Saturday, 18 September 2010

James Marshal Hendrix 27-11-42 to 18-09-70

James Marshall "Jimi" Hendrix (born Johnny Allen Hendricks, (November 27, 1942 – September 18, 1970) was an American guitarist and singer-songwriter. He is often considered to be the greatest electric guitarist in the history of rock music by other musicians and commentators in the industry, and one of the most important and influential musicians of his era across a range of genres.After initial success in Europe, he achieved fame in the United States following his 1967 performance at the Monterey Pop Festival. Later, Hendrix headlined the iconic 1969 Woodstock Festival and the 1970 Isle of Wight Festival. Hendrix often favored raw overdriven amplifiers with high gain and treble and helped develop the previously undesirable technique of guitar amplifier feedback. Hendrix was one of the musicians who popularized the wah-wah pedal in mainstream rock which he often used to deliver an exaggerated pitch in his solos, particularly with high bends and use of legato. He was influenced by blues artists such as B.B. King, Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf, Albert King and Elmore James, rhythm and blues and soul guitarists Curtis Mayfield, Steve Cropper, as well as by funk and some modern jazz. In 1966, Hendrix, who played and recorded with Little Richard's band from 1964 to 1965, said, "I want to do with my guitar what Little Richard does with his voice."

As a record producer, Hendrix also broke new ground in using the recording studio as an extension of his musical ideas. He was one of the first to experiment with stereophonic and phasing effects for rock recording.

Hendrix won many of the most prestigious rock music awards in his lifetime, and has been posthumously awarded many more, including being inducted into the US Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1992 and the UK Music Hall of Fame in 2005. An English Heritage blue plaque was erected in his name on his former residence at Brook Street, London, in September 1997. A star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame (at 6627 Hollywood Blvd.) was dedicated in 1994. In 2006, his debut US album, Are You Experienced, was inducted into the United States National Recording Registry, and Rolling Stone named Hendrix the top guitarist on its list of the 100 greatest guitarists of all-time in 2003. He was also the first person inducted into the Native American Music Hall of Fame.

Probably the way most will remember Jimi, in pseudo military attire and complete with a Fender Stratocaster.

It's 40 years to the day since my 'all time' hero Jimi Hendrix past away, and all week I have been in a quandary as to whether I should go to his graveside in Seattle, Washington and pay tribute? Greyhound suggested it would be 3 days there and the same back, and the thoughts of getting a flight were logistically prohibitive so here I am in Wichita wondering where those 40 years went. I remember the music press being full of stories about Chas Chandler's (bass player for The Animals) 'find' in New York City of this sensational guitarist who was going to knock the Claptons, Greens and Townsends off their respective perches, but we'd heard it all before. Soon after release of 'Are You Experienced', Jimi accompanied by (Englishmen) Mitch Mitchell on drums and Noel Redding bass, I bought a copy more to see what all the fuss had been about - but 'WAP' that was that!

Under the heading of 'The Jimi Hendrix Experience' (Mitchell left, Redding right).

At sea for all of Jimi's years of living fame, there was little chance that I'd get to see him but there was a glimmer of hope at the 1970 Isle of Wight Festival. Along with 2 shipmates, we cashed in some leave and crossed the Solent for the first day all with the bravado of F*** the Navy we're staying to the end. With an array of bands under our belt, the best of which was probably 'Ten Years After' with Alvin Lee at his shattering best, Sunday morning arrived and we were all 'loosing the bottle'. Her Majesties Submarine 'Alcide' was programmed to leave HMS Dolphin, the submarine base at Gosport, for operations in the Arctic Circle and for 3 of her crew to be 'adrift'?, well the consequences were unthinkable. We went back, and I never did see My Man.

Jimi with white 'Sunburst' Strat.

In 1995 however, Lisa my youngest daughter and I embarked on a journey that would take us the full width of the United States of America (plus parts of Canada & Mexico). On that tour we encountered a couple of young lads (16 and 14 years old) on the bus from Knoxville to Memphis and struck up quite a rapour. Unbeknown to us their parents, who we had also met, had given them the funds to show the Brits a good time in the Music City. The 16 year old picked up a red Mustang from home and the 2 of them proceeded on a tour of Memphis we will never forget. Gracelands (including Elvis' private airport), Sun Studios, Beale Street, Peabody's etc, etc. As we boarded the bus for our next destination, New Orleans, they handed me a scroll of paper saying "we have never met such an ardent supporter of Jimi, please accept this". On opening it was found to be a charcoal 'rubbing' of Jimi Hendrix's grave - I'll spare you the emotion!

Hendrix in one of his 'trademark' pensive moments.

Since those days I have been overwhelmed with gifts and souvenirs of the 'Hendrix' nature including an original 'oil' of the man from my family on my 50th birthday, a 'first issue' copy of The Eternal Fire' (with Curtis Knight) from Capt Bob Anderson one of my former bosses plus a 'first press' of the EP Voodoo Chile (Slight Return) from my friend Andrew Lindsay. On this EP he teamed up with his former US Airborne mate (yes Jimi was a distinguished paratrooper until an accident forced him out of the service) bass player Billy Cox and after a 'first time' perfect recording Jimi suggested a 'Slight Return' to the studio to do it again. That is where I took the name for my house from, but later the song wrongly became Voodoo CHILD but I don't know why.
This is one of the last photographs taken of the man, the day before he died. It holds pride of place along with the grave rubbing in my dining room. 'Hey Joe' also remains my favourite single to this day!

In Many Minds Today 'Jimi' - We Await the Slight Return

With best laid plans of mice and men, I was up the creek again!

Thinking that Springfield, Missouri would be an idea staging post for the next leg of the trip up to Wichata, Kansas, I had decided to stay for a couple of days and survey the wildlife. Unfortunately, and unbeknown the Greyhounds don't run the shortest distance, but only route back to Tulsa and Oklahoma City. However, relying on one of my favourite catchphrases (if that is all that befalls me today then I'll be alright) I decided instead to return to the later and spend a little time there. A beautiful and well kept city, the highlight was undoubtedly finding the Donald Reynolds Art Museum, but more importantly the understated Museum Cafe. This establishment was the furthest thing from a 'cafe' you could imagine with just one example a precis of the wine list offering such stars as '92 Chateau Margaux, '96 Ch Palmer, '99 de Angelus plus a 1998 Opus One at $350, which I once recieved as a birthday present from my beautiful daughters.

My intent was just to go in for a beer, which I did by way of a Newcastle Brown Ale, but taking one look at the menu and spotting grilled Quail the temptation was simply too great.

By now Maître d’ Jesse, of Malasian origin, had joined me at the bar, and as things were quiet there was time to enjoy a long conversation with this most charming lady. Having put the world to rights, I ordered the bird and a bottle of Broquel 'Wood' a delicious Argentinian Malbec. Unfortunately, even 'chef' couldn't tell me which species of Quail I was about to eat, so I decided it must be Gambel's as I have never seen this in the wild, giving me the opportunity to add it to my 'World Bird List' once the dish arrived - TICK!

Bon Appetite - everything about this place was dead right with the service being of a very high standard, decor bright and tasteful with an excellent choice of music none of which was familiar to me. I wasn't about to have dessert but Jesse returned and insisted I choose one with her compliments. Her recommendation of the white and dark chocolate terrine with blackberry sauce sounded good, and as my mate Andy Lindsay always suggests whiskey goes well with chocolate it was only right I complimented it with a Jameson's.

The Free Terrine

By now a booked party of over 50 people had arrived, so with exchange of cards and my sincere thanks for a perfect meal I boarded the bus for Kansas.

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