Rolling Stone sensibly saw fit to re-do the list in 2011 with a panel of great guitarists due to the abuse they took for their
original list in 2003. This updated Top 10 List is based on the Rolling Stone Musicians' Poll in December, 2011. The
panel that voted is listed below our first tribute... to our undisputed #1 guitarist of all-time. Enjoy, Guitar Maniacs!
Jimi Hendrix, born Johnny Allen Hendrix at Seattle's King County
Hospital, was later renamed James Marshall by his father, James "Al"
Hendrix. His father, upon being discharged from the Army in
November 1945, took custody of his son and changed his name to
James Marshall Hendrix in memory of his late brother, Leon Marshall
Hendrix. His mother, Lucille, was only 17 years old when Hendrix was
born. She had a stormy relationship with his father, Al, and eventually
left the family after the couple had two more children together, sons
Leon and Joseph. Hendrix would only see his mother sporadically
before her death in 1958. Music became a sanctuary for Hendrix
He has limited collaborations beyond his Newport Festival appearance with
Buddy Miles, but a rare one was a jam at the Record Plant (1969) in NYC with
John McLaughlin. Check out Jimi's jam with Johnny Winter and Stephan Stills on
Things I Used to Do" from the 'lost recordings', Everyway To Paradise
contained an Interesting instrumental jam as well. Here's a 15 minute 1970
session with Taj Mahal on "Room Full Of Mirrors" and "Highway Of Desire". A
memorable jam with Paul Butterfield and B.B. King from New York's Generation
Club in 1968. Perhaps, his most famous collaboration is from this piece of tape
of Jimi doing "Day Tripper" with John Lennon.
Jimi did covers not because he lacked material, as we found out with the
volume of new material released we never even knew he recorded. He
did specific covers out of respect to the artists that influenced him. He
had profound admiration for Bob Dylan. He demonstrated it by recording
"Like a Rollin' Stone" and "All Along the Watchtower". He covered The
Beatles' "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Heart's Cub Band" out of respect for their
position atop pop culture. (He actually floored Paul McCartney in a live
show in London by playing Sgt. Pepper, live, the day it was released!).
He paid respect to Elvis, the King of Rock-n-Roll playing "Hound Dog" on
an acoustic guitar. Despite Eric Clapton's trepidation about Jimi's growing
popularity, he played Cream's "Sunshine of Your Love" simply because
they were "a groovy band" in his estimation.
- “When the power of love overcomes the love of power, , the world will know peace.”
Self-taught, Jimmy's inability to read music made him concentrate on the music he heard. Whether he played his Gibson
SG or his Fender Strat, played the funky blues, or did a jazz fusion solo as in "Born Under a Bad Sign", made love to his
Flying V like in Hawaii on "Pali Gap" and "Villanova Junction 12", did his balls-to-the-wall version of "Stray Blues", or just
wailed on his Black Strat in a stream of consciousness , his skill and creativity blew us away! Some other epic
performances include "Stone Free", "Hey Baby", , "Hear My Train A Comin'" and "Message of Love".
Jimi made a triumphant return to the US at the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival with an
introduction by a big Hendrix fan, Brian Jones, of the Rolling Stones. What followed
was an amazing set that included "Wind Cries Mary", "Killing Floor", "Rock Me Baby"
and the flaming finale (see first profile picture), an 8 minute version of "Wild Thing".
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Are You Experienced (1967)
Axis: Bold as Love (1968)
Electric Ladyland (1968)
Jimi Hendrix Experience
Band of Gypsies (1970)
Monterey Pop Festival (1970)
Isle of Wight ( 1971)
Hendrix in the West (1972)
More Experience (1972)
Woke Up This Morning and Found
Myself Dead (1980)
The Jimi Hendrix Concerts (1982)
Jimi Plays Monterey ( 1986)
Johnny B. Goode (1986)
Band of Gypsys 2 (1986)
Live at Winterland (1987)
Bleeding Heart !994)
BBC Sessions (1994)
Live at the Fillmore East 1999)
Live at Woodstock (1999)
Blue Wild Angel:
Isle of Wight (2002)
Live at Berkeley (2003)
Live at Monterey (2007)
Smash Hits (1968)
Electric Jimi Hendrix (1968)
Sound Track Jimi Hendrix Film (1974)
Jimi Plays Berkeley (1975)
Essential Jimi Hendrix (1978)
Essential Jimi Hendrix Volume 2 (1979)
Stone Free (1981)
The Singles Album (1983)
Kiss the Sky (1984)
Essential Jimi Hendrix Vol. 1 & 2 (1989)
Live & Unreleased:Radio Show
(1989)Cornerstones: 1967-1970 (1990)
Lifelines: The Jimi Hendrix Story (1990)
The Ultimate Experience (1992)
Voodoo Soup (1995)
First Rays of the New Rising Sun (1997)
South Saturn Delta (1997)
Experience Hendrix (1998)
Jimi Hendrix Experience (2000)
Voodoo Child Collection (2001)
The Singles Collection (2003)
Martin Scorsese Presents:
The Blues & Jimi Hendrix (2003)
Astro Man (2003)
West Coast Seattle Boy:Anthology (2010)
Yes, They SaiD It...
- " Eric Clapton was a master guitar player, but Jimi Hendrix was some sort a force of nature..." --- Jack Bruce
As a sonic visionary, he transformed rock-based improvisation into a tangible
language. Jimi pioneered the use of the guitar as an electronic sound
source. Players before Hendrix had experimented with feedback and
distortion, but he turned those effects and others into a controlled, fluid
vocabulary every bit as personal as the torrent of consistently staggering
playing.... all from an impoverished lefty-handed kid from a broken home who
had to take a right-handed Fender Stratocaster and play it upside down,
Nov. 27, 1942 - Sept. 18, 1970
Impoverished and shuffled from house to house as a youth, Jimi
became a big fan of the dark blues music and taught himself to play
guitar as a teenager. At the age of 14, Hendrix saw Elvis Presley
perform. His father bought his first electric guitar for $5 the following
year. He eventually played with two bands - the Rocking Kings and
the Tomcats. In 1959, Hendrix dropped out of school to pursue his
music career and did odd jobs to survive.
Jimi drew his influence from B.B. King, Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf, Buddy Holly and Robert
Johnson. He enlisted in the 101st Airborne Division of the Army in 1959. He managed to find
time for music while in the service forming a band, The King Casuals, on base at Fort Ord,
California .After being medically discharged for a broken ankle after 128 parachute jumps as
a paratrooper, in 1962, he returned to vigorously pursue his music career.
Jimmy James & the Blue Flames
Chandler convinced Hendrix to go to London where he joined forces with Mitch Mitchell and
Noel Redding to create The Jimi Hendrix Experience. They recorded "Hey Joe", a big hit in
the UK and followed with the first Jimi Hendrix Experience album in 1967 containing other
Hendrix instant classics "Purple Haze", "Foxy Lady","Red House", "Fire", "I Don't Live Today"
and, of course the title song, "Are You Experienced?" The album reached #2 in the UK,
behind only The Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. Side note: Want an
eargasm? Vai, Satriani & Eric Johnson's version of "Red House".
Some great footage we found on Jimi include his one hour Stockholm concert
from 1969, this September, 1969 interview from The Dave Cavett's Show and a
subtle version of "Machine Gun" that followed the interview. We found this rare
backstage look at him in Altamont with The Rolling Stones and Jerry
Garcia,and a 90 minute documentary by Warner Brothers including the origin
of Jimi's feedback technique. A great documentary called The Jimi Hendrix
Story: The Man They Made God explores some of the darker aspects of Jimi's
early life for the first time. Yet another story of Jimi's life was told in this
three-part documentary, Jimi Hendrix: The Uncut Story (Parts 1, 2 & 3). which
included the reunion with his father.
If Monterey didn't show the USA Jimi was back with a vengeance, Woodstock sure
did. From"playing with his teeth, to his jazz-fusion "Jam Back ack at the House", to
irritating much of the nation with his wild version of "The Star Spangled Banner",
audiences were blown away by his stage charisma and unprecedented guitar riffs.
People may argue about our Top 10 All-Time list from #'s 2 through 10. But
nobody questions Hendrix as the consensus #1.
Jimi, Mitch & Noel, 1967
By now, Hendrix was approaching the status of a rock god superstar. His second album,
Axis: Bold as Love (1968) was recorded to fulfill the band's contract to produce two
albums in 1967. Noel Redding plays eight string bass on some tracks. But just before the
album was finished, Jimi must have been high and left the master tapes of Side 1 in a
taxi. You'd think some cab driver retired on what he got for them but they were never
found again. Thus, Side 1 had to be mixed again quickly.
After winning a talent contest at Harlem's Apollo Theater, Little Richard recruited Jimi
for his band. Jimi proved too flamboyant even for Little Richard and soon moved on to
the 'chitlin circuit' with Ike & Tina Turner, Sam Cooke, King Curtis (great version of Bo
Diddley's "Mannish Boy" with Curtis in 1964) and the Isley Brothers. Eventually, unable
to find blues gigs with his wild style of playing, Jimi was sleeping in the streets, down on
his luck and playing with a band initially dubbed, The Rainflowers. . It was the perfect
time to be discovered by ex-Animals bass player, Chas Chandler, while playing a 1966
gig, by now as Jimmy James and the Blue Flames at the Greenwich Village Caf Wha?
His last album with The Experience, Electric Ladyland (1968), featured the hit "All Along the Watchtower". It was the only
Hendrix studio album professionally produced under his supervision. It resulted in a falling out with both Chandler as
producer and Noel Redding. Hendrix' studio perfectionism was legendary. He and Mitchell recorded well over 50 takes of
"Gypsy Eyes" over three sessions.
After the Experience disbanded, Jimi formed the Band of Gypsies in late 1969
with old Army buddy, Billy Cox and fusion drummer, Buddy Miles. Despite some
great tunes like "Who Knows" and "Power of Soul", the band met with limited
commercial success. Jimi began working on a new album tentatively named,
First Rays of the New Rising Sun, with Cox and Mitch Mitchell from the
Experience. Unfortunately, Hendrix did not live to complete that project.
The latest CD release from the 'Experience Hendrix', the legacy family
organization that was led by brother, Earl, and now led by Jimi's sister
Janie, is Jimi Hendrix: Live At Berkeley.(The DVD is Jimi Plays
Berkeley). The concert was at the Community Theater in Berkeley,
California, on Memorial Day 1970. Highlights of the new release feature
Jimi spinning out dizzying licks in a ferocious jam on “I Don’t Live Today,”
where he whips his ax behind his dome and keeps chugging without no
loss in his precision playing. There are newly discovered performances
of "Machine Gun" and “VooDoo Chile; Slight Return" that were not part
of the original film.
After his death on September 18, 1970, work began immediately to compile new material for release. Jimi left hundreds
of complete and incomplete takes of songs. It was engineer, Eddie Kramer, and drummer, Mitch Mitchell. who was left to
sort out Jimi's intentions for his next project. The first album released was The Cry of Love (1971), named after the 1970
tour. Along with Rainbow Bridge, this group of songs comprised the majority of what Kramer and Mitchell believed to be
Jimi's next studio project. More official releases followed, including the controversially Alan Douglas-produced 1975
albums Crash Landing and Midnight Lightning.
The Cry of Love (1971)
Rainbow Bridge (1971)
War Heroes (1972)
Loose Ends (1974)
Crash Landing (1975)
Midnight Lightning (1975)
Nine to the Universe (1980)
Radio One (1988)
Valleys of Neptune (2010)
- “Knowledge speaks, but wisdom listens”
- “Don't be reckless with other people's hearts. Don't put up with people who are reckless with yours.”
- "I listen to Jimi Hendrix; I just admire his artistry and creativity as an artist." --- LL Cool J
Jimi's flamboyant style had an iconic effect on everybody from Miles Davis to
Sly Stone and George Clinton to Prince and OutKast. Jimi's suggestive and
theatrical showman tricks were copied by everyone from Rick James and Prince
to Lenny Kravitz and Erykah Badu. From playing the guitar with his teeth and
behind his back to lighting it on fire, his act has been copied but never quite
been equaled. So much has he been emulated that it prompted Hendrix to
make this tongue-in-cheek comment back in the day, “I've been imitated so well
I've heard people copy my mistakes." No one could have copied what Jimi did
on a 12-string, however. Here is a rare studio shoot of "12-String Blues".
His peers respected him. Listen to what Buddy Guy with BB King, Little Richard, Eric Clapton, Robert Plant, Jeff Beck,
Chris Squire, Paul McCartney, Vernon Reid, George Clinton, and Joni Mitchell say about their fondest memories of Jimi.
An interesting tribute comes from Phil Manzanera's new project, Nth Entities. It's a beautiful collection of nine poems by
Anna LeDoes with music composed by Phil. Listen to the selection,"Jimi".
Cuts from various other compilations brought unknown songs like "Cherokee Mist", "Sweet Thing" (believed to be a
session with James Brown's rhythm section), and "Angel" to our attention. This is just some of Jimi's hidden treasures
now made available by the Hendrix Estate.
Trey Anastasio - Phish
Dan Auerbach - The Black Keys
Brian Bell - Weezer
Ritchie Blackmore - Deep Purple
Carl Broemel - My Morning Jacket
James Burton - Elvis Presley
Jerry Cantrell - Alice in Chains
Gary Clark Jr.,
Billy Corgan - Smashing Pumpkins
Steve Cropper - Booker T./ Stax
Dave Davies - The Kinks
Tom DeLonge - Blink-182
Rick Derringer - The McCoys
Luther Dickinson-No. Miss. Allstars
Elliot Easton - The Cars
Don Felder - The Eagles
Kirk Hammett - Metallica
Albert Hammond Jr. - The Strokes
Warren Haynes - Allman Brothers
David Hidalgo - Los Lobos
Jim James - My Morning Jacket
Robby Krieger - The Doors
Jon Landau - Manager
Alex Lifeson - Rush
Nils Lofgren - E Street Band
Mick Mars - Mötley Crüe
Doug Martsch -Built to Spill
J Mascis - Dinosaur Jr.
Brian May - Queen
Mike McCready - Pearl Jam
Roger McGuinn - The Byrds
Scotty Moore - Elvis Presley
Thurston Moore - Sonic Youth
Tom Morello - RATM
Dave Mustaine - Megadeth
Joe Perry - Aerosmith
Vernon Reid - Living Colour Robbie
Robertson - The Band
Rich Robinson - Black Crowes
Kenny Wayne Shepherd
Stephen Stills - CSNY
Andy Summers - The Police
Susan Tedeschi - TTB
Vieux Farka Touré
Derek Trucks- Allman Bros
Eddie Van Halen
Joe Walsh - Eagles
Nancy Wilson - Heart .
The panel that selected the Top 100 All-Genre Guitarists includes Rolling Stone contributing writers and editors
Anthony DeCurtis, David Fricke and Brian Hiatt, author Peter Guralnick, manager Jon Landau, producer Brendan
O’Brien and the following array of guitar heroes::
WHO MADE THIS LIST ANYWAY???
Note: WristRock has chosen to use only the Top 10 as selected by the panel in our Guitar Maniacs' "Top 10 All-Genre
Guitarist" list from the December 8, 2011 Rolling Stone Magazine (Issue #1145). If you are looking for your favorite
guitarist, we suggest going to our Index and reviewing all the individual genre chapters. Chances are you'll find your
favorite in one of them. If you disagree with our choices or feel we overlooked someone, please feel free to use our
feedback form and make your best case. This list is dynamic (meaning we do change it from time to time) and is for
entertainment purposes only. Friendly discussion on who is/was the best anything always prompts discussions and
friendly disagreements. We encourage your participation and will read and comment on all feedback forms that are
emailed to us.
We realize the 'Best of the Best' could easily be in more than one category. Our selections are based on which genre
the artist had the largest influence, most records sold, and/or mentioned most frequently by other guitarists as a major
influence on them. We do not include the same artist in multiple chapters. For example, Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, and
B.B. King all could easily be included in our "Top 10 Blues Guitarists" chapter. However, to avoid redundancy in
biographical information, duplication of videos, and to offer a wider selection of artists, we do not include them in multiple
- "I wish they'd had electric guitars in cotton fields back in the good old days. A whole lot of things
would've been straightened out.".
- "Hendrix still matters for me because he broke the mold...May Jimi continue to be remembered not only as a
meteoric, rocket-fueled guitarist and singer/composer, but also as a groundbreaker and a visionary. Young
players would do well to realize the transcendent import of innovation, Hendrix-style." --- Larry Coryell
- "I always thought he [Hendrix] was the Duke Ellington of the rock world. When he passed at age 27, we lost a
universe of musical ideas. He was the greatest master of the Stratocaster, and he did it so simply and clearly.
His music is a gift." --- Steve Miller
- "Jimi could sound and play like 20 different guitar players on one record. His musical vocabulary was so deep.
Most importantly, he always played with heart and soul." --- Joe Satriani
- "The first thing that got my attention was Jimi’s showmanship—playing with his teeth, behind his back, and
ultimately burning the guitar...He created modern electric playing, without question. Nobody did what he did
before him. He was the first. He started it all. The rest is history." --- Yngwie Malmsteen
- "For me, Jimi always represented independence. Hendrix was an independent thinker and doer, from his
clothes to the way he spoke, the way he played, his lyrics, etc. He did not allow himself to just be part of the
flow. He was a glorious wave that created a river that we all get to bask in." --- Steve Vai
- "In this short period, we got to be moved by Jimi and his playing, and he set a standard I am not sure will ever be
matched. His feel, tones, sounds, solos, production, and rhythm playing are “the standards” for originality,
passion, and fire. It’s hard to believe he was 27 when he passed. He will not be forgotten. Not by me. He was life
changing.." --- Steve Lukather
- "He would play rhythm and melodic parts at the same time. It was like two guitar things happening at once. The
guy could pretty much get any sound that he wanted. He was a magician. If he could hear it in his head, he
could get it." --- Andy Johns, Hendrix producer/Engineer
Time has done nothing to diminish his legacy; in fact, his influence and
popularity has only grown over the years. After 42 years, we still can’t help
but feel cheated out of what could have been. Many guitarists feel cheated
out of what he had to look forward to learn. Most of us are grateful for what
we did learn from him in the short time he was with us.
This was the final interview with Jimi conducted on September 11, 1970, just
seven days before he passed away from a drug overdose which induced fatal
choking on September 18, 1970. His girlfriend, Monika Dannemann, became
alarmed when she was unable to rouse him from sleep. Jimi was pronounced
dead on arrival at St. Mary Abbot's Hospital in London. Ironically, he had left the
message 'I need help, bad man', on his managers answering machine earlier
that night. The message wasn't picked up in time.
Although this colorful musical genius and 'demi-god' died at only 27 years old,
leaving behind only 4 completed albums, The Jimi Hendrix Experience was
inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1992. Noel and Mitch attended,
while Jimi's father accepted the honor on Jimi's behalf. For more rare Jimi
music, visit Jimi's official site maintained by his family and be sure to check out
the Jimi memorabilia. We close our tribute with a tasteful tour of Jimi's final
resting place in his native Renton, Washington, just outside Seattle.
- "When I die, I want people to play my music, go wild, and freak out an' do anything they wanna do."
Now to dispell all the false rumors that surrounded his death...The autopsy
showed Jimi's system contained nine sleeping tablets of Vesparax, small
traces of another barbiturate Seconal, and 20 mg of amphetamine. Contrary
to stories that have evolved since his passing, no needle marks or other signs
of hard drugs were found. In fact, a leading forensic scientist said at the time,
that the dose of sleeping pills was too low to be fatal in itself. The official
cause of death rendered was "inhalation of vomit due to barbiturate
intoxication". He did not O.D. and there was NO heroin involved.
Many of the songs were recording techniques that could only be produced in a studio
environment. As a result, with the exception of "Spanish Castle Magic" and "Little Wing"
(where Jimi plays through a 'Leslie' speaker usually reserved for Hammond organs) the rest
of the tracks were rarely performed live. If you listen to the intricate psychedelic effects on
songs like "If 6 was 9", as used in the film Easy Rider, or "You Got Me Floatin'", with the
swirling, backwards guitar solo, then you can appreciate why he didn't try to reproduce
these live. The song "One Rainy Wish" was impossible for his rhythm section to play live as
it began as a ballad but eventually developed a rock feel during the chorus that is in a
different time signature than the verses.
There are very few tracks available of Jimi's collaborations with other
artists. We did find a couple rare audio tracks however: an "Earth Blues"
jam with Johnny Winter and "Stormy Monday" with Buddy Guy