Born Johnny Allen Hendrix on November 27, 1942, in Seattle, Washington, the first of two sons to James Allen "Al" Hendrix (1919–2002) and Lucille Jeter (1925-1958). His father was stationed at Fort Sill in Oklahoma at the time of his birth, and was named by his mother. When he was two years old, his mother placed him in the temporary care of mutual friends in the San Francisco Bay Area. His father received an honorable discharge from the United States Army on September 1, 1945, and retrieved his eldest son and legally changed his name to James Marshall.
Hendrix in memory of his late brother, Leon Marshall Hendrix. He was known as "Buster" to friends and family, from birth. Shortly after, Al reunited with Lucille. He found it hard to gain steady employment after the Second World War, and the family experienced financial hardship. Hendrix had two brothers, Leon and Joseph, and two sisters, Kathy and Pamela.