Auburn tribute performer Randy Hansen still living the Jimi Hendrix experience

Randy Hansen has been doing his Jimi Hendrix tribute for going on 40 years. At 62, the Auburn musician has taken his Hendrix show all over the world, and no, he’s not tired of playing “Purple Haze.”

He’s going on 40 years of doing his Jimi Hendrix tribute.

“I’ve lost count of the places,” says Randy Hansen about where he’s played. Throughout the U.S.; in France, Spain, Slovenia, Australia …

He’s played in as small a venue as a guy’s basement in Italy, as big a gig as several thousand in Finland and Germany.

He’s 62 and his small rental home in Auburn is crammed after four decades of being a working musician whose specialty is Jimi.

He owns 99 guitars. Exactly 99. He owns a wah-wah pedal that he’s quite certain came from one of Jimi’s shows — the rubber stoppers on the pedal have been replaced by now-aged foam rubber, just like Jimi altered his.

How many times has he played “Purple Haze”?

“Thousands,” says Hansen. No, he’s not tired of the tunes, he says. “Jimi was one of those people that God puts on the planet that’s on a real mission.”

He smiles and nods as he once again plays another Jimi tune, not one of Hendrix’s better-known ones, but a favorite of Hansen’s: “1983 … (A Merman I Should Turn to Be).”

“It’s very symphonic to my ear,” he says. “It shows Jimi at his most imaginative.”

And that’s saying something. “He was the greatest musician ever to come out of Seattle,” says Hansen. “He was really a musical scientist. He did things nobody had ever done before. All those guitar effects now are something that Jimi used.”

Randy Hansen has been doing his Jimi Hendrix tribute for 40 years. The Auburn musician, now 62, has taken his Hendrix show all over the world. Here he plays “The Star Spangled Banner” in the style of Hendrix. (Alan Berner / The Seattle Times)

These days, besides doing his Hendrix tribute, Hansen also plays guitar with Heart By Heart, formed by bassist Steve Fossen and drummer Michael Derosier, original members of Heart. They have steady gigs at clubs and casinos bringing Heart’s “songs to the stage in their original form.”

But it is Hendrix that is Hansen’s mainstay.

Hansen has the facial structure of Hendrix, with similar cheeks and mouth. He has stayed skinny through all these years and his physique is that of Jimi’s.

Maybe, he says, one reason he’s in good shape at 62 are the gyrations he…

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