As a young Black fan of rock and roll, discovering Jimi Hendrix was a revelation. Prior to finding out that one of the greatest guitarists to ever grace a fret was Black, I felt slightly guilty for liking rock music. With the bulk of my exposure to the genre coming from MTV and pop radio from the late 90s and early 2000s, I rarely saw any artists- outside of Lenny Kravitz- who looked like me and were under 30. I knew about the Black roots of rock and roll, but I felt alienated in the alternative rock world that I grew up in.
One day, after school at my friend's house, I watched footage of Jimi Hendrix setting fire to a guitar at the Monterey Pop Festival. The video had a similar effect on my teenage mind as the millions of kids that saw it live: I became enamored by Hendrix. I immediately went to my friend's computer and downloaded every stitch of Hendrix from his catalog to my iPod.
Even though Electric Ladyland was my first album, Are You Experienced is one of my favorite debut albums of all time. As it turns out, Are You Experienced dropped today back in 1967, and I had to celebrate the occasion. Thanks for making a fellow Black kid feel welcome in the rock world, Jimi.