Dear Jimi Hendrix:
I had seen your face plastered on countless t-shirts, caught your name as it was carried on radio waves, but seventeen years of my life had passed before I had actually listened to you.
As with millions of other listeners, I have had my hardships, inner struggles and challenges lessened after appreciating your bluesy tones and, yes, I have been equally captivated by your onstage flamboyancy while looking at old footage on a painfully addicting little something named, “YouTube.”
Traces of your legacy are known throughout the traditional decade-long, aging of rock; I think it is necessary to share with you what happened after you departed from Earth, as I perceive them: Things got art-ish yet soulful in the 70s, feral and electric in the 80s, sallow, grungy in the following decade and a copycat of that in the following decade; now, the independence of minimalism is guiding rock’s course; gems have emerged, though.
You have indirectly influenced me. In 2013, I still do not believe enough black folks pick up the guitar or even embrace rock, and yes, when they do, there is sometimes a shock of misunderstanding with the shifting of stereotype; people do not like to talk about this; when they do, it is sugarcoated, but this ritual is bitterly ongoing. Would you believe, black girls like myself still get double-takes (and scowls), if we don a t-shirt with a hard rock musician or band? As if they wanted us to be garbed in an something that was more—expected.
Many believe you left quite early, Jimi, considering the span of human life; some praise has resulted in that. You have been inducted in “The 27 Club,” where other deceased 20-somethings are mystified yet celebrated. Congratulations. Still, I must be clear: Jimi, my ears have become envious, having not known your music in the era when it was freshly crafted. But. Perhaps some rockers were never meant to grow older. Maybe some were meant to be forever preserved in memory at whatever age, but who am I to ponder your destiny?