Corby's Orbit

Corby's Orbit
Listening in All the High Places illustration by John Kricfalusi

Sunday, September 18, 2011

I Wanna Hear And See…. uh, Everything

Up From The Skies

   On this date in 1970, Jimi Hendrix was perhaps murdered, perhaps by his manager, British Intelligence’s MI-5 agent, Michael Jeffreys, who, though listed as a casualty in an airline crash, may still be alive.

   Jimi, though! He brought fresh cascades and categories of primal sound into being, very much based upon the voice of Little Richard, the saxophone of King Curtis, the vernacular of the blues and R&B, and the sound of warplane engines, which he absorbed as a paratrooper at Fort Campbell. (As he jumped, he would later recall, "...once you get out there everything is so quiet, all you hear is the breezes-s-s-s...".

     The first proponent of Marshall amplifiers, which bore his own middle name, he made the whammy bar, feedback and distortion the new language of electric guitars. The conversational quality of his pioneering use of the wah-wah pedal gave him unique proprietry, in rock music, over the prolonged line in improvising paragraphs of music outside of the melodic limits of traditional electric guitar players.

He channeled Bob Dylan’s beat storm-of-consciousness lyrical energy and dressed as a Beatle would. In managing this level of adaptation, he became the first and foremost Afro-American (and Cherokee) in the revolutionary hippie assault on the worldwide military-industrial establishment.

Gentle and perpetually bemused, he avoided political involvement, making private donations to organizations that he felt supported a freer world. However, he was drawn into confrontation with the law over his use of recreational and psychedelic drugs, most notably in Toronto in 1969.

His influence over the cultural activism and artistry of progressive music continues to this day.

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