Jimi Hendrix Was Often Fired From Bands for His Tardiness, ‘Lapses in Discipline,’ and Stealing the Spotlight

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Jimi Hendrix is beloved as a rock icon today, but in the early days of his music career, he was more of a menace to his bandmates than anything else. The up-and-coming guitar player upset members of various bands he played in with his apparent careless nature and lack of focus on tasks at hand. Hendrix’s behavior led to him getting kicked out of band after band.

Jimi Hendrix played in many bands over the years

Jimi Hendrix played backup guitar for a number of popular artists in the early 1960s, from Little Richard and Ray Charles to Ike and Tina Turner and The Isley Brothers. He soon began playing in bands of his own.

Hendrix played in various bands as a young adult. These groups included The Velvetones, The Kasuals, and the King Kasuals.

He was kicked out of bands for a variety of reasons

Philip Norman’s 2020 book Wild Thing: The Short, Spellbinding Life of Jimi Hendrix explores Hendrix’s life from his childhood in Seattle to becoming one of rock’s most revered musicians before his death in 1970. Though Hendrix loved playing guitar, he often lacked the dedication to band rehearsals and his bandmates needed for success, and found himself getting the boot from several groups.

“If he wasn’t fired for stealing his employer’s limelight onstage, it would be his chronic lateness for tour-bus departures. In an unpleasant echo of service life, some headliners fined their musicians for lapses in discipline; $10 for unpunctuality, $5 for dirty shoes and so on. Many a time, Jimmy’s fines would almost wipe out a whole week’s pay,” Norman wrote.

“Curtis Mayfield expelled him for accidentally damaging an amplifier,” he continued. “On a tour with Bobby Womack, his behavior was so exasperating that Womack’s road manager brother threw his guitar out of the bus window while he was asleep. After a few days with the Solomon Burke revue, Burke bartered him on to Otis Redding in exchange for two horn players as if he was little more than a modern-day slave. A couple weeks later, there were more problems about his too-flashy playing and Redding literally ditched him, driving off and leaving him at the side of the road.”

Hendrix continued to perform on what was known as the Chitlin’ Circuit, playing for low wages and the promise of exposure. But it didn’t deter him from his dream. “I still have my guitar and amp and as long as I have that, no fool can stop me living,” he wrote to his father. “I’m going to keep hustling and scuffling until I get things to happening like they’re supposed to for me.”

He formed his own band, The Jimi Hendrix Experience

By the mid-1960s, Hendrix had gained enough experience playing as a guitarist in others’ bands as well as forming his own, and he was ready for his name to be out there in full force. Together with Noel Redding and Mitch Mitchell, Hendrix formed his own band, The Jimi Hendrix Experience.

The Jimi Hendrix Experienced released three albums in a span of less than two years: Are You Experienced and Axis: Bold as Love were released in 1967, while their final album Electric Ladyland was released the following year. The group parted ways in 1969, and Hendrix died in 1970 at age 27.