Week Ending March 10, 2013: Hendrix’s Life After Death
Jimi Hendrix’s People, Hell And Angels enters The Billboard 200 at #2, just behind Luke Bryan’s Spring Break…Here To Party. This puts the rock legend back in the top five 42-1/2 years after he died at age 27. No other artist in chart history has cracked the top five this long after his death. Elvis Presley is in second place. His Elvis: 2nd To None debuted at #3 in October 2003, a little more than 26 years after his death.
This is the highest ranking for an album by a performer who had passed away since Whitney Houston’s Whitney: The Greatest Hits logged three weeks at #2 in the weeks following her death in February 2012. The last album by a deceased performer to reach #1 was Michael Jackson’s This Is it soundtrack, which debuted at #1 in November 2009.
People, Hell And Angels is, incredibly, Hendrix’s 35th posthumous album to make The Billboard 200. The album consists of 12 previously-unreleased studio recordings which Hendrix recorded between 1968 and 1970.
Hendrix was a star for just three years, from June 1967, when he played the Monterey International Pop Festival, to September 1970, when he died in London of a drug overdose. Here’s a sign of just how long Hendrix has been gone: All of the other artists in this week’s top 10 were born after Hendrix died.
Only one other Hendrix album has climbed as high as #2: Electric Ladyland, which spent two weeks at #1 in November 1968. (Electric Ladyland interrupted an eight-week run on top by Big Brother & the Holding Company’s Cheap Thrills. Less than two years after the albums dueled for #1, both Hendrix and Big Brother’s lead singer Janis Joplin were dead.)
The Jimi Hendrix Experience first cracked the top five in February 1968 with Axis: Bold As Love. This week’s debut gives Hendrix a more than 45-year span of top five albums.
This is Hendrix’s fourth top five album since his death. (It follows The Cry Of Love, which hit #3 in 1971, Crash Landing, which reached #5 in 1975, and Valleys Of Neptune, which hit #4 in 2010.) This equals the number of top five albums he had in his lifetime.
The Jimi Hendrix Experience was voted into the Rock And Roll Hall of Fame in 1992. Hendrix was voted a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award that same year.
Hard to imagine, but the guitar god would be 70 now, had he lived. If he was 70, would he still be popular? Or is part of his appeal that he is eternally young?