I'm Michel Martin and this is TELL ME MORE from NPR News.

In a moment, the Barbershop guys will be here with their take on that labor fight in Wisconsin and on the gridiron.

But first, another in our series of Black History Month tributes. All this month we've been inviting members of the TELL ME MORE staff, some of our guests, and our NPR colleagues to share stories about the figure or event from black history that they most admire. Today the conductor of this program salutes another maestro.

ARGIN HUTCHINS: I'm Argin Hutchins, one of the directors here at TELL ME MORE. And a figure from black history who I admire is singer, songwriter and guitarist Jimi Hendrix. I think was 12 when I discovered this riff.

(Soundbite of song, "Purple Haze")

HUTCHINS: The song is "Purple Haze" on the album "Are You Experienced." I came across it after thumbing through my fathers' record stacks and saw the cover for the Jimi Hendrix Experience band. I curiously placed the dusty vinyl on the turntable and let the needle glide.

(Soundbite of song, "Purple Haze")

HUTCHINS: I was hooked. Becoming a fan led me to learn about his life. Jimi Hendrix taught himself to play the electric guitar and, because he was left-handed, he would play the guitar upside down with the strings in reverse order. One of the most influential musicians in history, he was best known for his edgy guitar riffs. But he also had a great fondness for blues.

(Soundbite of music)

HUTCHINS: Hendrix reached his peak in the late '60s when he played the Monterey Pop Festival and headlined the iconic Woodstock Festival. In the shadows of hard-won civil rights, he stood proud on stage wearing an Afro and altered the course of rock and roll - experimenting with the electric guitar riffs years before it became a rock and roll staple. And the sound that he helped to create is replicated to this day.

Hendrix died in 1970, but his music lives on for me every time I'm in my car. Play on, Jimi.

(Soundbite of music)

MARTIN: That was Argin Hutchins, one of the people who helps make the magic happen here at TELL ME MORE, which is to say, one of our directors paying tribute to guitarist Jimi Hendrix.

To browse a full series of TELL ME MORE black history essays, log on to NPR.org and in the search field type black history heroes.

(Soundbite of song, "Little Miss Lover")

Mr. JIMI HENDRIX (Musician): (Singing) Well, I love a lover that feels like you, would like to tag along.

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