AT LEAST TWELVE THINGS
THAT YOU PROBABLY
NEVER KNEW ABOUT
The story of JIMI HENDRX is pretty well documented in the annals of Rock And Roll History ... a shining star that burned out too quickly ... yet another rock star falling victim to the too-much, too-soon, too-fast pace of sex, drugs and rock and roll ... exposed to too much money, too much fame and too many drugs, way too soon.
I've stated before in FORGOTTEN HITS that JIMI HENDRIX was never really one of my favorites ... I personally found him to be 80% theatrics, 10% talent, and 10% mystique ... (and, in SOME cases, 100% NOISE!!!) yet he certainly did appeal to a wide cross-section of music fans out there who have ALWAYS been ready and willing to proclaim him to be a Guitar God. For me, when you break it down to the music that's actually listenable, it'd be tough to fill a whole CD...everything else seems to be filled with overblown noise and feedback. But my opinions certainly seem to be in the minority here ... since his death in 1970, over 200 new albums have been released, authorized by his estate. This figure is all the more staggering when you consider that he only recorded FOUR LPs during his lifetime!!! There was even that goofy PEPSI commercial running on TV for a while that ponders the question "What would have happened if JIMI had chosen a COKE instead ... might we all have been subjected to an accordion PURPLE HAZE jam!?!?!?"
In fact, I may have never been inspired to prepare a feature on HENDRIX at all had it not been for my coming across a very interesting article awhile back while reading a magazine called UNCUT ... they've got a great new series going where they reprint actual articles and interviews published in the NEW MUSICAL EXPRESS from back in the '60's and, reading them now with the benefit of 40 year hindsight into some of this stuff makes for some incredibly interesting and insightful reading! The issue I'm referring to pictures HENDRIX on the cover and is a special salute to The '60's. (I've also seen issues devoted completely to articles on THE BEATLES, THE ROLLING STONES, THE DOORS and THE WHO ... and, hopefully, many more will follow!)
By now, we all pretty much know MOST of the legend behind JIMI HENDRIX ... here's a guy who was born here in the United States (Seattle, Washington, to be exact) ... but had to go to England to gain fame and fortune ... only to be brought back again to America and heaved on the American public through a tour with (of all people) THE MONKEES before he gained his own self-acclaim by tearing the house down at MONTEREY and WOODSTOCK. That, of course, is the simplified, Cliff Notes version ... but wait until you see what else I found thanks to an exclusive one-on-one interview that HENDRIX did with NME back in January of 1967! It prompted me to dig a little deeper with my research and come up with a JIMI HENDRIX timeline that just might surprise you! (In fact, the deeper I dug, I learned SO much more that I wanted to share. By the time all was said and done, I ended up reading SIX JIMI HENDRIX biographies!!)
No question about it, my musical tastes were prejudiced ... I thought then (and I still think now) that HENDRIX as a performing artist consisted of a lot more "show" than "substance." While listening to material to prepare for this article, I often wondered just what an audience member had to be "on" to fall in sync with what they were playing ... because most of it, even years later, just sounds like a lot of noise to me.
However, in doing the research to put this whole thing together, I came learn quite a bit about the man and found his "dues paying" period most fascinating. I wondered if I could, as a non-fan, come up with enough interesting information to make even the most casual HENDRIX reader to take notice ... and still satisfy the many folks on the list who have elevated HENDRIX to near God-like status. And so, the challenge began: I set a goal of trying to find AT LEAST TWELVE THINGS THAT YOU PROBABLY NEVER KNEW ABOUT JIMI HENDRIX ... and, hopefully, even for the die-hard HENDRIX fans out there, I've achieved that and more. (Who knows ... this JUST may come to be known as our ULTIMATE DIDJAKNOW series!!!)
Get your scorepads ready...we're banking on AT LEAST TWELVE THINGS THAT YOU PROBABLY NEVER KNEW ABOUT JIMI HENDRIX before you finish reading our special feature.
Here we go:
First of all, JIMI HENDRIX was born JOHNNY ALLEN HENDRIX on November 27, 1942 ... which, right off the bat, is NOT the story you'll usually be told. JOHNNY ALLEN, however, was the name registered by his mother LUCILLE, who was a full-blooded Cherokee Indian. (There is no question that part of JIMI's exotic look came from the mixture of his Black and Indian parents.) Four years later, his father, AL, legally renamed him JAMES MARSHALL HENDRIX, and that's the name you'll find in most of the history books. (Could his father possibly have known so early on how often the names "JIMI" and "MARSHALL" would be linked together later in life??? The very thought blows you right out of the stratocasteresphere!)
In 1955, after a bout with pneumonia, JIMI bought his very first guitar for $5. Realizing that he was left-handed, he learned to play the guitar upside down by listening to (and playing along with) the music of MUDDY WATERS, ELMORE JAMES, B.B. KING, CHUCK BERRY and EDDIE COCHRAN.
In 1960, he joined his first band, THE ROCKING KINGS, but a year later he enlisted in the Army where he became a member of the SCREAMING EAGLES 101st Airborne Paratroopers squad. After breaking his ankle in his 26th jump in 1962, HENDRIX was honorably discharged due to "medical unsuitability." (Over the years, HENDRIX made comments that his accident may have been staged ... he was looking for a way out of the service and often complained to the doctors that his back hurt ... when they couldn't find anything wrong, they discharged him rather than take a chance that he might do further damage.) He immediately picked up his guitar again and soon was touring with BOB FISHER AND THE BARNEVILLES, backing up famous recording artists like THE MARVELETTES and CURTIS MAYFIELD AND THE IMPRESSIONS.
By the end of 1962, HENDRIX had moved to Vancouver, Canada, where he began playing as a regular member of BOBBY TAYLOR AND THE VANCOUVERS at the infamous DANTES INFERNO Club. (We featured BOBBY TAYLOR AND THE VANCOUVERS' FORGOTTEN ONE-HIT WONDER, DOES YOUR MAMA KNOW ABOUT ME, a while back in FH. At the time, we told you that TOMMY CHONG of CHEECH AND CHONG fame was once a member of THE VANCOUVERS ... and that BOBBY TAYLOR was the guy who REALLY introduced THE JACKSON FIVE to BERRY GORDY at MOTOWN RECORDS, not DIANA ROSS as all the publicity was doctored to state ... yet during all that research, NEVER did we EVER come across any information about HENDRIX being a member of this band. Just wait ... it gets better!!!)
In 1963, JIMI returned to The United States and began touring and recording with a virtual Who's Who of early '60's musical superstars. Between 1963 and 1965, using the stage name JIMMY JAMES, HENDRIX toured with or backed up artists like SAM COOKE, JACKIE WILSON, LITTLE RICHARD, SLIM HARPO, HANK BALLARD, THE SUPREMES, TOMMY TUCKER, THE ISLEY BROTHERS, IKE AND TINA TURNER and KING CURTIS ... all the while, remaining an unknown (but, apparently, in demand) background guitarist.
The legend next states that JIMI HENDRIX formed his own group, JIMMY JAMES AND THE BLUE FLAMES, to play his version of some R&B standards along with some original material and the band settled down in the Greenwich Village section of New York City, building quite a following. LINDA KEITH who, at the time, was KEITH RICHARD's (of THE ROLLING STONES) girlfriend, became a big fan of JIMI's work and suggested that while THE ANIMALS were over here in The States on tour, they should check these guys out. ANIMALS' bassist CHAS CHANDLER did so ... and, on July 5, 1966, he saw HENDRIX perform at the CAFE WHA? in Greenwich Village. CHANDLER was bowled over by what he saw, and suggested that HENDRIX come back with him to London where he felt that he could make him a big star. (For the record, LINDA KEITH first told ROLLING STONES' manager ANDREW LOOG OLDHAM to check JIMI out, but OLDHAM wasn't even the least bit interested in what he saw. Although by that time LINDA had become a bit smitten with JIMI, OLDHAM found nothing appealing about his style of music. By the same token, CHAS CHANDLER was looking to leave THE ANIMALS and get into the management / promoting end of the music business and, as such, was on the look-out for undiscovered new talent.)
HENDRIX played out his engagement and, in September of '66, flew back to London as CHANDLER's guest. (Legend has it that on the flight to London, HENDRIX ... with promises of becoming a headlining star ... went back to his real last name and then officially changed his first name from JIMMY to JIMI ... but that could just be folklore. However, in that they were billed as JIMMY JAMES AND THE BLUE FLAMES while performing in New York, it's not totally out of the question!)
Once in London, JIMI hired a couple of background players named MITCH MITCHELL (a drummer who, most recently, had been playing in the house band on Great Britain's popular READY, STEADY, GO television series ... and had also done some sessions with GEORGIE FAME and his ironically named back-up band, THE BLUE FLAMES) and NOEL REDDING, a bassist who, incredibly, at one time, had auditioned to replace CHAS CHANDLER in THE ANIMALS and did a brief stint with THE MODERN JAZZ GROUP ... he also had a bit of an acting background on BBC-TV. (REDDING was really a guitar player by trade but auditioned on bass for the "NEW" ANIMALS that ERIC BURDON was putting together ... in effect, he would have taken CHAS CHANDLER's place in the reformed band! When he wasn't awarded that gig, CHANDLER approached him about joining a brand new band ... playing behind a virtuoso guitarist from America named JIMI HENDRIX.) Once assembled, the new trio quickly christened themselves THE JIMI HENDRIX EXPERIENCE, and, using a good chunk of money fronted by CHAS CHANDLER, performed live for the very first time at the Paris Olympia on October 18, 1966. A week later, they were in the studio cutting their first single, a slowed-down, bluesier version of THE LEAVES' hit HEY JOE.
Over the next several months, HENDRIX began to make quite a name for himself in the British press, as much for his on-stage antics as his guitar prowess ... and the group made several television appearances as well. HEY JOE ultimately went to #6 on the British Charts and soon a deal was made to try to break HENDRIX's material here in the States. Incredibly, THE JIMI HENDRIX EXPERIENCE was signed to the normally very conservatively run REPRISE RECORDS, Chairman Of the Board FRANK SINATRA's record label! (They added HENDRIX to a label roster that already included fellow Rat-Packers DEAN MARTIN and SAMMY DAVIS, JR. along with OLD BLUE EYES himself!)
THE JIMI HENDRIX EXPERIENCE kicked off 1967 with their first major UK tour, sharing the bill with CAT STEVENS, THE WALKER BROTHERS and ENGELBERT HUMPERDINCK ... and you thought touring with THE MONKEES was strange?!?!? On the first night of the tour, HENDRIX burned his hand while setting his guitar on fire. Forget any antics THE WHO may have undertaken smashing their instruments at the end of a performance ... JIMI was NOT about to be outdone by anybody!
An oft-told story places HENDRIX at THE SAVILLE THEATER on the 4th of June, 1967. BEATLE PAUL McCARTNEY was in the audience (as was his future wife, LINDA EASTMAN, who took MANY famous pictures of JIMI HENDRX that night and over the years) ... HENDRIX proceeded to win over the crowd (and McCARTNEY) by performing SGT. PEPPER'S LONELY HEARTS CLUB BAND as his opening number, all the more amazing since the album had just been released on June 1st and here HENDRIX already knew and was performing its title track just three days later! (In fact, it was McCARTNEY who reccommended JIMI to the committee putting together the MONTEREY INTERNATIONAL POP FESTIVAL.) So here you have JIMI HENDRIX, heretofore unheard of here in the States ... yet being given unconditional support by the likes of CHAS CHANDLER of THE ANIMALS, PAUL McCARTNEY of THE BEATLES and, soon, MICKY DOLENZ and PETER TORK of THE MONKEES, who saw HENDRIX perform at the Isle Of Wight Festival and immediately had him signed up as the opening act for their next big tour!!! (With friends like these, who needs enemies??? In fact, how could HENRIX possibly have FAILED to win over a US audience with this kind of support?!?!?)
THE JIMI HENDRIX EXPERIENCE closed their performance at THE MONTEREY INTERNATIONAL POP FESTIVAL by performing WILD THING and LIKE A ROLLING STONE ... and then, after setting fire to and smashing his guitar, were booked as the opening act to a MAMAS AND PAPAS performance at The Hollywood Bowl ... again, all of this PRIOR to the infamous MONKEES tour.
Two months later, HENDRIX FINALLY had his first US Chart Hit ... the landmark PURPLE HAZE was released here in the States the last week of August, 1967, and, despite ALL the hype and hysteria, fizzled out at #64 on the Cash Box Chart. (However, here in Chicago, it went to #7 ... and has never really been off the radio since!) His British breakthrough single, HEY JOE, was delegated to the B-Side of Reprise's next release, but FOXEY LADY (despite being an FM staple) fared no better ... it stopped at #67. (For the record, HEY JOE was actually released as HENDRIX's first single here ... but it failed to chart at all.)
JIMI's biggest US hit came in September of 1968 when he covered the BOB DYLAN tune ALL ALONG THE WATCHTOWER ... it went to #18 in Cash Box Magazine ... and is considered by many to be the definitive version of that song.
Before we go ANY further, let me FIRST state that I would NEVER presume to promote this series as the definitive JIMI HENDRIX biography ... like I said at the beginning, I never really cared for the guy ... and the facts stated in this series were gathered over a series of research articles that I've read. (In fact, I ended up reading SIX biographies on JIMI HENDRIX in order to better cross-check all the facts and discrepancies.) Along the way, I found some VERY interesting stories that I wanted to share with you. Hopefully, you'll agree that some of these facts HAVE surprising new twists to the story that you think you MAY have known ... but that's just all part of our goal ... to tell you AT LEAST TWELVE THINGS THAT YOU PROBABLY NEVER KNEW ABOUT JIMI HENDRIX!!!
DIDJAKNOW?1: Some of JIMI HENDRIX's earliest and staunchest supporters were THE BEATLES ... in fact, back in 1967, PAUL McCARTNEY (in an effort to help launch and promote JIMI's career) was working on writing THE JIMI HENDRIX EXPERIENCE into a scene for their upcoming television special MAGICAL MYSTERY TOUR. Scheduling conflicts prevented this from ever happening ... perhaps that's why instead we were treated to THE BONZO DOG BAND!?!?!?
DIDJAKNOW? 2: In 1965, one of the earliest recording sessions that HENDRIX worked on was for a single called SUEY ... which was released by actress / sex symbol JAYNE MANSFIELD!!!
KID STUFF: Early High School friend (and one time bandmate) JAMES WILLIAMS tells the story of how he and JIMI played Little League Baseball and Football. "All the guys on our team were either Japanese or black," WILLIAMS recalls. Ironically, the name of the team was The Fighting Irish!!!
FLAMING JIMI???: In the earliest stages of his career (often working as JIMMY JAMES), HENDRIX performed with JAMES BROWN's FAMOUS FLAMES, worked with GEORGIE FAME's BLUE FLAMES and then fronted his own band as JIMMY JAMES AND THE BLUE FLAMES ... and we ALL know that one of his most famous lyrics was "'S'cuse Me While I Kiss This Guy" .... was JIMI HENDRIX gay?!?!?!!! Inquiring minds want to know. (Just kidding ... in fact, HENDRIX was QUITE the cocksman, bedding sometimes three or four women per night after a performance. He had long-term, serious relationships with at least half a dozen women, many of whom, upon his death, said that they had planned to be married. He also entertained at least half a dozen paternity suits ... but legitimately acknowledged his son JAMES DANIEL SUNDQVIST ... JIMI HENDRIX, JR. ... born to one of those serious lovers, EVA SUNDQVIST.)
IN FACT: For all the kidding around over the years about JIMI's famous PURPLE HAZE line "'Scuse me while I kiss this guy" (it's even the title of a very popular book regarding mis-heard song lyrics), HENDRIX actually DID sing the song that way in concert quite often ... and would alternately point to drummer MITCH MITCHELL or bassist NOEL REDDING as he sang it!!! According to both of them, it was NOT a mis-heard lyric at all ... HENDRIX intentionally performed the song that way in concert. (JOHN FOGERTY often would sing "There's a bathroom on the right" in concert, too, while performing the big CCR hit BAD MOON RISING.)
SEX SELLS: Not only did JIMI play behind SAM COOKE on stage, but he also played around behind COOKE's back OFF the stage ... for a short while, he lived with COOKE's ex-girlfriend. FAYE PRIDGEON. "All our activity took place in bed," she says. "He was well-endowed. He came to the bed with the same grace a Mississippi pulpwood driver attacks a plate of collard greens and corn bread after ten hours in the sun. He was creative in bed, too. There would be encore after encore, hard-driving and steamy like his music. There were times when he almost busted me in two, the way he did a guitar on stage."
Back in January of 1967, JIMI HENDRIX did an interview with the British Publication, NEW MUSICAL EXPRESS ... a good six months before anybody here in America really knew anything about his new sound...and at a time where he was currently all the rage back in Jolly Ol' England.
In that these are JIMI's own words recorded at the time, I feel they offer an insight that is often muddied up in the passing of time ... over time, we, as music fans, we have strived to create an almost Iconic Status for the artist known as JIMI HENDRIX ... and, as such, have glossed over some of the facts that explain exactly how he got to where he got. This early interview shows JIMI HENDRIX innocent, raw and naked ... and trying to make it ... free from nearly 40 years of propaganda and embellishment and all the PR that goes into the making of a legend. HENDRIX had no reason to lie ... he was an up-and-coming artist looking to make his way. He also pulled no punches in some of his opinions which, in hindsight, is truly amazing ... when you think of JIMI HENDRIX, you immediately think of loud, feedback guitar and outrageous stage antics ... yet look at the other artists whose lives he touched on his way up the showbiz ladder .... truly, some pretty amazing stuff!
Keep in mind that this interview took place in January of 1967 ... six months BEFORE he toured with THE MONKEES and eight months before his first chart hit, PURPLE HAZE, reached an American audience.
Prior to launching his career in Great Britain, JIMI's road experience here in the States has been pretty well documented. Along the way, he played sideman to JAMES BROWN, WILSON PICKETT, CHUCK JACKSON, LITTLE RICHARD, THE MARVELETTES, THE IMPRESSIONS, BOBBY TAYLOR AND THE VANCOUVERS, IKE AND TINA TURNER, THE ISLEY BROTHERS, B.B. KING, SAM COOKE, SOLOMON BURKE, JACKIE WILSON, HANK BALLARD, THE SUPREMES, TOMMY TUCKER ... in fact, he did his first recording sessions with LONNIE YOUNGBLOOD, CURTIS KNIGHT, KING CURTIS, JOHN PAUL HAMMOND, THE ISLEY BROTHERS and, incredibly, sex kitten / starlet JAYNE MANSFIELD!!! Here is what he had this to say about some of those experiences:
"One of the Isley Brothers heard me playing in a club and said he had a job open. Sleeping between them tall tenements was hell ... rats running across your chest, cockroaches stealing your last candybar ... so I figured, 'Yeah, I'll go gig.' But I got tired of playing in the key of F all the time and turned in my white mohair silk suit and patent leather shoes. A tour came through town with BB King, Sam Cooke, Chuck Jackson, Solomon Burke, Jackie Wilson and Hank Ballard. I learned an awful lot when I got a job guitar-picking behind all those names every night.
"In Atlanta, I auditioned with Little Richard, copped the gig and worked with him all over the US, finally landing in Los Angeles and playing more gigs with Ike and Tina Turner. I quit Little Richard because of a money misunderstanding and to rest."
But JIMI had some other run-ins with LITTLE RICHARD, along the way, too. Although HENDRIX toured with LITTLE RICHARD on and off for two years, he was once chastised for wearing a ruffled shirt. LITTLE RICHARD screamed that HE was LITTLE RICHARD ... and HE was the star of the show ... and only HE should be wearing a ruffled shirt, not a member of the back-up band! (JIMI was always fashion-conscious and loved the look ... but was forced to change his clothes before taking the stage. This incident helped JIMI decide that maybe HE would like to be the headliner somewhere down the road ... if only so he could wear what he wanted to on stage!) LITTLE RICHARD claimed, "He began to dress like me and he even grew a little mustache like mine." JIMI, however, says "Little Richard wouldn't let us wear frilly shirts on stage. Once, me and Glyn Wildings got some fancy shirts because we were tired of wearing the uniform. After the show, Little Richard said, 'Brothers, we got to have a meeting. I'm Little Richard and I'm the King of Rock and Rhythm and I'm the ONLY one who's going to look pretty on stage." HENDRIX says that if he and GLYN didn't turn in the shirts, they would be subject to a fine ... and it wouldn't be the first time. "He had another meeting over my hairstyle. I said I wasn't going to cut my hair for nobody. That was another five-dollar fine. If our shoelaces were two different types, we'd get fined ANOTHER five bucks! Everyone on the tour was brainwashed."
One of the groups that HENDRIX played with back in the early '60's that you DON'T ever seem to hear about is JOEY DEE AND THE STARLIGHTERS!!! (Who would have EVER thought?!?!? JIMI HENDRIX ... twistin' it up at THE PEPPERMINT LOUNGE in New York City!!!) This little tidbit is quite often left off of JIMI's resume ... in fact, checking half a dozen different reference books for back-up confirmation, it was tough to pinpoint, short of a letter / postcard that JIMI sent to a friend saying that he was playing at THE PEPPERMINT LOUNGE in New York City and working with JOEY DEE. What is MOST amazing about this story is the fact that it is VERY well documented that future YOUNG RASCALS members FELIX CAVALIERE, GENE CORNISH and EDDIE BRIGATI were all members of JOEY DEE's STARLITERS at one time prior to forging off on their own to form THE RASCALS. We even did a feature on this very topic before in FORGOTTEN HITS ... but nowhere in ALL the research that we did for THAT article did it EVER come up that JIMI HENDRIX was a member!!! (You'd think that, as well publicized as all this RASCALS information has been, that SOMEONE would have made an issue of this before!!! Amazingly, just three days before beginning his tour with THE MONKEES, HENDRIX renewed old acquaintances when he opened for THE RASCALS in a concert held in Central Park in New York City!) Were it not for this long-forgotten NME interview, I may have never known about his stint with THE STARLITERS! (Digging deeper, I found evidence of a postcard JIMI had sent home to his father, talking of a ten-day tour with JOEY DEE AND THE STARLITERS. In fact, much of JIMI's early history can be traced through his letters home to Dad.) Here, in JIMI's own words, he tells us: "I quit Little Richard because of a money misunderstanding and to rest. But who can rest in New York? I got a job with another band. I had all these ideas and sounds in my brain and playing this 'other people's music' all the time was hurting me. I jumped from the frying pan into the fire when I joined up with Joey Dee and the Starliters. Mind you, this is an out of sight group, but ..... after sucking on a peppermint twist salary, I had to quit and began playing with a jukebox band, and finally quit that, too." And there you have it ... can you even imagine what this must have sounded like?
FOR THE RECORD: It was THIS revelation that inspired our entire JIMI HENDRIX series in the first place ... I just couldn't get over the image of JIMI HENDRIX, up on stage in his mohair suit, PEPPERMINT TWIST-in' the night away with JOEY DEE AND THE STARLITERS!!!
So much attention has been paid over the years to the fact that JIMI HENDRIX once toured as the opening act for THE MONKEES ... yet, in all, he only make seven appearances with The Pre-Fab Four. (For all the fuss made about JIMI HENDRIX backing up THE MONKEES, doesn't it strike anyone as strange that, prior to this little mini-tour, he was touring behind the likes of ENGELBERT HUMPERDINCK and TINY TIM?!?!?!? He opened for THE ASSOCIATION and THE MAMAS AND THE PAPAS ... and made a record with Silver Screen Legend JAYNE MANSFIELD!!! Yet THESE facts are rarely, if ever, mentioned!)
And, perhaps the most amazing thing about that statement, is that that one hit is NOT PURPLE HAZE, the song he's probably best known for. It peaked at #64 on the National Charts in early Fall of 1967. Prior to this minor US Chart success, JIMI had already hit Great Britain's Top Ten three times: HEY JOE went to #6, PURPLE HAZE to #3 and THE WIND CRIES MARY also hit #6, all within the first six months of 1967. But the only single to make it into BOTH National Top 40 Charts here in the States was his version of the BOB DYLAN tune, ALL ALONG THE WATCHTOWER, which peaked at #18 in Cash Box and #20 in Billboard. (To be fair, the follow-up single, CROSSTOWN TRAFFIC, did hit #36 in Cash Box, but stopped at #52 in Billboard Magazine.) WATCHTOWER was a #5 smash in Great Britain, where JIMI also topped the charts in 1970 with VOODOO CHILE, two months after his death.
ONE HIT WONDER: When you consider all the things that JIMI HENDRIX is famous for, success on the Pop Charts isn't one of them ... by definition, he's a One Hit Wonder ... yet he played a vital role in shaping the sound of hard rock / heavy metal guitar for the next two decades to come. Because of the close proximity to their deaths (and the way that they both died), JIMI HENDRIX is often linked together with fellow Rock And Roll Hall Of Famer JANIS JOPLIN, who technically falls into the same category ... her version of KRIS KRISTOFFERSON's tune ME AND BOBBY McGEE topped both the Billboard and Cash Box Charts in 1971, yet none of her other singles made The Top 40 in BOTH magazines. (KOZMIC BLUES hit #39 in Cash Box and CRY BABY went to #20 in Cash Box, but both fell just short of Billboard's Top 40. She DID, however, hit The National Top 40 with BIG BROTHER AND THE HOLDING COMPANY, when PIECE OF MY HEART went to #12 and #14 in Billboard and Cash Box respectively in 1968, making her a One Hit Wonder TWICE!) HENDRIX and JOPLIN were reportedly romantically involved for a short time but JOPLIN ultimately broke things off because her mother never would have accepted her daughter's relationship with a black man. It's amazing to think that, for all the rebellion normally associated with these two artists, JANIS JOPLIN still held her mother's wishes high on her priority list and JIMI HENDRIX still wrote home to his father on a regular basis! In fact, for all that can be said about the crazy, decadent lifestyle that JIMI HENDRIX may have lived, much of his story can be traced through the postcards and letters sent home to his father and the diary he kept, noting momentous occasions as he met and jammed with other celebrities. As much as everyone who ever crossed paths with JIMI were in awe of him, he was equally in awe of every musician he met along the way.
HITS AND MISSES: HENDRIX probably missed out on another Top 20 single in 1968. DONOVAN wrote his #3 smash HURDY GURDY MAN for JIMI to record but, when JIMI failed to do so, he agreed to play guitar instead on DONOVAN's version. When those plans ALSO fell through, DONOVAN went ahead and recorded it on his own (with ALLAN HOLDSWORTH on lead guitar.) Amazingly, also present in the studio that day were JIMMY PAGE on guitar, JOHN PAUL JONES on bass and JOHN BONHAM on drums ... three-quarters of LED ZEPPELIN a full year before they joined with ROBERT PLANT and launched their own hard-rock career!
DIDJAKNOW?-3: After spending the afternoon doing an interview and photo shoot with LINDA EASTMAN (later McCARTNEY), JIMI HENDRIX and THE EXPERIENCE headed to the studio to begin work on CROSSTOWN TRAFFIC. However, no matter how hard JIMI tried, he just couldn't achieve the guitar sound he heard in his head in the studio that night. Despite his aerosol of fuzz boxes, wah-wah pedals, frantic feedback and dangerously loud distortion, the track just didn't sound right. Finally, he asked if anyone in the studio had a comb. When one was produced, he wrapped it in cellophane and blew into it, creating a kazoo sound. He used that kindergarten trick to achieve the sound he was looking for. With that thought in mind, you really don't even have to listen very closely to hear JIMI augmenting his wild guitar solo with a paper and comb!!! Be sure to listen for this the next time you play or hear CROSSTOWN TRAFFIC!!!
CHICAGO CONNECTION: Back in late 1968 / early 1969, JIMI HENDRIX happened across a band performing at the famed WHISKEY A GO-GO out in LA. That band just happened to be THE CHICAGO TRANSIT AUTHORITY (known later simply as CHICAGO), who had just moved out to the west coast trying to get a record label deal. According to saxophonist WALT PARAZAIDER, "This guy came up very quietly and tapped me on the shoulder. He says, 'Hi, I'm Jimi Hendrix. I've been watching you guys and I think your guitarist is better than me.'" That guitarist was TERRY KATH, one of Chicagoland's greatest musical casualties ... he died playing Russian Roulette in 1978 ... and that was quite a compliment indeed. In fact, HENDRIX invited CTA to open for some of his shows, most famously at the LA FORUM, April 26, 1969. PARAZAIDER goes on to say, " ... that's how we got in front of big audiences." By year's end, their first LP was out ... and that was some 25-or-6-(to 4)-plus albums ago.
DIDJAKNOW?4: Guitarist RANDY CALIFORNIA (who went on to form the rock group SPIRIT) owes not only some of his musical inspiration to JIMI HENDRIX but also his name. His REAL name is RANDY WOLFE, but in 1966 he joined JIMMY JAMES AND THE BLUE FLAMES as a guitarist. Because the bass player in the band was ALSO named RANDY, HENDRIX started calling one of them RANDY CALIFORNIA and the other RANDY TEXAS, based on their states of origin. The name stuck with him for the rest of his musical career!
IMAGINE THAT: In December of 1965, guitar legend LES PAUL was traveling through Lodi, New Jersey, with his son GENE, when he happened to come by a nightclub where JIMI HENDRIX was performing. In fact, it was GENE who popped in the club and told his father that he'd better have a look for himself ... "there's a guy playing all over the guitar." LES PAUL ventured in and said, "I went in and stood in the doorway to listen. I was really impressed by what I heard. Yes, indeed, that dude was really working his guitar over. He was bending string, playing funky as hell. I'd never seen anyone so radical." Unfortunately, they had to leave the next morning for New York, but PAUL vowed to look the guitarist up as soon as his business in New York City was finished. Because he had no name for the artist, he went back to the club in Jersey and was told that HENDRIX was let go ... "his playing was too crazy for them ... too wild and too loud ... so the group hadn't been hired. No one knew his name or where he could be found." PAUL was determined enough to sign HENDRIX to his own band that he called the musicians' unions all over New York and New Jersey, stopping in every single nightclub in north and central Jersey as well as every club in Harlem and the uptown area of New York City. They never found their wild-man ... which, I'm sure, is to the benefit of ALL of us!
EVERYBODY WANTED TO PLAY WITH JIMI: In 1969, jazz great MILES DAVIS approached JIMI about recording together. HENDRIX couldn't wait and a session was booked at The Hit Factory in New York City. However, a half hour before the session was due to begin, DAVIS called to say that he wanted $50,000 upfront before he'd set foot in the studio. Since it was DAVIS' idea to record together in the first place, a very disappointed HENDRIX said "No" and canceled the session. TONY WILLIAMS (who was also scheduled to participate that night) called later to say that he, too, wanted $50,000 up front if MILES was getting it! Needless to say, the session never happened!
GUITAR LEGENDS: Rock/Blues legend MIKE BLOOMFIELD may have paid HENDRIX the ultimate compliment when he said, "I have never heard a sound on a Hendrix record that I have not seen him create in front on my eyes."
CREAMING THE COMPETITION : JIMI's guitar playing was impressive, to say the least. He played with his teeth, behind his back, between his legs, almost appearing to be making love to his guitar. Even Bitain's elitist of the elite couldn't believe what they were seeing when JIMI first hit the UK. Wen CHAS CHANDLER first tried to persuade JIMI to come back to England with him, a determining factor that ultimately convinced HENDRIX to go was the opportunity to meet (and jam with) ERIC CLAPTON ... in fact, JIMI sat in with CREAM on a number of occasions. By the time of one of his first solo appearances, word-of-mouth had spread regarding JIMI's incredible abilities on guitar. 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. There was dead silence after JIMI's performance before TOWNSHEND broke the ice by saying "Well, it's all over then, isn't it." Several of Britain's best guitarist felt they may have to give up the instrument after that night! A couple of weeks later, CLAPTON reportedly permed his hair and added feedback to CREAM's live set! In fact, JACK BRUCE was so inspired that he went home and wrote the famous bass-line for SUNSHINE OF YOUR LOVE! The competition and friendly rivalry between HENDRIX and THE WHO would go on for many years. In fact, at THE MONTEREY POP MUSIC FESTIVAL the following year, there was a HUGE debate regarding who would follow whom on stage between THE WHO and JIMI HENDRIX ... each were considered an act impossible to follow. (Actually, their closing bit was a bit similar really ... both acts would smash their instruments to bits in a frantic finale.) HENDRIX lost the coin-toss and had to close the show after THE WHO's performance. Naturally, THE WHO pulled out all the stops, smashing everything in sight. HENDRIX came out, did his set, smashed his guitar and then lit it on fire to the delight of a frenzied crowd, besting THE WHO in overall outrageousness! Ironically, back in 1960 in one of JIMI's earliest bands, THE ROCKING KINGS, there was an after-show confrontation between JIMI, the piano player WALTZ and the saxophonist WALTER HARRIS. WALTZ had insulted the other band members by saying that they weren't really playing. HARRIS got angry and grabbed JIMI's guitar and came after WALTZ with it. JIMI flipped! "Hey, uh, look, Walter, that's my guitar!" he said ... "Can you just please pick up something else to hit this guy with? Not my guitar!" Can you even imagine a day when HENDRIX would have had second thoughts about damaging his prized possession!!! How ironic!
DIDJAKNOW?-5: In 1968, after playing at The Music Hall in Houston, TX, JIMI HENDRIX gave his pink Fender Stratocaster to the guitarist of his warm-up band, THE MOVING SIDEWALKS. He told the guitarist that "the color pink was not conducive to burning." That young guitarist was a guy named BILLY GIBBONS, who went on to form ZZ TOP!!!
DIDJAKNOW?-6: (aka "THE JIMI HENDRIX / ELVIS PRESLEY CONNECTION") : In April of 1969, JIMI HENDRIX was invited to meet PRESIDENT NIXON at THE WHITE HOUSE. Press Secretary RON ZIEGLER personally called HENDRIX's management staff to extend the invitation ... not to perform, but to meet The President for a fireside chat. (NIXON wanted to hold a youth conference and felt that JIMI would give him a better grip on the current state of the counter-culture.) Manager MIKE JEFFERY turned the invitation down without ever even mentioning it to JIMI. When HENDRIX found out later, he was disappointed ... not so much by the fact that he would have liked to discuss the youth conference but simply because he would have liked to have seen the inside of THE WHITE HOUSE. Since The New York Times at once point referred to JIMI as "THE BLACK ELVIS" ... and since ELVIS himself set up a meeting with NIXON to get official narcotics law enforcement agency badges ... THIS becomes our ELVIS PRESLEY / JIMI HENDRIX connection!
TAKING CREDIT: Concert promoter extraordinaire BILL GRAHAM takes the credit for one of JIMI HENDRIX's greatest live performances. HENDRIX performed two shows on New Year's Eve, 1969, and two shows on New Year's Day, 1970, at the world famous FILLMORE EAST in New York City ... in fact, a couple of the shows were recorded for release as a live album. 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." HENDRIX reportedly fell apart. "Why are you telling me that?" he screamed, pushing furniture around. "Because you asked me," GRAHAM answered. And, according to GRAHAM, "What followed on the next show, with respect to Carlos and Eric and all the others, was the most brilliant, emotional display of virtuoso electric guitar playing I have ever heard. I don't expect to hear such sustained brilliance in an hour and fifteen minutes. He just stood there, did nothing ... just played and played and played. He comes off the stage afterwards, a wet rag, and says to me ... 'All Right?' I said, 'Jimi, it was great.' And I hugged him and got all wet and I asked him if he would do an encore." "Yeah," JIMI said ... "and then he goes out and does every conceivable corny bullshit thing he can do." (LOL)
DIDJAKNOW-7?: BUDDY MILES used to perform his best-known hit THEM CHANGES while he was still a member of JIMI HENDRIX's backup band. In fact, at one point JIMI reportedly considered making BUDDY the lead vocalist of the group so that he could concentrate on his guitar playing instead. The truth is, JIMI HENDRIX was always self-conscious about his own singing voice. Although he had a charisma that drew everyone he met close to him, he never liked his singing voice and preferred to let his guitar do the talking. But the next time you hear it, give a listen to how good he sounds on THE WIND CRIES MARY ... it's a rare "quiet" number from the feedback master!
WHODATHUNK?: Although THEM CHANGES is the best-known BUDDY MILES song, it never rose above #62 on the National Charts, despite being released THREE TIMES as a single (including once as a live track with CARLOS SANTANA on guitar.) His song DOWN BY THE RIVER got all kinds of rock-radio airplay ... and yet, despite paying his dues with two of rock's all-time greatest guitarists, BUDDY's biggest claim to fame just may be his stint as the voice of THE CALIFORNIA RAISINS! (We featured his version of I HEARD IT THROUGH THE GRAPEVINE in our Most Over-Played Oldies series a little while back!)
For all intents and purposes, THE JIMI HENDRIX EXPERIENCE split up in early 1969. (HENDRIX made the formal announcement on June 28, 1969). Several reasons have been given ... JIMI wanted to expand the band with more players, going in new directions. NOEL REDDING was frustrated ... first at how long the recording process was taking with JIMI often doing countless takes on his own long after the rest of the band had gone home, and then going out and jamming till the wee hours of the morning with virtually ANY other musical act in town ... and secondly at really being a guitar player relegated to playing bass because the band already had the greatest guitar player on the face of the earth in the spotlight. As such, REDDING formed FAT MATTRESS where HE could be the focal point ... and, for the most part, it was an amicable split. (In fact, FAT MATTRESS opened for MANY of JIMI's shows over the next several months! Although JIMI supported NOEL's decision and afforded him the opportunity to tour with him, thereby exposing him to MUCH larger audiences than he would have EVER drawn on his own, behind his back he often referred to NOEL's new band as "SOFT PILLOW"!)
HENDRIX recruited his old army buddy bass player BILLY COX to join the band and then also added guitarist LARRY LEE (another friend from the Nashville days), JERRY VELEZ, JUMA SULTAN and, alternately on drums, MITCH MITCHELL and / or BUDDY MILES. (He never really ruled out playing with REDDING and MITCHELL again ... and, in fact, BOTH continued to perform and record with JIMI periodically through the end ... he really just wanted to see what other musical directions he could go by expanding beyond three players and opening up new opportunities.)
One of JIMI HENDRIX's greatest (and most famous) performances has to be at the WOODSTOCK festival in 1969. He moved to the area a few months in advance to rehearse and problems began almost immediately. Someone was breaking into the house and guitars came up missing ... drugs were being put into people's food ... and it all culminated with a shootout at the front gate! (To say the least, it made things a bit strained while the band tried to rehearse!)
Signing JIMI to do the gig was a real coup. The promoters had already decided that the most they would pay an act was $15,000. The week before, JIMI had earned $150,000 for a gig in California. HENDRIX said he wanted $30,000 but was told that the only way he could earn that much money was to perform twice: on the first and last day of the festival. Eventually, they settled on $18,000 and JIMI closed the show. And what a performance it was. To a nearly empty, open field, JIMI announced "You can all leave if you want to ... we're just gonna jam" and then wailed on his version of THE STAR SPANGLED BANNER (which he then segued into PURPLE HAZE). Performing THE STAR SPANGLED BANNER at a time when there was so much controversy regarding the War in Viet Nam made for a pretty poignant moment. Guitarist LARRY LEE said the stage conditions were horrendous. Between the way the amps were set up and the fact that rain at saturated the stage, "On a lot of my solos there's feedback and when it ain't feeding back, I was actually getting electrocuted."
The guitar effects on JIMI's performance of THE STAR SPANGLED BANNER were electrifying ... he made you feel "the rocket's red glare" and "the bombs bursting in air" ... and it was even more revolutionary coming almost exactly one year after JOSE FELICIANO infuriated a nation by his "sacrilege" performance of our NATIONAL ANTHEM at the 1968 WORLD SERIES.
DIDJAKNOW?-8: Although JIMI's performance of THE STAR SPANGLED BANNER at WOODSTOCK is considered by many to be one of the highlights of the festival ... especially the way it climaxed the ending of the theatrical release of the film ... this was NOT the first time he had performed this song. In fact, he had been performing it (and perfecting the incredible guitar sound effects) for nearly a year ... perhaps MOST famously at a performance that April at the Memorial Auditorium in Dallas, Texas. Handler RON TERRY says that when HENDRIX arrived at his dressing room that night, there were five thugs blocking the entrance. TERRY was told by the apparent gang leader "You tell that fuckin' nigger if he plays 'STAR SPANGLED BANNER' in this hall tonight, he won't live to get out of the building. Did you hear what I said? No one does that in Dallas, Texas, and lives to tell about it. We'll start a riot and if he don't make it out of the building, that's just the way it fucking goes." HENDRIX performed THE STAR SPANGLED BANNER that night ... without incident.
HENDRIX dubbed his new outfit THE GYPSY SUN AND RAINBOW BAND and WOODSTOCK was their very first gig! (Imagine that ... yet all of the focus was on CROSBY, STILLS, NASH and YOUNG,who made it a point to announce during their performance that they were "scared shitless" at this being only their second gig.)
In September of 1969, HENDRIX was kidnapped. He had been hanging out with a known cocaine dealer named BOBBY WOODS. By now, drugs were a way of life for JIMI and, as far as he was concerned, WOODS was just a nice guy who just happened to sell cocaine. When WOODS was murdered gangland style, HENDRIX was grabbed to be sure that he didn't have any information of value to the gang who carried out the hit. One story goes that the "Junior Mafia" was looking to move into the music business and that securing HENDRIX's contract would give them a major foothold. (HENDRIX was also in constant pursuit by THE BLACK PANTHERS.) Once it was determined that JIMI didn't have any damaging information, he was set free ... it didn't seem that life could get any crazier!
By 1970, the band was trimmed down to include only BILLY COX and BUDDY MILES and the name was changed to simply BAND OF GYPSYS. (Ironically, it was old EXPERIENCE drummer MITCH MITCHELL who came up with the name for the band!) JIMI's drug use had gotten so bad that he often could barely perform. He canceled several performances, walked off stage during several others and most nights complained about not really wanting to take the stage. By most accounts, when he DID perform he was awful, often inciting the audience to boo him while on stage. There was also some flack about JIMI fronting an all-black band ... THE EXPERIENCE gave him the "rock" appeal he needed to appeal to all audiences. Despite his love of the blues, JIMI never really caught on with the black fans ... yet was perceived to be a Guitar God in the predominantly white rock circles. Reportedly, because of this, word was put out that THE EXPERIENCE were going to regroup. (There was a certain mystically magical "look" to HENDRIX being flanked by two white guys!) Both MITCH MITCHELL and NOEL REDDING agreed to come back and HENDRIX made the announcement public. BUDDY MILES was fired but, at the very last minute, HENDRIX decided to keep BILLY COX on board, making REDDING the odd-man-out. Disappointed, NOEL returned to England to work on a solo album and, in typical JIMI fashion, the newly formed BUDDY MILES EXPRESS became the opening act for many of the new JIMI HENDRIX EXPERIENCE concert dates.
'60's FLASHBACK: FROM OUR EXCLUSIVE FH INTERVIEW WITH HENRY GROSS A FEW YEARS BACK: As many of you know, HENRY GROSS (who had a Top Five hit with the very BEACH BOYS-sounding song SHANNON back in 1976) was once a member of SHA-NA-NA, who ALSO performed at WOODSTOCK back in 1969. We interviewed him for FORGOTTEN HITS back in 2001 ... and here is just a short excerpt of that memory that he shared with our music list a few years ago:
After playing at the hottest club in New York, The "Steve Paul Scene" and playing at "The Fillmore East" to incredible reactions, we were added to the bill at "Woodstock". Woodstock was great fun. Got to drive to the stage (for about three hours) with Jerry Garcia! Great guy! I also got to spend time with Jimi Hendrix, who I'd gotten to know fairly well through a guy called Velvert Turner who sat next to me in "The Midwood High School Mixed Chorus" in Brooklyn. Velvert was very close with Jimi and I was lucky to have had the opportunity to know both of them, as they were really great and talented guys. Also met and spoke to Alvin Lee, who is a friend of mine today, although he has no recollection of our meeting then. Why would he? It was right after he came off stage and there were 300,000 other folks talking to him at approximately the same time!
DIDJAKNOW-9?: After the WOODSTOCK festival, STEPHEN STILLS came by one night (as he often did) to jam with HENDRIX. He brought along a new song that had just been written by JONI MITCHELL ... they jammed for a good 25 minutes on this new tune, trying to decide if it was worth recording or not. At the end of the night, it was pretty much forgotten ... so STILLS recorded the song instead with his bandmates DAVID CROSBY, GRAHAM NASH and NEIL YOUNG ... and JONI MITCHELL's tune WOODSTOCK became a #11 hit for CSNY in 1970.
DIDJAKNOW?-10: In 1970, with BUDDY MILES having replaced MITCH MITCHELL on drums in JIMI's new BAND OF GYPSYS, MITCHELL was approached by KEITH EMERSON, who was putting together a new band with GREG LAKE. For a brief moment, it looked as if that band could have been named EMERSON, LAKE AND MITCHELL ... in fact, MITCH even hinted that he felt he could get JIMI to come on board. Of course, it never happened and CARL PALMER was instead recruited to play drums ... and one of the great art-rock bands of all time was formed. Several months later, when THE JIMI HENDRIX EXPERIENCE was reformed, EMERSON, LAKE AND PALMER were invited out on the road as a supporting act ... JIMI always seemed to remember his friends and paid them back with opportunities they might not otherwise have been afforded.
The death of JIMI HENDRIX due to an over-indulgence of drugs was probably one of the smaller surprises in Rock And Roll History ... however, over the years, the facts have become muddied as to who said what to whom and when, as well as where and why they said it. All of the key players close to HENDRIX at the time have changed their stories so many times over the years that it's become impossible to separate fact from fiction. In addition, many of those closest to JIMI have since passed on, meaning that we'll never really get any closer to the truth.
Close friend ERIC BURDON (who, along with his new band, WAR, jammed with HENDRIX a few nights before he died) first said that JIMI had left a suicide note. No note was ever found, however. (According to long-time friend and bassist NOEL REDDING, the so-called "suicide note" was actually a poem that JIMI had written the day he died. Later titled, THE STORY OF LIFE, it said "The story of life is quicker than the wink of an eye. The story of love is hello and goodbye ... until we meet again.") Interviewed by KENNETH ALLSUP on BBC's 24 HOURS Television Programme a couple of days after JIMI's death, BURDON said, "He made his exit when he wanted to. His death was deliberate. He was happy dying ... and he used the drug to phase himself out of this life and go someplace else." This interview took place just 48 hours after JIMI's death and ERIC was grieving. However, years later BURDON said that he regretted ever doing the interview, claiming to have been stoned out of his mind during the whole process ... he felt that he had sold out a close personal friend.
It is unlikely that JIMI even considered taking his own life. In early 1970, he finally launched ELECTRIC LADY, his own recording studio, and was excited and motivated to record things his own way. Unfortunately, the effects of the drugs compromised his abilities to do so more often than not ... but this was not somebody who was thinking about checking out. In fact, he had meetings set up the next week to iron out management problems and review the tracks that were already in the can.
It was also first reported that Manager CHAS CHANDLER received a desperate plea from JIMI on his answering machine hours before he died, stating "I need help bad, man." Years later CHANDLER said the phone call never happened, stating that he's never owned an answering machine in his life. HENDRIX did, however, talk with CHANDLER earlier in the day, asking for help in mapping out the next career direction he was hoping to take. He also spoke to EDDIE KRAMER in New York, telling him to get the tapes from a recent recording session together, as he would be in New York City on the 21st to review them. The next day, he had meetings set up with his lawyers to extricate himself from MIKE JEFFERY's management. All these plans suggest a future ... by all appearances, JIMI was trying to get things back on track.
Two of the most important women in JIMI's life (both MONIKA DANNEMANN and DEVON WILSON were competing for his attention and affection at the time of his death) have blamed it on everything from bad drugs JIMI received at a quick-stop party to each other, both women claiming that the other very well may have administered the final dose that took JIMI's life that night. Unfortunately, we'll never get to cross-check their stories either ... DEVON WILSON died mysteriously in 1971, falling out of a hotel window. She was a known junkie and easily could have given HENDRIX something when they met earlier in the day. MONIKA DANNEMANN, on the other hand, says JIMI talked her out of committing suicide a number of times during their relationship ... someone who would convince another person not to take their own life would be pretty unlikely to take their own. MONIKA admits that she and JIMI did drugs that evening while drinking wine. It is VERY possible that the combination of drugs JIMI did that day with DEVON and MONIKA ... along with his mysterious stop at the party (where no one can say for sure what he took ... although a variety of drugs were found in his system)...along with several glasses of wine ... was just more than his body could stand. (There's also no telling him how much residue of previously taken drugs were still in his system!) Of course, at one point, MONIKA DANNEMANN also told authorities that JIMI never did drugs ... and tried to persuade others to say the same. (Police authorities worked in conjunction with the insurance company to see if JIMI may have committed suicide, thus voiding his two million dollar life insurance policy. In fact, for a while they worked the angle that simply taking and abusing drugs was the equivalent of committing suicide. When all is said and done, absolutely NO ONE in JIMI's circle believes he took his own life.)
NOEL REDDING insists that JIMI was still alive when the paramedics arrived and that 20-40 minutes were spent trying to resuscitate him at the hospital. Over the years, those paramedics have claimed that JIMI was "nearly gone" and / or "already gone" at the time they arrived on the scene. In any event, REDDING says that "JIMI died from choking on his own vomit, and that should have been a preventable cause of death."
Not counting his impromptu jams with ERIC BURDON AND WAR, HENDRIX performed before a live audience for the last time on September 4, 1970, at the Isle of Fehmarn Festival. The last song he ever sang was his hit VOODOO CHILD, which means that some of the last lyrics he ever sang were "If I don't see you no more in this world, I'll see you in the next one ... and don't be late." Cryptic in a way ... but most agree that JIMI never really believed he'd be around for very long. Dead at 27, the world lost one of its greatest guitarists. Too much, too soon, too late.
DIDJAKNOW?-11: In 1965, JIMI HENDRIX recorded a song called THE BALLAD OF JIMI with soul singer CURTIS KNIGHT. KNIGHT wrote the lyrics after JIMI told him one night that he would die in exactly five years time. HENDRIX died in September of 1970 ... exactly five years later. Reportedly, in early September, 1970, HENDRIX told a Denmark
audience "I've been dead for a long time" and later was actually booed off stage in Germany. HENDRIX's death was officially ruled "a result of inhalation of vomit due to barbiturate intoxication."
B(U)Y THE BOOK: As I mentioned previously in this series, I ended up reading quite a bit about JIMI HENDRIX before undertaking this project. If I had to recommend just one book that you should read about JIMI HENDRIX, I couldn't do it .... I would have to recommend TWO!!! By far, the most comprehensive book I found is called JIMI HENDRIX: ELECTRIC GYPSY by HARRY SHAPIRO and CAESAR GLEBBEEK. Not only is it incredibly informative, but it's also a very easy, entertaining read. In addition to JIMI's life story, you'll also find a complete discography and sessionography of EVERYTHING HENDRIX was ever involved in musically. You'll find his complete tour itinerary as well as an in-depth "equipment list" of all of JIMI's guitars, amps, bells and whistles over the years. It's one of the best written biographies I've ever read ... and that praise doesn't come lightly ... keep in mind that I had virtually NO interest in anything to do with the man prior to starting this project. The OTHER book I'd have to recommend is called JIMI HENDRIX: THE ULTIMATE EXPERIENCE by JOHNNY BLACK. This book tells the complete story in the own words of the people who were there ... it's nearly 250 pages of nothing but quotes recorded at the time as they were experiencing this rollercoaster ride of fame, fortune and, ultimately, doom. Not unlike THE MAMAS AND THE PAPAS book I told you about a couple of years ago, this offers a fascinating insight into the reaction to all that was going on around them at the most exciting time of their career.
Copyright Kent Kotal / Forgotten Hits, 1998 - 2013 ... All rights reserved