Generations later, artists still hear the howl of Jimi Hendrix's guitar. Now, anyone who still gets mail may also experience his legacy.
The U.S. Postal Service is honoring Hendrix with a commemorative Forever stamp, created by artist Rudy Gutierrez. The image, which resembles a vintage 45 rpm record sleeve, references the butterflies from Hendrix's song Little Wing, a third-eye symbol to represent the guitarist's spiritual side and a petroglyph to symbolize his Native American heritage. Hendrix is depicted wearing one of his signature military jackets and playing one of his white Fender Stratocaster guitars.
"The technical challenge was making art that will still read at stamp size, so it was a matter of not being overly complicated," Gutierrez says in a media release. "It was important to make the art accessible … and to be true to the incredible combination of rawness and virtuosity that was Jimi Hendrix."
"The honor of the stamp really comes from the lost art of letter-writing," says Hendrix's adopted sister Janie, who runs Experience Hendrix, gatekeepers of the musician's legacy. "While Jimi was in the Army, he wrote these wonderful postcards and letters to my dad. There's something about handwriting a letter that gives a sense of intimacy."
In getting his stamp, Hendrix joins an elite club that already includes Johnny Cash,Ray Charles and Lydia Mendoza; Janis Joplin and James Brown will be the next inductees.
Slash, Doors guitarist Robby Krieger and Perry Farrell of Jane's Addiction, among other celebrities, will converge Thursday at the stamp's first-day-of-issue reveal atSouth By Southwest music festival in Austin.
"Over the years, more people have embraced Jimi's music," says Janie Hendrix. "His influence is evident in the music of Raphael Saadiq, Erykah Badu and Musiq Soulchild."
The ongoing, 25-stop Experience Hendrix tribute tour has recruited rock and blues artists such as Bootsy Collins, Jonny Lang, Buddy Guy, Dweezil Zappa and Billy Cox. The Black Crowes' Rich Robinson, Brad Whitford of Aerosmith and Krieger have also joined the lineup.
"It's a three-hour concert, so it's more like a festival," Hendrix says. "The artists play two or three songs with each other."