Jimi Hendrix is one of the most iconic guitarists in the history of music. His innovative playing style and ability to push the boundaries of what was possible with an electric guitar have inspired countless musicians over the years.

But how did Hendrix learn music theory? In this article, we’ll explore the story of Hendrix’s musical education.

Early Years

Jimi Hendrix was born in Seattle, Washington on November 27, 1942. From a young age, he showed an interest in music.

His father Al gave him his first acoustic guitar when he was just 15 years old. According to Hendrix’s brother Leon, Jimi would spend hours listening to records and trying to figure out how to play along.


Hendrix was largely self-taught when it came to playing the guitar. He didn’t take formal lessons or attend music school. Instead, he learned by listening to other musicians and experimenting with different techniques on his own.

One technique that Hendrix used extensively was called “feedback.” This involved using the guitar’s pickups and amplifier to create a sustained sound that could be manipulated by changing the distance between the guitar and amplifier or using other effects pedals.


While Hendrix didn’t have formal training in music theory, he did have several mentors who helped him along the way. One of these mentors was Johnny Allen, a guitarist who played with The Isley Brothers. Allen taught Hendrix some basic chord progressions and helped him refine his playing style.

Another mentor was Curtis Knight, a singer who hired Hendrix as a backup guitarist for his band The Squires. Knight encouraged Hendrix to experiment with new sounds and techniques on stage.

The Army

In 1961, at the age of 19, Hendrix joined the United States Army. He was stationed at Fort Campbell, Kentucky and assigned to the 101st Airborne Division. While in the Army, Hendrix continued to play music and even formed a band called The King Kasuals.

The Ray Charles Connection

In 1962, Hendrix was honorably discharged from the Army after injuring himself during a jump. He then moved to Clarksville, Tennessee and started playing with a group called The Casuals. It was during this time that he met Billy Cox, who would later become the bassist for The Jimi Hendrix Experience.

In 1964, Hendrix joined up with Little Richard’s touring band as a guitarist. While on tour with Richard, he met Ray Charles and played guitar on some of his recordings. Charles was known for his sophisticated use of chord progressions and Hendrix no doubt learned a lot from working with him.

New York City

In 1964, Hendrix moved to New York City and began playing in various clubs around Greenwich Village. It was there that he caught the attention of Chas Chandler, the bassist for the British rock band The Animals.

Chandler offered to manage Hendrix and brought him to London in 1966 to form a new band called The Jimi Hendrix Experience. It was during this time that Hendrix’s career took off and he became one of the most influential guitarists of all time.

The Legacy of Jimi Hendrix

Despite never having formal training in music theory, Jimi Hendrix’s innovative playing style has inspired countless musicians over the years. His ability to push the boundaries of what was possible with an electric guitar continues to influence new generations of musicians today.

Whether you’re an aspiring guitarist or simply appreciate great music, there’s no denying that Jimi Hendrix’s legacy will continue to live on for many years to come.