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This piece on Jimi Hendrix was originally published in Fantra Zine V in 1997. It's being recycled. Vintage pieces are like listening to classic songs -- "Like A Rolling Stone."

By James "Barry DIA".

The piece went a little something like this in 1997:

Jimi Hendrix I recently returned from Nassau, Bahamas (Feb. 1997). While I was there, I overdosed on conch salad and a classic reggae mix-tape given to me by my good friend, Baba. The tape was compiled by Syndicate Sound-system. The 60-minute cassette was packed with classic recordings by John Holt, Culture, Linval Thompson, George Nooks and Cocoa T, to name a few. For two weeks that was all, I listened to for hours daily. When I returned to NYC, I drove across the Tri-Borough Bridge from Harlem to visit my parents in the burbs. While sitting in the backyard I heard this blues-rock recording blasting from the neighbor�s basement next door. I went into the neighbor�s yard and knocked on the basement door. When the neighbor finally heard my loud knocks above the loud muzik (music), he invited me in. Jokingly I asked, �who the fuck was it on that track.� The friendly neighbor answered � �Jimi man,� in a tone that was saying �you don�t know Jimi�s muzik man?� I confirmed, �I knew That. I just wanted to make sure this was Jimi�s �Machine Gun.�

After listening to two weeks of continuous classic reggae, �Machine Gun� sounded like nothing I�ve heard before. The song sounded so fresh and new it was ridiculous. The guitar solo sounded sweet like brown sugar. And Jim�s vocals sounded like a vintage blues great. When I returned home to Harlem, I pulled out the four-cassette series, �Lifelines: The Jimi Hendrix Story.� For the next three weeks, I overdosed on Hendrix at least four hours daily. My sons James and Barry got a little sick but they now know of Jimi Hendrix.

What can I say about Jimi Hendrix? Personally, I would have carried the dude�s guitars and maintained them free of charge. Jimi became one with the guitar when he picked it up. All his emotions and soul are amplified when he played. For young and old hedz out there, Jimi Marshall Hendrix redefined the guitar and rock muzik. This is what the great Pete Townshend and Eric Clapton said about Jimi Hendrix when he hit the rock scene in London in the 60�s...

  • Pete Townshend. Pete Townshend: ��First time I ever saw Jimi was in Blazers Club. I just went down for a meal one day. As I was going in, Jeff Beck was coming out and he came up to me and said, �have you heard about this guy that was playing tonight � Jimi Hendrix, he is a complete disgrace. He is ripping off all your things.� And I went in and saw him play and was completely floored. �Although I could see what Jeff was talking about, I could see that he (Jimi) was fuckin� the guitar up against the amps and all that stuff, which I felt was precious trademarks. He was taking them and doing something else with them��

  • AEric Clapton. Eric Clapton: ��He had just got into London with his manager Chas � Chas Chandler� he brought him to this gig. I think he did a Holly Walk�s number. He did this whole routine. He did this think with his teeth, playing the guitar with his teeth � laying on the floor, playing behind his head and doing the split, the whole thing� He was incredible�.�
Prior Jimi�s death in 1970, he had taken his craft and muzik to I believe an un-reachable plateau. Although Jimi made tremendous inroads with his electrifying and raucous playing and composing, when I listen to some of his muzik, I sensed Jimi Hendrix was constantly searching for a niche he would be satisfied with. With his personality, I think that would have never happened if he were still alive. With all his great accomplishments, he was always in the experimental mode.

Jimi Hendrix played everything but blues was the essence of his soul and core of his muzik (music). Cuts such as �Voodoo Child� and �Machine Gun� amplified that. At the LA Forum�s concert April 26, 1969 (one of Jimi�s last appearances with his band The Experience), Jimi said in his mellow and verbose dialogue, ��everybody wanna know what American Soul is� Everybody thinks it�s Motown and all this mess� everybody thinks it�s that� American Soul is so�em like this here � a thing called �Red House.�� Jimi and the Experience then played a slow, soulful and raunchy version of �Red House.�

Jimi Hendrix was born in Seattle, Washington � USA, November 27, 1942. His father Al Hendrix and 16-year-old mother Lucile Jeter were local jitterbug champs. (Al was a sax player also.) Al and Lucile got married in March of 1942. Lucile was 3 months pregnant with Jimi. Jimi was born while his father was off to war. His mother named him Johnny Allan Hendrix. Lucile relied on friends and family to take care of her baby. A California family and friend of the Jeters took Johnny to Berkeley, California to live. That was where Al Hendrix found his son when he returned from the army in 1945. Al took his son back to Seattle and renamed him Jimi Marshall Hendrix.

Al Hendrix. Jimi's pops.As a young boy, Jimi used to play a make-believe broomstick guitar.
  • Al Hendrix: ��I used to have him clean up the bedroom all the time while I was gone. And when I come home I would find a lot of broom straws around the foot of the bed. I used to ask him didn�t you sweep the floor, and he would say oh yeah he did. But I found out later he used to sit at the foot of the bed strumming the broom like he was playing the guitar��
Al later bought Jimi an acoustic guitar for five bucks. Jimi spent numerous hours learning to play his guitar.

After Al and Lucile reunited after Al came home from the war, they gave birth to Jimi�s brother Leon. (BTW -- Leon Hendrix is a great guitarist also.) But the marriage did not last. After his parents split, Jimi spent a lot of time shuttling between his relatives in Vancouver and his father in Seattle. Jimi spent his teenage years playing in different groups and at parties.

After Jimi�s mother died in 1958, he became isolated and withdrawn. He dropped out of school, and after a run-in with the law, he joined the Army at eighteen and became a parachuter. Jimmy spent his free time in the Army playing a guitar he nicknamed Betty Jean, after his Seattle�s main squeeze. While on duty he walked around the base playing an air guitar. His fellow Army mates thought he was weird. Jimi did not like the Army. He pretended he injured his back and received a medical discharge in the summer of 1962. He hung out and jammed all over the South after leaving the Army. He ultimately ended up in New York City where he won the Apollo Amateur Contest and $25. He starved for three weeks before asking the Isley Brothers for a job in 1964. He gigged with the Isleys for a while.

In the early �60s, Jimi played the so-called �Chitterling� Circuit.� He worked with several Rock-N-Roll and R&B legends including Little Richard, Solomon Burke, Wilson Picket, Jackie Wilson, B.B. King and Sam Cooke. While on tour with Jackie Wilson and B.B. King, Jimi was stranded in Kansas City because he missed the bus. He did not have any loot so he ended up in Atlanta � GA, after bumming a ride with another band. While in Atlanta he hooked up with Little Richard.

  • Little Richard. Little Richard (with his flaming self in a pretty blue suit sitting on a piano): ��He got with me in Atlanta, Georgia. He was going under the name Maurice James at that time. He was so outrageous in his playing � you got to remember at that time he wasn�t playing the muzik he was playing when he got famous. He was playing the blues; B.B. King type blues; he was playing Little Richard. And he used to make his guitar kinda sing� In fact I probably wouldn�t have hired him if I knew he was doing �that,� (playing the guitar with his teeth, behind his head and back). I found that out on stage one night. When I thought the people were screaming over me, they were screaming over Jimi� He is the greatest musician I�ve met��

After quitting the Chitterling Circuit, a burnt out Jimi Hendrix ended up in the Village in the spring of 1966. He formed a band called the Blue Flames. You might say Jimi was discovered in the Village by former Animals� bassist Chas Chandler. Chas signed Jimi, became his manager and took him to England in September 1966. The Jimi Hendrix Experience was formed a week later. Jimi Hendrix became a legend overnight on the London scene. British rockers such as Paul McCartney, John Lennon, Mick Jagger, Pete Townshend and Eric Clapton were in awe and why not. Here was a nonchalant musician who played with some of the blues, R&B and rock �n� roll greats that were their idols. Chas took the Jimi Hendrix Experience in the studio and cut a cover of �Hey Joe,� recorded October 23, 1966. The song went to #4 on the Melody Maker Chart. The Jimi Hendrix Experience was a hit.

By February 3, 1967, The Experience recorded the follow-up to �Hey Joe� � the great �Purple Haze.� The record broke the mold for recording standards. When the song was released by Warner Brothers in the USA, they had to put a �deliberate distortion, do not correct� warning on the original tape box. By this time Jimi Hendrix and the Experience were firing on all 16 cylinders.
Click to cont. to top of next colomn>>> .
Are You Experienced original British cover Jimi Hendrix and The Experience first album, �Are You Experienced� was completed in March, 1967. According to Jimi, the album had about three or four different moods. It had two rock �n� roll songs, blues and a few �freak-out� songs. One of the �freak-out� songs was �Third Stone From The Sun�. Jimi described the psychedelic number this way�
  • Jimi Hendrix: ��Third Stone From The Sun is earth u know � that�s what it is. You have Mercury, Venus, whatever. You got these guys coming from another planet u know. They observed earth for a while and they think that the smartest animals on the whole earth is chickens � hens. There was nothing to offer. They didn�t like the people so much, so they just blow it up in the end��

Jimi was a superstar in England and Europe but he was virtually unknown in the USA until June 1967, at Monterey Pop Festival. He blew away the line-up of super heavy rockers that included, The Grateful Dead, Janis Joplin, Canned Heat, Otis Redding, Buffalo Springfield, and The Who, who got into a line-up conflict with Jimi. The dispute was over who would go on first.

  • Pete Townshend: ��I said to Jimi we are not gonna follow you on. So he (Jimi) said �we are not gonna follow you on.� So I said listen, we are not gonna follow you on and that is it� and there was a certain look in his eyes and he got on a chair and he played some amazing guitar standing on a chair in the dressing room� and he got down off the chair and look at me and said, �if I�m going to follow you I�m going to pull all the stops���

The Experience returned to England two months later after trashing around the USA playing dives.

Axis: Bold As Love cover All great bands have an important auxiliary member. And that is the soundman or engineer. Eddie Kramer met Jimi after the release of �Hey Joe� and became The Experience personal engineer thereafter. Eddie Kramer in many ways was the fourth member of The Experience. Eddie assisted Jimi in creating certain sound effects in the studio using only a reverb, an echo chamber, panning and of course Jimi�s guitar. �Axis: Bold As Love� was The Experience�s second album (1968). This landmark album reflects the creative talent of Kramer as an excellent recording engineer and Jimi as a remarkable lyricist and songwriter. I think Eddie Kramer helped to bring out the mellow side of Jimi�s personality in some of the songs on �Axis: Bold As Love.� Jimi was definitely on a different level when he recorded �Axis: Bold As Love.� In contrast, �Axis: Bold As Love� is the antithesis of the first album �Are You Experienced.� It�s like a tranquil Jimi versus the turbulent Jimi.

Turbulence best described Jimi Hendrix�s personal and professional life. And certain parts of his young life may have contributed. As a youth, his father Al Hendrix was away at war when he was born. They didn�t meet until three years later after Al was discharged from the Army. He spent most of his toddler years not with his teen mother but with family friends. Jimi�s mother Lucile died when he was 16 years old. Jimi did not have a stable home while growing up. He was shuffled between family members often. Jimi�s personal and professional life was a battle within. His last two years on the Third Stone From The Sun were recklessly restless.

Managing Jimi Hendrix must have been a complex task for Chas Chandler. The great ones are the most difficult to manage. (From a personal experience I emphasized with Chas � with me being the manager of HR (of Bad Brains) on occasions. Plus I personally know that Don Taylor had a tough time managing Bob Marley also). Chandler was responsible for putting Jimi "on." Chaz Chandler was pivotal in the success Jimi achieved. Of course, Jimi had fathomless talent and experience as a musician but no other person the time helped him to get through the door. When Chas Chandler found Jimi playing with the Blue Flames in the Village (NYC), Jimi had played with countless influential top artists. Why didn�t they put Jimi on? I think there were several reasons. For one -- Jimi was too revolutionary. Plus musicians are also very jealous of each other. Jimi was a rogue and did not really fit in. The image of a Black musician then was to be orderly and smile a lot, especially when performing for White people. Jimi was the extreme opposite of the polished and slicked-down Motown acts. I think that is why he dissed Motown at the La Forum concert April 1969 � ��Everybody wanna know what American Soul is� Everybody thinks it�s Motown and all that mess�� Jimi then introduced and played �Red house.� Anyway, Chas saw Jimi�s incredible talent and probably Jimi's vision.

When Chas split from the Animals, he was looking for a challenge in the muzik biz. He found that challenge in Jimi Hendrix. That challenge faded after Jimi built Electric Ladyland recording studio.

  • Chas Chandler.Chas Chandler: ��When we started on the Electric Ladyland album, I might as well not been sitting there. He was was not listening. So I just said I�m not gonna sit around for a ride. I�d rather be doing something I feel I was a part of��
Man Chas might be managing and playing bass for Jim right now�

Prior Electric Ladyland studio, The Experience at one point racked up over $250.000 in studio cost for 1968. Electric Ladyland recording studio was a sanctuary for Jimi Hendrix. Just about all free time was spent in the studio recording. Noel Redding was against spending so much time in the studio. Jimi playing with other musicians such as Miles Davis also frustrated Noel. Noel finally split from The Experience after the last concert of the 1969 tour in Denver, Colorado � USA. Jimi went on to play Woodstock with Mitch Mitchell, Billy Cox, another guitarist and a couple percussionists (conga players). Jimi spent the rest of �69 entangled in a lot of court cases and legal battles. Songs like �Room Full of Mirrors� and � Manic Depression� were evidence that Jimi was not a happy person.

Screenshot of Jimi Hendrix on Dick Cavett Show July 7, 1969.Jimi formed a new band called the Band Of Gypsies. His former Army buddies Billy Cox was on bass and Buddy Miles was rocking the drums. Jimi�s muzik did an about-face and returned to blues topped off with some raunchy guitar and raw vocals. A cut like �Machine Gun� was light-years away from �Bold As Love� and �Little Wings.� The Band of Gypsies were short lived. An Experience reunion was in the works but didn�t happen. It was one in a series of disappointments for Jimi.

Jimi Hendrix returned to England, late August 1970, with Mitch Mitchell and Billy Cox. This combination was the Cry Of Love band. Jimi�s last concert was on August 30, 1970, at the Isle of Wight concert (500,000+ attended). On September 18, 1970, Jimi Hendrix died in London as a result of inhalation of vomit due to barbiturate intoxication. To date, mystery still clouds Jimi�s death. No one is certain if Jimi was set-up or not. According to the coroner�s reports then, it was not clear if Jimi overdosed accidentally or deliberately. One thing that is clear Jimi Hendrix left a legacy that has changed rock forever.

  • Pete Townshend: ��I think in many respect he (Jimi) changed the sound of rock far more than the Beatles� they brought songwriting to rock-n-roll� Jimi changed the sound of the guitar. He turned it into an instrument� which people like Buddy Guy, T-bone Walker, Chuck Berry had done previously� but none sold it (the guitar) to the public and sold it to people like me who now believe in it as an instrument. People like Eric Clapton were too ethnic. They kept themselves to themselves. They had fixed grooves. But Jimi was unashamedly outward and wanted to reach as many people as possible��
Big Thanks to �Jimi Hendrix� video on Warner Home Video for the excerpts from Little Richard, Pete Townshend, Eric Clapton and Chas Chandler.

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