Albert King’s Criticism About Jimi Hendrix

Advertisement

via @Jimi Hendrix / YouTube

Advertisement
Advertisement

It is hardly necessary to introduce Jimi Hendrix. He is regarded as one of the most important rock guitarists of the 20th century and is known for redefining what was possible with the electric guitar. Hendrix may have led a fast-paced lifestyle (his debut album was released in 1967, and he passed away in 1970), but he pioneered a variety of sounds and performance styles that were never, if ever, used in rock music before, culminating in his renowned “The Star-Spangled Banner” performance at Woodstock in 1969.

Advertisement

It would be difficult to think that Hendrix ever looked up to anybody else given how tall he was compared to his peers. He did have a particular guitarist, though, who he particularly admired: Albert King, a significant blues performer.

Hendrix told Rolling Stone,

“I like Albert King. He plays completely and strictly in one way, just straight funk blues. New blues guitar, very young, funky sound which is great. One of the funkiest I’ve heard. He plays it strictly that way so that’s his scene.”

 

Regrettably, King’s criticism of Hendrix’s work was very critical.

Having started playing the guitar in 1953, Albert King represented an older style of playing, yet he nonetheless had a big impact on subsequent guitar generations. Six-string greats like Stevie Ray Vaughan, Joe Walsh, and Eric Clapton have cited King as an influence on their playing. King criticized Jimi Hendrix’s playing despite the fact that Hendrix acknowledged King as an influence.

King once said, as recalled in Far Out Magazine,

Everybody says, ‘Well, he’s a hell of a blues player.’ No way, man. We played many shows together, and that night, I taught him a lesson about the blues. Now I could’ve very easily played his songs, but he couldn’t play mine.”

King disagreed with Hendrix’s method of playing the blues, but he also believed that the theatricality of his stage performances overwhelmed the musical aspect. King told Far Out Magazine that his show had:

“Big tall amplifiers stacked up on one another. He’d punch a button and get some smoke, punch a button and get something else, take his guitar and set it on fire, ram it through his amplifier. But I know what he was leaving out. He was leaving out the basic part of the blues.”

It appears that King got the blues since Hendrix didn’t have them.