James Marshall “ Jimi” Hendrix was born on November 27, 1942 and died September 18, 1970. Originally named Johnny Allen by his parents Al and Lucille (Jeter), his father changed Jimi’s name to James Marshall. He is renowned as one of rock n’ roll’s best guitarists with a unique left-hand playing style on a right-hand guitar. He was an innovator who—quite literally—electrified audiences with his musical arrangements and lyrics. On the anniversary of his death, you can visit memorials in the Seattle area to remember this music legend.
Brief biography of Jimi Hendrix
Jimi began playing guitar at the age of 16. At 19 years of age, he enlisted in the U.S. Army and was assigned to the 101st Airborne Division. Training as a paratrooper at Fort Campbell in Kentucky, he suffered an ankle injury after his 26th airborne jump. He was honorably discharged in 1962. After leaving the army, Jimi initially played backup for performers such as s Little Richard, B.B. King, Sam Cooke, and the Isley Brothers. A few years later, he formed his own band, “Jimmy James and the Blue Flames” playing in venues in Greenwich Village, New York City.
In 1966, Jimi began performing in England and elsewhere internationally with his newest band, the Jimi Hendrix Experience. His effortless style became admired by many other accomplished musicians, including The Beatles, the Rolling Stones, the Who, and Eric Clapton. Jimi returned to the U.S. in 1967 to play at the Monterey International Pop Festival. His rendition of “Wild Thing” propelled The Jimi Hendrix Experience to the national spotlight.
However, Jimi’s most famous performance came in 1969 when he played the national anthem instrumental at the Woodstock Music & Art Fair (aka Woodstock festival) near the town of Bethel, New York.
Jimi’s Woodstock national anthem performance
On August 18, 1969, Jimi played his then-controversial and now-famous instrumental version of “The Star-Spangled Banner” at the Woodstock festival. His performance has alternatively been considered a moving rendition or an irreverent criticism of America.
Here’s Jimi in a clip from the Dick Cavett talk show that aired on September 9, 1969, about one year before his death. He clearly meant the Woodstock anthem performance as a beautiful tribute, as you can see and hear in this YouTube video:
Jimi’s national anthem was featured in the 1970 documentary “Woodstock” documentary by Bob Maurice. The film won an Academy Award in 1971 for Best Documentary Feature.
José Feliciano’s controversial national anthem
Interestingly, Jimi’s Woodstock anthem came 10 months after José Feliciano’s version at the 1968 World Series with the Detroit Tigers and the St. Louis Cardinals. The 23-year-old Puerto Rican-born musician was selected to play the anthem before the series’ fifth game in Detroit on October 7. José Feliciano’s improvised anthem, accompanied by his soft, lyrical guitar playing was met with few cheers and a lot of boos. The episode had a negative effect on his singing career for many years after. Today, many consider José’s anthem to be a moving tribute and welcome departure from the traditional score. You can listen to Feliciano’s original performance on YouTube:
Jimi Hendrix memorials in Seattle
Listed below are several places in the Seattle-Tacoma metro area where you can find statues, parks, and other memorials to Jimi Hendrix, one of rock n’ rolls greatest musicians.
Jimi Hendrix statue, currently standing on Seattle’s Capitol Hill. You’ll find it on the east side of Broadway just north of Pine St. Privately funded by real-estate developer Mike Malone, founder of Audio Environments, Inc. (now known as AEI Music Network Inc.) who originally had an office around the corner at 900 Pine St. Installed 1997.
Jimi Hendrix plaque at Woodland Park Zoo near the African Savannah Exhibit. The memorial consists of a mosaic of rocks in a flame design with the largest rock containing a bronze sunburst plaque. The inscription is now mostly worn off but read “This viewpoint was funded by worldwide donations to KZOK Radio in the memory of Jimi Hendrix and his music.” Installed in the 1980s.
Jimi Hendrix bust in the Garfield High School library. The bronze bust was sculpted by Jeff Day of Whidbey Island. Donated by Jimi’s family in the 1980s.
Museum of Pop Culture (MoPop) features Jimi Hendrix prominently in the venues and exhibits. The museum’s gift shop also carries many Hendrix-themed items. MoPop’s Sky Church event space is named after a concept from Jimi Hendrix of a place where people from all backgrounds and beliefs could come together through the power of music. The exhibit Wild Blue Angel: Hendrix Abroad, 1966-1970 offers a contemplative look at the period of Hendrix’s life spent on the road as he catapulted to fame and features rare interview clips, artifacts, artwork, photographs, and equipment.
- How to get free and discount museum admission (greaterseattleonthecheap.com)
- Ultimate guide to museums in the Seattle-Tacoma metro area (greaterseattleonthecheap.com)
Greenwood Memorial Park in Renton (350 Monroe Ave NE, 98056) is the location for the Jimi Hendrix memorial & gravestie. Constructed of granite, the large dome is supported by three pillars and stands about 30-feet high on a circular drive in the southwest corner of the cemetery. It is visited by thousands of fans every year. Dedicated in 2003, Jimi’s remains were moved from the original gravesite marked only by a simple tombstone to this memorial befitting a rock n’ roll legend.
Jimi Hendrix Park is located in Seattle’s Central District next to the Northwest African American Museum. It’s near where Jimi Hendrix grew up as a young boy. The park features a grand stairway entrance at the corner of Massachusetts and 25th Avenue South adorned with Jimi’s signature and the “Shadow Wave Wall”, an artistic focal point. The park features paved pathways and a chronological timeline of Jimi’s life and career in a landscape adorned with trees, native plants, benches, colorful central shelter, ADA accessible walkways, rainwater infiltration gardens, and a butterfly garden. The welcoming green space clearly defines its namesake.
But wait, there’s more!
- Our big list of live music venues (all genres).
- Our big list of music festivals in Washington State.
- Here’s a list of 101+ always free things to do for fun.
- More free and cheap things to do every day: Greater Seattle on the Cheap event calendar.
- Still more ideas for frugal fun: Greater Seattle on the Cheap home page.
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