Ronnie Wood and Jimi Hendrix might be two of the most recognizable classic rock guitar players ever. Wood played a stolen bass alongside Jeff Beck in his group in the late 1960s, was a creative driving force in Faces, and found worldwide fame with The Rolling Stones. Hendrix became a legend almost as soon as people heard his masterful guitar playing. Yet when they shared an apartment, Wood said Hendrix confessed that he hated one aspect of his music.
Ronnie Wood and Jimi Hendrix took different paths to guitar stardom
He was born and raised in the United States, but Hendrix had to go to England to find an appreciative audience. But they definitely appreciated him.
Three of his early singles — “Hey Joe,” “Purple Haze,” and “The Wind Cries Mary” — were top-10 hits in Britain in early 1967, per the Official Charts Company. Hendrix’s debut album, Are You Experienced, reached No. 2 in England. The follow-up, Axis: Bold As Love, hit No. 5 later that year.
Wood started his rise from local talent to international star around the same time. He joined Jeff Beck’s group and toured the United States as the band’s bassist. He moved to guitar and wrote many of the hit songs for Faces. Wood released two solo albums before joining The Rolling Stones as their rhythm guitarist.
The two guitarists shared a flat in London during their busy days in the late 1960s. That’s when Hendrix said he hated one part of his music to Wood.
Hendrix confessed that he hated his singing voice during one hangout with Wood
Wood and Hendrix were like ships passing in the night when they shared a London flat. Still, they occasionally had downtime to hang out at home.
Hendrix broke out an impressive skill during one hangout — his ability to play guitar both left- and right-handed. Wood was blown away by his roommate’s dexterity on the ax and lack of self-confidence with his vocals. In his autobiography Ronnie, Wood writes that Hendrix confessed he hated his singing voice:
“[T]he thing that struck me about him was how he had so little self-confidence. I couldn’t believe it. He confessed to me that night that he hated his own voice, that he couldn’t stand singing, and that he wished he could just stand onstage and play. That’s what he really wanted to do. Just play.”
Hendrix’s guitar playing quickly became legendary. He might not have been a Tom Jones on the microphone, but Hendrix’s singing voice was unmistakable. He might have Wood to thank for the boost of self-confidence. The Stones guitarist writes that he advised Hendrix to treat his voice like another instrument. Wood received a gift from Hendrix in exchange.
The ‘Foxy Lady’ singer gave the future Rolling Stones guitarist a thoughtful gift
The world will never know how much Wood’s words of wisdom lessened Hendrix’s hatred of his singing voice. We do know that that gift Hendrix gave in return inspired Wood’s guitar playing.
Hendrix gave a gift to his neighbor — a pair of albums. The two records — James Brown’s Live at the Apollo and B.B. King’s Live at the Regal — inspired Wood to take his guitar playing more seriously. He played bass in the Jeff Beck Group, but some of Wood’s best pre-Rolling Stones guitar playing came with Faces before he got his call to join one of the most famous bands ever.
Jimi Hendrix hated his singing voice, but Ronnie Wood gave him advice that seemed to strike a chord (pun intended). It never overshadowed his legendary guitar playing, but Hendrix’s vocals became unmistakable.
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