Randy Hansen is keeping the Jimi Hendrix legend alive
February 6, 2013
Chasing a ghost? Hardly. Randy Hansen has spent the past 40 years praising one, one guitar string at a time.
The Seattle-area guitarist has made a career out of his devotion to Jimi Hendrix, performing as a tribute act to the Seattle-born rock legend, who died in 1970, four years before Hansen began playing his songs.
“To this day, there are a lot of things that make me go, ‘How did he do that?’” he said in a phone interview. “When you start examining it, you realize what a genius he was.”
Hansen will bring his show to the fifth annual Finapalooza, as the headliner of the second of three days of rock bands, at 11:45 p.m. Feb. 8.
To Hansen, Hendrix’s genius remaining alive for decades after his death proves his status as a trailblazer.
“I had been playing guitar, and everything I listened to, I thought it was great, but I never thought music was going to go much further,” he said. “He changed the whole ballgame. You could spend the whole time figuring out how he did what he did.”
He began playing Hendrix in 1967. He belonged to several bands, but none of his bandmates could play anything of Hendrix’s beyond “Purple Haze,” he recalled.
“It was hard,” he said of playing Hendrix’s music. “People were afraid of it. It was like if today we tried to form a band that only plays Yes tunes. Anyone who breaks ground is going to scare the hell out of everyone at first.”
His Hendrix show has changed over the years. He used to play Hendrix songs note for note.
Now, he said, he embraces his idol’s ability to improvise, in songs and during shows.
“I try to go by what I feel the audience will like to hear next,” he said.
A seasoned performer, Hansen has shared the stage with Stevie Ray Vaughan, Steve Miller, Heart, The Kinks and Hendrix drummer Mitch Mitchell. He has done some un-Hendrix stuff, but crowds like the tributes.
“The reason I dedicated myself to Jimi is, I saw nobody else doing that,” he said. “I was like, ‘Well, I seem to be OK at doing it and people say I remind them of Jimi, and saying that I should never stop doing it.’”
So far, it’s working, 38 years and counting.
“I don’t think people grasped what Jimi was about,” he said. “His trying to change the world and make it nicer. The common man sees him as a psychedelic guitar player who did a lot of drugs. That’s so false about him. My aim doing this is that hopefully people will get on YouTube and do some exploring and find things about his life, and realize that this guy was like a prophet.”
Sebastian Moraga: 392-6434, ext. 221, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you go
11:45 p.m. Feb. 8
Finaghty’s Irish Pub
7726 Center Blvd. S.E.