Jimi Hendrix, first Johnny Allen Hendrix, then James Marshall, was born in Seattle, Washington in 1942 and died in London, England in 1970.1
Any fan of Jimi or of the music of his time will probably admit that there is something deeply spiritual inherent in him and his music. He grew up in a broken family, sometimes living with relatives, sometimes with his mother, and other times with his father. There was little time for religion to take hold of him during his childhood.
However, music was so central in Hendrix’ life that it effectively became his religion. He even once said:
Music is my religion.2
He took it further and even occasionally referenced an “Electric Church,” which might have partially included dropping LSD to have a religious experience. But essentially, the theology was that music can bring out wisdom, creativity, and understanding in people. Hendrix said:
I believed in myself more than anything. And, I suppose in a way, that’s also believing in God. If there is a God and He made you, then if you believe in yourself, you’re also believing in Him…That doesn’t mean you’ve got to believe in heaven and hell and all that stuff. But it does mean that what you are and what you do is your religion… When I get up on stage—well, that’s my whole life. That’s my religion. My music is electric church music, if by ‘church’ you mean ‘religion’, I am electric religion.3
To understand the politics of Jimi Hendrix, one must understand the zeitgeist of his time. Free love, drugs, anti-war, communes, the civil rights movement, Vietnam, Nixon’s lies, and a Mary Poppins carpet bag of other paradigm-changing things were going on. Strangely, though, Jimi often said things that were counter to the ideals of the 60s counterculture.
It is widely accepted that he was a drug-using womanizer, so he lived his life based on those ideas, but he said things like:
Forget about the mass love scene. That’s not where it is. It’s not building understanding. And I wish I could say this so strongly that they’d sit up in their chairs.4
He considered abortion a “problem,” assuming a de facto pro-life stance, saying:
I have a song on abortion and a song on Vietnam and a song on just about any problem…4
And though he was a figure in the black community, he didn’t necessarily identify with his minority status, saying:
Music is stronger than politics. I feel sorry for the minorities, but I don’t feel a part of one. And I think the answer lies in music.4
It might be natural to identify Hendrix with hippies, and then stretch to today’s liberals. But he might have been a bit conservative in today’s political climate.
Hendrix really thought music was the answer to anything and everything from religion to politics to race relations. A bit naive, perhaps, but it’s the honest opinion of a brilliant man who never even made it to 30 years old.