One of the most bootlegged artists of all time, guitarist James Marshall "Jimi" Hendrix, recorded just three studio albums (Are You Experienced?, Axis: Bold as Love, and Electric Ladyland) before reportedly choking on his own vomit (the result of a barbiturate overdose, it's speculated) on September 18, 1970.
Judging by the amount of material released posthumously (at least one Hendrix album has come out every year since his death), you'd never guess that Hendrix stopped recording three decades ago. Experience Hendrix, the foundation run by Jimi's sister Janie Hendrix and his father Al Hendrix (who won a legal battle five years ago over rights to Jimi's music), has reissued his studio albums, put out two videos/DVDs, issued a "Merry Christmas/Happy New Year" single, and made live albums from recordings of his famous performances at Woodstock and the Fillmore. Dagger Records has also put out live albums from tapes of his shows at the Oakland Coliseum and Clark University, and countless other labels -- some legit, some not -- have had a hand in creating a veritable maze of duplicate reissues and live material.
The latest release, The Jimi Hendrix Experience, is a four-CD boxed set of 56 previously unreleased songs culled from studio sessions and live performances. Packaged in a purple velvet box and accompanied by an 80-page booklet, Experience will make its way into record stores on September 12, and the next day, an exhibit that the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum and Experience Hendrix have collaborated upon will open at the Rock Hall.
Hendrix's legacy is undeniable -- he's influenced everyone from alternative rockers such as the Red Hot Chili Peppers (who used to conclude their shows with a funkified version of Hendrix's "Fire," for which they would arrive onstage wearing nothing but strategically placed socks) to the avant-garde Kronos Quartet (which does a masterful version of "Purple Haze"). But when will the flow of "new" material end? The live versions of "Hey Joe," "Fire," and "Purple Haze," and the alternate outtakes of "Purple Haze," "The Wind Cries Mary," and "All Along the Watchtower" -- some of which are from the collection of Hendrix's manager, the late Chas Chandler -- don't justify this extensive collection, which will retail for $69.97. You can hear Hendrix's songs only so many times and have them still sound fresh.
With its exhibit -- an extension of the Hendrix exhibit that toured the country in a bus last year -- the Rock Hall has done what it can to bring Hendrix back to life. They've got him in a 3-D film that features clips at the Isle of Wight and footage of his famous rendition of "The Star-Spangled Banner." The Rock Hall will also display the couch Hendrix used to sleep on, the guitars he used to play, and a collection of his drawings that his father owned.
"The one thing is that his music has remained fresh over all these years," explains Jim Henke, vice president of exhibitions and curatorial affairs at the Rock Hall. "He's one of the handful of artists who are rediscovered by each generation, in part because of his whole image. He was so different from everyone else. People have tried to copy him, and I don't know that anyone has surpassed him. What he did must have sounded radical at the time."
The Hendrix Experience opens at the Rock Hall on September 13. For more information, call 888-764-ROCK.
Aside from rubber, Akron's best-known export is Devo, the arty new-wave group that made computer nerds cool, at least for one hot minute in the '70s. (We have to admit that the band's spot appearances on the 1996 Lollapalooza tour were one of that year's highlights.) The band's legacy will be honored in Cleveland on September 16 at the A.C.E. Headquarters (712 East 185th Street) with Devotional 2000 -- Day of Atonement, an event organized by Devo fanatic Michael Pilmer, marketing director at Alienskin, a software company in North Carolina.
"I met them in 1993 and have been friends with them since," says Pilmer, who admits to collecting Devo paraphernalia as wide-ranging as canceled credit cards, old socks, and traffic tickets. "I have a huge Devo collection. I'm a completist who has to have every pressing of every album. It's sick."
Devo singer Mark Mothersbaugh's father will be there to reprise his role as General Boy, the uniformed misfit who appeared in the band's videos, and scheduled activities include tours of Akron, the screening of Devo videos, a Devo slide show, and a crazed rant courtesy of the Reverend Ivan Stang, head of the Church of the Subgenius. Doors open at 10 a.m., and tickets are $20, but must be purchased in advance from Pilmer, who says the best way to contact him is via e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org).
"It's going to be nice for real hardcore fans," Pilmer maintains, adding that there's a "possibility" he will sell tickets the day of the event. "There's going to be a lot of geeks there -- a lot of overweight white guys, I'm sure. I'm going to be high the whole time, so I can deal with it."