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Jimi Hendrix

by Adam Smith

Jimi HendrixJimi Hendrix is one of a handful of modern musicians who have transcended their field to represent something altogether greater. A ground-breaking artist, he was at the forefront of guitar experimentation, and in a recording career of barely four years, his impact and influence on the electric guitar repertoire have never been equalled. Through his natal Uranus in the Fifth house, he became the very embodiment of electricity in music.

Many people's first impression, before seeing his chart, is of the unmistakeable element of fire, and perhaps 'something in Scorpio'. Sure enough, as a double Sagittarian (1), he emphasised the free-living side of fire that became a signature of his music and lyrics. The same Sagittarius Stellium (2) also shows a kind of exaggerated machismo, almost to the point of camp, in his leather jeans and pink feather boa (Jimi was a wicked mimic, and his party-piece was apparently a perfect impersonation of a New York drag queen). Not that there was anything sexually ambivalent about him. Mars in Scorpio in the tenth shows his prodigious sex-drive, and also his brief, incongruous spell in the military (like Elvis, curiously enough, who also had Mars in the Tenth). Jimi was pressured into joining the 101st Airborne as the result of juvenile convictions for joy-riding, and was only discharged after breaking his ankle on his twenty-sixth parachute jump. Military insignia, the tasselled 19th Century British Army jacket, became an integral part of his later Carnaby Street-derived image.

The preponderance of water in his chart is perhaps more surprising (3). Moon-Jupiter in Cancer in the Seventh house is one of his chart's strongest and most supportive elements. Its symbolism is addressed repeatedly in his song lyrics, like the curious 'Belly Button Window', where a child is described looking out at the world from his mother's womb. This same Moon-Jupiter signature meant Jimi rarely lacked female company, and idealised saviour figures are also celebrated in his song lyrics: 'Angel', 'Little Wing', 'The Wind Cries Mary'. Many of these more sensitive tunes were addressed to his first English girlfriend, Kathy Etchingham, of whom he said: 'She's my girlfriend, my past girlfriend, probably my future girlfriend. My mother, my sister, all that bit. She's my Yoko Ono from Chester'.

Combined with Saturn-Uranus in opposition to a Sagittarius stellium, his most moody of Moons shows the Manic Depression alluded to in his wild waltz-time song. A Cancer Moon needs careful handling, but Jimi's hedonistic lifestyle, even by the standards of the day, meant that he must have been cranky and unpredictable much of the time, not to say volatile. This is not the chart of someone who kept an even emotional keel: he would be either up or down, and not much in-between. His horoscope's absence of earth (4), along with Saturn in the Sixth house showed Jimi's lack of basic grounding, and also problems with drugs, his eventual undoing. During his early years of touring, he experienced moments of despair, and more than once attempted to slash his own wrists. Saturn transiting his Second house during this early period brought its familiar stresses, and it was only once he was based in New York that he once again found willing female patrons, like the super-groupie Linda Keith.

It was in Greenwich Village in 1966 that Hendrix's act was picked up by Chas Chandler, erstwhile bass player with The Animals. Chandler persuaded Jimi to drop everything and come to England, where he promised that he would be a star. In America, Jimi's blues-based music was seen as nothing exceptional, but translated into a European context, it became exotic and otherworldly art. His migration from the US to the UK in late 1966, occurred at the transiting Saturn-Uranus opposition (5), and Jimi soon became an adopted Londoner. Saturn was transiting his Third House by this time, and apart from his financial fortunes improving, one of the things he came to terms with was becoming a featured singer. Like many others, it was Bob Dylan's style that convinced him that he did not need to be Otis Redding to step out on his own, but he never did learn to like his own singing voice.

In his book Crosstown Traffic, Charles Murray rightly points out Hendrix's innate maturity and manliness. Unlike the pasty-faced British blues wannabes he encountered at London clubs like The Bag of Nails or The Speakeasy, Jimi had in fact lived the classic bluesman's life, honing his skills playing behind the likes of Curtis Mayfield, Little Richard and The Isley Brothers. So he was ultimately worldly, but had many strange spiritual beliefs - part African-American, part Cherokee, he was an old soul in every respect. The writings from his private journals and some of his song lyrics resemble in a peculiar way the works of another strongly Sagittarius-Cancer individual, poet and mystic William Blake (6). Tracks like If 6 Was 9 not only became the forerunners of rap music, but lyrically, carry echoes of something far older.

White collared conservatives flashing down the street,
Pointing their plastic finger at me.
They're hoping soon my kind will drop and die,
But I'm gonna wave my freak flag high, high!
Wave on, wave on
Fall mountains, just don't fall on me
Go ahead on Mr. Business man, you can't dress like me.
Sing on Brother, play on drummer.

Also, in interviews:

"When I was a little boy, I believed that if you put a tooth under your pillow, a fairy would come in the night and take away the tooth and leave a dime. Now, I believed in myself more than anything. And, I suppose in a way, that's also believing in God. If there is a God and He made you, then if you believe in yourself, you're also believing in Him. So I think everybody should believe in himself. That doesn't mean you've got to believe in heaven and hell and all that stuff. But it does mean that what you are and what you do is your religion. I can't express myself in easy conversation-the words just don't come out right. But when I get up on stage-well, that's my whole life. That's my religion. My music is electric church music, if by 'church' you mean 'religion', I am electric religion." (7)

By The Isle of Wight festival in the Summer of 1970, Jimi was spiritually exhausted. He played poorly, with no energy or inspiration, and a tangible air of heaviness and fatigue pervaded the whole gig. His death came only a matter of weeks later, though suicide seems an unlikely explanation. With everything to live for still, he had simply exhausted himself beyond oblivion, and as Charles R. Cross reveals in his biography Room full of Mirrors, the European sleeping pills he took on the fateful night of September 18th 1970 were stronger than he was used to. He took a small handful, after an evening's drinking wine, and suffocated on his vomit - a sad but all-too common end. Anyone wishing to end it all would surely have taken the whole bottle.

For some, Jimi's compositions are harsh and dissonant, difficult to listen to. But the sensitive Little Wing, for example, astonishes scholarly musicians with its strange, complex, yet flowing chord-melody. Mastery of this stellar song has become every bedroom guitarist's benchmark, as much as the opening bars of Stairway to Heaven. The best of his onstage recordings are where Jimi comes into his own, however. The extended live improvisations show someone grounded in a blues and soul tradition, yet utterly original, making the music completely his own. The unexpected Uranian twists and turns, the sense of man and guitar being at one defy any mere copyist.

Can genius be located in the horoscope? No. The clues astrology gives are only of the outward manifestation of genius, its particular type and character. Jimi Hendrix will be remembered for his incredible free-flowing style that seemed to come from a different dimension. The frizzy hair, flowing clothes and upside-down Stratocaster, have become 20th Century icons, up there with Marlon, Marilyn and Che. Mentioning Jimi Hendrix's name is not only to recall the ferocious music, but to conjure up the 60s zeitgeist, an exotic ambience of freedom, sex, style and spontaneity. In novelist Michael Moorcock's words, 'only Jimi could make a guitar come alive in that way, turning the machine into an organic creature, simultaneously a woman, a white horse, a sliding snake'. Though his playing has passed into the vocabulary of virtually every guitarist since his time, his individuality and sheer genius stand alone.


  1. 'Double Sagittarian' - His Sun-sign also rising sign, i.e. his Ascendant in Sag.
  2. 'Stellium' - Sun, Mercury and Venus were all together within 5°.
  3. 'When he turned down the volume, like in hotel rooms, and was forced to play very quietly, his music was like running water. It was dreamy and fluid with whispering singing lines. Very introspective and poetic.' Paul Caruso on Jimi Hendrix, Jimpress, Oct 2000.
  4. 'Absence of earth' - i.e., no planets in Taurus, Virgo or Capricorn, the Earth-signs.
  5. That opposition SA-UR was then crossing over his MC-IC axis.
  6. For comparison, Hendrix's natal Venus was conjunct Antares, 'Heart of the Scorpion' at 9° Sagittarius, as too was William Blake's natal Sun.

About Adam Smith

Adam is a London based astrologer, previous editor of the Astrological Journal and has a website AstroBoogie

Also, by Nick Kollerstron

Neptune and Jimi Hendrix