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Hendrix Celebrated in Seattle

Guy, Band of Gypsies play sixtieth birthday gig

Jimi Hendrix, had he not died in 1970 at age twenty-seven, would
have celebrated his sixtieth birthday tomorrow. At Seattle’s
Experience Music Project Sunday night, family, friends, former
mates in the Band of Gypsies and EMP founder Paul Allen got a jump
on the occasion, coming together for a tribute to “the greatest
guitarist that ever lived.”

“Jimi will always be twenty-seven,” said Gypsies bassist Billy
Cox from the stage, capturing the prevailing mood in the colorful
Sky Church. “But we are getting old.”

Legendary bluesman Buddy Guy, whose guitar stylings Hendrix
attempted to emulate when he was starting out, showed up to
headline the event and honor a fellow guitar innovator. Former
Earth, Wind and Fire guitarist Sheldon Reynolds (who is married to
Janie Hendrix, Jimi’s stepsister and president of Experience
Hendrix, which controls his image and music) led a large ensemble
through Hendrix classics like “Hey Joe, “Angel” and “If Six Was 9.”
The Band of Gypsies then ripped through “Freedom,” “Power of Soul”
and “Them Changes,” and became truly inspired when joined by guitar
virtuoso Eric Gales for “Foxy Lady.” The various lineups then
united for “Little Wing” and “Voodoo Child.”

There were plenty of similarities to an actual Hendrix concert:
a massive light show; the emcee imploring the crowd to introduce
themselves to the person next to them; and an audience member
losing consciousness. And, during the show, guitar manufacturer
Fender presented Janie Hendrix with an exact copy of the white
Stratocaster that Hendrix played at Woodstock in 1969 (the original
is part of EMP’s permanent collection).

While the focus was clearly on the music Jimi Hendrix
did create, some couldn’t help but speculate about what he
would be doing today. “He would have expanded himself,” Gypsies
drummer Buddy Miles said. “He was like Beethoven. He could write
for three pieces or for nine or ten . . . Whatever he’d be doing,
it would be funky and greasy.”

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