Case Study: Jimi Hendrix
This essay looks at musician Jimi Hendrix's musical reactions to the American involvement in the Vietnam War. This research has taken place as part of a larger piece of work examining the links between the Vietnam War and Music in the U.S.A.
US troops became officially involved in the war from 1965 and didn't withdraw until 1973 following the signing of the Paris Peace Accords. During this time 58,226 US troops were killed and 153,303 were wounded. Public opinion in the U.S. was split by the war; many saw it as a vital stand against communism whilst others saw it as an immoral political campaign. As the war dragged on and the numbers of casualties continued to rise the anti-war movement grew rapidly.
Although Hendrix's stardom only lasted for four years before his tragic death in 1970 he was still one of the most successful and influential musicians of the era. The author feels that Jimi Hendrix makes an interesting case study for this topic, as the general pre-conception appears to be one of an anti-war hero at the forefront of the flower-power' counter-culture movement of the sixties. However in reality Hendrix is someone who harboured varied and contrasting ideals. He certainly supported the peace movement and hippie culture but at the same time sympathised with extremists such as Black Nationalist organisation the Black Panthers.
Before his rise to fame Hendrix was actually a Paratrooper and had he not been discharged a few years prior to the war would have certainly been sent to Vietnam. This is a fact to be considered when interpreting any of his work relating to the war; "he had been on both sides of the fence, experiencing attitudes to the war as diametrically opposed to one another as could be." (Pernu, Wayne) In fact a friend of Hendrix, Eric Burdon, has said that during his time in England Hendrix often talked of the need to suppress Chinese...