When Jimi Hendrix died in 1971, his fans around the world were shocked. It was a tragic and apparently accidental end to a career that was on track to continue to be successful and creative. If we accept that the death of Jimi Hendrix was an accident, there are still questions that remain. One of them is, did Jimi have a premonition that he would not live a long and fruitful life?
There are clues from the beginning in many of his songs. The problem with digging up clues is that Hendrix was a pyschonaut, a traveler in realms of the mythic, subconscious, and otherwordly. So, the imagery used in most of his songs is naturally poetic and mystical, and much of the poetry deals with death and images related to the end of mortal life. He said “I don’t live today,” “I’ll see you in the next world, don’t be late,” “angel came down from heaven yesterday.” and much, much more. For example, songs such as Angel and The Wind Cries Mary are suffused with a sad finality, while Wait Until Tomorrow actually has him as the narrator being shot and dying. Many of his lyrics describe another world, one that Jimi seems more at home in than this one, and one that he would be able to be in always after death. One of his most famous songs, If 6 Was 9, has been interpreted to be a premonition, since number 9 refers to a 9mm gun and to murder.
In addition to all of the hints in his songs that he was not of this world, or long for it, he spoke in an interview published in Rolling Stone in November 1969 about his future. He was tired at this point of being the flamboyant showman, lighting guitars on fire and wearing outrageous costumes. He told the writer, “I don’t want to be a clown anymore. I don’t want to be a ‘rock and roll star,” and the reporter sensed his sadness and anxiety over what he had become. The writer actually wondered how Jimi would get through this transition and where he would be in 5 years. And in a chilling detail, a friend of Hendrix complains that he never eats, while he takes a pill and a shot of tequila in a glass of milk for breakfast as everyone else chows down. As we all know, Hendrix died at 27, less than 2 years after the story was published.
It has been said that all poetry is about love and death, and probably the same holds true for music and art as well – at least those are the subjects that major artists tackle. Whether Jimi actually had a premonition that he would pass from this world at a young age or not, he definitely demonstrated through his work and in his life that he was meant for a higher plane – he was never really satisfied with this one.
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