HENDRIX, James Al




Author Tags: Alcohol, Music

James Allen Ross Hendrix was a gardener, labourer and dancer who inherited the bulk of his son's estate following the death of Jimi Hendrix in 1970.

Hendrix Sr. was born on June 10, 1919 at 2225 Triumph St. in Vancouver. His mother, a dancer, and his father, a stagehand, moved north to Vancouver after their Dixieland jazz touring company went broke in Seattle. Hendrix's grandfather found work at the Quilchena golf course. In his 1999 memoir entitled My Son Jimi, Al Hendrix recalled growing up in Vancouver's West End. “Looking the way I did, I learned about prejudice when I was young. People just wanted to insult me sometimes. I’d be minding my own business, going down the street, and some white men would come along and say, ‘Hey, Sambo,’ or ‘Hey, Rastus.’” Al Hendrix dropped out of school at age 17, following the death of his father, and worked at a sawmill for $1 per day, and as a nightclub dancer. After a stint in Victoria in 1939, he went to Seattle in 1940, partially to escape racism and gain the company of more blacks. At age 22 he married 16-year-old Lucille Jeter, pregnant with Jimi Hendrix, and entered military training three days later. He received news of his son's birth on November 27, 1942 while in the army. He first saw his son in 1945 in Berkeley after Jimi Hendrix had been abandoned by his mother and was being raised by a loving family. As a boy, Jimi Hendrix did not want to be removed from the foster home. Al Hendrix soon changed his son's name from Johnny Allen Hendriz to James Marshall Hendrix because he suspected Lucille had named their son after one of her boyfriends. This caused more confusion for the boy, but his father furnished him with a ukelele, then bought him a $5 guitar. Upon reconciliation with Lucille, the family moved to Vancouver and stayed at the home of Nora Hendrix, the boy's grandmother, on East Georgia Street, then Hendrix' parents were divorced in Seattle in 1950. Lucille Hendrix was an alcoholic who died in 1958.

Jimi Hendrix kept in touch with his father after he left his army and began playing guitar for groups that included the Supremes, the Isley Brothers and Little Richard. After quiting Little Richard's group because he wasn't being paid, Jimi Hendrix wrote to Al Hendrix in 1965, “Nowadays people don’t want you to sing good. They want you to sing sloppy and have a good beat to your songs. That’s what angle I’m going to shoot for. That’s where the money is. So just in case about three or four months from now you might hear a record by me which sounds terrible, don’t feel ashamed, just wait until the money rolls in because every day people are singing worse and worse on purpose and the public buys more and more records." When Al Hendrix regained control of his son's estate after a fierce legal struggle with his lawyer, he spent several years relating his stories to Jas Obrecht for a co-written book, My Son Jimi (1999). Al Hendrix died in Seattle at age 82 on April 17, 2002 and is buried next to his southpaw son at the Greenwood Memorial Park Cemetery in Renton, Washington, a pilgrimage site that is visited by thousands of Jimi Hendrix fans each year.

BOOKS:

My Son Jimi (Seattle: Aljas Enterprises L P, 1999)

[BCBW 2005]