Forgive me but I’m really reaching here. I’m going to cheat a little and do a very cursory overview of Hendrix’s life, I will not be doing him any justice, and this is a drink recipe, because it’s possible that Jimi Hendrix did not consume solid food.
Today is Jimi Hendrix’s birthday. Had he lived, he would have turned 80 today. I believe his most famous song is “Purple Haze,” maybe closely followed by his rendition of “Star Spangled Banner,” which if you’ve never heard it, you really should. He performed it at Woodstock, where he was the headliner and closing act, and hadn’t slept in three days. Oh, and he also performed it at 8 AM on a Monday morning in front of a much-diminished crowd.
So he was born in Seattle in 1942 and at the age of 19 enlisted in the military. Think about that for a minute. But it was 1961 and presumably his look and persona was quite different. He only lasted a year, and moved to Nashville, where he got some gigs, and then acquired a manager, Chas Chandler, of The Animals. In the same way that the Beatles left Britain for Germany, Hendrix left the US for Britain and did indeed become famous. He and his Chandler-created band, The Jimi Hendrix Experience, appeared on Top of the Pops in 1966 and became a phenomenon. That same year he played the Bag O’Nails nightclub and in the audience were Eric Clapton, Paul McCartney, John Lennon, Pete Townsend, Mick Jagger, and others. Imagine playing for that bunch in 1966, when they were the cream of British rock.
Now he’s getting more and more popular. He played the famous Monterey Pop Festival in 1967, having released his first studio album, Are You Experienced, that year. It was on the UK charts for 33 weeks and peaked at number 2. Still, Americans really didn’t know or like his music, so Paul McCartney got him book at Monterey. Finally we Yanks caught on.
As always happens, the group broke up and Hendrix’s “work habits became more erratic,” to put it tactfully. He put together a new group, mistakenly introduced as The Jimi Hendrix Experience at Woodstock, until Hendrix took the stage and clarified that this new band was Gypsy Sun and Rainbows. It was 1969 and Hendrix was the highest paid entertainer in the world.
But there was trouble in Hendrix-land. Song and album releases kept getting delayed. Tour dates changed and cancelled. Band members coming and going, fights with management. This seems to be the fate of all performers. For all we know Christ did indeed have 12 Apostles but over the course of His ministry they were a rotating cast of half of Galilee by the time of His death. Hendrix’s last performance was a very subdued one at Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club in Soho (London). Less than 48 hours later he was dead, September 18th, 1970, drug overdose, making him a member of The Curse of 27 Club, musicians who died at the age of 27. Jim Morrison, Janis Joplin, Kurt Cobain, and Amy Winehouse also fell victim to The Curse.
On that sobering note, here’s what a Purple Haze cocktail is:
1 1/2 ounces vodka
1/2 ounce black raspberry liqueur
2 ounces cranberry juice, or more to taste
Mint sprig, for garnish
Blackberries, for garnish
Here’s to you, Jimi.