He played his restrung Stratocasters upside down and left-handed, behind his head, and between his legs. He strummed and plucked with his fingers, thumb, mouth, and soul. In 1968, the legendary guitarist played two shows in Tampa, attracting over 7,000 fans each performance.
Today, a Hillsborough County historical marker honors Jimi Hendrix as one of the most talented and creative rock stars of all time.
Private James Marshall, paratrooper
James Marshall "Jimi" Hendrix was born Nov. 27, 1942, in Seattle, Washington. He began teaching himself guitar when he was 15. Though he's considered a musical prodigy, he never took formal lessons or learned to read music. Much of his skill is credited to playing along with the radio and constant practice.
In May 1961, at the age of 19, Hendrix enlisted in the Army and was trained as a parachute trooper in the 101st Division, a unit known for airborne infantry. By March 1962, he was granted a general discharge. Some sources say Hendrix had a medical discharge due to hurting his ankle on a parachute jump. Other accounts refer to Hendrix being ill-suited for the military and suggest that his preoccupation with music led to his separation from the Army.
Jimi Hendrix, electric guitar hero
Free of his jumpsuit, Hendrix began his music career in Clarksville, Tennessee. For the following eight years he traveled across the country and Europe performing and recording. He toured with a variety of bands, including the Isley Brothers, Little Richard, and Ike and Tina Turner. His band, the Jimi Hendrix Experience, was formed in 1966.
Hendrix developed a unique and expressive style that combined elements of blues, jazz, soul, and psychedelic rock. He explored technological aspects of the electric guitar with his pioneering use of the wah peddle and whammy bar, creating revolutionary music out of controlled distortion and feedback. Hendrix's 1969 Woodstock performance of "The Star-Spangled Banner" is a classic example of the creative and technical complexity he infused into his guitar playing.
Hendrix's career was short-lived, but flamed like a 1965 Fender Stratocaster doused in lighter fluid and set on fire. He died from an accidental overdose in London on Sept. 18, 1970, when he was only 27.
Historical marker inscription
The following text is on both sides of the historical marker.
Jimi Hendrix (1942-1970)
Jimi Hendrix is one of the most influential musicians and guitarists of the 20th century. His legacy, dedication, and passion for music transcends all boundaries and brings people from all walks of life together. He played two nights here in Tampa, August 18th and November 23rd 1968, at what was once Curtis Hixon Hall, which is now the beautiful Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park. It is important to note that out of the 216 concerts Hendrix played from 1967-1970 with the Jimi Hendrix Experience, two of them were in Tampa. The Jimi Hendrix Experience had been on the road touring for at least two years by the time they came to the city for their "Presentation of Fire." Both concerts were near sellouts with over 7,000 fans attending each night. Sadly, Jimi Hendrix was only twenty-seven years old when he passed away, but his life has had a lasting impact on the musicians of Tampa Bay and is a part of the rich history of downtown Tampa.
"Find yourself first
And then your talent
Work hard on your mind
So it can come alive...
Everybody come alive
everybody love alive"
Sponsored by Chase Corley, founder of the University of Tampa Guitar Club
Hillsborough County Historical Advisory Council
The marker is at Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park at the intersection of North Ashley Drive and East Zack Street. It is on the right side of North Ashley Drive when traveling south on the street.
The Hillsborough County Historical Advisory Council and Chase Corley, founder of the University of Tampa Guitar Club, erected the Jimi Hendrix historical marker in 2019.
Top Photo Information: A mural in Tampa, by artist Danny Doya, features legendary musician Jimi Hendrix.