Jimi Hendrix appeared to me in a vision while I was getting my wisdom teeth out. This was Thanksgiving break 1986, in Houston, Texas. The next day I took LSD. It was a trip full of signs and portents, heralded by Hendrix’s visitation to me at the dentist’s office. At first I thought Jimi was protecting me, but now I think he may have been trying to warn me about that acid trip.
I’d heard Hendrix on LSD the previous summer, as “Are You Experienced?” transformed my boom box. That’s the song where he says he’s experienced, and then he says “Let me prove it to you” and plays a backward guitar solo. Everybody knows that song, but on psychedelics I heard the solo, man. It did prove Jimi was experienced, just like he said he was. I trusted him, an ersatz father figure dispensing psychedelic wisdom.
Why did I get into LSD, you may ask. Well, in 1983 after our father died, my family lived with our Houston grandmother for a summer of grieving. And while we were there, my little brother Allen and I watched the William Hurt movie Altered States on cable like 5,000 times. It’s about a psychedelic scientist testing the limits of meaning and sanity. We adopted it as a roadmap for how to live.