Tributes to Jimi Hendrix will never get old. Despite the fact that he’s been gone for several decades, he remains one of the most impactful artists in any musical genre. He’s still thought of by many as one of the great guitarists in history. Indeed, not so long ago Rolling Stone ranked him as the very best (just ahead of the likes of Eric Clapton and Jimmy Page), saying that his instrument was “like a divining rod of the turbulent Sixties” – not at all a bad way to put it.
Incidentally, the last year or so has seen a number of tributes to the artists, taking various forms, from a park opening in his name in Seattle to a video game being posted online. The game, part of a trilogy of rock-infused slot arcades, is based on the musician’s work and his legendary guitar riffs. It’s not exactly headline news, but it’s an intriguing blend of a decidedly modern gaming format and a somewhat “vintage” artist – perhaps speaking to the idea that even now there’s nothing dated about Hendrix’s sound. Other tributes of late have included accounts of old tours from ZZ Top frontman Billy Gibbons, the announcement of a new festival in Hendrix’s name in Folkestone, England, and even discussions about renaming a street in New York for the artist.
Altogether, these stories, mentions, and tributes – all from the last year – demonstrate the undeniable fact that Jimi Hendrix is never far from public consciousness. He’s in a very rare club with fellow artists from past eras who aren’t just easy for modern audiences to appreciate or respect, but easy for them to like.
It is perhaps because of this that there are still budding artists today who look to Hendrix, rather than more modern guitarists and performers, for inspiration. Like new writers citing Hemingway and Fitzgerald, or young actors studying Grace Kelly or Cary Grant, plenty of indie or up-and-coming modern artists will point to Hendrix as someone to be revered, studied, and imitated. And as you might expect, some of them are well worth listening.
If this sounds intriguing to you, here are three artists in particular to keep an eye on.
This group has some of the most Hendrix-like sounds you’ll find today – which is not to say they’re a direct imitation. The band describes itself as “a psychedelic group from the south west of the UK” on its website, following up on the description with eye-popping album covers bursting with bright colors and funky designs. Their sound is about as you’d expect at a glance, occasionally more toward funk, but often with at least a hint of Hendrix.
Gary Clark Jr.
This young rock/blues artist out of Texas appears to be on his way to stardom, having shared the stage with some of the bigger names in music already. For whatever reason though he still appears to be somewhat obscure. No less an artist than Alicia Keys has compared him to Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton has personally invited him to play, and he even played at the White House alongside B.B. King and others. Clark could be the most talented guitarist we’ve seen since John Mayer (who, love him or hate him, is an incredible talent), and he’s at least somewhat in the Hendrix mold.
Brittany Howard isn’t known by her name, though her band Alabama Shakes has become a fairly big deal (even meriting some attention at the Grammys). She’s got a little more growl to her than Hendrix, and can at times stray closer to a folksy or country sound. But on pure talent and ability, she’s probably the closest thing we have to a modern, female Hendrix – and she’s still not even 30 yet.
All photos, videos, and embedded tracks per the artists featured and those credited.