Jimi Hendrix Fashion
Jimi Hendrix: The Man in the Music ( Part 8 )
Jimi Hendrix biographer, Charles R. Cross (Room Full of Mirrors: A Biography of Jimi Hendrix), tells of an incident when Jimi and fellow band member Noel Redding went to a local, Liverpool pub for a drink between sets. They were fully decked out in Experience regalia. The bartender refused to serve them. At first Jimi thought the bartender was a racist. “Is it because I am black.” “It has nothing to do with your race,” he said. “We do not want your kind in here. The sign outside is clear about it.” Noel went outside and read a sign on the door and told Jimi, “It says clowns will not be served.” A clown convention was in town. They often got out of hand in the pubs, so the pub owner had banned service to them. It seems that Jimi and Noel’s abundant afros, bright colored, bloused shirts and bell bottoms pants caused the bartender to assume they were clowns.
Jimi’s Military Fashion
On several occasions British veterans accosted Jmi for wearing his antique, military, dress uniform. They told him to take it off, because he had not earn the right to wear it. He would respond, “I was in the Army’s 101st Airborne Division” Those giving him a hard time would then relent, knowing that the US 101st Airborne played a major role in the Normandy invasion and the Battle of the Bulge.
Even though Jimi was of the hippie generation and a hippie icon, his dress ran from dapper to colorfully flamboyant. He wore these far out clothes well. He had an affinity for soft, billowy fabrics and layering garments like vests, scarves, sometimes contrasting prints.
His style had a sharp and glamorous edge accented with big bling around his neck, and ruffles and fringes on his shirts. Hendrix bought many of these clothes in London boutiques such as I Was Lord Kitchener’s Valet and Granny Takes a Trip.
What came to be known as psychedelic dress was in stark contrast to the black suits that he wore on the Chitlin Circuit and in Greenwich Village in his earlier years.
Fashion Jimi Created
In 1967 he started to wear a wide-brimmed Westerner brand cowboy hat. He wrapped a narrow purple band and various brooches around it. The hat was stolen in 1968 and he tried dawning various hats for a few months. Then in late 1968 he began tying scarves to one leg and one arm, and six months latter replacing the hats with bandanas.
Many biographers and commentators believe that Jimi Hendrix’s hair was patterned after Bob Dylan. A set of hair curlers was one of only a few things that he carried in a small bag on his first trip to England with Chas Chandler in 1966.
Jimi Hendrix’s fashion demanded just as much attention as his music.
This article is an installment in the Jimi Hendrix Series on 60s Folks: