This Month in Music History – May 12, 1968: Jimi Hendrix Drops “Are You Experienced?”

When we start putting together a list of rock and roll gods, it is almost inevitable that Jimi Hendrix is high on the list. He has become the first and last name in the art of guitar playing. With the treasure trove of live material available, fans of the past, present and future have been able to appreciate Hendrix’s technical experience on the guitar. However, with the bulk of that material only recently finding fans’ ears, Hendrix fans had to get their fill of his music from three studio albums Hendrix released in his brief career. It was this month in 1968 – May 12 – that Hendrix dropped his debut album Are You Experienced?

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In terms of duration, Hendrix’s recording career was a  mere blip in the annals of music history. Beginning with Are You Experienced?, released May 12, 1967, Axis: Bold As Love followed on December 1st of that year. Electric Ladyland was the final release of Hendrix’s in his lifetime on October 16, 1968. Amazingly, Jimi Hendrix, rock icon, guitar god, had a recording career that last a mere 17 months.

Are You Experienced? served notice to the music world that the young guitar phenom was legit. Honing his craft down south, Hendrix was able to not only to gain experience playing but also being around older blues musicians as well, learning and incorporating styles, to create a much  more supersonic blues.

As well, the latter 1960s saw major innovations in speakers and speaker systems, especially in England where Hendrix, Jimmy Page, Pete Townshend , and Eric Clapton, among others were chomping at the bit. With the very dexterous left handed Hendrix leading the way, music got louder, very quickly.

Along with bassist Noel Redding and drummer Mitch Mitchell, Hendrix would launch a blues drenched assault on the world of rock music with the release of Are You Experienced?  The album would spur peers such as The Who, Cream and Led Zeppelin. The album, released this month in 1968 – more specifically May 12, 1968 – would help to launch Jimi Hendrix into legend.

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