Ancestry and childhood
Hendrix's paternal grandparents, Ross and Nora Hendrix, pre-1912
Jimi Hendrix had a diverse heritage. His paternal grandmother, Zenora "Nora" Rose Moore, was African American and one-quarter Cherokee.[nb 1] Hendrix's paternal grandfather, Bertran Philander Ross Hendrix (born 1866), was born out of an extramarital affair between a woman named Fanny, and a grain merchant from Urbana, Ohio, or Illinois, one of the wealthiest men in the area at that time.[nb 2] After Hendrix and Moore relocated to Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, had a son they named James Allen Hendrix on June 10, 1919; the family called him "Al".
In 1941 after moving to Seattle, Al met Lucille Jeter (1925–1958) at a dance; they married on March 31, 1942. Lucille's father (Jimi's maternal grandfather) was Preston Jeter (born 1875), whose mother was born in similar circumstances as Bertran Philander Ross Hendrix. Lucille's mother, née Clarice Lawson, had African American and Cherokee ancestors. Al, who had been drafted by the U.S. Army to serve in World War II, left to begin his basic training three days after the wedding. Johnny Allen Hendrix was born on November 27, 1942, in Seattle; he was the first of Lucille's five children. In 1946, Johnny's parents changed his name to James Marshall Hendrix, in honor of Al and his late brother Leon Marshall.[nb 3]
Stationed in Alabama at the time of Hendrix's birth, Al was denied the standard military furlough afforded servicemen for childbirth; his commanding officer placed him in the stockade to prevent him from going AWOL to see his infant son in Seattle. He spent two months locked up without trial, and while in the stockade received a telegram announcing his son's birth.[nb 4] During Al's three-year absence, Lucille struggled to raise their son. When Al was away, Hendrix was mostly cared for by family members and friends, especially Lucille's sister Delores Hall and her friend Dorothy Harding. Al received an honorable discharge from the U.S. Army on September 1, 1945. Two months later, unable to find Lucille, Al went to the Berkeley, California, home of a family friend named Mrs. Champ, who had taken care of and had attempted to adopt Hendrix; this is where Al saw his son for the first time.
After returning from service, Al reunited with Lucille, but his inability to find steady work left the family impoverished. They both struggled with alcohol, and often fought when intoxicated. The violence sometimes drove Hendrix to withdraw and hide in a closet in their home. His relationship with his brother Leon (born 1948) was close but precarious; with Leon in and out of foster care, they lived with an almost constant threat of fraternal separation. In addition to Leon, Hendrix had three younger siblings: Joseph, born in 1949, Kathy in 1950, and Pamela, 1951, all of whom Al and Lucille gave up to foster care and adoption. The family frequently moved, staying in cheap hotels and apartments around Seattle. On occasion, family members would take Hendrix to Vancouver to stay at his grandmother's. A shy and sensitive boy, he was deeply affected by his life experiences. In later years, he confided to a girlfriend that he had been the victim of sexual abuse by a man in uniform. On December 17, 1951, when Hendrix was nine years old, his parents divorced; the court granted Al custody of him and Leon.