March 5, 2013

Hendrix at 70: New album offers different look

The Associated Press

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Jimi Hendrix: "He was forcing the future into our ears."

AP

"As a songwriter, he had the thing like Billy Gibbons (of ZZ Top) and a few current guys like Dan Auerbach or Jack White," Dickinson said. "They have the ability to take a near-cliche blues guitar lick and turn it into a pop hook. Hendrix had that. That was one aspect. Also, he wrote some of the most beautiful guitar melodies. His ballads, there's nothing to compare them to. Obviously he learned a lot from Curtis Mayfield and R&B music, but he took it so much farther."

It's that soulful side that first inspired Michael Kiwanuka, a young singer-songwriter who grew up in London thousands of miles away from Dickinson's home in Hernando, Miss., yet was seized by Hendrix just as forcefully.

He first saw Hendrix in a documentary that was paired back to back with his performance at Woodstock. Kiwanuka was 12 and new to the guitar. He experienced a lot of sensations at once. First, there was the music. He wasn't drawn to the rip-roaring psychedelia the Dickinsons favored, but the R&B-flavored classics like "Castles Made of Sand" and "The Wind Cries Mary." The child of Ugandan immigrants also was amazed by Hendrix's natural hairstyle, which closely resembled his own.

"I'd never seen an African-American, a guy of African descent, playing rock music," Kiwanuka said. "I was listening to bands like Nirvana and stuff at the time. That's what got me into rock music — the electric guitar. Every time I saw a modern black musician it was like R&B, so I'd never seen someone play electric guitar in a rock way that was African. That inspired me as well on top of the music. And you think, 'Oh, I could do that.'"

"People, Hell & Angels" will likely continue that cycle of discovery. And though it may be the last of studio album, it won't be the last we hear from Hendrix.

"This is the last studio album, but what's coming up is the fact that we have tremendous amount of live recorded concerts in the vault," Kramer said. "A lot of them were filmed, too, so be prepared in the next few years to see some fabulous live performances, one of which I've already mixed. We're waiting for the release date — God knows when — but at some point in the future there's a ton of great live material."

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