Paying tribute to a rock guitar legend
Last updated 7/11/2023 at 10:36am
Though he died more than a half-century ago, Jimi Hendrix continues to influence virtually everyone who picks up an electric guitar with intent to rock.
Few have been as powerfully influenced as Randy Hansen, who will bring his tribute to the rock legend to Hardtails Bar & Grill on Saturday, July 29.
Hansen's journey with the guitar began when his father was killed in a car wreck when Randy was 10 years old. His father, who was a coach and mentor, was hit head-on by a drunk driver.
The instrument became a refuge.
"I was looking for some kind of a rudder," Hansen said.
Hendrix burst like a supernova onto the rock music scene with a literally incendiary performance at the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival. Hansen discovered the revolutionary sounds Jimi Hendrix was making on the instrument, and he was drawn in.
"I was really intrigued by how he was playing and how he was getting his sound," Hansen said. He recalls thinking, "I don't know why I like this, but I really like this. I couldn't believe it was a guitar making that sound."
He spent his senior year of high school woodshedding, playing with records and learning to hear and feel what the guitar great was doing.
"The difficulty level was really high," he said. "I just loved it."
The work kept him centered. Hansen reckons that Hendrix came to be almost a surrogate father to him.
"Then, when Hendrix died, it happened all over again," Hansen said.
Hendrix was 27 when he died in London in 1970.
Hansen kept the torch burning. In 1975, he went out with a band named Kid Chrysler and the Cruisers, who were known for parodying rock stars. Hansen was game to go on tour - but he wasn't about to parody his guitar hero. So the band made room for him to play Jimi straight.
And it took off.
A career was born. Hansen has been tapped for movie scores when a Hendrix sound is desired, and he's performed on bills with Heart, The Kinks, Stevie Ray Vaughan and other rock luminaries.
"It led to a lot of stuff," he said. "I've been really lucky, I guess."
Hansen doesn't merely recreate Hendrix's recorded work. Much of what made Hendrix stand out was his ability to improvise fluidly and creatively on stage -and Hansen seeks to improvise in the same way.
The result is an exciting live show, which he's excited to bring to Hardtails this month.
"Whenever I get to play, it's the thrill of my life," he said.
Randy Hansen - the Jimi Hendrix Experience is part of Hardtails' Summer Tribute Series.
On Saturday, July 22, the series will feature the thundering rock and roll of Led Zeppelin with the band Valhalla. Petty Fever returns on Saturday, August 5; Gold Dust pays tribute to Fleetwood Mac on Saturday, August 19; and the series closes out on Saturday, August 26, with a special three-hour performance and light show from In the Pink, featuring the music of Pink Floyd.
All shows start at 8 p.m. and tickets are available through BendTicket.com. Sell-outs are expected.