Jimi Hendrix

 Jimi Hendrix

 Jimi Hendrix – circa 1968

 “His guitar slung across his back / His dusty boots is his Cadillac / Flamin’ hair just blowin’ in the wind / Ain’t seen a bed in so long it’s a sin / He left home when he was 17 / The rest of the world he had longed to see” – ‘Highway Chile’ (Jimi Hendrix)

“London?”  In The Café Wha? In New York City’s Greenwich Village, the African-American singer and guitarist stares across the table at Chas Chandler.  Best known as the bass player in U.K. rock band The Animals, Chandler is looking to move into artist management in partnership with The Animals long-time manager, Mike Jeffrey.  Linda Keith, a sometime-girlfriend of Rolling Stones’ guitarist Keith Richard, alerted Chandler to this act he had to see.  She was right.  Chandler is ‘knocked out’ by Jimmy James And The Blue Flames.  Now he is trying to convince their leader that his future is not in the United States, but in England.  Chandler promises ‘to make him a star.’  Jimmy is persuaded by the white man.  During the jet flight to England, Chandler advises Jimmy James to return to his original surname and alter the spelling of his first name to Jimi so he would be ‘much more memorable.’  On 21 September 1966 Jimi Hendrix arrives in London.

The man who would become known as Jimi Hendrix (27 November 1942 – 18 September 1970) is born in Seattle, Washington.  At birth he is named Johnny Allen Hendrix.  He is the son of Al and Lucille Hendrix.  The great grandmother of the newborn is a Native American, a full-blooded member of the Cherokee tribe.  In 1946, when the child is 3, his name is changed to James Marshall Hendrix.  Al Hendrix chooses the Marshall part of the sobriquet in honour of his brother, Marshall, who is a professional dancer.  A second son, Leon, is born in 1948 before Al and Lucille Hendrix divorce in 1950.

Jimmy is brought up by his father.  The boy is fascinated by his Dad’s collection of blues and jazz records.  Al Hendrix teaches Jimmy some dance steps and how to play the spoons and strum a ukulele.  In his teens, Jimmy develops an interest in the rock ‘n’ roll and rhythm and blues he hears on the local radio stations.  Al Hendrix gives his son a five dollar note so Jimmy can buy a second-hand guitar from one of the boy’s young friends.  By playing along with the radio, Jimmy learns to pick out the notes and chords of popular songs.  He is soon playing on stage with a variety of local bands.

Although Jimmy Hendrix’s interest in music is largely beneficial, it begins to have some negative consequences as well.  He starts skipping classes at Garfield High and, eventually, drops out of school all together.  He gets ‘into occasional trouble for dating white girls.’  Jimmy hangs around blues music venues, ‘getting high on codeine cough syrup and Benzedrine.’  He pilfers some clothing from shops.  But it is after he steals two cars in one week that the wayward youth is arrested.  A judge gives the boy the option of joining the armed forces rather than going to jail.  And so, in May 1961, James Marshall Hendrix becomes a U.S. paratrooper.

Stationed at the 101st Airborne in Fort Campbell, Kentucky, Jimmy Hendrix finds military life not to his liking.  In January 1962 he writes to his father, asking him to ship him Jimmy’s beloved Stratocaster guitar.  When the instrument arrives, he paints the name ‘Betty Jean’ (after one of his former girlfriends) on the side and takes the guitar to bed with him at night.   He is ‘shunned by most of the men’ because of such freakish behaviour.  However, some of his comrades are impressed with the sounds he coaxes out of the guitar.  A ‘boisterous’ fellow African-American serviceman, Billy Cox, plays bass and becomes friends with Hendrix.  After sustaining an injury in 1962, Jimmy Hendrix is ‘discharged for medical reasons in 1963.’

Billy Cox and Jimmy Hendrix head to Nashville, Tennessee and play at Club Del Morocco.  Jimmy moves on to Vancouver, Canada.  Flamboyant rock ‘n’ roll pioneer Little Richard passes through Vancouver in 1963 and takes on Hendrix as part of his backing band.  From 1963 to 1965, Jimmy Hendrix plays guitar in the backing bands of many artists on ‘the chitlin circuit’, venues in the southern United States catering primarily – usually exclusively – to black customers.  Hendrix’s employers come from rock ‘n’ roll, blues, rhythm and blues, and soul music backgrounds.  He works for: Little Richard, B.B. King, Jackie Wilson, Wilson Pickett, The Isley Brothers, Curtis Knight, Sam Cooke, Ike and Tina Turner, Solomon Burke, Tommy Tucker, and King Curtis.  Though Hendrix later becomes famed for his instrumental prowess, there is little evidence of that talent in these early days.  This is partly due to him still learning his craft and partly due to the restrictive requirements of being just a hired hand in the backing group of another artist.  Somewhere in this time, Hendrix cuts his first single, ‘My Diary’, ‘a minor local hit’ on the Revis label in Los Angeles.

While backing Curtis Knight, Hendrix adopts the pseudonym Jimmy James.  In 1965 he relocates to Greenwich Village in New York and begins working with his own band as Jimmy James And The Blue Flames.  Hendrix plays mostly blues at this time.  In New York he has his fateful meeting with Chas Chandler and, at Chandler’s urging, moves to the U.K.

It doesn’t go smoothly at first in England.  Jimi Hendrix is almost denied entry to the country because he arrives without a work permit.  The authorities are told he is a songwriter who has some royalties to collect and so he gains admission to the United Kingdom.  Manager Chas Chandler sells his own bass guitars to obtain sufficient funds to purchase equipment for his new charge.  Hendrix’s first U.K. performance is an impromptu jam with blues rock trio Cream, featuring Eric Clapton – the man who will be Hendrix’s nearest rival in the guitar hero stakes.  Chas Chandler recognises the next step must be finding Hendrix a band of his own.  He hires two white British musicians, bassist Noel Redding and drummer John ‘Mitch’ Mitchell.  Redding thought he was auditioning for the job of lead guitarist in Chas Chandler’s former band, The Animals.  Mitch Mitchell was a former child star of British television.  The Cream-style trio are dubbed The Jimi Hendrix Experience.  They frizz up their hair and dress in hip-gypsy garb, becoming an eye-catching act.

Jimi Hendrix has a flair for showmanship.  He had picked up a trick from guitarist T-Bone Walker of playing a solo with the guitar behind his head.  With his colourful apparel, Hendrix is a picture of ‘acid dandyism’, an ‘electric nigger.’

As a vocalist, Hendrix affects ‘a supremely cool vocal drawl’, but remains modest about this part of his act.  “I just wish I could sing really nice,” he says with some embarrassment, “but I know I can’t sing.  I just feel the words out.  I try all night to hit a pretty note, but I’m more like an entertainer and performer than a singer.”

At first, The Jimi Hendrix Experience plays mainly soul tunes like ‘Land of 1000 Dances’ or ‘In The Midnight Hour’.  It’s the kind of stuff Hendrix played many times on the chitlin circuit.  Although there are still traces of soul in the original songs Hendrix begins to write, it is not the predominant element.  Again taking a cue from Cream, The Jimi Hendrix Experience mainly plays a heavily amplified version of blues rock.  Hendrix had backed blues musicians like B.B. King, but this is closer to the blues-influenced British bands.  Hendrix is ‘the first black performer to take on white rock ‘n’ roll head on and win.’  Psychedelic music is also flowering and this too proves a vital strand in Hendrix’s compositions.  Psychedelia involves a certain lyrical whimsy mated with music designed to simulate the effect of mind-expanding drugs.  Tapes played in reverse, eccentric instrumentation and surprising effects are all part of this bag of tricks.  For Hendrix, this style manifests in some production measures but, mainly, in his lyrics.  “Imagination is the key to my lyrics,” he proclaims.  “The rest is painted with a little science fiction.”

Jimi Hendrix is a gifted showman, vocalist and songwriter, but all these attributes pale next to his ability as a guitarist.  It is difficult to analyse what exactly makes Hendrix such a great musician because it is so magical it defies easy explanation.  Firstly, Hendrix is left-handed.  Normally, he plays a right-handed guitar upside down, with the scratch-plate at the top.  Simply by having the strings in the reverse ‘wrong’ order, his playing becomes unusual.  Many guitarists use double-tracking in the recording studio (playing one guitar part, then picking out a contrasting second guitar part in accompaniment to the playback) to thicken the sound.  Live and in the studio, Hendrix can ‘induce feedback on a couple of guitar strings while playing lead on the others [producing the] effect of two guitarists playing at once.’  Hendrix uses a few devices, a fuzz face (for a distorted, dirty sound), a univibe (a rotating, panning sound) and a wah-wah pedal (a sort of guitar voice effect).  Mainly though, it seems like the key to his work is extreme volume.  Jimi Hendrix doesn’t so much play notes or chords as he sculpts slabs of sound from the buzz and feedback of an electric guitar and amplifier.

Noel Redding and Mitch Mitchell are the most complementary musicians in Jimi Hendrix’s career.  Sometimes Hendrix will also play the bass part in the recording studio, to Redding’s irritation, but he remains a sympathetic sideman.  Mitch Mitchell is normally better regarded than Redding, with his jazz-influenced style of drumming.  He places his drum fills to maximum effect while keeping clear of the flights of the trio’s leader.  The Jimi Hendrix Experience are an effective unit, but it is Jimi who is unquestionably the boss.

Things start out slowly for the trio.  Their first public performance is at the Paris Olympia.  They play four dates in France, in October 1966, at the invitation of French rock star, Johnny Halliday.  On New Year’s Eve 1966, The Jimi Hendrix Experience doesn’t even have a gig…until Noel Redding lines up a show for them at the Hillside Social Club in his hometown of Folkestone.  Chas Chandler comes up with the idea of inviting famous rock stars to Hendrix gigs, knowing they will be impressed and their endorsements will help promote the act.  Mick Jagger of The Rolling Stones attends a show on 24 January 1967 and soon The Beatles, Pete Townshend of The Who, and Eric Clapton are all publicising the newcomer.

The first single by The Jimi Hendrix Experience is ‘Hey Joe’ (UK no. 6, AUS no. 34) backed with ‘Stone Free’.  The tracks are recorded on 23 October 1966 and released on 16 December, charting in February 1967.  ‘Hey Joe’ is a cover version of a song previously recorded by U.S. band The Leaves earlier in 1966.  Hendrix’s version is noticeably less uptempo.  “I like it played slowly,” he claims, as it allows him to put more feeling into the tale of an armed man out to kill his unfaithful woman.  The B-side is the first of Hendrix’s own compositions.  During the recording session, Hendrix throws a tantrum because he wants to record at a louder volume.  Manager Chas Chandler, acting as record producer for the session, hands Hendrix his passport back and this achieves the artist’s compliance.  The success of ‘Hey Joe’ makes Hendrix ‘the hottest new name in Britain.’

‘Hey Joe’ is issued as a one-off by Polydor Records.  Chas Chandler moves his charge to Track Records for regular releases.  The next single is ‘Purple Haze’ (US no. 65, UK no. 3, AUS no. 53).  Jimi Hendrix insists this song has “nothing to do with drugs.”  Instead, he explains, “I had this thing on my mind about a dream I had that I was walking under the sea.  It’s linked to a story I read in a science fiction magazine about a purple death ray.”  Over a thrusting fuzzed-up guitar riff, Hendrix sings “Purple haze / All in my brain / Lately things don’t seem the same / Acting funny, but I don’t know why / ‘Scuze me, while I kiss the sky.”

The third single for 1967 is ‘The Wind Cries Mary’ (UK no. 6, AUS no. 18) b/w ‘Highway Chile’.  These songs were actually recorded before ‘Purple Haze’ at the same 1966 session that yielded ‘Hey Joe’.  “Somewhere a queen is weeping / And a king has no wife / And the wind cries Mary,” intones Jimi over a lilting guitar melody.  Kathy Etchingham, whose middle name is Mary, claims the song is about her.  She was Hendrix’s girlfriend at the time.  After she and Jimi had a domestic row, she went out for a walk and when she returned, the song was completed.

On 31 March 1967 The Jimi Hendrix Experience performs at Finsbury Park, London.  At the end of the show, Hendrix puts his guitar down on the stage, douses it in lighter fluid, and sets fire to it.  The instrument shrieks and moans until its connections to the amplifier burn out.  The crowd is ‘stunned.’  “The times I burned my guitar it was like a sacrifice,” testifies Hendrix.  “You sacrifice the things you love.  I love my guitar.”

Paul McCartney of The Beatles helps get The Jimi Hendrix Experience on the bill for the Monterey Pop Festival in California over the three days 16-18 June 1967.  D.A. Pennebaker films the shows for the documentary ‘Monterey Pop’ (1969).  “Make sure you got plenty of film in your camera,” Hendrix warns.  On 18 June 1967 he closes his set with a cover version of ‘Wild Thing’, a hit for British group The Troggs in 1966.  At the end of the song, the guitarist again sets his instrument alight and this is all captured in the resultant documentary.  Although Hendrix was ‘sensational’ in the U.K., he was ‘a prophet without honour’ in his homeland…until now.  The debut of The Jimi Hendrix Experience on U.S. soil makes him a star in the U.S.A. as well.

The groundwork laid, The Jimi Hendrix Experience releases the debut album, ‘Are You Experienced?’ (1967) (US no. 5, UK no. 2).  ‘Foxy Lady’ (US no. 67, AUS no. 27) is reputedly about Heather Taylor, the woman who becomes the wife of Roger Daltrey, lead vocalist of The Who.  “You know you’re a cute little heartbreaker..Hah! (Foxy) Yeah! / And you know you’re a sweet little lovemaker…Huh! (Foxy) / I want to take you home…Ah hah! Yeah! / I won’t do you no harm / You got to be mine, all mine / Foxy lady!”  Jimi says of this bombastic track, “’Foxy Lady’ is about the only happy song I’ve written.  I don’t feel very happy when I start writing.”  The inspiration for ‘Manic Depression’ is producer / manager Chas Chandler telling Hendrix at a press reception that the singer sounded like a manic depressive.  Jimi sings of “Music sweet music / I wish I could caress / Manic depression / Is a frustrating mess.”  ‘Red House’ is ‘a classic twelve-bar blues’ whose throbbing bass is actually Noel Redding playing the bass strings of a six-string guitar.  ‘Fire’ is not about Hendrix’s acts of guitar immolation.  It is the expatriate American’s first reaction to the chilly environs of Great Britain:  “Let me stand next to your fire.”  This is the best of Jimi Hendrix’s albums, ‘an embarrassment of riches, a blueprint of everything that has suddenly become possible.’  (Later reissues of this album include as bonus tracks the three singles that precede it.)

In an ill-conceived coupling, The Jimi Hendrix Experience are the supporting act to pop band The Monkees on a U.S. tour in July 1967.  Legend has it that Hendrix is removed from the tour at the insistence of the conservative pressure group the Daughters of the American Revolution ‘because his act is too outrageous’, but this is said to have been ‘falsely’ announced by Hendrix’s management.  Whatever the case, Hendrix extricates himself from the tour.

In July 1967 Jimi Hendrix takes over production duties for his own recordings.  The first session on which he acts as producer is the first session undertaken by The Jimi Hendrix Experience in the U.S.A.  ‘The Burning Of The Midnight Lamp’ (UK no. 18, AUS no. 21) is cut at Mayfair Recording Studio in New York.  “The morning is dead / And the day is too,” he reflects, “There’s nothing left here to lead me / But the velvet moon / All my loneliness / I have felt today / It’s a little more than enough / To make a man throw himself away / And I continue / To burn the midnight lamp / Alone.”  Jimi’s chewy guitar work overlays Mitch Mitchell’s hissing hi-hat cymbal, as he notes “The smiling portrait of you / Is still hanging on my frowning wall.”  Although released as a single in 1967, ‘The Burning Of The Midnight Lamp’ does not appear on Hendrix’s next album; it is held over for this third album.

‘Axis: Bold As Love’ (1967) (US no. 3, UK no. 5) is the last Jimi Hendrix album recorded in London with Chas Chandler as producer.  ‘Castles Made Of Sand’ and ‘Wait Until Tomorrow’ are both tales of the doomed: an Indian brave who dies in combat, and a despondent cripple; and, in the latter, a lover pleading with the object of his affection to run away with him, only “Your Daddy just shot poor me.”  The album’s best effort is the brief (2:22) ‘Little Wing’: “Well she’s walking through the clouds / With a circus mind that’s running round / Butterflies and zebras, and moonbeams, and fairy tales / That’s all she ever thinks about, riding with the wind / When I’m sad she comes to me / With a thousand smiles, she gives to me / ‘It’s alright,’ she says, ‘It’s alright / Take anything you want from me, anything’ / Fly on, little wing.”  The melody is almost Native American and the song is unbearably tender.  “I get a lot of inspiration for songs from girls,” offers Hendrix, stating the obvious.  “’Little Wing’ is like one of those beautiful girls…They might be spaced, they might be strung out on a certain this or that…’Little Wing’ was a very sweet girl that came around that gave me her whole life and more if I wanted it.”

On 11 January 1968 Jimi Hendrix moves into a London townhouse where George Frederick Handel, the classical composer, is said to have written such works as ‘Water Music’ and ‘The Messiah’.  Hendrix assures the press he will “not let the tradition down.”

When black civil rights activist Martin Luther King is slain, Jimi Hendrix mourns the man by playing blues in New York City with B.B. King and Buddy Guy on 4 April 1968.  A collection is taken up for King’s Southern Christian Leadership Conference and Hendrix personally donates five thousand dollars.

On 12 May 1968 Jimi Hendrix is arrested crossing the Canadian border for a concert in Toronto, Canada.  He is charged with possession of heroin and hashish.  The guitarist claims a fan gave the drugs to him and he put it in his baggage without checking the contents of the package.  Jimi is later exonerated.

‘Electric Ladyland’ (1968) (US no. 1, UK no. 6), released in October, is a double album and Jimi Hendrix’s full-length production debut.  It is partly recorded in London and partly in New York.  The controversial original cover shows naked young ladies lounging about while holding Hendrix’s record albums.  It prompts some retailers to sell the album under a plain brown paper wrapper.  Protests come from some of the women in the photograph that it is unflattering and just displays them like meat.  With two discs to fill, Hendrix stretches out.  ‘Voodoo Chile’ is a fifteen minute jam with Steve Winwood (of Traffic) and Jack Casady (of The Jefferson Airplane) on organ and bass, respectively.  ‘Voodoo Chile (Slight Return)’ is more manageable (5:12).  In fact this take is Jimi Hendrix’s best song.  The first minute is astonishing.  A sticky, twanging guitar part struts like a chicken for thirty seconds and then it seems like the ground drops out from underfoot (reminiscent of Hendrix’s paratrooper days?).  Blazes of guitar fire abound and there is a sound like a jet-fighter executing a barrel roll and purposeful stall.  It’s no wonder this becomes ‘the album of choice among American troops fighting in…Vietnam.’  What follows that first minute is no disappointment: “Well I stand up next to a mountain and chop it down with the edge of my hand / Well I pick up the pieces and make an island, might even raise a little sand / ‘Cos I’m a voodoo chile / Lord knows, I’m a voodoo chile.”  Listening to this gravity-defying piece, it’s tempting to take Hendrix’s claim as a fact rather than a boast.  ‘Crosstown Traffic’ (US no. 52, UK no. 37, AUS no. 37) relentlessly pans across from one speaker to the other with its story: “I’m not the only soul who’s accused of hit and run / Tire-tracks all across your back, I can see you had your fun / But darlin’, can’t you see my signals turn from green to red / And with you I can see a traffic jam straight up ahead / You’re just like (crosstown traffic) / So hard to get through to you.”  ‘Gypsy Eyes’ opens with Mitch Mitchell’s bass drum pulse and Hendrix’s shivering guitar as he sings, “Well I realise / That I been hypnotised / I love you gypsy eyes.”  With a cough, the guitar charges forth with a squall of notes.  ‘Long Hot Summer Night’ has dabs of keyboards from guest, Al Kooper.  The sprawling set finds room for a side long fantasy about ‘1993 (A Merman I Should Be)’; ‘Little Miss Strange’, a song written and sung by bassist Noel Redding; a galvanising take on Earl King’s 1960 song ‘Come On’; and a devastating reading of Bob Dylan’s 1968 song ‘All Along The Watchtower’ (US no. 20, UK no. 5, AUS no. 6) where Hendrix’s solo unspools like film running backwards.  With so much space to fill, the album has some ‘self-indulgence’, but it is still seen as ‘one of his greatest achievements.’

Toronto is again the scene of an arrest for Hendrix.  On 3 May 1969 he is busted at Toronto International Airport for possession of narcotics.  He is released on ten thousand dollars bail.  Again, at the end of the year, Hendrix is found innocent.  He admits that ‘he’d once used a few drugs but claims to have stopped.’

As ‘the world’s highest paid black performer’, Jimi Hendrix comes under pressure from black power groups about having two white British musicians in his group.  Jimi is sensitive to such criticism and the situation is not helped by rising tensions between himself, Noel Redding and Mitch Mitchell.  On 1 July 1969 The Jimi Hendrix Experience is ‘spontaneously dissolved in Denver’, Colorado.  Hendrix divests himself of Chas Chandler, leaving Mike Jeffrey as his sole manager.  The guitarist settles in Liberty, New York and seeks to reorganise.

On 28 July 1969 Hendrix appoints his old army buddy, Billy Cox, as his new bassist.  The Woodstock Music and Art Fair, 15-17 August 1969, is the ultimate celebration of the hippie ethos.  Four hundred thousand fans attend the site in upstate New York, but only one hundred and fifty thousand are left when Hendrix appears on stage at 8:00 a.m. on the final day.  This show finds Hendrix working with The Electric Sky Church, ‘a loose pool of musicians’ with whom Hendrix is now associated.  A version of the American national anthem, ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’, is performed as an instrumental by Hendrix.  This is captured in both the documentary film, ‘Woodstock’ (1970), and the accompanying live album soundtrack.

Hendrix’s new associates, The Electric Sky Church, are ‘a group of musicians ranging from old bluesmen to avant-garde classical composers.’  There is much talk about new directions and ‘moving into the areas of jazz and avant-garde music’, but nothing much seems to come of it.

Instead, on 31 December 1969, The Band Of Gypsys [sic] debuts as Hendrix’s backing unit in a show at the Fillmore East in New York City.  This is an all-black trio with Billy Cox on bass and Buddy Miles on drums.  The concert is recorded for the live album ‘Band Of Gypsys’ (1970) (US no. 5, UK no. 6).  It’s a short-lived combo.  At their second show, in January 1970 at Madison Square Garden in New York City, Hendrix takes off his guitar in mid-song.  Telling the nineteen thousand in the audience, “I’m sorry, we just can’t get it together,” he walks off.  This is the end of The Band Of Gypsys.  Jimi Hendrix begins to work with Billy Cox from The Band Of Gypsys and Mitch Mitchell from The Jimi Hendrix Experience.  This combination may be considered the best of both worlds.  Alternatively, it may be emblematic of Hendrix’s confusion and indecision.  The trio starts work on an album to be titled ‘The Cry Of Love’.

The next few months are a bit mysterious.  As well as ‘The Cry Of Love’, Jimi Hendrix is said to be writing the music for an occult film heavily influenced by the fortune-telling tarot cards.  The film is to be called ‘Rainbow Bridge’.  Rumour also has it that both projects are going to be rolled together into a double album, ‘First Rays Of The New Rising Sun.’

When Jimi Hendrix surfaces again, it is to play the Isle of Wight Festival on 26 August 1970.  Bob Dylan, whose ‘All Along The Watchtower’ Hendrix covered, is also on the bill.  Hendrix is accompanied by Cox and Mitchell.  He is apprehensive about playing in the U.K. again after having spent most of the last two years in the U.S.  Jimi fears the Europeans will have forgotten about him.  He plays ‘a strange, messy set.’  A week of European concerts follows, but Billy Cox falls ill, so Hendrix brings him back to London.

Jimi Hendrix spends the night of 17 September at the London flat of a girlfriend, Monika Dannemann.  He takes some sleeping tablets.  The next morning, Monika is unable to rouse her guest and calls an ambulance.  There is some uncertainty about whether Hendrix was placed in an upright, sitting position in the ambulance or whether he was laid on his back.  In any case, he is dead on arrival, having suffocated on his own vomit.  The death certificate lists cause of death as ‘inhalation of vomit due to barbiturate intoxication.’  An autopsy finds he consumed nine tablets of a prescription drug called Vesparax (normally taken in half-tablet doses).  Also in his system are tranquilisers, amphetamines, depressants, and alcohol.  The coroner returns an ‘open verdict’, unable to determine whether Hendrix’s death was intentional suicide or accidental misadventure.

On 1 October 1970 Jimi Hendrix is laid to rest in his hometown of Seattle, Washington.

‘Voodoo Chile (Slight Return)’ (UK no. 1, AUS no. 57) is released posthumously as a single.  In light of the circumstances, some lines of the song take on eerie significance: “If I don’t meet you no more in this world / Then I’ll see you in the next one / Don’t be late.”

‘Cry Of Love’ (1971) (US no. 3, UK no. 2) is released in April, being assembled from the sessions recorded in 1970, but it is ‘uneven.’  Perhaps the shimmering ‘Angel’ (US no. 59) is the highlight: “Fly on sweet angel.”  ‘Rainbow Bridge’ (1971) (US no. 15, UK no. 16) follows later in the year.

Would Jimi Hendrix’s life have been different had he never gone to England?  Perhaps, but the differences would likely have been negative.  Hendrix was wasting his talents in the U.S.A. up to 1966.  His ability may have been eventually recognised, but there is no way of knowing for sure.  His geometric rise in notoriety, due to his time in the U.K., gives him a forum to make his mark on history.  Success undoubtedly brought additional temptations such as drugs, but Hendrix had been doing Benzedrine and cough syrup as a teenager so he was already displaying a predisposition towards drugs.  His death may have been unavoidable on either side of the Atlantic.  At least his sojourn in Great Britain helped make his life more significant, his achievements greater.  No one else played guitar in such a way that the instrument appeared almost sentient; it howled, sighed and moaned in the hands of Jimi Hendrix.  He was ‘a force of nature, forever adrift in his own creative cosmos.’  ‘Jimi Hendrix was truly a revolutionary musician – perhaps the only one, in the end, to come out of that whole mid-Sixties psychedelic explosion.’

Sources:

  1. lyricsfreak.com as at 25 February 2013
  2. ‘The Rolling Stone Illustrated History Of Rock ‘N’ Roll’, ‘Rockfilm, Rollfilm’ by Carrie Rickey, ‘Protopunk: The Garage Bands’ by Lester Bangs, ‘Jimi Hendrix’ by John Morthland (Plexus Publishing, 1992), p. 113, 361, 414, 412, 413, 415, 416
  3. ‘Jimi Hendrix – The Ultimate Experience’ – Sleeve notes by Rob Partridge (Polygram International, 1992) p. 2, 3, 4, 5, 10, 11, 12, 15, 17, 18, 20, 21
  4. ‘Friday On My Mind’ by Ed Nimmervoll (Five Mile Press, 2004) p. 72, 73, 80, 87
  5. ‘The Illustrated New Musical Express Encyclopedia of Rock’ by Nick Logan, Bob Woffinden (Salamander Books, 1978) p. 107, 108
  6. ‘Rolling Stone Rock Almanac’ by the Editors of ‘Rolling Stone’ magazine (Papermac, 1984) p. 120, 126, 128, 131, 132, 140, 141, 143, 144, 158, 159, 160, 175, 176
  7. ‘Rock Stars’ by Timothy White (Columbus Books, 1984) p. 157, 160, 161
  8. ‘The Illustrated Rock Handbook’ edited by Roxanne Streeter, Ray Bonds (Salamander Books, 1983) p. 103
  9. ‘Rolling Stone’ magazine quoted in (5) above, p. 107
  10. ‘The 500 Greatest Albums Of All Time’ – ‘Rolling Stone’ magazine (February 2004) p. 38, 44
  11. ‘The History of Rock’ by Mark Paytress (Parragon Books, 2011) p.98
  12. wikipedia.org as at 25 February 2013

Song lyrics copyright Warner / Chappell Music

Last revised 26 August 2014

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