Violinist Nigel Kennedy says that “Hendrix should be talked about like the great composers… Serious motherf**kers!”

Nigel Kennedy
(Image credit: Christie Goodwin/Redferns via Getty Images)

Nonconformist violinist Nigel Kennedy has been expanding on his decision to full out of a recent Classic FM concert because he was asked by the organisers to play Vivaldi’s Four Seasons rather than a new interpretation of Jimi Hendrix’s Little Wing,

Having previously said that the request amounted to “musical segregation”, Kennedy has now told The Guardian that he actually took the decision three weeks ago, in a bid to “stand up for the noise makers”.

He argues that “Hendrix should be talked about like the great composers, man... Beethoven. Bach. Duke Ellington. Stravinsky. Jimi is in that line. Serious motherfuckers!” 

Kennedy made his name with his 1989 recording of The Four Seasons, which remains one of the best-selling classical albums of all time. However, he doesn’t place Vivaldi in the same league as Hendrix, calling his music “lighter shit that people can listen to while they’re drinking their coffee.” 

In fact, Kennedy believes that Hendrix’s compositional skills are just as impressive as his guitar-playing exploits: “The songs he wrote and forms he took were very different... more free-flowing structure, loosening of the edges. A groundbreaker.” 

Kennedy says that his own interpretations of the Hendrix oeuvre are “Kind of folk trance symphonic... I’m starting to sound like that fucker from Spinal Tap. ‘It’s a bit Mozart and a bit Bach and I’m going to call it Mach.’”

Nigel Kennedy will release his memoir, Uncensored, and a three-CD boxset of the same name on 4 November.

Ben Rogerson

I’m the Deputy Editor of MusicRadar, having worked on the site since its launch in 2007. I previously spent eight years working on our sister magazine, Computer Music. I’ve been playing the piano, gigging in bands and failing to finish tracks at home for more than 30 years, 24 of which I’ve also spent writing about music and the ever-changing technology used to make it.