Jimi Hendrix was born on November 27th 1942 on the third stone from the sun and passed away on September 18th 1970 in London far from home. I often think that he must have been a space ~ angel visiting us from outer space because he only released three albums in four years and then all of a sudden he was gone, not there anymore, leaving behind a legacy of three brilliant albums Are You Experienced ~ Axis : Bold As Love and Electric Ladyland all way ahead of their time!
Flying Jimi over to England from America was a master stroke by ex~Animals bassist Chas Chandler his new manager who promised to introduce him to Eric Clapton. I don’t think that Jimi would have made such a big impact if he had stayed in the USA, but swinging London in England in 1966 was the place to be, open to new sounds, looks and ideas which Jimi had in spades.
After many rehearsals two quirky English musicians were bought in to form The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Mitch Mitchell on Drums and Noel Redding on Bass complete with new afro hair styles!
Mitch Mitchell was a powerhouse drummer similar to jazz drummer Elvin Jones and a perfect foil for Hendrix, they had a great understanding like two playful eagles soaring through the sky duelling with each other and pushing the music on and on to see how far out they could get! Meanwhile bassist Noel Redding would try to underpin the rhythm and keep it all together.
While recording their first album in London, Jimi would travel around various clubs and watering holes where England’s established musicians like Eric Clapton, Brian Jones and Eric Burdon would hang out. Jimi would get up on stage and play his new metallic feedback guitar pryrotechnics and strike fear into the hearts of the likes of Clapton, Beck, Townsend and Page.
Jimi was a vital link back to the early blues of Robert Johnson and add to that mix his futuristic use of the whammy bar on his Fender Stratocaster and the controlled feedback to take us all on a psychedelic star~spangled roller coaster ride!
The debut album ‘ Are You Experienced ‘ was released in 1967 and word spread quickly about the new guitar slinger in town and all Jimi had to say was ” Move over Rover and let Jimi take over! ” and the rest is history.
Check out the pure blues of ‘ Red House ‘ and the sex of ‘ Foxy Lady ‘ coming to git yer!
Heavy stuff and tour dates took there toll as Jimi never seemed to be off the road, working at a ridiculous pace with hardly any time for recording. The second album ‘ Axis : Bold As Love ‘ wasn’t as well received as the first one but still featured some great music like ‘ Castles Made of Sand ‘ ” Little Wing ‘ and ‘If Six Were Nine ‘ which appeared on the soundtrack to ‘Easy Rider ‘. This album showed Hendrix’s lighter, gentler and more melodic side and is a beauty.
With the release of Hendrix’s epic third album ‘ Electric Ladyland’ we heard for the first time his beautiful interpretation of Dylan’s ‘All Along the Watchtower’. A lot of people have covered Bob Dylan’s songs but Hendrix made them his own! Just listen or watch ‘Like A Rolling Stone’ which he played to a thrilled crowd at the Monterey Festival on his first visit back to the USA.
Listen to ‘Electic Ladyland ‘ on vinyl through headphones if you get a chance, there is not a bad track on this album and this is the bar to which every other guitar player is now judged by.
I never met Hendrix, the closest I came was while working at the Marquee Studios in 1969 at the tender age of 16 when Keith Emerson who went on to form ELP booked the studio to have a jam with Hendrix one night but Hendrix was a no~show as we all waited until 2 am. Never mind! I did have a drink with Mitch Mitchell in the early 80’s at the Fulham Greyhound and he was full of stories and was a super nice guy.
While on my epic road trip across the US a few years ago I stopped off in Renton, Washington State and visited the grave where Jimi rests. As I wandered around looking for the grave one of the groundsmen approached me and said ” I know who you’re looking for!” and took me to the Hendrix plot complete with guitar inscription and next to his grandmother. One minute silence was observed.
Fly on my sweet angel, fly on through the sky!