.[287] Under a settlement reached in July 1995, Al Hendrix prevailed in his legal battle and regained control of his son’s song and image rights.[288] He subsequently licensed the recordings to MCA through the family-run company Experience Hendrix LLC, formed in 1995.[289] In August 2009, Experience Hendrix announced that it had entered a new licensing agreement with Sony Music Entertainment‘s Legacy Recordings division which would take effect in 2010.[290] Legacy and Experience Hendrix launched the 2010 Jimi Hendrix Catalog Project, starting with the release of Valleys of Neptune in March of that year.[291] In the months before his death, Hendrix recorded demos for a concept album tentatively titled Black Gold, which are now in the possession of Experience Hendrix LLC; as of 2013 no official release date has been announced.[292][nb 37]


Guitars and amplifiers

The Fender Stratocaster Hendrix played at Woodstock
Hendrix’s Gibson Flying V guitar

Hendrix played a variety of guitars throughout his career, but the instrument that became most associated with him was the Fender Stratocaster.[294] He acquired his first Stratocaster in 1966, when a girlfriend loaned him enough money to purchase a used one that had been built around 1964.[295] He thereafter used the model prevalently during performances and recordings.[296] In 1967, he described the instrument as “the best all-around guitar for the stuff we’re doing”; he praised its “bright treble and deep bass sounds”.[297]

With few exceptions, Hendrix played right-handed guitars that were turned upside down and restrung for left-hand playing.[298] This had an important effect on the sound of his guitar; because of the slant of the bridge pickup, his lowest string had a brighter sound while his highest string had a darker sound, which was the opposite of the Stratocaster’s intended design.[299] In addition to Stratocasters, Hendrix also used Fender Jazzmasters, Duosonics, two different Gibson Flying Vs, a Gibson Les Paul, three Gibson SGs, a Gretsch Corvette, and a Fender Jaguar.[300] He used a white Gibson SG Custom for his performances on The Dick Cavett Show in September 1969, and a black Gibson Flying V during the Isle of Wight festival in 1970.[301][nb 38]

During 1965 and 1966, while Hendrix was playing back-up for soul and R&B acts in the US, he used an 85-watt Fender Twin Reverb amplifier.[303] When Chandler brought Hendrix to England in October 1966, he supplied him with 30-watt Burns amps, which Hendrix thought were too small for his needs.[304][nb 39] After an early London gig when he was unable to use his preferred Fender Twin, he asked about the Marshall amps that he had noticed other groups using.[304] Years earlier, Mitch Mitchell had taken drum lessons from the amp builder, Jim Marshall, and he introduced Hendrix to Marshall.[305] At their initial meeting, Hendrix bought four speaker cabinets and three 100-watt Super Lead amplifiers; he would grow accustomed to using all three in unison.[304] The equipment arrived on October 11, 1966, and the Experience used the new gear during their first tour.[304] Marshall amps were well-suited for Hendrix’s needs, and they were paramount in the evolution of his heavily overdriven sound, enabling him to master the use of feedback as a musical effect, creating what author Paul Trynka described as a “definitive vocabulary for rock guitar”.[306] Hendrix usually turned all of the amplifier’s control knobs to the maximum level, which became known as the Hendrix setting.[307] During the four years prior to his death, he purchased between 50 and 100 Marshall amplifiers.[308] Jim Marshall said that he was “the greatest ambassador” his company ever had.[309]


A 1968 King Vox-Wah pedal similar to one that was owned by Hendrix[310]

One of Hendrix’s signature effects was the wah-wah pedal, which he first heard used with an electric guitar in Cream’s “Tales of Brave Ulysses“, released in May 1967.[311] In July of that year, while playing gigs at the Scene club in New York City, Hendrix met Frank Zappa, whose band, the Mothers of Invention were performing at the adjacent Garrick Theater. Hendrix was fascinated by Zappa’s application of the pedal, and he experimented with one later that evening.[312][nb 40] He used a wah pedal during the opening to “Voodoo Child (Slight Return)“, creating one of the best-known wah-wah riffs of the classic rock era.[314] He can also be heard using the effect on “Up from the Skies“, “Little Miss Lover”, and “Still Raining, Still Dreaming”.[313]

Hendrix consistently used a Dallas Arbiter Fuzz Face and a Vox wah pedal during recording sessions and live performances, but he also experimented with other guitar effects.[315] He enjoyed a fruitful long-term collaboration with electronics enthusiast Roger Mayer, whom he once called “the secret” of his sound.[316] Mayer introduced him to the Octavia, an octave doubling effect pedal, in December 1966, and he first recorded with the effect during the guitar solo to “Purple Haze”.[317]

Hendrix also utilized the Uni-Vibe, which was designed to simulate the modulation effects of a rotating Leslie speaker by providing a rich phasing sound that could be manipulated with a speed control pedal. He can be heard using the effect during his performance at Woodstock and on the Band of Gypsys track “Machine Gun”, which prominently features the Uni-vibe along with an Octavia and a Fuzz Face.[318] His signal flow for live performance involved first plugging his guitar into a wah-wah pedal, then connecting the wah-wah pedal to a Fuzz Face, which was then linked to a Uni-Vibe, before connecting to a Marshall amplifier.[319]


As an adolescent during the 1950s, Hendrix became interested in rock and roll artists such as Elvis Presley, Little Richard, and Chuck Berry.[320] In 1968, he told Guitar Player magazine that electric blues artists Muddy Waters, Elmore James, and B.B. King inspired him during the beginning of his career; he also cited Eddie Cochran as an early influence.[321] Of Muddy Waters, the first electric guitarist of which Hendrix became aware, he said: “I heard one of his records when I was a little boy and it scared me to death because I heard all of these sounds.”[322] In 1970, he told Rolling Stone that he was a fan of western swing artist Bob Wills and while he lived in Nashville, the television show the Grand Ole Opry.[323]

I don’t happen to know much about jazz. I know that most of those cats are playing nothing but blues, though—I know that much. [324]

—Hendrix on jazz music

Cox stated that during their time serving in the US military he and Hendrix primarily listened to southern blues artists such as Jimmy Reed and Albert King. According to Cox, “King was a very, very powerful influence”.[321] Howlin’ Wolf also inspired Hendrix, who performed Wolf’s “Killing Floor” as the opening song of his US debut at the Monterey Pop Festival.[325] The influence of soul artist Curtis Mayfield can be heard in Hendrix’s guitar playing, and the influence of Bob Dylan can be heard in Hendrix’s songwriting; he was known to play Dylan’s records repeatedly, particularly Highway 61 Revisited and Blonde on Blonde.[326]


He changed everything. What don’t we owe Jimi Hendrix? For his monumental rebooting of guitar culture “standards of tone”, technique, gear, signal processing, rhythm playing, soloing, stage presence, chord voicings, charisma, fashion, and composition? … He is guitar hero number one.[327]

Guitar Player magazine, May 2012

The Experience’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame biography states: “Jimi Hendrix was arguably the greatest instrumentalist in the history of rock music. Hendrix expanded the range and vocabulary of the electric guitar into areas no musician had ever ventured before. His boundless drive, technical ability and creative application of such effects as wah-wah and distortion forever transformed the sound of rock and roll.”[328] Musicologist Andy Aledort described Hendrix as “one of the most creative” and “influential musicians that has ever lived”.[329] Music journalist Chuck Philips wrote: “In a field almost exclusively populated by white musicians, Hendrix has served as a role model for a cadre of young black rockers. His achievement was to reclaim title to a musical form pioneered by black innovators like Little Richard and Chuck Berry in the 1950s.”[330]

Hendrix favored overdriven amplifiers with high volume and gain.[106] He was instrumental in developing the previously undesirable technique of guitar amplifier feedback, and helped to popularize use of the wah-wah pedal in mainstream rock.[331] He rejected the standard barre chord fretting technique used by most guitarists in favor of fretting the low 6th string root notes with his thumb.[332] He applied this technique during the beginning bars of “Little Wing“, which allowed him to sustain the root note of chords while also playing melody. This method has been described as piano style, with the thumb playing what a pianist’s left hand would play and the other fingers playing melody as a right hand.[333] Having spent several years fronting a trio, he developed an ability to play rhythm chords and lead lines together, giving the audio impression that more than one guitarist was performing.[334][nb 41] He was the first artist to incorporate stereophonic phasing effects in rock music recordings.[337] Holly George-Warren of Rolling Stone commented: “Hendrix pioneered the use of the instrument as an electronic sound source. Players before him had experimented with feedback and distortion, but Hendrix turned those effects and others into a controlled, fluid vocabulary every bit as personal as the blues with which he began.”[2][nb 42] Aledort wrote: “In rock guitar, there are but two eras—before Hendrix and after Hendrix.

While creating his unique musical voice and guitar style, Hendrix synthesized diverse genres, including blues, R&B, soul, British rock, American folk music, 1950s rock and roll, and jazz.[339] Musicologist David Moskowitz emphasized the importance of blues music in Hendrix’s playing style, and according to authors Steven Roby and Brad Schreiber, “[He] explored the outer reaches of psychedelic rock“.[340] His influence is evident in a variety of popular music formats, and he has contributed significantly to the development of hard rock, heavy metal, funk, post-punk, and hip hop music.[341] His lasting influence on modern guitar players is difficult to overstate; his techniques and delivery have been abundantly imitated by others.[342] Despite his hectic touring schedule and notorious perfectionism, he was a prolific recording artist who left behind numerous unreleased recordings.[343] More than 40 years after his death, Hendrix remains as popular as ever, with annual album sales exceeding that of any year during his lifetime.[344]

Hendrix has influenced numerous funk and funk rock artists, including Prince, George Clinton, John Frusciante, formerly of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Eddie Hazel of Funkadelic, and Ernie Isley of the Isley Brothers.[345] Hendrix’s influence also extends to many hip hop artists, including De La Soul, A Tribe Called Quest, Digital Underground, Beastie Boys, and Run–D.M.C.[346] Miles Davis was deeply impressed by Hendrix, and he compared Hendrix’s improvisational abilities with those of saxophonist John Coltrane.[347][nb 43] Hendrix influenced blues legend Stevie Ray Vaughan, Metallica‘s Kirk Hammett, instrumental rock guitarist Joe Satriani, and heavy metal virtuoso Yngwie Malmsteen, who said: “[Hendrix] created modern electric playing, without question … He was the first. He started it all. The rest is history.”[349]

Recognition and awards

Hendrix statue outside Dimbola Lodge, Isle of Wight

Hendrix received several prestigious rock music awards during his lifetime and posthumously. In 1967, readers of Melody Maker voted him the Pop Musician of the Year.[350] In 1968, Billboard named him the Artist of the Year and Rolling Stone declared him the Performer of the Year.[350] Also in 1968, the City of Seattle gave him the Keys to the City.[351] Disc & Music Echo newspaper honored him with the World Top Musician of 1969 and in 1970, Guitar Player magazine named him the Rock Guitarist of the Year.[352]

Rolling Stone ranked his three non-posthumous studio albums, Are You Experienced (1967), Axis: Bold as Love (1967), and Electric Ladyland (1968) among the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.[353] They ranked Hendrix number one on their list of the 100 greatest guitarists of all time, and number six on their list of the 100 greatest artists of all time.[354] Guitar World’s readers voted six of Hendrix’s solos among the top 100 Greatest Guitar Solos of All Time: “Purple Haze” (70), “The Star-Spangled Banner” (52; from Live at Woodstock), “Machine Gun” (32; from Band of Gypsys), “Little Wing” (18), “Voodoo Child (Slight Return)” (11), and “All Along the Watchtower” (5).[355] Rolling Stone placed seven of his recordings in their list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time: “Purple Haze” (17), “All Along the Watchtower” (47) “Voodoo Child (Slight Return)” (102), “Foxy Lady” (153), “Hey Joe” (201), “Little Wing” (366), and “The Wind Cries Mary” (379).[356] They also included three of Hendrix’s songs in their list of the 100 Greatest Guitar Songs of All Time: “Purple Haze” (2), “Voodoo Child” (12), and “Machine Gun” (49).[357]

A star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame was dedicated to Hendrix on November 14, 1991, at 6627 Hollywood Boulevard.[358] The Jimi Hendrix Experience was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1992, and the UK Music Hall of Fame in 2005.[359] In 1999, readers of Rolling Stone and Guitar World ranked Hendrix among the most important musicians of the 20th century.Error: [360] shortcode requires URL to be set In 2005, his debut album, Are You Experienced, was one of 50 recordings added that year to the United States National Recording Registry in the Library of Congress, “[to] be preserved for all time … [as] part of the nation’s audio legacy”.[361]

The English Heritage blue plaque that identifies his former residence at 23 Brook Street, London, which is one door down from the former residence of George Frideric Handel, was the first the organization ever granted to a pop star.[362] A memorial statue of Hendrix playing a Stratocaster stands near the corner of Broadway and Pine Streets in Seattle. In May 2006, the city renamed a park near its Central District, Jimi Hendrix Park, in his honor.[363] In 2012, an official historic marker was erected on the site of the July 1970 Second Atlanta International Pop Festival near Byron, Georgia. The marker text reads, in part: “Over thirty musical acts performed, including rock icon Jimi Hendrix playing to the largest American audience of his career.”[364]

Hendrix’s music has received a number of Hall of Fame Grammy awards, starting with a Lifetime Achievement Award in 1992, followed by two Grammys in 1999 for his albums Are You Experienced and Electric Ladyland; Axis: Bold as Love received a Grammy in 2006.[365][366] In 2000, he received a Hall of Fame Grammy award for his original composition, “Purple Haze”, and in 2001 for his recording of Dylan’s “All Along the Watchtower”. Hendrix’s rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner” was honored with a Grammy in 2009.[365]


The Jimi Hendrix Experience
Jimi Hendrix/Band of Gypsys
Posthumous albums