On this day in history : 18th September 1970 – American musician, Jimi Hendrix, dies in London of an accidental drug overdose….

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Hendrix performing on Dutch TV show ‘Hoepia’ in 1967 – A.Vente CC BY SA 3.0 nl

Born Johnny Allen Hendrix in Seattle, Washington, on the 27th of November 1942, Jimi began to play the guitar at the age of 15…. He joined the US Army in 1961 and trained as a paratrooper; after being given an honourable discharge he moved to Clarksville, Tennessee…. It was here that his music career began….playing in the bands of some of the greats of the time, including Little Richard and the Isley Brothers….

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Hendrix in the US Army, 1961 – Unknown US Army Personnel photographer – Public domain

Upon being discovered by Linda Keith, who had strong connections with the ‘Swinging London’ scene, Jimi relocated across the Atlantic to London…. It did not take long for him – with his ‘The Jimi Hendrix Experience’ – to achieve three top ten positions in the UK charts, with ‘Hey Joe’, ‘Purple Haze’ and ‘The Wind Cries Mary’…. Soon after he also accomplished fame in the US – after his performance at the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967…. In 1969 he headlined at Woodstock – and by this time was the world’s most highly paid music artist…. His last festival performance was on the Isle of Wight in 1970….

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The Experience, 1968 – Warner/Reprise Records – Public domain

The last person to see Jimi alive was his German artist girlfriend, Monika Dannemann…. She had collected him in the early hours of September 18th from a party he was attending – she then drove him back to her apartment at the Samarkand Hotel in Nottinghill, West London…. Jimi had been feeling unwell for the previous few days – he had been suffering ‘flu symptoms, was not sleeping properly and was under strain from being overworked….

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The Samarkand Hotel – Image credit : TEL-Brough – Public domain

It was later, after a few hours sleep, that Monika awoke to find Jimi sleeping peacefully beside her – so she took the opportunity to slip out of the apartment to go and buy some cigarettes…. On her return Jimi was still in bed, he was breathing but unconscious…. An ambulance arrived at 11.27am and Jimi was taken to St. Mary Abbot’s Hospital, Kensington; at 12.45pm he was pronounced dead…. A post mortem revealed he had died of asphyxiation after choking on his own vomit whilst being intoxicated with sleeping pills….

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Image credit : mirjoran via Flickr

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