“Big jets moving, bombers, people in battle, distress, crying – the Vietnam War added a lot of darkness to his playing”: Kirk Hammett on how Jimi Hendrix’s guitar style helped birth metal and psychedelia

Kirk Hammett and Jimi Hendrix
(Image credit: Christian Petersen / Svenska Dagbladet/ AFP / Getty Images)

Kirk Hammett has made no secret of the influence that Jimi Hendrix has had on his playing. Over the years this influence has been overt, like when Kirk treated audiences on Metallica’s 1989 Damaged Justice Tour to some Little Wing during his solo spot. 

Or that time he enraged hotel guests with a high-volume performance of Voodoo Chile (Slight Return) at 3.14am in one of the highlights from A Year And A Half In The Life Of Metallica Part 2. And then there’s the wah pedal connection, an effect that was inaugurated on record by Hendrix and adopted by the Metallica lead guitarist on his signature lead sound.

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Jonathan Horsley

Jonathan Horsley has been writing about guitars since 2005, playing them since 1990, and regularly contributes to publications including Guitar World, MusicRadar and Total Guitar. He uses Jazz III nylon picks, 10s during the week, 9s at the weekend, and shamefully still struggles with rhythm figure one of Van Halen’s Panama.