NELSON GEORGE: HOW JIMI HENDRIX MUSIC CHANGED MY LIFE
By Janet Sackey
December 4, 2019
Each of us has felt like an outsider at some point in our lives. In the animated video Band of Gypsys: Music That Changed Lives, the Black culture critic and music historian, Nelson George discusses how his journey as an outsider began when he listened to Jimi Hendrix as a youth in a 1970s Brownsville (Brooklyn) where rock-guitar music was not considered Black at all.
The video’s narrative is adapted from George’s liner notes for the recently released Hendrix box-set, Songs For Groovy Children: The Fillmore East Concerts, which documents the New Year’s Eve 1969-70 shows at which the guitarist introduced his new band, Band of Gypsys. Nelson shares how in the early ’70s — when even other “alternative” artists such as Sly and the Family Stone achieved a popularity in the Black community — Jimi Hendrix, his style and musicality, was still considered an alien. He describes Jimi as a “gateway drug to other forms of musical addiction” that would transform the listener forever.
And as a Black womxn whose journey to proud outsider status began by rocking bands like Pantera and Crossfade at Spinal Tap volume (“11″), from the 19th floor of a building in the Uptown projects, I can wholly relate.