More than 42 years after his death, Jimi Hendrix remains one of the most revered musicians of all time. As fans celebrate what would have been the legendary guitarist’s 70th birthday on Nov. 27, there is no shortage of tributes to the late rocker.
On Nov. 17, Seattle’s EMP Museum is debuting its “Hear My Train a Comin’: Hendrix Hits London” exhibit, which focuses on the influential period Hendrix spent in the U.K. capital. Hendrix’s brother, Leon, recently released a memoir titled Jimi Hendrix: A Brother’s Story (Thomas Dunne Books, $26), which gives fans an intimate glimpse at Jimi’s life before fame. And All Is by My Side, a Hendrix biopic starring Outkast’s André 3000, is set to hit theaters early next year.
Hendrix’s cross-genre appeal combined with his unrivaled skill (Rolling Stone named him the best guitarist of all time in 2011) undoubtedly contributed to his popularity in the ’60s. As for why Hendrix’s presence remains so heavily felt, experts today credit his singular sound.
“It was unlike anything else around,” says James Henke, vice president of exhibitions and curatorial affairs at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, which has a permanent exhibit dedicated to Hendrix. “To this day, when you hear Hendrix’s music, it still sounds modern and fresh — not like something that was recorded more than 40 years ago.”
And, EMP Museum curator Jacob McMurray adds, losing Hendrix at such a young age allowed him to remain permanently in his prime.
“Hendrix is frozen in time,” he says. “He’s become mythical, godlike.”