Jimi Hendrix took me like he’d done so many others. I heard his music and thought, “Whoa. Who is that?”
Hendrix died when I was in my freshman year at high school. School had just begun a few weeks before. Attending John H. Linton Intermediate school, I was smitten with Melissa Smith. Melissa sat behind me in science. I was shy, so Melissa took it upon her to talk to me. Her opening gambit was about music. First we talked about “Tommy” and other Who songs. Then Hendrix died, so we talked about his music and death. Funny, but in my memory, Melissa was my opposite. She dressed in a preppie style, skirts, blouses and sweaters, while my attire skated along the spectrum toward unkempt hippie. My hair was a wild and curly mess while she sported something from “That Girl.” Nevertheless, we liked each other.
Years after Hendrix’s passing, I learned about his influence on the British musicians, like Clapton, Lennon, Jagger, Jones, and Townsend. Their interest and impressions of him provided me with a vicarious bond to the times. Almost fifty hears later, “Fire” energizes me in a way few other songs ever do.