Sure, Hendrix played guitar with an intensity unequaled in rock. But what set him apart was the combination of fear and anticipation from audiences who couldn’t be certain whether he was going to strum his six-string, make love to it or set it on fire.
The Seattle-ite backed up his peacock strut with jaw-dropping technique that remained rooted in the blues tradition while creating the template, however inimitable, for guitar gods the word over. He conquered England and left his idols — including Eric Clapton — shaking their heads in wonder, then took America by storm with his incendiary set at Monterey.
The sociological importance of having an African-American man make that trip can’t be underestimated, but ultimately, Hendrix transcended black & white and painted the world in colors of his own invention.