Generally regarded as the single greatest guitarist to ever live, James Marshall “Jimi” Hendrix passed away too soon as a result of his addiction. After headlining the historic Woodstock Festival in 1969, the 27-year-old sensation suffered an accidental death from barbiturate-related asphyxia on September 18, 1970. According to Jimi’s girlfriend Monika Dannemann, he took nine Vesperax sleeping pills, which is 18 times the recommended dosage. While that amount is certainly grounds for a lethal drug overdose, the famous addict choked to death on his own vomit, which was comprised of mainly red wine.
The Jimi Hendrix Experience
Born in Seattle, Washington, Hendrix first picked up a guitar at age 15. He relocated to Memphis and started playing the chittlin’ circuit. Before long, Jimi was performing back up for the Isley Brothers and Little Richard. Feeling tied down in the States, Jimi relocated to England, where he was discovered in 1966 by Linda Keith. The young vixen got Hendrix hooked up with a band and a manager, Chas Chandler of the Animals.
The Jimi Hendrix Experience then hit the world like a tsunami. Within months, they had three Top Tens in the UK: “Hey Joe,” Purple Haze” and “The Wind Cried, Mary”. Hendrix bulldozed America, lighting up the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967. He did so by utilizing the wah-wah pedal, amplifier feedback, and setting fire to his instrument. So came Jimi’s rock star status, and along with it, his addiction.
Partying Like a Rock Star
Even before he reached global fame, Jimi always partied like a rock star. Following an honorable discharge from the Army, he saved a total of $400. As a result of his addiction, Jimi drank himself stupid at a club on his first night of freedom. Jimi left the venue with no more than $16 to his name. In Steven Roby and Brad Schreiber’s Becoming Jimi Hendrix: From Southern Crossroads to Psychedelic London, “Alcohol would later be the scourge of his existence, driving him to fits of pique, even rare bursts of atypical, physical violence.”
According to the book, Jimi experimented with LSD, even when he was onstage at the Monterey Pop Festival. Dropping acid was a regular occurrence on tour and the famous addict quickly became associated with the hippie drug culture. He also used marijuana, hash, amphetamines, and cocaine regularly. When mixing drugs with alcohol, he would often grow ill-tempered and violent. In fact, Jimi’s addiction led him to drunkenly brawl at his hotel during a 1968 tour through Europe. Not only did the musician injured his right hand, but he was arrested and fined. Regardless, Jimi dismissed the tangible proof that addiction doesn’t pay.
1969 was a rough year for Jimi. The icon met accusations claiming he physically attacked several people. He was under the influence of both drugs and alcohol when he punched his friend Paul Caruso. Similarly, his addiction resulted in his girlfriend, Carmen Borrero, receiving stitches after Hendrix went on a drunken rage and hit her above her eye with a vodka bottle. In addition, Jimi received drug possession charges while traveling through Toronto International Airport.
An Addiction Overdose We Will Never Forget
Since his passing, Hendrix and his psychedelic guitar playing have become legendary. Publication after publication ranks him as the single most talented guitarist to ever pick up an ax. Labeled the “Guitar Event of the Year, Experience Hendrix Tour is presently selling out arenas across the nation. At the show, prodigies such as Buddy Guy, Zakk Wylde, Eric Johnson, Dweezil Zappa, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, and Jimi’s bassist Billy Cox pay tribute to the greatest guitar player of all time.
Hendrix left behind timeless music and influence over music lovers and musicians. How would the world of entertainment be different today if Hendrix had overcome his addiction before that infamous night in 1970? What other mind-blowing instrumentals would the man have played in front of thousands of concertgoers had he received drug and alcohol treatment? Unfortunately, Jimi is just another famous addict who experienced alcohol and drug overdose.