Jimi Hendrix: The Forefather of Metal Guitar?

To avoid any misunderstanding, let me make myself clear that my point here is to stress out that Jimi Hendrix's guitar playing was a huge starting point to many Heavy Metal players, and that his playing set foot to many guitar standards commonly used today.

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Jimi Hendrix: The Forefather of Metal Guitar?
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To avoid any misunderstanding, let me make myself clear that my point here is to stress out that Jimi Hendrix's guitar playing was a huge starting point to many Heavy Metal players, and that his playing set foot to many guitar standards commonly used today. That's all! I am in no way saying that he invented Metal. But, there's a big but in here, his music should be considered as one of the proto-metal influences or so. What I'm saying here is that he was one of the most influential guitar players ever.

I know that metal fans distrust, and disdain, Jimi's guitar abilities because of his strong hippy image, and as most of you know, metal grew opposing to all that flower power bs. Believe me, I've been there too. I just couldn't understand how a guy like Saxon's Graham Oliver had Jimi's pic at his guitar, and why so many guitar Metal players worshiped him. But guys, Hendrix belongs to another level.

In his own opinion, Hendrix was a blues guitar player. That's how he saw himself, and that's how he started professionaly playing. He was the backup guitarist to guys like Little Richard and Curtis Knight and the Squires. But sometimes life his its own shifts and England poped up as a valid option to his career in order to stablish himself as a headline guitarist. In England, life put him and Chas Chandler, who was seeking a manager career, in touch. Chandler was the first to strongly believe in his guitar capabilities and provided Jimi the conditions to prove it to the world. Funny that some people used to say that he was an american blues player that brought the american blues to the english blues, and the english blues to the american blues. Got it?

All that said, let's go to some characteristics of his playing that changed guitar playing. In a nutshell, let's resume them in two most important:

1. The technique

Jimi was a guitar aficionado. He just loved the instrument to the point of sleeping with it. Friends tell that it was usual to see him carrying the instrument wherever he used to go. That led him to be a researcher of the instrument, I mean, he spent all the time he had in studio to study how to develop new techniques to the instrument. Pay attention to the name of his band: The Jimi Hendrix Experience. That's what he did a lot: experience. For instance, he was one of the first guitar players that used and abused of the whammy bar and the effects it provides. And he was a pretty fast guitar player. Remember, we are talking about the end of the 1960s. He also shaped the most usual blues chords to fit into what he was playing, it means with lots of overdrive effect. He could combine the chords that worked best with the distortion he applied to his music. By the way, he can't be considered a riff lord, but most of his songs were riff oriented. Does it ring a bell?

2. The effects

Jimi used to play very loud. But very loud, even to today's patterns. He was the first one to understand how to use gain, feedback and distortion on his behalf and to pleasantly control them into his music. No one could do so in the 1960s. Most just thought: 'What the hell is this guy doing?". It was too much noise for that time. He also introduced efficiently to the rock world pedal effects like the wah, the phaser, the chorus, and the delay. Jimi was a guitar player that was able to use a lot of effects. Guys like Tom Morello, Brad Gillis and Andreas Kisser, just to name a few, own him a lot. Not to mention that he used to play a Flying V guitar. Need some more?

Here I listed four videos that can explain musically better everything I wrote. Watch them paying close attention to the guitar lines:

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29 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Metalhead09z
    Hendrix has influenced pretty much every guitar player alive but the forefather of metal is clearly Tony Iommi. Black Sabbath was the heaviest song of its time, Symptom of the Universe was the first thrash metal song as well.  
    skyturnedred
    "What I'm saying here is that he was one of the most influential guitar players ever. " That's quite the controversial opinion.
    cITIzens_EraZed
    I don't think there is much dispute
    pressureproject
    There's plenty of dispute.  It's an opinion.  I can't stand the man or his playing.
    cITIzens_EraZed
    If you don't like his playing that's no problem, I can understand why.  There isn't much of an argument against that statement though, when the only way to quantify influence is peer admiration and world reach.  I'm not really a fan of Brian May but his influence is obvious.
    SFosterS
    Don't care, irrelevant. We are speaking of his influence. Not the man, his actual playing, or your opinion for that matter. He Objectively is one of the most infuential players ever. Better luck in your future trolls lol
    cmvideo
    What metalheads have distrust, or disdain, for Jimi??  I don't know a single one.  ESPECIALLY if you actually play guitar.  Every single player I have ever met has at least recognized the man as an influential icon, if not loving the guy.
    pressureproject
    It's because they're afraid to do so.  I've known lots of metal players since I started playing in '88.  I know maybe one hippy guy that could stand listening to him.  I tried to like him because apparently I was "supposed to".  I couldn't.  His style isn't for everyone.  
    Eifler121
    I disagree. I would say that he has had a blanket influence on all guitar playing, as Eric Clapton and Jimmy Page did. However, metal guitar playing has deviated so far from what Hendrix was interested in and doing that it's only related in the fact that it's all electric guitar. I think this can take the credit from some people, like maybe Eddie Van Halen, whose techniques are primarily used in metal almost exclusively, and that it incorrectly places metal as the rightful progression of that brand of rock and roll.
    cITIzens_EraZed
    Try Listening to 'Spanish Castle Magic', you could imagine not just the guitar tone but the riffs being used in metal bands.
    Eifler121
    I feel like that's hard rock. If someone asked me to play a song that could define Hard Rock, I might show that. Or Manic Depression.
    cITIzens_EraZed
    I think that's where we differ, I would say anything by AC/DC. Songs like 'Here He Comes' have a hard rock sound, but the intro especially has metal vibes. With a lot of his live performances the setup he had would produce some un-earthly sounding distortion giving some of the riffs a very metal sound.
    Spinnerweb
    He certainly pushed people to do new things with the guitar. From all the stuff I've listened to and all I've read about the music of that era, no one had heard anything like the visceral rock guitar we so easily take for granted now until Hendrix came along.
    cITIzens_EraZed
    Hendrix wasn't all rainbows and 'Hey Joe'. The sounds and riffs he could produce were very much on the metal spectrum. Also See 'Mountain'.
    hendrixfreak93
    I can't even finish this article it's so poorly written. Was this proof read at all before it was posted? Jesus
    terranraptor
    the guy's been dead for 47 years and sites like this keep bringing shit like this up.
    dennis.1960
    "shit like this"???  Just because Jimi's been dead for over 4 decades doesn't mean anyone should throw a study of him out the window.  If I can assume you're here because you're a guitar player then you need to spend some time learning the history of the instrument and it's most well known players.  Be a student of the guitar in all it's forms and you'll become a better player  
    JustStayDown90
    With songs like Burn, Stargazer, Stormbringer, and countless others, I'd vote for Blackmore. Regardless of his later change of musical direction.