In July 1970 Jimi Hendrix played one of the strangest concerts of his career: on the side of a volcano in Maui. The story behind that gig is the subject of a new documentary Music, Money, Madness … Jimi Hendrix in Maui, which arrives on November 20th alongside the double album Live in Maui. Order your copies here.
Jimi Hendrix may have released just three studio albums before his untimely death on September 18th, 1970 — Are You Experienced, Axis: Bold as Love and Electric Ladyland — but it's impossible to overstate the guitarist's impact on popular heavy music. His otherworldly musical alchemy broke boundaries and inspired generations of musicians — everyone from Kirk Hammett and Buzz Osborne to Zakk Wylde and Lemmy Kilmister have sung his praises.
Tim Henson, guitarist of Texas prog-metal smart-asses Polyphia, counts himself among these Hendrix acolytes. We talked to the young shredder about how Hendrix impacted his early musical development, and gave Henson the confidence to create his 6th-grade alter ego "Timi Hendix."
HOW DID YOU FIRST DISCOVER JIMI HENDRIX'S MUSIC?
TIM HENSON I was 11 years old in the car with my dad and he [played] me "Purple Haze." Prior to this my only knowledge of guitar badassery at the time was Black Sabbath and Toni Iommi, so in comparison I was just blown away. I made my dad teach me "Purple Haze" that weekend. I also developed an interest in marijuana years before I started actually smoking it. [Laughs]
WHAT'S YOUR FAVORITE HENDRIX SONG, AND WHY?
It would be a tie between "Little Wing" and "Voodoo Child (Slight Return)." "Little Wing" because not only is it a fantastic song, but it taught me how to blend lead and rhythm playing, which influenced me to push my own playing into new directions. "Voodoo Child" because listening to it just makes me feel like a badass. Jimi's first lyric is "I stand up next to a mountain, and I chop it down with the edge of my hand." I just picture a mountain sized Hendrix just completely fucking up a mountain. So sick.
WHAT IS THE MOST DIFFICULT, OR INTERESTING, THING ABOUT COVERING A HENDRIX SONG?
The most difficult and interesting thing about attempting to play Hendrix is trying to nail not only the finger tone, but the mojo. Hendrix just had this energy to his playing that even if you were to nail the song note for note, it would likely feel sterile in comparison.
HOW DID JIMI HENDRIX INFLUENCE YOUR CREATIVE DEVELOPMENT AS A MUSICIAN?
In 6th grade I used to call myself Timi Hendrix as a stage name and played solos behind my head and with my teeth and shit, whilst wearing Hendrix T-shirts. Making that video and putting it on a DVD and selling copies to everyone at my middle school that would buy one prepared me for the life that I currently live. I remember all of the teachers at the time would ask us kids: "What college do you want to go to when you're older?" Or "What do you want to be when you grow up?" I answered every time: "I don't want to go to college. I'm going to be a rock star." Regardless of how far or close I am currently to rock stardom, Hendrix gave me that confidence.
DO YOU STILL LISTEN TO HENDRIX REGULARLY?
Sometimes I get high as fuck and listen to Are You Experienced loud as hell in my studio and just think, What would this be like if I heard this for the first time in 1967? Because it fucks now. I can only imagine how much it fucked back then.
JIMI HENDRIX IS WIDELY REGARDED AS ONE OF THE MOST INFLUENTIAL GUITARISTS EVER. WHAT DOES HE MEAN TO YOU?
He is the most iconic guitarist of all time. Forever cemented in history. Something I would also like to achieve one day. I know that sounds ridiculous, but this is me practicing the law of attraction and speaking things into existence