EIGHT LITTLE-KNOWN FACTS About JIMI HENDRIX
September 11, 2016
- Let’s get one thing straight right off the top here: Jimi Hendrix was not the illegitimate mutant offspring of wild Indians, raised by wolverines deep within the celestial ice caverns of Venus’ third moon. No, Jimi – make that Jimmy – grew up in relative normality in Seattle WA, I kid you not, and his old man was a gardener fer gosh sake! Confusion similarly surrounds the other end of his life as well: For even though Jimi did not take his last meal in the same London flat Mama Cass (and later Keith Moon) did, it was, if you care to subscribe to such loony legends, Cass who was felled by a ham sandwich. Jimi choked to death on something else… still food-related, however.
- And contrary to similarly popular rocklore, Jimi Hendrix was not the first guitarist to break the sound barrier atop an upside-down Stratocaster. Credit ‘n’ cudos for that particular innovation must go to the one, the only Dick Dale. Yes, he who literally blue – with one E-chord tied behind his back! – Stevie R. Vaughan off the stage in that cinematic treasure Back To The Beach. Yesirree, the King of the Surf Guitar was busy fusing speaker cones, to say nothing of unsuspecting adolescent eardrums, ‘way back when Hendrix was nothing but a medically-discharged-without-honors paratrooper, soon to be a black-up guitarist on the quasi-legendary chitlin circuit. Which reminds me:
- Little Richard really did teach Jimi Hendrix everything he knew! (along with, need I remind anyone, James Brown, The Beatles, Prince, David Bowie, Boy George, Michael Jackson and, of course, Miley Cyrus) (and I know Richard will be letting us all know if I’ve left anyone out).
- TOO MUCH MONKEE BIZNESS: Each and every rockin’ popologist worth their Wiki now know Hendrix’s first major North American jaunt was as opening act for Davy, Micky, Peter and Mike …but did you know that when said tour hit Chicago, and the notorious Plaster Casters appeared backstage to, umm, immortalize each band(’s) member(s) in dental clay, several myths were forever shattered when it turned out Jimi’s family jewels failed to measure anywhere near up to those on none other than “Dumb Monkee” Peter Tork!
- Like all good transplanted-English psychedevians basking in the Summer of Free Love, Jimi Hendrix saw to it he padded out his concerts – to say nothing of his albums – with mega-minute dollops of chemically-derived stereophonic noodling, the most exemplary of which remains “1983 (A Merman I Should Turn To Be)” (…not to mention the rest of Electric Ladyland vinyl side three), extracts from which can still be heard squeaking beneath scratchy archival footage of love-ins and de-lousings circa “Journey To The Center Of The Mind.” Yet hidden away on the Experience’s European B-sides are some of this dubious genre’s “best,” though least heard, doses of aural indulgence. For example: Guess what “Stars That Play with Laughing Sam’s Dice” (flipside of the original “Burning Of The Midnight Lamp” 45) stands for? (and you thought Lucy in the Sky with Dinah was hep!) And even more, well, fascinating was Jimi’s original “teenage opera to God,” entitled “Brave Ulysses’ Long Lost Stash Hast Imbrued Tonto.” This typically incoherent twenty-seven minute excursion into the realms of, as it was explained at the time, “electric tribal sky church rainbow music” found itself, in a brief lapse of (in)sanity, chopped off Axis: Bold As Love (but is threatening to be exhumed soon as part of Sony/Exxon’s Essentially Rare Reprogrammed Hendrix In The Studio As You’ve Never Heard Before, Sorta 12-CD Boxing Set).
- a. DRIED GRAPES DEPT.: Jimi’s former drummists haven’t exactly led stellar careers – or lives for that matter – since September 18, 1970. Buddy Miles, who beat behind the Hendrix Band of Gypsys was, after having been sprung from several hoosegows, the brains, to be incredibly gracious, behind …the California Raisins. And Mitch Mitchell, who you should all recall was at least one-third of The Jimi Hendrix Experience, ended up hawking his road stories and then some to the highest bidder (Harmony Books), before disappearing deep into the Delete Zone. The bigger the drum kit, the harder they fall.
b. SOUR GRAPES DEPT.: Meanwhile, Noel Redding, the four-strung genius wholly responsible for “She’s So Fine” and “Little Miss Strange” (…don’t ask), not to mention Fat Mattress (…but that’s another Little Known Facts list!) once toured New Jersey’s most picturesque dives fronting a combo called (I bet this took a while) The Noel Redding Experience. However, he spent the majority of his off-time, of which I reckon he had an abundance, lazing in line alongside dozens upon dozens of other ex-rhythm sections, managers, publishers, producers, promoters, valets, conga tuners, and seamstresses who, armed with the finest lawyers credit can buy, patiently await their very own turn to gnaw away at the lawsuit-ridden corpse of their former bandmate. Hopefully though, Noel and Jimi have long since buried their hatchet …somewhere upon that great big People’s Court in the sky.
- Within a few blocks of Jimi’s still-extant Electric Lady Studios (in NYC’s once-happening Greenwich Village) are not only several of the world’s best rare, used, and/or pirate record boutiques but, even more fattening, the one and only Waverly Restaurant: the finest eatery east of the Mississip! (Tuesday Night’s Special? Roast duck with salad, bread, choice of potato and vegetable, beverage and dessert – a regular steal at $12.95) (that’s at 385 Avenue of the Americas… and don’t forget to tell ‘em Ball Buster Gary sentcha!)
- Hey, and remember that time Jimi got busted at Toronto International Airport for drugs? I hear Yoko set him up…