The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame + Museum

.38 Special Founding Member Jeff Carlisi Recalls Hearing Jimi Hendrix for the First Time

Wednesday, November 27: 3 p.m.
Posted by Rock Hall
Jimi Hendrix live in 1968 / photo by Jeff Carlisi


In this exclusive interview with the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, author, musician and .38 Special founding member and guitarist Jeff Carlisi shares his thoughts on legendary guitarist and Hall of Fame inductee Jimi Hendrix, including seeing Jimi Hendrix live in 1968.

"I actually saw Jimi Hendrix, and I still have photographs, I was a school photographer. I guess it was 1968 in Jacksonville, Florida. I don't remember anything about it. I look at the pictures, and I don't even remember being there, but I remember I had to see this guy because I remember sitting next to my grandmother's radio in Boston, Massachusetts, waiting all night long to hear this song that my cousin told me about, "Purple Haze." He couldn't describe it to me. I said, 'What does it sound like?' I had been playing guitar for a while and he said 'it was like nothing you've ever heard.' Finally it comes on and it was like, 'Oh my God -- you're kidding me.'

"Hendrix was a brilliant guitar player in the sense that he didn't play guitar -- guitar was his paintbrush. It was an extension of his mind. You could hear him play "Little Wing" and every time it's different. Where the mortal guitar players like myself and so many others can spend years trying to figure out how he played "Little Wing" off "Bold as Love," off "Axis," and never get it quite right. Well that was a one-time thing, he just did it and that's hard to comprehend. What I have found from talking to guitar players and some of my peers, most of them appreciate him, but there are those guys who go, 'I don't get Hendrix. I don't understand him. I don't see what the big deal is.' You know why? They are scared to death of him because it's so beyond their realm of comprehension. It is just easier to say: 'No, I just don't care for that.' That is the challenge, to try to understand it. No mortal man could ever come close to Jimi Hendrix. Maybe he was from another planet. I don't know."

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