Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Hey Jimi!

A wave of Jimi Hendrix emails came through after our Friday post ... hopefully some clarification here on a few things ... 
re:  Jimi Hendrix:
>>>Just stumbled across your site and wanted to let you know that the picture below Jimi Hendrix is not (bassist) Noel Redding but (drummer) Mitch Mitchell.  Best regards from England  (Steve)
>>>Assuming you mean the shot in the "Scrapbook" section as there are no pictures of Noel Redding in the Hendrix article itself.  However, I believe you're mistaken.  The girl in the picture sent me this some fifteen years ago when she saw Hendrix perform at a small club in Milwaukee and she's the one who identified him, having spent some time with both Hendrix and Redding between sets.  For comparison's sake, here's our website photo along with a publicity shot of The Jimi Hendrix Experience identifying all three members:

Then again I also found THIS photo, flip-flopping the two ... so now I'm REALLY confused!!!
The classic line-up of The Jimi Hendrix Experience, from left to right:  Noel Redding, Mitch Mitchell and Jimi Hendrix.

Meanwhile, I found this old Rolling Stone article (from 1969) when Redding had left The Jimi Hendrix Experience to form Fat Mattress ... which would indicate that our photo has been misidentified for all these years!
Anybody got any DEFINITIVE proof on this ... 'cause now I'm REALLY confused ... especially since Jean (who sent us that Milwaukee shot some fifteen years ago) identified her photo partner as Noel Redding way back when ... and we've run it that way ever since!  Thanks!  (kk)
The picture is not Noel Redding. 
Here are some ads for the 2/28/68 Scene Club show along with other materials. I am currently compiling for a story on his appearances 2/27/68 in Madison and 2/28/68 in Milwaukee.
Ken Voss, Curator
Jimi Hendrix Information Management Institute
Publisher of Jimi Hendrix fanzine Voodoo Child

Kent,When it came to the Jimi Hendrix Experience, Jimi's two sidemen were often (and unfairly!) thought of us "just those two guys with Jimi," so it's not surprising that the question of which-is-which occasionally arose.I met and interviewed all three in Hartford, Connecticut in August 1968, and I'm attaching a photo I took at the time (in the Green Room of the Bushnell Memorial).  The lineup is, left to right, Jimi, unknown young lady, Noel Redding, unknown young lady, Mitch Mitchell.  Noel was the one with the frizzy hair; Mitch was the one who played drums.  As far as I am aware, this picture has not been published anywhere -- probably because of its mediocre quality -- so feel free to use it on the site if you want.
Henry McNulty  
Cheshire, Connecticut
Absolutely ... thanks, Henry!  Are you kidding me?!?!?  ANY unpublished photo of Hendrix showing up at this stage of the game is a welcome sight!
Based on THIS photo I'd say the guy pictured with Jean is Mitch Mitchell ... the shot is very similar, all the way down to the shirt.
By the way, you're absolutely right about the anonymity of Jimi's co-conspirators ... I went through three Jimi Hendrix books last night looking for definitive proof by photo association and at best (if you saw Noel or Mitch at all in a picture), they were simply identified as The Jimi Hendrix Experience rather than by name.  It's that "baby face" look of '68 that throws me ... Redding clearly had the big white Afro in most of the pictures but Mitchell looks older and a little "harder" in most of the shots I saw.  Still a tough call as these guys seem to have been "transposed" in any number of shots I found on the web!  (Inter-changable "bit players" when, in fact, nothing could be further from the truth.)
The hard part for me is that Jean Theel, who submitted this article way back in the very early 2000's has ALWAYS referred to her photo-partner as Noel Redding ... and in any number of Hendrix photos I found, there WAS a guy who looked an awful lot like this.  I don't know that I'm any more ... or less ... confused by all of this ... but it HAS allowed us to run some never-before-seen Hendrix photos!!!  (kk)
>>>I don’t hear any noise or distortion of feedback in Little Wing, or The Wind Cries Mary, or Angel, do you?  Maybe the problem is with you (no offense) if ALL these other smart and respectable people find Hendrix so amazing?  You might consider that. Not trying to start an argument but I did want to comment.  PS Jimmy Page said he never saw Jimi live, so I don’t think he was in attendance wherever you said he was.  Sincerely, (Pete Von Sholly)
>>>It seems that every new reader who discovers our Jimi Hendrix piece feels it necessary to take a swipe at me for being the ignorant SOB who wrote it ... when, in fact, I acknowledge all along that for so many others to feel differently about the music of Hendrix, the problem must be on MY end because I just never really "felt it".  As for "Little Wing", "The Wind Cries Mary" or "Angel", I suppose we can find exceptions to ANY rule.  Fair to say The Beatles weren't only about "Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da" or "You Know My Name", right?  They DID do some other music, too ... that most of the world felt important enough to make them the musical gods that they became.  As for the Jimmy Page comment, I don't remember specifically what you're referring to (and clearly you don't either since you brush it off with simply "wherever you said he was") ... but the research that went into this piece came from reading and referencing SIX Hendrix biographies (also mentioned in the piece) so all I can tell you is that it must have been documented SOMEWHERE in one of those volumes.  Scanning my piece (written many years ago when Forgotten Hits was still an email-only newsletter), the only Jimmy Page reference I could find was regarding the recording of Donovan's hit "Hurdy Gurdy Man", originally written with Hendrix in mind to record it.  Hendrix passed on the opportunity and then never showed up the day he was supposed to lay down his guitar licks on Donovan's track ... so once again my article clearly states that Page (who WAS in the studio that day) and Hendrix failed to cross paths.  (kk) 
I don’t doubt that it was “documented” somewhere that Jimmy Page saw Hendrix play- I simply mentioned that I had recently read Jimmy Page say he always wanted to see Jimi and meant to but never got the chance. So maybe what was documented was in error. I wasn’t picking on you for repeating it, just trying to clarify something.
As for Jimi’s appeal being largely noise and showmanship, he did a lot of that to get attention and once he had the attention and was successful he wanted people to let him play and to listen to what he was doing. He didn’t want to be a “clown or a rock and roll star” any more. I don’t mind that you don’t appreciate or “get” what the fuss is about ... I was just reacting to your statement that you found him to be 80% theatrics, 10% talent etc. There are no “theatrics” involved when you listen a record are there? He did several beautiful ballads with melodic playing and made noise to express himself like in the Star Spangled Banner. He USED the noise and controlled it - and a lot of what you hear live is very different when you can see him playing. He was high a lot, no doubt, and also struggled with out of tune guitars and equipment problems on stage. But if you can listen to something like Machine Gun and call it all theatrics and 10% talent, well let’s just agree that we don’t speak the same language. Watch him play that - he just stands there and plays his ass off, paintings pictures of war and suffering with music. 
I meant to say I really, really liked your article - I wanted to point out the Jimmy Page thing for what it’s worth - and not to bag on you for not digging Hendrix like I do. I don’t UNDERSTAND your feelings, that’s all. Great informative piece, especially from someone admittedly not a big fan! Just so you don’t get the wrong idea.
To clarify ...
I found your Jimmy Page comment:  "With an audience filled with guitar greats, HENDRIX won over his peers ... "There were guitar players weeping," says TERRY REID, who was in the audience that night along with KEITH RICHARD, MICK JAGGER, PAUL McCARTNEY, JIMMY PAGE, JEFF BECK, ERIC CLAPTON, PETE TOWNSHEND." 
Meanwhile, this is supposedly from Rolling Stone: Jimmy Page talking about Hendrix- 
Did I ever meet him? I did actually go into a club in New York called Salvation, and he was there, but he was totally out of it. He didn't really know who anybody was -- he was barely conscious. Somebody was just kind of holding him up. It is just kind of a shame that I never really had a chance to talk with him or hear him... I heard his records, naturally, but it would've been a thrill to see how he worked things out on stage. That's quite another ballgame, as you know.
Pete Von Sholly
Thanks for the clarification, Pete.  Taking several points (for whatever they're worth) ...
In that I never personally covered the career of Jimi Hendrix at the time it was going on (I turned 14 the same week "Purple Haze" premiered on the charts), I had to rely on OTHER published reports to put together my article.  I was inspired (and fascinated) by discovering facts I couldn't believe I didn't know ... I think the one that FINALLY made me commit to doing the research and committing something to paper was finding out that Jimi played guitar with Joey Dee and the Starliters at The Peppermint Lounge!!!  It just wasn't at all what one would expect to be on this guy's resume ... a Guitar God / Legend of the heaviest extreme.  I just couldn't imagine him up there cranking it out for a bunch of wanna-be "twisters"!!!
I knew about the whole Monkees connection as that was more my musical taste at the time.  That, too, blows me away ... that Micky Dolenz and Peter Tork, for all their lack of "street cred" in the music business had the insight (and the interest!) to pursue Jimi and show him off to the world.  (Then again, the decision to form Crosby, Stills and Nash happened sitting around Peter Tork's swimming pool, thanks to a conversation with Mama Cass ... so who KNOWS where some of this stuff comes from!)
I think the fact that I knew VERY little about Hendrix ... and was not particularly a fan ... is what makes the article work ... I was discovering all of this for the very first time ... intrigued, I did the digging and found and related what I felt was a pretty fascinating story.
The Page comment (now that you've explained it) came from Terry Reid ... the quote could have come from any of the sources listed at the end of my piece.  All this means is that it's either the way he remembered the incident (or embellished it) ... such is the way with MOST rock and roll folklore.
However, I would find it really hard to believe that Page DIDN'T seek him out.  At the time, Page was the FAR bigger star ... having done session work on some of the biggest hits of The British Invasion Era.  He was the "go to" guitar guy at the time ... so if some new kid in town (especially an American!) was tearing things up in the clubs and had musical big-wigs like Paul McCartney, Eric Clapton and Pete Townshend going on and on about how amazing he was, singing their praises, I can't believe for a minute that Page didn't make a beeline for WHEREVER Jimi was playing to check it out for himself.  (I get the feeling sometimes that these guitar whizzes were almost like "gun-slingers" at the time ... and the story of ANY new guy who was faster, or more flamboyant would IMMEDIATELY circle through the ranks!)
Jimi's version of "The Star Spangled Banner" at Woodstock was amazing ... no doubt ... although when you watch the footage it almost seems like less than a dozen people got to hear it ... by then, everybody had split, leaving thousands of pounds of garbage to clean up.  But the article also points out that he had been practicing and fine-tuning that piece for quite awhile before he showcased it at Woodstock ... it also tells how Jimi received death threats should he attempt to perform (desecrate?) our National Anthem in Dallas ... as folks found it sacrilege at the time. (Isn't it funny that they said the same thing about Jose Feliciano's performance at The World Series the year before?!?!)
Jimi's "theatrics" was even brought into question by promoter Bill Graham who chastised him backstage after one particular performance (also documented in our article).
According to GRAHAM, JIMI put on an incredible show, pulling out every trick in the book to razzle dazzle the audience ... but, "he never really played.  He did every one of his moves.  Side.  Up.  Under.  Piercing.  Throwing.  Kissing.  Fire.  Fucking.  Humping.  He did it all.  Picking with his teeth ... they thought he was the greatest ... and he was ... but not during that set."  The audience sat in awe with their mouths open ... it appeared to be the show of shows.  Between shows, HENDRIX came back stage to GRAHAM's office and asked, "What'd you think, Bill?"  GRAHAM says, "I didn't want to answer him, so I asked the others to leave the office.  And I said, 'Jimi, you're the best guitar player I know and tonight, for an hour and a half, you were a hack.  You were a disgrace to what you are."  HENDRIX, typically a quiet and shy man, was blown away.  "Didn't you hear that audience?  They went crazy!" "I know," said GRAHAM.  "You know what you did?  You made the same mistake too many of the other great ones make.  You subconsciously play what they want.  You sock it to them.  You did an hour and a half of shuck and grind and bullshit that you can do with your eyes closed lying down somewhere.  But you forgot one thing.  You forgot to play.  And it's tragic for you, because you can play better than anyone I know." 
Musical tastes differ ... I usually find that I can find SOMETHING good in nearly every catalog of music by virtually any artist.  (OK, maybe not Barry White ...  but that's a whole 'nother issue!!!  lol)  No one person's opinion is "righter" than another ... it's what works for you.  I like some of Jimi's music and appreciate it for what it is and the talent he clearly had.  It just never really worked for me.  My loss, perhaps ... but I can live with it.
Believe me, I've heard from HUNDREDS of fans and fanatics over the years since our piece first ran ... I just wasn't of the "heavy mind set" at the time to appreciate it ... but even some 40+ years later, I still find very little I can relate to.  By the same token, I can listen to 1968 Hits by artists as diverse as The Beatles, The 1910 Fruit Gum Company, Stevie Wonder, The Beach Boys, Tommy James and the Shondells, Gary Puckett and the Union Gap and Tiny Tim and still relive the joy it brought me way back when.  Like I said, there is no right or wrong ... only what works musically for you.  (kk)
For anybody out there who has NOT read our piece on Jimi Hendrix, here's the link:  http://forgottenhits.com/jimi_hendrix
 (from that same club in Milwaukee, courtesy of Jean Theel, circa 1968)