“The sound was like from hyperspace” Uli Jon Roth on what it was really like to see Jimi Hendrix live

“No other guitar player sounded like that. And I soaked that up, and I wanted that sound.”

Jimi Hendrix

Jimi Hendrix. Credit: David Redfern/Getty

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Scorpions guitar maestro Uli Jon Roth has opened up about the “mind-blowing” experience of seeing Jimi Hendrix live, saying it was akin to hearing something “from hyperspace”.

Speaking on a new episode of the Mike Nelson Show, the musician says it was “destiny” that he picked up the guitar over any other instrument.

“I was surrounded by music at a certain age. My neighbour friend had a band, and I used to drive around with them and I wanted to be part of it,” Roth recalls [via Blabbermouth]. He describes an “instant attraction” with the guitar, explaining how it was “very easy” for him to learn it, and that he’d secured his first gig on stage after just a few months.

“Back then we didn’t have any tutors, no YouTube; you had to figure it out all by yourself. Meaning, I listened to longplay records. That’s what we used to do with turntables. I listened to, how does Eric Clapton play this? And I played along with the record after I came home from school, driving the neighbours crazy.”

According to Roth, his encounter with Jimi Hendrix — important as it was — came slightly later in his guitar journey.

“I didn’t start with Jimi Hendrix. I first started with the blues: Bluesbreakers, Eric Clapton, Cream. Jimi Hendrix was a little bit later, and then, yeah, he was my main influence for so many years. I learned everything from him,” Roth says.

“The rhythm playing, I used to really get into that because I was enthralled and fascinated by his musical message there. I always felt there was so much more to his playing than just guitar playing. That’s the thing that attracted me the most. And that’s what I didn’t hear with the other players.”

“Most of the other players were playing just cool music, but with Hendrix there was always like a cosmic element. And when I saw him play when I was a kid, I just turned 14 or whatever — I don’t quite remember — January ’69, I saw him play in concert in Hamburg, and it was mind-blowing, quite literally.”

“The sound was like from hyperspace,” Roth says of the magical moment. “The guitar sounded like some superhuman being from space. Those sounds were completely new back then. Nobody sounded like that. No other guitar player sounded like that. And I soaked that up, and I wanted that sound. I can still remember it.”

Check out the full interview with Uli below.

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