EVERY time 27-year-old Darren Hart, aka Harts, contemplates what Jimi Hendrix had achieved at the same age, he's simply blown away.
When Hendrix died on September 18, 1970 aged just 27 from asphyxiation after using barbiturates, he left behind a legacy of three studio albums that changed the face of popular music and continues to influence and radiate half a century later.
Hendrix is widely recognised as rock's greatest guitarist. His innovative use of amplifiers, feedback, distortion and effects pedals have directly influenced blues, rock and metal genres in the decades since.
Harts was one artist inspired by Hendrix to become a guitarist after falling in love with classic rock. Before discovering Hendrix and blues legend Buddy Guy, Harts mostly played drums, but on hearing the explosive energy of tracks like Purple Haze and Foxy Lady, he was sold on the six-string.
What Harts hears when Hendrix blasts out of the speakers is pure freedom.
"It really informed my decision to play a lot more guitar and be a guitarist, but more so, it opened my eyes to his perspective to the instrument in general and the limitations some people put on instruments that Jimi Hendrix did not have," Harts says.
"That freedom of expression, I relate it to whatever I do, whether it's songwriting or playing on other instruments."
Harts has often been compared to Hendrix since the Melbourne artist burst onto the scene blending classic rock, funk and modern pop on his debut album Daydreamer (2014).
He followed with the EP Breakthrough (2015) and albums Smoke Fire Hope Desire (2016) and Queens, Kings & All The Big Things (2018).
The Purple One himself, Prince, famously gave Harts his mark of approval when he invited him to his Paisley Park mansion. The pair later worked together on Breakthrough.
Hendrix's nephew, Austin Hendrix, also realised Harts was the real deal. Following a Harts show in New York, Austin introduced himself and the pair became friends.
Eventually it led to Austin encouraging Harts to tackle his famous uncle's music in a full-length show. The result was Harts Plays Hendrix, which debuted last year in Melbourne.
Following its success, Harts has extended the show to a full Australian tour, including a performance at the Gum Ball music festival in the Hunter Valley.
"I was keen to do it from the start when it was pitched for me, but I didn't know how popular it would be," Harts says. "I didn't know if there was a market for it.
"It's still early days for us with a project like this. I know the tour will be fun and I hope it's as enjoyable for the fans."
Harts is quick to point out that this is no tribute show. Rather it's an exploration and interpretation of Hendrix's music and stage craft.
"In today's standards he was just a kid," he says. "It was a different era. That 27 is so different to our generation's 27.
"That 50-year-old is so different to our generation's 50-year-old. It's really hard to compare, but it still blows my mind when I hear people like that and all the other legends who died young that achieved so much and were so iconic and mature for their age back then.
"They seemed like they had a great understanding of who they were and life at a younger age than I do now. So that's inspiring to see that Jimi Hendrix was writing such iconic music when he was 25 or 26."
In the meantime, Harts is also preparing for the launch of the Women's Cricket Twenty20 World Cup in Australia.
Harts, who is of Indian heritage, contributed the tournament's theme song, a cover of '70s hit You've Gotta Get Up and Dance by Supercharge.
Harts could also be potentially performing at the final on March 8 at the MCG, which is aiming to attract the largest crowd for a female sporting event. US pop star Katy Perry is confirmed to perform.
"This opportunity came up when they pitched me and a bunch of other Australian artists and we all did demos and they picked up my demo, which was amazing," Harts says.
"We had conversations about cricket and they saw I'm genuinely into cricket and I think it ticked all the boxes for them."
Harts Plays Hendrix is coming to Anita's Theatre, Wollongong (March 27); The Gum Ball, Dashville (April 24-26); Panthers, Penrith (June 12) and The Art House, Wyong (June 13).