James Al Hendrix, who introduced his son, guitar legend Jimi Hendrix, to music, died yesterday (April 17) after a long battle with congestive heart failure. He was 82. A former Golden Gloves boxer who
James Al Hendrix, who introduced his son, guitar legend Jimi Hendrix, to music, died yesterday (April 17) after a long battle with congestive heart failure. He was 82. A former Golden Gloves boxer who worked as a plumber, electrician, and gardener before retiring because of poor health in 1979, Hendrix died in his sleep at his Seattle home.
In 1999, Hendrix wrote "My Son Jimi," a book about his oldest son, the '60s music icon who died from a drug overdose in 1970 at age 27. The elder Hendrix was chairman of Experience Hendrix, a family company run by his adopted daughter, Janie L. Hendrix.
As a boy, steeped in the blues recordings of Muddy Waters, Robert Johnson, and others favored by his father, Jimi Hendrix taught himself to play an old ukulele his father had given him.
The musician was the inspiration for the Experience Music Project, an interactive popular-music museum opened in June 2000 by longtime fan and Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen. The "experience" in the museum name and family business refers to the song, "Are You Experienced," the title tune on Hendrix's breakthrough 1967 album.
EMP's scope was expanded to cover all popular American music, from soul to country, hip-hop to techno-rock, but Hendrix is the only artist honored with a permanent exhibit. "Al was a warm-hearted man who kept the spirit of Jimi alive for our entire community," Allen said in a statement. "He will be missed."
Al Hendrix, the youngest of four children born to a pair of vaudeville actors, grew up mostly in Canada. He dropped out of school to go to work after his father died in the mid-1930s, came to Seattle around 1940, and stayed after winning a Golden Gloves boxing tournament.
He married Jimi's mother, Lucille, in 1942, when she was 16, and the future rock star was born that same year. The couple separated soon after Hendrix was discharged from the Army in 1945 but remained married for years. Lucile Hendrix died in 1958. Al Hendrix married Ayako "June" Fujita, Janie's mother, in 1966. Ayako Hendrix died in 1999.
In addition to his daughter, Hendrix is survived by a son, Leon, Jimi's younger brother. Funeral arrangements are pending.
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