November 27, 1942 - September 18, 1970: Age 27
Hendrix was a brilliant guitarist, singer, songwriter, and record producer whose musical output and lifestyle continue to amaze, delight, offend, and bewilder people. Knowing the magnitude of his influence on the history of rock and roll, it is suprising to remember that he was only 27 when he died. Rolling Stone put him at the top of their list of the 100 Greatest Guitarists of all time in 2003.
His breakthrough performance was at the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967, when he played an incredible, groundbreaking set, ending it by burning his guitar on stage, smashing it to bits, and tossing the pieces out to the audience. He was the headline act at the 1969 Woodstock music festival, considered a bigger attraction than The Who, Santana, Grateful Dead and Jefferson Airplane.
Artistically he was amazing; personally and professionally things were chaotic. He had huge problems with his manager. He took a lot of drugs, although not heroin, apparently, as many have assumed, because he was afraid of needles. His drug of choice was LSD. When he drank alcohol he would get angry and violent.
His death was caused by asphyxiating on his own vomit in his sleep after taking nine sleeping pills in combination with wine. There is some confusion about exactly when he died, as his girlfriend maintained he was alive when he went into the ambulance but the attendants reported that he had been dead for some time when they got there. Hendrix died in London; when the news got out thieves broke into his New York apartment and stole personal items, tapes, and lyrics.
Sources: Wikipedia, Official Jimi Hendrix Website