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Podcast: Jimi Hendrix 50 Years Later

There are lots of superbly talented musicians. But most genres have a single focal point: The Beatles and Louis Armstrong are two examples. Jimi Hendrix fills this roll for rock guitar. This podcast takes a look at why.
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There are pivotal musicians in every genre. While others are great, something about this group distinguishes them. It has to do with talent, of course. But it’s also deals with innovation, timing, charisma and other even harder to define qualities.

Louis Armstrong is one such figure. There are other extraordinary talented jazz musicians, of course. Duke Ellington, Charlie Parker, Miles Davis, Ella Fitzgerald and John Coltrane head a long list of musicians whose talent and accomplishments are on par with Armstrong. But there is only one Pops. He was the bridge between the past and the future. It is the same in rock and roll: There were many great bands, but there is only one Beatles.

Hendrix is in that small class. There were great rock/blues guitarists before him, during his brief time, and afterwards. Like Armstrong and The Beatles, what sets Hendrix apart is the mix of ingredients: Talent, innovation — especially in the studio — and charisma. And, perhaps most importantly, the world was ready for great change when Hendrix was ready to provide it.

Hendrix, the first and greatest guitar hero, adds ingredient to the mix, albeit an unfortunate one: He died just when he was getting started. That cements the myth. It’s too bad that we don’t have a 78-year old Hendrix. But legends don’t grow old.

The podcast above is a conversation with my brother Walter. I can attest to the fact that he knows his subject.

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Here’s What’s Here

The Daily Music Break explores every genre of music, from hip hop to opera. It's simple: Boundaries are dumb. It's all good. Here is more about the site and here is our index:

--A Tribe Called Quest to The Dick Hyman Trio (In other words, A to H)

--Indigo Girls to Queen Ida (I to Q)

--Radiohead to ZZ Top (R to Z)

Reading Music

The stories of the great bands and musicians are fascinating. Musicians as a group are brilliant, but often troubled. The combination of creativity and drama makes for great reading.

Here are some books to check out.

Duke Ellington brought class, sophistication and style to jazz which, until that point, was proudly unpolished and raucous. His story is profound. The author, Terry Teachout, also wrote "Pops," the acclaimed bio of Louis Armstrong. Click here or on the image.

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What else is there to say? Here is the story behind every song written by The Beatles. Click here or on the image.

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The Grateful Dead don't get enough credit for the profound nature of its lyrics. Many of the band's songs are driven by a deep and literate Americana ("I'm Uncle Sam/That's who I am/Been hidin' out/In a rock and roll band" and "Majordomo Billy Bojangles/Sit down and have a drink with me/What's this about Alabama/Keeps comin' back to me?").

David Dodd's exhaustive study tells the story, song by song. Click here or on the image.

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