There’s one question that always breaks Janie Hendrix’s heart. As overseer of Jimi Hendrix’s estate, the legendary guitarist’s younger stepsister occasionally meets young fans, usually less than 10 years old, who “want to know when Jimi is going to be in town again,” she says. A testament that more than 40 years after his death, Hendrix’s music remains very much alive to new generations.
That is due to Experience Hendrix, run by Janie (CEO) and John McDermott (catalog director), which works to preserve and expand Hendrix’s legacy. Last year, in conjunction with Sony Legacy Recordings, Experience Hendrix launched the Jimi Hendrix Catalog Project, an extensive reissue campaign.
The 10-year endeavour released its fourth wave this fall: a quartet of titles that focus on Hendrix’s near-mythical prowess as an electrifying live performer, including a four-CD or eight-LP set that captures the Jimi Hendrix Experience’s six standout shows in October 1968 at San Francisco’s Winterland Ballroom. The new batch also includes long-out-of-print Hendrix in the West, as well as Blue Wild Angel: Jimi Hendrix at the Isle of Wight, a DVD of Hendrix’s historic appearance at the August 1970 festival. Rounding out the foursome is the Jimi Hendrix: The Dick Cavett Show DVD, featuring a playful, lighthearted Hendrix bantering with the talk-show host. The set, which includes new interviews with Cavett, gives fans revealing insight into Hendrix’s personality.
Eddie Kramer, who engineered all of Hendrix’s studio albums, considers Hendrix “the greatest guitar player of all time,” and is especially fond of the Winterland set. “For me to go back in and remix this material was a joy because I got to hear Jimi in this state of excitement … The shows are so vibrant and so full of power, it’s scary at times,” he says.Kramer says Hendrix simply operated on a different frequency than most mere mortals: “He could walk down the street and hear a garbage truck and some trash cans crashing and make it into a song.”
In another effort to keep Hendrix’s music alive, his estate produces the Experience Hendrix tribute tour every year, which features guitarists who follow in his incendiary path. Multiple Grammy Award-winning guitarist Steve Vai, who headlined this year’s tour, says that Hendrix in the West is his touchstone, calling it “probably the Hendrix album I listened to and was inspired by the most as a youth. It’s raw honesty with no excuses.” Once hooked by Hendrix’s music, Vai says he never thought of escape. “When you resonate with the work of a particular artist, you are usually a slave to their offerings for life. It’s a glorious submission.”
Although Hendrix died in 1970 (when Janie was only nine), a trove of Hendrix-related memorabilia is still out there among private collectors. As keeper of the flame, Janie has all of her brother’s music at her fingertips, but she admits that she still gets a thrill when she unexpectedly hears a Hendrix song play. “It always just makes me feel like I’m in the right place at the right time.”
Photo by Chuck Boyd/©Authentic Hendrix, Ilc.