Jimi Hendrix exploded into fame in 1966. It wasn't just his incredible and unique guitar skills that drew attention - his iconic fashion had him in the spotlight thanks to his fascination with colour and style.
The Hendrix family had a connection with vaudeville theatre - a comedic variety style of entertainment popular in the late 1890s through to the 1930s - and this helped ignite Jimi's interest in attention-grabbing clothing according to sister Janie Hendrix.
“My grandma Nora was in vaudeville. She was a performer, dancer, singer… The Chicago area was kind of their base, and they moved north and ended up being in the Dixieland vaudeville show, and they dispersed in Washington. At the time there were no jobs to be found, especially for people of colour. So they ended up moving to Vancouver. At that time my grandma was in her thirties and she ended up starting [a family of] 10 children. Grandpa Hendrix – Grandpa Ross – he was also in vaudeville, but he was a stagehand.”
Janie explained that the "type of costumes that my grandma wore for vaudeville is what kinda sparked Jimi’s interest – the vests, the shiny, the glittery, the velvety kind of costumes… He would go into Grandma’s trunk and he would pull out these vests and he’d try them on. So that kinda sparked that interest. ... A lot of parts of our journey in life mould who we are. Different facets of his life created the music.”