How Old Was Jimi Hendrix When He Recorded 'Are You Experienced'?

Talented musicians often make their mark upon the world at a surprisingly young age, and that is certainly true of the late Jimi Hendrix, the man many consider rock's greatest guitar player of all time. In 2015, 35 years after his death, he topped the list of Rolling Stone's 100 Greatest Guitarists, with Tom Morello of Rage Against The Machine noting that Hendrix "exploded our idea of what rock music could be" and going on to opine that there's "not one minute of his recorded career that feels like he's working hard at it — it feels like it's all flowing through him." 

Born in 1942, Hendrix started his music career in the early 1960s, per Britannica, playing "as a freelance accompanist for a variety of musicians, both famous and obscure." He made his way to England in 1966, where he met British musicians Noel Redding and Mitch Mitchell. The three formed The Jimi Hendrix Experience and recorded and released three hit singles, "Hey Joe," "Purple Haze," and "The Wind Cries Mary" before the release of their first album, Are You Experienced in the summer of 1967. Hendrix was just 24 years old. 

A short but brilliant career

The Jimi Hendrix Experience had been a band for just a few weeks before recording Are You Experienced and had never performed any of the songs live. In fact, per Rolling Stone, many of the album's songs were rehearsed for the first time ever right before tape rolled for the album version. With songs like "Foxy Lady," "Manic Depression," and of course the title track, Are You Experienced, the album is indeed "practically a greatest-hits record unto itself," Dan Epstein wrote in Rolling Stone. The album was a huge hit, spending 106 weeks on the Billboard 200 chart and eventually selling more than five million copies in the United States. 

The band went on to record two more albums during their brief four-year tenure; Axis: Bold As Love, which came out later in 1967, and 1968's Electric Ladyland. As if 1967 wasn't a big enough year for Hendrix, his band also played at the Monterey Pop Festival in June of 1967 thanks to "strong lobbying" from Paul McCartney, according to The GuardianThe band started the eternally iconic set by "blast[ing] into their high-octane take on Howlin' Wolf's 'Killing Floor"" and ended it with Hendrix pouring lighter fluid over his Fender guitar and setting it on fire. 

Hendrix died on September 18, 1970 at just 27 years old, due to asphyxia resulting from choking on vomit. Neil Young inducted The Jimi Hendrix Experience into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1992. Young called Hendrix "the most gifted instrumentalist of all time."