What to Do Tonight: Experience Hendrix

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Billy Cox first met Jimi Hendrix when they were both stationed in the Army. “I played a little bass, and we did some jamming,” recalls Cox. “We were grinning from ear to ear, [so] we formed a group and started booking gigs.” Hendrix was discharged a week before Cox and wound up in Nashville. “He called me and said he was going to Europe,” says Cox. “I said ‘I got three strings on my bass, and I can’t afford to go.’” Hendrix landed in London, where he put together the Experience with bassist Noel Redding and drummer Mitch Mitchell. Even after Hendrix turned rock music on its head with his intense, electrified blues, he never forgot Cox. When things fell apart with Redding, and Hendrix needed a new bass player in 1969, the guitarist’s old friend got the call. Cox went on to play in Hendrix’s Band of Gypsies, the group that was just coming together when Hendrix died in 1970. Hendrix’s music has been reissued countless times over the years, including a brand new campaign overseen by Hendrix’s relatives (the studio albums have already been reissued; more releases are coming later this year). Cox is one of many musicians attached to the Experience Hendrix tour that honors the late guitarist’s legacy. Bluesmen and rockers like Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Joe Satriani and Jonny Lang will perform some of Hendrix’s best-known songs. The tour is “the concert event of the year,” says Cox. “[Hendrix was] a spirit that slips through the portal of time and blows our minds. He came through a portal and gave us music and inspiration.” Cox says there are two kinds of guitarists these days: “One who will admit being influenced by Jimi Hendrix, and one who will not admit to being influenced by Jimi Hendrix. People don’t understand that he was growing. He was never satisfied.” Experience Hendrix plays the Akron Civic Theatre (182 S. Main St., Akron, 330.535.3179, akroncivic.com) at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday. Tickets: $39.50-$85. — Jeff Niesel

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