Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Black Hendrix

I've been listening to the three Jimi Hendrix Experience albums lately and am currently reading Midnight Lightning, a book about Hendrix and his place in Black American music, and I've noticed something that seems messed up to me: Jimi Hendrix played a lot of music that could be considered early funk, and even has straight - up blues songs on record. Yet I've never heard his music on any Black radio stations. Obviously, I don't expect to hear "Purple Haze" on V103, but if he's not on straight rock stations, then he isn't heard on the air. Yet "Red House" would fit perfectly on a blues playlist.

I hope it's just me. I hope that I'm just not listening to the radio at the right time. But it's not just radio. Hendrix isn't usually seen as a great Black icon within the community. Then again, in Febuary you only hear King, Shabazz, Parks, so I shouldn't be to surprise that Hendrix is left out if Huey P. Newton's or Stokely Carmicheal aren't top tier Black folk. I'd just like to think that we could see Jimi Hendrix as being one of us rather than an outside playing "white" music.

But maybe that was the point. If I had never checked out that book, I would have only thought of him as a great guitar player. Maybe it's not so much that we don't see him as Black, it's that we see him as a musician first. I'd like to think that. That sounds right.