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© Dieter Klar/dpa/Corbis
“I can remember the first time I heard the chords to Purple Haze. We had an assembly at the high school I went to in Newport News, Virginia. This local band came on and they had Marshall stacks, which I had never seen before. This was in 1967, and I had been playing guitar for two years. Big Marshalls were a real new thing to me. The band played Purple Haze, and those chords just shocked me. Shocked me! Blew my mind.
“After school let out, I had to find out what it was they were playing, and a school friend told me, ‘That was Jimi Hendrix.’ I immediately joined the Columbia Records Club and ordered Are You Experienced, Disraeli Gears – anything that was psychedelic.
“We moved backed to Washington State, and I got to see Jimi Hendrix live – twice. I saw him at the Seattle Center Coliseum and one of his last gigs at the Sick’s Stadium. That last show was in July of 1970, just a couple of months before he passed away.
“Seeing Jimi play was awesome. He brought his whole personality on stage. He literally was a guitar hero. Jimi Hendrix… where did he come from? [laughs] That’s what I first thought when I heard his music. It was all this new stuff that nobody had even thought of before. But what I really liked was the soulfulness of his playing, that wonderful, sweet Curtis Mayfield stuff.
“And there was his rhythm playing. His rhythm guitar playing, to me, was so melodic. He really deserves a lot more recognition for that aspect of his artistry.”