Jimi Hendrix, the legendary rock musician who could play his instrument with his teeth and behind his head, was named yesterday as the world's greatest guitarist.
Hendrix, who died in 1970 after apparently choking in his sleep aged 27, pipped British-born Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin and Yardbirds fame to take pole position in the "100-greatest" list compiled by Total Guitar magazine from thousands of votes by readers and celebrity musicians.
The guitarist, whose mother was a Cherokee, bought his first acoustic guitar for $5 from a friend of his father. The left-hander turned the instrument upside down and taught himself to play it by listening to the records of bluesmen such as Elmore James and BB King. After entering the club circuit in New York in 1964, Hendrix began developing an inimitable performance style and became known for a flamboyance that influenced generations.
He found fame in the late 1960s after being brought to Britain by the former Animals bass player, Chas Chandler, and building a live reputation with his new three-piece, the Jimi Hendrix Experience.
Incendiary tracks such as "Purple Haze", "Crosstown Traffic" and his definitive version of Bob Dylan's "All Along The Watchtower" followed and have remained classics.
The unconventional star courted his share of controversy in the course of his short life. The sleeve cover of his double album Electric Ladyland had a risqué photograph of Hendrix surrounded by naked women and some shops refused to display it when it was released in October 1968. He was arrested and charged with possession of heroin in May 1969 in Canada and, a year later, he aborted a benefit performance in front of 19,000 people at Madison Square Garden, by saying in the middle of of the second number, "Earth Blues": "I'm sorry, we just can't get it together."
Later in the year, he left stage early at a concert in Denmark with the words: "I've been dead for a long time."
Half of the top 10 entries in the "100 greatest" list were British and included Eric Clapton, who was voted third. Clapton was also a veteran of the Yardbirds and found further fame with Cream before his long solo career.
Rock legends who did not make the top 10 included the former Beatle, George Harrison, who was voted in at 24 and the Rolling Stone Keith Richards, who was 27th.
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Other entries included the Who's Pete Townshend at 33, Radiohead's Jonny Greenwood at 35, Chuck Berry at 36 and Noel Gallagher of Oasis at 50.
Scott Rowley, the editor of Total Guitar, said the list represented the "fastest, loudest, most exciting players in rock and roll". Only one woman, Tracy Chapman, featured in the entire 440 guitarists who were nominated.
Axe heroes: Top 20 guitarists
1 Jimi Hendrix
2 Jimmy Page
3 Eric Clapton
5 Brian May
6 Joe Satriani
7 Eddie Van Halen
8 Dave Gilmour
9 Kirk Hammett
10 Steve Vai
11 Carlos Santana
12 James Hetfield
13 Tom Morello
14 Kurt Cobain
15 Mark Knopfler
16 Zakk Wylde
17 Gary Moore
18 Jeff Beck
19 Stevie Ray Vaughan
20 Angus Young
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