Yossi Piamenta, the ‘hassidic Hendrix,’ passes away at 64

“It’s very rare to find in any generation someone who is able to really come up with something new and have a unique style. He did it with his guitar and also his personality."

JEWISH GUITARIST Yossi Piamenta. (photo credit: FACEBOOK)
(photo credit: FACEBOOK)
Widely influential Jewish guitarist Yossi Piamenta, widely known as the “hassidic Hendrix,” passed away Sunday after an extended battle with cancer. He was 64.
Born in Jerusalem in 1951, Piamenta moved to New York to play with famed jazz saxophonist Stan Getz in the 1970s, “But when Yossi saw what went on in the showbiz industry... he declined and ran toward his Jewish roots,” according to his Facebook page. He stayed for more than 20 years in the United States, becoming religious and gathering a dedicated following enamored of his eclectic mix of jazz, rock and traditional hassidic melodies.
A devoted Chabad hassid, Piamenta was a fixture on the Orthodox wedding scene, performing with his brother Avi as the Piamenta Band.
“It’s very rare to find in any generation someone who is able to really come up with something new and have a unique style. He did it with his guitar and also his personality,” hassidic rocker Lazer Lloyd told The Jerusalem Post.
“I had the opportunity to meet and play with him only three times – it was a beautiful experience musically but more importantly as a person you felt he was a total soul and a man of kindness,” Lloyd recalled. “He was smart enough to know there is nothing as great as his heritage and yet he knew it was important not to put yourself in a box or clique... you felt he could vibe with the whole world while being himself, and that was whether he was among the nations (non-Jews) or haredim – he was Yossi. Much more than the ‘hassidic Hendrix’ and all of that.”
In April a message was posted on Piamenta’s Facebook page asking for prayers “as Yossi is not doing well.” Soon after he was placed in a medically induced coma and underwent surgery at Tel Hashomer.
“When I was 10, I was in Tel Aviv and I would listen to Elvis and then the Beatles and then all the rock scene. And then I discovered Hendrix when I was in the army. And that was it. That was the best,” Piamenta told Arutz Sheva in 2012.
“I do klezmer with electric guitar... the Jewish religion never separated from the music... the Levites used to sing and play on the stages above the altar,” he said.
The haredi world was quick to mourn his passing, with eulogies posted on all of the major haredi websites.
“Never the one to say no, Yossi would always drop all he was doing and run to hospital or private home to cheer up those suffering from illness and disease. Yossi did countless amazing acts of chesed [kindness] which he did quietly for so many years,” Yeshiva World News reported.
He had a “tremendous lev tov [good heart] and sought to help others in all ways and bring simha [happiness] to Jews across the globe,” matzav.com recalled. “He was a kind and gentle person, and he exuded the simha of an individual who embraced the Torah way of life and sought to become closer and closer to Ribbono Shel Olam [Master of the world].”
“He leaves behind a trail of music, students [and] friends,” Israeli musician Gad Elbaz wrote on Facebook.