Jimi Hendrix

Still a legend after all these years.
Original photographer unknown, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

We all know some slackers–lazy or unambitious folks and probably say to ourselves that those folks aren’t  going anywhere. We assume that slacker have a bleak future, the type of future that we all snub our noses at and find inferior.

Now compare those assumptions with the types of assumptions we make about super successful people–the greats, the legends, the titans of the industries, the ones we all know and look up to, even strive to be in many ways. Often these roll models are simply a side step from the lazy ones we so quickly mock. Many of our idols have come from squalor and struggle, only to come to our attention when they step into the light of pop culture.

Jimi Hendrix (Picasa 3.0)

Let’s look, for instance, at the life of one of the greatest guitar players of all time, an undisputed talent with the instrument. We all know he left people awestruck with his performances by playing a guitar between his legs and over his shoulder. We have heard the records of how he  make the guitar sing. Those of us devoted fans know that he played a right-handed guitar flipped upside down and restrung to make his unique sound.

These facts add to a cult personality that still stands today. The list of musicians he inspired is long–George Clinton, Miles Davis, Steve Vai as well as Jonny Lang, yet he couldn’t even read or write music himself. Not a bad list of folks who were influenced by this poor kid with no formal training.

He learned to play by watching and listening to other guitar players such as B.B. King, Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, and Buddy Holly. Lacking music literacy made learning to play a challenge and required him to focus and work harder.

His love for music would be his demise in most, if not all, of his other pursuits in life such as school and work. He eventually joined the army after brushing up with the law. As a high school dropout, he and his friends were caught at least two times in a stolen car, arrested, and locked up for at least seven days. Apparently the judge gave him a suspended two-year sentence in exchange for enlisting in the military. Due to being a high school dropout, he had to take the G.E.D (General Equivalency Diploma) which supposedly took him five tries to complete.

Once in the military, he struggled to make friends and many speculate that it was his guitar and love for music that made it difficult to form real camaraderie with his fellow soldiers., except for Billy Cox who later joined him on stage.

Benoît Prieur, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

Ultimately, he is discharged from the military for sleeping on duty, masturbating in the latrine (outhouse), and owing money for a laundry bill. His discharge certificate lists him as discharged due to Unsuitability- under honorable conditions.

These antics justified those around him to see him as unfit, lazy and a slacker with behavior problems.

Before being widely known as the king of psychedelic rock, he had sporadic use of alcohol and drugs  like cannabis, hashish, amphetamines, and cocaine. The story goes that when offered his first hit of Acid he asked for LSD, which was the same thing, thus demonstrating his naivete with psychedelics. He would often drink to excess and most agreed  he “simply turned into a bastard,” often becoming violent–punching his friends, hitting his girlfriend with a vodka bottle over her eye, and giving her a cut that would require stitches.

While the greatest guitar player ever has left us with a catalog of insane sounds, Jimmy Hendrix also reminds us that even the great ones struggle. It is easy to be dazzled by fame, stage presence and musical gifts. It is harder to offer patience to our slacker friends, those lazy ones that still might be figuring things out.


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About the Contributor
Andrew Vojta
Andrew Vojta, Staff Writer
Hello, My name is Andrew I'm a second-semester student at the Butte Community College. This is my First Semester with the Roadrunner Newspaper Production team. I'm excited to work with a wide variety of people with a diverse background that really brings the paper to life for me. It's an awesome time to be on the production team as they are working on the 55th anniversary Magazine. I like to write about Crime, Homelessness, Music, and other things that are affecting and happening within the community at large. I appreciate everyone and thank you for taking time out of your day to come and read The Roadrunner. As a student learning the craft of Journalism, we can't get away from the use of Artificial Intelligence even with most phones and computers even come with them installed so I use Grammarly and other than that I just use it to experiment with but not for the use to write the story.
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