The Experience of Young Jimi Hendrix

11/28/2011
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(Gibson) Like many of the world's most inspiring artists, Jimi Hendrix had a difficult childhood. The man who would revolutionize rock and roll guitar and become one of music's greatest icons was born on this day in 1942 in Seattle, Washington.

Originally named Johnny Allen Hendrix, the future superstar was the first son of James Allen "Al" Hendrix and Lucille Jeter. Al was in the U.S. Army, stationed in Oklahoma, at the time of his son's birth and was soon fighting in France during World War II. After he was honorably discharged from the service in 1945, Al returned home to Seattle and decided to rename his son. He became James Marshall Hendrix, in tribute of Al's late brother, Leon Marshall Hendrix. At the time, the name change didn't matter much, because Jimi was called "Buster" from birth.

Upon returning from the army, Al reunited with Lucille and the couple had four more children together: Leon, Joseph, Kathy and Pamela. But all was not well with the family. Al struggled to find work after the war ended and three of his five children suffered disabilities, making it even tougher to provide the necessary care for them. Joseph was born with physical difficulties and was placed in foster care at the age of 3. Kathy was blind and Pamela also had minor disabilities. They both grew up in foster care.

That left Al and Lucille with Jimi and Leon, but that arrangement wouldn't last long. In 1951, when Jimi was nine, his parents divorced as a result of Lucille's alcoholism. She would later drink herself to death in 1958, when her cirrhosis caused her spleen to rupture. Because of the instability at home, Jimi was sometimes taken care of his paternal grandmother in Vancouver and Leon was temporarily placed in foster care.
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