The following five releases collect together the bulk of Jimi’s pre-Experience recordings:
West Coast Seattle Boy
A number of pre-Experience recordings with numerous artists (including Little Richard, The Isley Brothers and Don Covay)
were gathered together in 2010 on CD1 of the “West Coast Seattle Boy” box set.
Unfortunately, some tracks are not the original recordings and feature overdubs which were added when the labels cashed-in on Jimi’s late 60s success. Because of contractual disagreements at the time of release, no Curtis Knight or Lonnie Youngblood recordings were included. However two compilations of recordings that Jimi made with Curtis Knight were released by Experience Hendrix soon after:
Curtis Knight & The Squires – RSVP/PPX Sessions
This is one of the bands that Hendrix played with just before he was spotted by Linda Keith and introduced to Chas Chandler.
Two collections of studio recordings here on Sony Legacy and Dagger Records.
Note that these also feature tracks that were recorded during the two low-key Hendrix/Knight reunion sessions in the summer of 1967.
Details further down.
Curtis Knight & Jimi Hendrix – Live At George’s Club 20, 1965 & 1966
Released in March 2017 on Dagger Records, this is a fascinating collection of live recordings of Curtis Knight & The Squires.
In these pre-Experience days his stage name names were Maurice James, Jimmy James and not “Jimi” Hendrix.
Details futher down.
Lonnie Youngblood featuring Jimi Hendrix
Hendrix met Youngblood when the two played with Curtis Knight.
They hit it off and became musical partners in early 1966.
This release (not from the Hendrix Estate) collected the few tracks that they recorded together
and included a number of alternate takes and versions. Details below.
To find out all about Jimi’s troubled childhood and his formative years as a musician, check out these two excellent books:
Room Full Of Mirrors – A Biography Of Jimi Hendrix – by Charles R. Cross (2006)
Becoming Jimi Hendrix – by Steve Roby & Brad Schreiber (2012)
What follows are the details about all the known recordings of Jimi before he came to fame in the UK in late 1966/early 1967.
Guitar for hire
For many years, there were far more releases of pre-Experience recordings than the regular Hendrix material on the market! Practically all of the releases pictured Jimi at the height of his fame with no indication of the source of the recordings, creating confusion about his musical heritage.
The sources of these confusing albums were mainly the sessions dating from the time when he worked with various R&B artists, some famous, some obscur. Other albums published through the years included cobbled together tracks from a 1967 reunion session with Jimi’s old band leader Curtis Knight and some albums even featured recordings which don’t even feature Hendrix, but an imitator! See the list of FAKE tracks near the bottom of the page.
So this important, early period in Jimi’s evolution as a professional musician merits close attention.
A brief history of the early years
As a youngster in his hometown of Seattle, Jimmy joined local groups such as The Velvetones, The Rocking Kings, Luther Rabb & The Stags and The Tom Cats. In 1962, after getting out of the 101st Airborne, he settled in Nashville and formed The King Casuals with Billy Cox (who he had met in the army). Then he met the singer/impressario/MC Gorgeous George (Theophilus George Odell) who found him a number of professional engagements including with his own band The Odells. Through 1962/63, Jimmy toured with anyone he could (often joined by Billy Cox), landing jobs with Bobby Taylor & The Vancouvers, Carla Thomas, Solomon Burke, Chuck Jackson, Tommy Tucker and the great Slim Harpo.
In 1964 came his first big break when he was hired by The Isley Brothers, as guitarist in their backing band (The I.B. Specials) and his recording career really began. He then went on to tour with such prestigeous artists as Little Richard, Ike & Tina Turner, BB King, Sam Cooke, Jackie Wilson and many more.
All of this was invaluable experience of how to handle audiences, put on a show and to stay tight as a professional musician playing R’n’B, rock ‘n’ roll, blues, doo-wop and pop.
Here is a complete list of the known artists that Jimi either toured with or played the odd gig:
The King Casuals (a.k.a. The Casuals)
Tommy Tucker (who wrote “High Heeled Sneekers”)
Ironing Board Sam
Bob Fisher and the Barnesvilles (Jimmy met Larry Lee)
The Marvelettes (who supported The Impressions with Curtis Mayfield)
The Isley Brothers
Gorgeous George Odell
(on tour with B.B. King, Sam Cooke & Jackie Wilson)
The Valentinos (with Harry and Bobby Womack)
Buddy & Stacey
Ike and Tina Turner
Curtis Knight and the Squires (a.k.a. The Lovelights)
Joey Dee and The Starlighters
The King Curtis Band
Carl Holmes and the Commande
July 1963 and this fascinating little press advertisement reveals that not only was Billy Cox doing gigs under his own name
but also on the bill was his buddy Jimmy Hendrix and his magic guitar!
The Hendrix recordings before fame
So here’s the full history of the recordings featuring Hendrix as a backing musician from 1964 to 1966.
The young Jimmy (he spelt it “Jimi” later in 1966) was captured on tape with only The Isley Brothers, Little Richard, King Curtis, Don Covay, and a few other lesser known artists. Some of the recordings of this period are quite interesting, although rather dated. The following are the only recordings with confirmed involvement by Jimmy (according to the very thorough earlyhendrix.com).
Don Covay & The Goodtimers
“Mercy Mercy” (Rosemart, August 1964) – Recorded May 13, 1964
This is a classic little song with a lovely clean production. In an interview, DonCovay affirmed that the main guitar you hear is not Jimmy (who only did some fill-ins) but Ronnie Miller. Jimmy only plays some rhythm guitar on the track.*
About 18 months later Jimi was playing the song in live shows with Curtis Knight & The Squires (as documented on Live At The George’s Club album – see below).
Hendrix obviously loved the song as he later included it in the early Experience repertoire (it is often listed on unofficial releases as “Have Mercy”) and you can hear Jimi, Mitch and Noel play it on the bootleg of the Flamingo Club concert, recorded in February 1967 (rather poor sound however) and also at the Stora Scenen, Lund, Sweden, in September 1967 (better sound but the power failed half-way through dammit!).
> The bassist on this song was Ace Hall who played alongside Jimmy 18 months later in Curtis Knight’s band.
> The Rolling Stones liked Covay’s song too and covered it on their 1965 album “Out Of Our Heads”. Their version is a very faithful reproduction of this original single.
The Don Covay version is to be found today on the “West Coast Seattle Boy” box set.
Three Time Loser
Hendrix researcher Steve Roby interviewed Don Covay who informed him that his 1977 L.P. Funky Yo-o was comprised of 1960s demos and that one track features Hendrix!
The track is called “Three Time Loser”. A quick check on Youtube and it does sound like Jimi’s rhythm playing on there (perhaps not the solo though).
Young Jimmy with a regulation haircut, on-stage with The Isley Brothers
(Photo credit: Caesar Glebbeek Collection; scan c/o T. Pershing)
The Isley Brothers
“Testify (Part 1)”/”Testify (Part 2)” (T-Neck, June 1964) – Recorded May 21, 1964
Jimmy did three sessions with the superb Isleys in 1964 and 1965, resulting in two singles on Atlantic. This is very early Hendrix (or rather “Maurice James” as he called himself at the time) but you can already feel his dynamic touch in the punchy rhythms and the brief but neat solo on “Testify”. It’s a totally wild song, a sort of crazy rap where the band imitate Ray Charles, James Brown and Stevie Wonder, shouting all over the place. In “Part 2” he gets the chance to play a short solo.
To be found today on the “West Coast Seattle Boy” box set (but it’s the 70s overdubbed remix! – see below).
> In 1971, The Isleys paid hommage to Jimi on their album “Givin’ It Up” which opened with “Ohio/Machine Gun” (“Ohio” being the famous Neil Young song). As the 70s continued, Ernie Isley became the Hendrix figure of the band, dressing like Jimi and laying his fuzz guitar solos on hits like “Live It Up”, Summer Breeze” or “Who’s That Lady”.
> Stevie Ray Vaughan plays an instrumental cover of “Testify” on his debut album Texas Flood*. On that album, the song was credited to G. Clinton/D. Taylor and that’s George Clinton from his days in The Parliaments but their song “(I Wanna) Testify” is completely different to that of the Isley Brothers.
*Thanks to Kurt for bringing that to my attention!
These songs recorded with The Isley Brothers appeared in altered form on the album “In The Beginning” with Jimmy’s guitar parts mixed up front and new vocal tracks. Unfortunately, these 70s remixes were used by Experience Hendrixon the “West Coast Seattle Boy” compilation.
“My Diary”/”Utee” (Revis, June 1965) – Recorded March 27, 1965
It was said that Arthur Lee (later of Love) wrote “My Diary”* (he is on backing vocals and production) but Brooks claims that she wrote it with Hendrix. It opens with Jimmy’s guitar in a gentle “Little Wing” type way, before the song continues in standard soul fashion. “Utee” is similarly Mowtown inspired, sounding rather like Martha Reeves & The Vandellas for example. Jimmy’s guitar comes over very clearly here and he puts in a great little solo.
To be found today on the “West Coast Seattle Boy” box set.
“I Don’t Know What You Got But Its Got Me Part 1& 2” (Vee-Jay, October 1965) – Recorded June 2, 1965
Like with the Isleys, Little Richard was one of Jimmy’s most prestigious early employers though the artist was past his glory years at this stage. On tour the act was billed as Little Richard and the Royal Company. Few recording sessions were done with Hendrix however. In the late sixties (or early seventies) a Hendrix imitator was even overdubbed on some Richard tapes to cash in on the legend. The album “Friends From The Beginning” doesn’t even contain the track here, which is reportedly the only one that Jimmy is said to have definitely played on! Young Jimmy’s contribution on this dreary song is very low key and the song drags on. It reminds me of James Brown’s “Please, Please, Please” but without the passion.
Jimmy’s spell with Little Richard gave him an opportunity to observe what being flash and flamboyant on-stage was all about.
*The song was listed as being written by Don Covay but in an interview, Ace Hall (the leader of Don Covay’s backing band The Goodtimers) stated that he in fact wrote the song with Jimmy! Note also that Billy Preston plays organ on this.
Jimmy onstage with a silver-clad Little Richard.
(and not Gorgous George as is often said).
Second Little Richard single with Hendrix:
“What You’ve Got / “Dance A Go Go” (also known as “Dancing All Around The World”) (Vee-Jay 1965)
This appears to have been a promo only single. The A-side is simply an alternate take of the first single.
> Steve Roby & Brad Schreiber’s recent book (“Becoming Jimi Hendrix”) states that young Jimmy also played on the Little Richard recordings “Every Time I Think About You (Something Moves in My Heart)” and “You Better Stop” but unfortunately there is hardly any guitar to be heard.
Beware of the many albums purporting to be Little Richard/Hendrix collaborations. They feature FAKE tracks. Hendrix was only present on the two songs listed above.
“I Don’t Know What You Got But Its Got Me Part 1& 2” and “Dance All Round The World” are featured on the “West Coast Seattle Boy” box set.
On a recently discovered TV recording from 1965, Jimmy can be seen standing behind Little Richard
dressed as a Grenadier guard! This was Little Richard’s Royal Company as he called his band at that time.
Here is a quote from Al Hendrix’s book …“When Jimi came to Seattle with the Experience,
he told me that Little Richard had fired him… I said, “Yeah, I heard about you playing with his group.
I didn’t see you, but some friends saw you on TV with him. Jimmy was in the background, they told me
and he had on big plumes like on the hats worn by the Buckingham Place guards.”
How prophetic this is of what was ahead for Jimmy: London, the military jacket,… the fuzzy headwear!
Little Richard live tape? – no Hendrix involvement!
One rumoured tape was an early 60s Little Richard concert that had been aired on MIT’s WTBS radio station (now WMBR). Said to be on the tape are the band playing “Lucille”, “Send Me Some Lovin'”, The Beatles’ “I Saw Her Standing There” and five other tunes with perhaps Hendrix on guitar.
However, the validity of this tape has been put into question. Apparently it was not recorded when Jimi was with the band. Shame.
Jimmy soon appeared again on TV when Little Richard’s band backed the singers Buddy & Stacey
who performed their version of the Junior Walker & The All Stars hit “Shotgun”.
To see the clip, just type “Hendrix Stacey” on YouTube (check out the superb Junior Walker original also!).
It seems that Jimmy did no studio recordings with the duo.
You can also hear Jimmy playing “Shotgun” on one of the live recordings of Curtis Knight & The Squires.
Soon after, in New York’s Greenwich Village, Jimmy had the song in the repertoire of his first group The Rainflowers (aka The Blue Flame).
The Isley Brothers
“Move Over And Let Me Dance”/”Have You ever Been Disappointed” (Atlantic, September 1965) – Recorded August 5, 1965
Jimi was in and out of the Isley’s backing band The IB Specials. This session, almost a year after the one that yeilded “Testify” unfortunately only has minimal Hendrix contribution. Just some rhythm playing, no solo.
To be found today on the “West Coast Seattle Boy” box set.
Frank Howard & The Commanders
“I’m So Glad”/”I’m Sorry for You” (Barry Records 1966) – Recorded in 1965
Both songs recorded here were written by Billy Cox! That’s about all that is worth reporting about these rather dull songs.
The A-side has nothing whatsoever to do with Cream’s “I’m So Glad” of course. Jimi is mixed way back and the more audible guitar is by Johnny Jones. Jimmy also recorded a song called “Feels So Bad, Like a Ball Game On A Rainy Day” with Jones in August 1963 (I don’t know if this was a Jones single or not).
To be found today on the “West Coast Seattle Boy” box set.
“How Would You Feel”/”Welcome Home”
The very first record to feature Jimmy’s name!
He is credited for the arrangement of this “Like A Rolling Stone” inspired song.
Curtis Knight and The Squires
“How Would You Feel”/”Welcome Home” (RSVP, April 1966) – Recorded October & December 1965
After a finding work with The Isley Brothers again, Jimi ended up in New York October 1965. He was flat broke and even had to pawn his guitar. By chance he met Curtis Knight who was trying to make a name for himself with his new band The Lovelights (who later become Curtis Knight & The Lovers and then The Squires). Knight’s bass player was Ace Hall, who had also played on Don Covay’s “Mercy, Mercy”. Perhaps it was Hall who introduced Jimmy to Knight. Hall said Hendrix was calling himself “Jimmy James” after Jesse James.
For years, Curtis Knight had been trying to make a name for himself, first as a member of The Titans in the late 50s, then The Ink Spots, after which he released many solo singles in the early 60s (including a bluesy one titled “Voodoo Woman”!). So from then up to mid 1966, Jimi recorded a few things in the studio with Knight for PPX Enterprises, a company who had signed the band up. PPX and their owner Ed Chalpin were to cause Jimi many headaches over the years to come, concerning recording rights. The legal battles with the Hendrix estate continued into the 21st century.
Jimmy James, guitarist with Curtis Knight & The Squires
By the time the band’s first single was released (April 1966) The Lovelights had become Curtis Knight & The Squires. The song chosen for the A-side was “How Would You Feel”, which is a cry for racial equality and in musical terms it owes a lot to Dylan’s “Like A Rolling Stone” (which was later in Hendrix’s own repertoire from 1966 to 1968 of course). Jimmy plays through a fuzz box all through this but some of his cleaner overdubbed runs here are identical to what you hear on the famous Monterey version of the Dylan song. He is credited as arranger for “How Would You Feel” and this was the first appearance of his name on a record! So it’s interesting to see that here, for the first time, Jimmy was exerting an artistic influence on the group in which he played.
The B-side, “Welcome Home”, is a catchy Motown-like dance song (basically built on the riff/groove of Marvin Gaye’s “Can I Get A Witness” or “Wonderful One”) and features a great little solo from Jimmy and some of his fantastic rhythm playing – nobody was playing as tight as this in 1965, not even Steve Cropper (who was one of Jimmy’s heroes).
Despite his involvement with The Lovelights/The Squires, Jimmy still gigged and recorded with other bands.
1965 demos with Curtis Knight
Nine low-fi studio demos dating from October 1965 have been collected together on the CD No Business, released in October 2020 – see further down
Incredible as it seems, How Would You Feel was re-released two years later on Jimi’s UK label Track Records (with “You Don’t Want Me” on the flip-side).
This was part of a settlement deal with Ed Chalpin and his company PPX Enterprises as Jimi was technically still signed to them despite rocketing to succes with Chandler and Jeffery behind him!
This compilation titled Strange Things (on the Showcase label in 1983) featured a totally different version of Welcome Home to the one that had appeared as the B-side of How Would You Feel and it has a different arrangement. However it uses the same guitar solos as the standard version. So it looks like Chalpin and Knight put together a new arrangement/recording (in the early 70s?) and simply put Jimi’s old solo in the mix.
Also, on the earlyhendrix.com site, another version of Welcome Home is mentioned that predates the standard Get That Feeling album version but it had no Hendrix participation (perhaps recorded before Knight met Hendrix).
CURTIS KNIGHT / JIMI HENDRIX – Live At George’s Club 20, 1965 & 1966 ♥♥
Released: March 2017 (Dagger Records)
Killing Floor, Last Night, Get Out Of My Life Woman, Ain’t That Peculiar, Mercy, Mercy, I’m A Man, Driving South, Baby What You Want Me To Do, I’ll Be Doggone, Sweet Little Angel, Let’s Go, Let’s Go, Let’s Go, Travelin’ To California, What I Say, Land Of 1000 Dances, Come On
These precious live recordings (Georges Club 20, Hackensack, New Jersey on December 26 1965 and January 22 1966) provide a fascinating snapshot of where Jimmy was at, nine months before he left for London with Chas Chandler. These songs have of course been released a multitude of times on various labels by Ed Chalpin of PPX Enterprises since the late 60s but it’s interesting to hear what Eddie Kramer has done with his mixing of the original tapes (which Chalpin finally handed over in a deal shortly before his death).
On these dates it seems that the band (in fact called The Lovelights at that point) were playing to an empty hall as Knight pretends to address an audience. You can hear that this made Jimmy crack up, laughing presumably at the absurdity of it all. So it would seem that the recordings were done as a demonstration tape to help the band get club engagements. The numerous Ed Chalpin releases of these recordings featured rather intrusive overdubs of club noise and even an additional rhythm section, in an attempt to improve the sound. On this Dagger album however, the instrumental overdubs have been taken off (although it seems that a little bass is still present on a couple of songs but it’s quite subtle). Some of the fake club background noise is still in there, though much more subdued (perhaps the original raw tapes are lost forever?). Sometimes it sounds like the band are in an empty club, or at least with a handful of people and there is no applause whatsoever throughout the recordings presented here. So the tapes are more honestly presented but it’s not as if there’s a great improvement on the overall sound. The quality varies in fact, as the two “gigs” were recorded on different tape recorders. You could say that this is the Hendrix equivalent of The Beatles’ Star Club tapes.
Despite the rough sound, this is definitely the most interesting pre-Experience album there is, giving us a clear picture of what was to follow for Jimmy James. Interestingly, four songs played here were later in The Experience’s repertoire – “Killing Floor”, “Driving South”, “Mercy Mercy” and “Land Of A 1000 Dances” (they played the latter song during one or two of their very early gigs according to Noel Redding). Also, the cover of Albert King’s “Travelling To California” (also known as “California Night”) comes over as a sort of blueprint of “Red House” (which was also partially built around Elmore James’ “The Sky Is Crying”). However, the song listed as “Come On” isn’t an early version of the song that Jimi covered on Electric Ladyland at all. On some past releases the song has also been titled “Hard Night” but it’s in fact built on Freddie King’s “Just Pickin”. It’s really just a platform for Jimmy to showcase his soloing.
It’s important to understand that, unlike the other pre-Experience recordings, Jimmy is no longer the stifled guitarist in the back row here. He’s the co-front man of the band. He even sings the lead vocals on many songs here: “Killing Floor”, I’m A Man”, “What’d I Say”, “Get Out My Life Woman”, “Land Of A 1000 Dances”, “Come On” and “Travellin’ To California”. He sounds very confident on these recordings, singing very well and playing some brilliant guitar solos on practically every song (the exceptions being “Aint That Peculiar”, “Mercy Mercy”, “I’ll Be Doggone” and “What’d I Say”).
Alongside Jimmy and Curtis Knight on these recordings are Harry Jensen (rhythm guitar), Ace Hall (bass), Ditto Edwards and George Bragg (drums) plus Lonnie Youngblood (sax on a few songs). Jimmy would of course team up with Youngblood for later studio work (pre and post Greenwich Village).
One big error in the sleeve-notes which says “This is what Chas Chandler heard when he first encountered Jimmy James in the summer of 1966”. That is incorrect as Chas saw Jimmy for the first time in July ’66 at The Café Wha? playing with his own band (6 months after the George Club recordings). In fact Jimi had played his last gig with Curtis Knight in May ’66. These tapes are closer to what Linda Keith saw when she discovered the unknown Jimmy at The Cheetah Club in May 1966. The recordings are even closer to what Les Paul saw in December 1965 when he saw Jimmy playing in a Lodi (New Jersey) night club. Soon after the performance, Paul tried to track Jimmy down in order to help him but couldn’t find any trace of him. In 1967 he saw his face on the cover of Are You Experienced and realised it was the ace guitarist that he had seen in that New Jersey club in December 1965!
> Here’s an in-depth look at the Curtis Knight live recordings > earlyhendrix.com
Killing Floor, Last Night, Get Out Of My Life Woman, I’m A Man, Driving South, Sweet Little Angel, Travelin’ To California, Come On (Just Pickin)
> The radio documentary which was released as a box set titled “Lifelines” in 1990 featured this version of “I’m A Man”.
Other live Knight/Hendrix recordings
More live recordings of The Lovelights/Squires have surfaced over the years on the numerous PPX exploitation albums and bootlegs/collector’s discs. These are recordings from more than one source. Some tracks do in fact sound like actual concert recordings as the audience noise appears to be authentic (as opposed to the obviously over-dubbed party noises on some of the other tracks). Certain songs feature instrumental overdubs and sound quality varies.
Songs with a Hendrix vocal:
Something You’ve Got
Hang On Sloopy
Walkin’ The Dog
Bright Lights, Big City
Day Tripper (joint vocal with Knight – not to be confused
with the 1967 studio reunion jam version)
Bleeding Heart (usually listed as Left Alone).
Another song Jimi performed later with The Experience
and the Band Of Gypsys. Unfortunately; the tape cut out
half way through).
Travellin’ To California (alternate live take)
Killing Floor – an alternate live take with saxophone
(also listed as I Should’ve Quit You)
Knight and another vocalist (and occasional Hendrix backing vocals and the guitar solos – some of which are superb):
Mr. Pitiful (this Otis Redding song bears a resemblance to Jimi’s Remember which he recorded a year later)
Walkin’ The Dog
Stand By Me
Twist And Shout
I Got You (I Feel Good) – 2 versions
Sugar Pie Honey Bunch aka I Can’t Help Myself
One Night With You
You Got What It Takes
Hold What You’ve Got
There Is Something On Your Mind
Just A Little Bit
Just a few of the many inferior releases of the Georges Club 20 recording that have appeared over the years (with the obtrusive overdubs).
In May of 1966, Jimmy would meet Linda Keith at The Cheetah Club on Broadway, New York City.
Two months later, Linda introduced JImmy to The Rolling Stones and then in August to Chas Chandler of The Animals and everything changed. So here is what Jimmy got up to, leading up to the summer of 1966.
Ray Sharpe with The King Curtis Orchestra
“Help Me get That feeling (Part 1&2)” (Atco 1966) – Recorded January 21, 1966
While with The Isley Brothers, Jimmy had been seen by King Curtis and Juggy Murray the manager of Sue Records. Murray was impressed and signed Jimmy to his label and Jimmy went on to tour and record with King Curtis. This great funky track (the riff and song structure lifted from Them’s “Gloria”) was recorded with King Curtis who also produced the session. The results were so good that Curtis used the backing track a second time for a single by Owen Gray (“Help Me”/”Insence”). I’m not sure that the basic riff is played by Jimmy but that’s certainly him behind, playing what are almost like “wakka-wakka” wah-wah rhythms (of course Jimi didn’t use a wah-wah pedal until mid to late 1967).
In 1967, to avoid contractual problems, King Curtis replaced Jimmy’s contribution with another guitarist and used it as the backing for Aretha Franklin’s superb “Save Me”*.
Then later, in 1969, Curtis came back again to the master (which had featured Hendrix), put on more overdubs and released it under his own name as King Curtis & The Kingpins – “Instant Groove” / Sweet Inspiration” (unfortunately, the 1969 remixed version was used by Experience Hendrix on the “West Coast Seattle Boy” compilation presumably because the sound is better).
*Interesting triviia – In 1966, just after his arrival in London and before The Experience were formed, Jimi got a helping hand from Brian Auger who halped Jimi gain exposure by letting him jam with his band The Trinity. In 1967, Brian Auger Julie Driscoll & The Trinity would release their own cover version of “Save Me” (with Julie Driscoll on vocals).
“Instant Groove” can be found today on the “West Coast Seattle Boy” box set.
“Suey” (London 1967) – Recorded early 1966 (released in 1967)
This cropped up as a B-side of a single by the famous Hollywood starlet in 1967. PPX Enterprises were behind it, which explains the connection with Hendrix.
One can’t really hear Jimmy’s guitar style in there (I don’t think it’s him on there) but the alternate version that was 2018 released sounds a bit more like him (see below).
> Jayne Mansfield once attended an Experience gig in Bolton, England in 1967! She left with Englebert Humperdink.
A different version of “Suey” appeared in 2018 on 7″ vinyl
with a never before released song on the B-side:
Ricky Mason – “I Need You Every Day” – see below
“I Need You Every Day”
Another Ed Chalpin produced song which was recorded 10th of February 1966 but remained buried until it surfaced in 2018 as the B-side of the above 7″ Jayne Manfsfield single.
Some great research over at earlyhendrix.com has revealed that this song features lyrics that come from a song titled “Sick And Tired” by Chris Kenner (it was also later recorded by Fats Domino).
Both sides of the Mansfield/Mason single were included on the 2020 CD of PPX Enterprises recordings titled No Business – see further down.
February 26th 1966 and we see Jimmy with the band The Lovers, backing The Ronnettes at Memorial Chapel, Union College, Schenectady, NY.
That night, The Lovers also backed The Drifters. Jimmy is wearing one of the jackets that had been made for Curtis Knight & The Squires residency at the prestigious Cheetah Club on Broadway. We can see that he had also begun adding volume to his hair, to get that Dylan (Blonde On Blonde) look which would become his trademark and set off the whole “Afro” fashion which was later adopted by Eric Clapton, Alvin Lee, Mitch Mitchell, Sly Stone, James Brown, Miles Davis,The Jackson 5 and practically every black artist well into the 70s and beyond.
“Go Go Shoes” / “Go Go Place” (Fairmont 1966) – Recorded in June 1966
“Soul Food (That’s What I Like)” / “Goodbye Bessie Mae” (Fairmont 1966) – Recorded in June 1966
Lonnie Youngblood was a fellow member in Curtis Knight’s band The Squires. When Knight seemed to lose interest in the group, Lonnie and Jimi formed another band who performed live as Blood Brothers. They met the influential producer John Brantley and recorded these singles. “Go Go Shoes” is a mid-tempo song featuring a funky, stabbing rhythm from Jimmy. There’s no solo but the initial flourish from Jimmy reminds me of a passage that he later used in “3 Little Bears”.
On the flip-side however, (“Go Go Place”) Lonnie asks the guitar player to do his thing and Jimmy finally puts in a little solo. Not much happening for Jimmy on the other single however, apart from a breif solo on “Goodbye Bessie Mae”.
The Hendrix/Youngblood sessions
Apart from the two Youngblood singles above, Lonnie and Jimi recorded a number of instrumental backing tracks which were destined to receive vocals from up and coming R’n’B singers. Billy Lamont’s “Sweet Thang” used such a backing track and it also turned up on singles by other artists. The backing track itself appeared with its original title “Wipe The Sweat” in various versions (there were often many different takes) one of which features some very good solo playing from Jimmy. There is a second mix/version “Wipe The Sweat Part II” with some vocal and sax overdubs from Youngblood and also a “Wipe The Sweat Part III” which features a rap vocal from Jimmy!
– Another instrumental titled “Under The Table” (written by Jimi!) features some stinging guitar and brass. It later received some extra guitar overdubs (not by Jimi) in the 70s.
– The backing track used for Jimmy Norman’s “You’re Only Hurting Yourself”, later surfaced as the sax instrumental “Two In One Goes”.
– On some dodgy releases, “Soul Food (That’s What I Like)” is titled “All I Want”.
– The Icemen’s “I Wonder What It Takes” (B-side “(My Girl) She’s A Fox”) uses Jimmy and Lonnie’s “Under The Table” as a backing track.
The recordings that Hendrix made with his session mate Lonnie have been heavily exploited over the years. Some “Hendrix” albums that appeared after Jimi’s death featured these tracks (in remixed form) alongside many other songs. However a court ruling in 1997 saw some albums withdrawn due to the absence of Hendrix involvement on most of the recordings! The albums concerned were “Moods”, “Rare Hendrix” and “In The Beginning” and “Free Spirit” (which also featured The Icemen’s “She’s A Fox” on which Hendrix played. More details about all the fake albums further down the page.
Lonnie Youngblood featuring Jimi Hendrix – Two Great Experiences Together ♥½
Released March 2003 (BMG/Empire Musicwerks)
Mother, Mother, Under The Table (Takes 1 & 2), Wipe The Sweat (Takes 1, 2 & 3), Go Go Shoes, Go Go Place, Soul Food, Goodbye Bessie Mae, Sweet Thing, Groove Maker (Takes 1 & 2), She’s A Fox, Go Go Shoes (Fairmount 45), Go Go Place (Fairmount 45), Soul Food (Fairmount 45), Goodbye Bessie Mae (Fairmount 45)
One of the many collections of Lonnie Youngblood/Hendrix recordings that have appeared over the years. There are few songs here but they are presented in various takes and versions. Note the inclusion of the singles by The Icemen (“She’s A Fox”) and Billy Lamont (“Sweet Thang”).
A clumsy montage featuring a photo of Jimi circa 1968-69 (misleading for the casual buyer) – 0/10
Later in his career, once famous, Jimi met up again with Youngblood (March 1969) for a jam in the studio and the session produced two exciting numbers:
“Georgia Blues” – on “Martin Scorcese Presents the Blues: Jimi Hendrix”
“Let Me Move You” – on “People, Hell and Angels”
> see Posthumous Studio Albums – 2010s
“Sweet Thang”/”Please Don’t Leave” (20th Century Fox 1968) – Recorded in 1966
A pre-Experience recording but released in 1968. This was built on an instrumental (“Wipe The Sweat”) that Hendrix and Youngblood had recorded in 1965 or 1966 (see above). Jimmy bursts in here with a superb snappy guitar intro, then he carries the whole thing along with a dense funky rhythm backed with brass. No solo however.
Another version of “Sweet Thang” turned up on George Scott’s album “Find Someone To Love” (Maple M-6008). Also, a ballad on the album, titled “I’m A Fool For You” (a.k.a.”Gonna Take A Lot” or “It’s Gonna Take A Lot To Bring Me Back”) is thought to include guitar from Hendrix and horns by Youngblood. Details about the George Scott album here.
“Keep The Faith”/Darlin’ (Real George 501)
The A side here simply uses the backing track of “Sweet Thang” with a different vocal from Lenny Howard. The B-side song, “Darlin”, is a more rudimentary recording and it does sound like Jimmy’s funky guitar on there.
The Billy Lamont version of “Sweet Thang” is to be found today on the “West Coast Seattle Boy” box set.
> Gorgeous George had a B-side in 1965 titled “Sweet Thing”, but it was his own song, didn’t feature Hendrix and bore no relation to “Sweet Thang”.
“(My Girl) She’s A Fox”/”(I Wonder) What It Takes” (Samar 1966) – Recorded in June, 1966
Jimmy participated in this session with Lonnie Youngblood. This is really a copy of The Impressions “Gypsy Woman” with new lyrics and because of that it is very close to the version of that song which Jimi performed at Woodstock in 1969. The performance of that song, with Larry Lee on vocals, was not put on the MCA release “Live At Woodstock” but it can be heard on bootlegs of the show.
The arrangement, Jimi’s playing and the vocals (with Jimi on backing vocals) are all very similar to this 1966 single by The Icemen. Like with “My Diary”, you can hear the roots of “Little Wing” also in his gentle guitar style. The title itself also points to “Foxy Lady”!
The B-side “I Wonder What It Takes” uses Jimmy and Lonnie’s “Under The Table” as a backing track.
“(My Girl) She’s A Fox” can be found today on the “West Coast Seattle Boy” box set.
“You’re Only Hurting Yourself”/”That Little Old Groovemaker” (Samar 1966) – Recorded in June, 1966
Nothing of real Hendrix interest going on here.
Another Jimmy Norman single called “Gangster Of Love” had no Hendrix involvement (but that didn’t stop it appearing on some dodgy “Hendrix albums” in later years).
“That Little Old Groovemaker” can be found today on the “West Coast Seattle Boy” box set.
“Hornet’s Nest”/”Knock Yourself Out”
The very first record to feature Hendrix compositions.
These two instrumentals are credited to J. Hendrix/J. Simon (the producer of the sessions)
Curtis Knight and The Squires
“Hornets Nest”/”Knock Yourself Out” (RSVP 1966 )
Both songs written by Hendrix and co-credited to the producer Jerry Simon. This was recorded in June 1966, right around the time that Linda Keith first saw Hendrix at The Cheetah Club (see further down). According to Niko at the earlyhendrix.com, there is no trace of actual release of this single and only D.J. promo copies have surfaced.
As detailed further up, this outfit recorded “How Would You Feel”/”Welcome Home” in late 1965 but only released them as a single in April 1966. For the second single, two months later, PPX chose to release two excellent instrumentals written by Jimmy! “Hornets Nest”/”Knock Yourself Out” (with producer Jerry Simon also credited). Importantly, these are the first Hendrix compositions to appear on record. “Hornets Nest” (inspired by the TV series “The Green Hornet”) has a monster fuzzy (buzzing) guitar from Jimmy and some dramatic spookie organ. “Knock Yourself Out” is more interesting, with some superb driving rhythms and solos. Great drums too.
As I said above, in Knight’s band, Jimmy finally had the opportunity to assert his own personality on the music played. “How Would You Feel” was so heavily inspired by “Like A Rolling Stone” that Jimmy must have coaxed Knight into writing a close copy of Dylan’s song. The fact that he is credited as arranger makes this all the more evident. Here, it’s Jimmy who wrote the two instrumentals (with perhaps some input from producer Jerry Simon which merited a writing credit). Free from being a simple side-man with a big name artist, Jimmy was finally beginning to emerge as an artist in his own right.
In the John McDermott/Eddie Kramer book “Setting The Record Straight”, it is recounted that Jimi was in a London club with Mike Jeffery and the DJ played this single. Jimi proudly boasted that he had played on it and this was how the stunned Jeffery found about about his contract with RSVP and eventually and more importantly his signed contract as exclusive artist for Ed Chalpin’s PPX Enterprises. However, in Sharon Lawrence’s book “The Man, The Myth, The Magic” it says that Jimi had informed Jeffery about the PPX contract when they first met in New York in August/September 1966. Maybe true, maybe not. Anyway, at whatever point, Jeffery told Jimi not to worry about and that he would handle the PPX contract, just as he had done with the other labels in the U.S.A. Unfortunately, Jeffery either forgot all about it or just didn’t get round to sorting it. After Jimi’s secret 1967 reunion sessions with Curtis Knight, Chalpin attacked Jimi’s UK management team and refused to be bought out.
Eventually, a deal was signed to award Chalpin (and Capitol Records) the rights for the Jimi Hendrix Experience album that would follow Electric Ladyland. Jimi tried a dodge, submitting the Band Of Gypsys live album instead but Chalpin wasn’t fooled and soon came back asking for what he had been promised. The case dragged on for decades and Chalpin carried on releasing and recycling the few Knight/Hendrix tapes in his possession on a multitude of albums all over the world. Finally, in 2015 a deal was struck for Experience Hendrix to issue the Curtis Knight recordings Sony Legacy and Dagger Records and Chalpin handed over all the PPX tapes to the Hendrix estate (though Lawrence Miller of Purple Haze Records informed me that Chalpin only leased to tapes to Experience Hendrix). Ed Chalpin and Lawrence Miller passed away in 2019.
CURTIS KNIGHT & THE SQUIRES – You Can’t Use My Name: The RSVP/PPX Sessions (Volume 1)♥♥
Release date: March 2015 (Sony Legacy)
CD: How Would You Feel, Gotta Have a New Dress, Don’t Accuse Me, Fool for You Baby, No Such Animal, Welcome Home, Knock Yourself Out (Flying on Instruments), Simon Says, Station Break, Strange Things, Hornet’s Nest (alternate take), You Don’t Want Me, (“You Can’t Use My Name”), Gloomy Monday (alternate take from 1967)
VINYL: How Would You Feel, Gotta Have a New Dress, Don’t Accuse Me, Fool for You Baby, No Such Animal, You Don’t Want Me, Welcome Home, Knock Yourself Out (Flying on Instruments), Strange Things, Station Break, Gloomy Monday
For decades, that arch-enemy of the Hendrix Estate Ed Chalpin issued album after album of recordings that he had rights to, with misleading album covers showing Jimi at the height of his fame. Thousands, millions of people were duped into buying albums with sub-standard material where Jimi’s involvement had been that of a side-man or session musician. There were so many releases over the years of this material, including a multitude of alternate mixes/versions and also all mixed up with the 1967 reunion sessions recordings and the 1965 live tracks.
When the news came in 2015 that Experience Hendrix had finally acquired the rights to publish these same recordings themselves (on Sony Legacy) many/most Hendrix fans were horrified. After nearly 50 years and over 100 albums released, which already featured these songs, Experience Hendrix published the Ed Chalpin RSVP/PPX tapes. Unreal. Note that Ed Chalpin passed away in 2019.
Bickering aside folks, this is an important part of Jimi’s history and they have at least made a very good job of this. First off, Jimi’s name isn’t on the cover! At last, the presentation is correct, as these recordings are by Curtis Knight & The Squires! Also, the master tapes have been given a five star Eddie Kramer transfer and mixing treatment with a final Bernie Grundman mastering, so this disc blows away the multitude of previous releases of this material. However some tracks suffer from over-separation (guitar left, organ right, drums centre, etc…). I would have preferred a more central mix or even mono! Anyway, this sonic update gives the material a much deserved reappraisal. Forget the past 48 years and enjoy hearing Jimmy emerge.
I haven’t sat down and compared all of these tracks to the previous releases, because I only have a few old albums which I had bought cheap for research purposes. See my link below to the review at earlyhendrix.com for a thorough analysis. Most of the material here does feature new mixes in relation to all the old PPX versions that have flooded the market since the late 60s.
So this album is for the most part made up of the studio recordings made in 1965 and 1966, with only “Gloomy Monday” from the reunion sessions of 1967. That is a worthy inclusion as it is in the same R&B vein as the rest. This is in fact a previously unreleased take of that song (all previous releases featured a different take with post production overdubs).
The track “You Can’t Use My Name” is simply studio dialogue from that second ’67 session (just before a take of “Gloomy Monday”) where Jimi insists that Chalpin mustn’t use his name if the recordings made that day were put out. So that is out of context in relation to all of the 65-66 recordings on this album (12 of the tracks!). Anyway, Jimi’s wish has finally been granted and the album’s title is a sarcastic jab at Ed Chalpin.
The band’s singles “How Would You Feel”/”Welcome Home” and “Knock Yourself Out”/”Hornet’ Nest” are included here of course detailed further up.
“Gotta Have A New Dress”* and “Fool For You Baby” are pretty ordinary R&B songs but still featuring some nice guitar. “Don’t Accuse Me” is a neat little blues with some great guitar from Jimi. The backing vocals seem more prominent here and I think I hear Jimi’s voice in there. The spooky “Strange Things” is built on a basic Bo Diddley rhythm with again some great guitar. Knight’s crazy laughter is thankfully mixed down here.
*Curtis Knight had released “Gotta Have A New Dress” in 1962 as a single on the Shell label. In 1965, he came back to the tapes, modified it and got Jimmy to put some extra guitar on it. The original can be found on YouTube.
The June 1966 instrumentals
The good news is the never before released (or heard on bootleg) instrumental “Station Break”. It has a very Booker T & The MGs in feel and with “Hornet’s Nest”, “Knock Yourself Out” and “No Such Animal”, that makes four Hendrix-penned instrumentals on this album! This is one of the reasons why this material deserves its place in the Hendrix discography. “Hornest’s Nest” is in fact not the old single version but a never before released take.
These instrumentals are all the more interesting as they highlight Jimi’s soloing and rhythm chops in June 1966, just after Linda Keith came across him at The Cheetah Club (playing with either Carl Holmes or Knight’s band). So they represent Hendrix just a few months before he recorded “Hey Joe” and a number of tracks for his first album in London. These versions of the instrumentals all clock-in at around 5 or 6 minutes and are perhaps longer than any of the previously released versions. A special mention for Marion Booker and his funky drumming which provides a very powerful drive for many of these recordings.
*Chalpin told a bare-faced lie of course and put the ’67 recordings out on the albums “Get That Feeling” and “Flashing”. Jimi and his management failed to stop Chalpin however and ended up owing him a Hendrix album (which turned out to be “Band Of Gypsys”).
The musicians with Knight and Jimmy James are:
Nathaniel Edmonds – keyboards
Ed “Bugs” Gregory, Napoleon “Hank” Anderson – bass
Marion Brooker, Ray Lucas – drums
> “No Such Animal” didn’t appear on the dozens of PPX exploitation albums and was only previously seen as a single in the 70s and then on the fake LP “Cosmic Turnaround” (which apart from “No Such Animal” featured no Hendrix).
> Note that the vinyl version of this album is missing three songs “Simon Says”, “Hornet’s Nest”, “You Don’t Want Me” and the dialogue “You Can’t Use My Name”
As said above, full marks for attributing this album to Curtis Knight & The Squires and them alone. That classic group photo was the obvious choice and fits the content perfectly. – 10/10
CURTIS KNIGHT & THE SQUIRES – No Business: The PPX Sessions (Volume 2)♥½
Release date: October 2020 (Dagger Records)
The studio recordings: UFO, No Business, Hush Now, Gloomy Monday [Alternate], How Would You Feel (Alternate), Love Love, My Best Friend [Takes 3/4/5], Hornet’s Nest [Alternate], I Need You Every Day (Sick & Tired)*, Suey
The demos: Taking Care Of No Business, Working All Day, Two Little Birds, Suddenly, UFO, Better Times Ahead, Everybody Knew But Me, If You Gonna Make A Fool Of Somebody, My Best Friend
VINYL (Special edition for Record Store Day)
Side A – Gloomy Monday [Alternate], Hush Now, No Business, Love Love
Side B – UFO, My Best Friend (Takes 3/4/5), How Would You Feel (Alternate), Hornet’s Nest (Alternate); I Need You Every Day (Sick & Tired)*, Suey, Taking Care Of No Business (Demo)
* Vocal by Ricky Mason on a recording previously seen In 2018 as the B-side of Suey (Jayne Mansfield) which is also included here.
A dreary, confusing collection of more recordings from the various PPX Enterprises sessions. It’s on Dagger Records (the first volume was on Sony Legacy) because Experience Hendrix obviously feel that it doesn’t deserve high-profile exposure. I would agree. At the end of the booklet, Brad Tolinski makes it perfectly clear that “this is not a Jimi Hendrix album” and like with the previous Experience Hendrix release of the PPX studio recordings, Jimi’s name isn’t on the cover or spine.
So here we have a collection mostly comprised of previously unheard October 1965 demos, a few left-over 1966 studio sessions and the some 1967 reunion session tracks tracks. UFO, No Business, Gloomy Monday and My Best Friend are new mixes by Eddie Kramer.
The front cover in fact shows Jimi at one of the 1967 reunion jams with Knight, making one think that this collection might be all about the ’67 sessions! Nope, only four songs here are from those sessions.
How Would You Feel here is complete waste of time here because it’s the same take as the one on You Can’t Use My Name but with a different vocal from Knight which was added in 1967 without Jimi’s involvement! Gimme a break.
The nine low-fi home demos are “interesting” as we hear Jimmy James (!) two years before he arrived in London to form the The Jimi Hendrix Experience. Jimmy plays some nice accompaniment and occasional lead and/or backing vocals. The only points of interest are:
– Working All Day is very special as it’s a Hendrix-penned and sung doo-wop prison song that has never surfaced before (even on bootlegs)! Knight provides “Ooh,… ahs” backing vocals which are very similar to what Jimi would put on Purple Haze about 14 months later! This had in fact been documented as Ooh Ah before this release!
– Takin’ Care Of No Business – Jimi on co-vocals for the demo. Note that Jimi re-recorded this song of his in 1967 with the Experience in a reworked form (it’s in the purple box).
– Two Little Birds – a regular doo-wop ditty signed Knight/Hendrix which didn’t get any further. Just as well.
– Suddenly – another doo-wop song from Knight with Jimmy putting in some nice Little Wing-like flourishes.
– Everybody Knew But Me – Quite a good little demo song with perhaps Knight’s best vocal. Some nice rhythmic backing from Jimmy.
– My Best Friend – see the details below about this confusing song.
The rest is of little interest.
The Hornets Nest “alternate” is the spooky organ version like on the 1967 Get That Feeling album, with Jimi going beserk on fuzz guitar (he wrote this too). The version on You Can’t Use My Name was without the organ.
There are three working takes of Knight’s weak song My Best Friend. As said above, the song began as a demo in 1965-66 (also referred to as Ballad Of Jimmy) and it featured a lyric about the singer’s best friend, who had died five years earlier in a car crash, leaving his girlfriend in sorrow. The only guitar on that demo was acoustic but Jimi might have been on bass. That particular demo recording first appeared on record in the early 70s on a French PPX Knight/Hendrix compilation titled Strang Things. Then the song was done in the studio (1965-66) but not released. Then, during the August 1967 session, some wah-wah guitar doodlings by Jimi were added to a very low-fi re-recording of the song, with the 1966 vocal flown in (versions of the song without the vocal also turned up on various PPX exploitation albums over the years as My Friend). In late 1970, after Jimi’s death, Chalpin and Knight decided to cash-in and came back to the song and recorded a new vocal with lyrics about the memory of Jimi and how he had predicted his own death five years earlier! Knight craftily tied this in with the release of his biography “Jimi” by inventing a story that these lyrics dated from the mid 60s after Jimmy James had told him that he would be dead in five years time! The new version of the song cropped up on many a Knight/Hendrix compilation over the years. For some stupid reason, the 1967 version featuring Jimi playing wah-wah overdubs is not included here!
Also we have Curtis Knight’s awful song U.F.O. (which opens the collection – what were they thinking?). Again, hardly anything Hendrix going on.
There is the silly take of Jayne Mansfield’s Suey (a version without Jimi had been a late 60s single) and Ricky Mason’s I Need You Every Day (Sick & Tired). Both of these have already been released already a 7″ vinyl single in on Sundazed Records 2018. Two poor songs with practically no Hendrix interest at all (except for the fact that he plays some simplistic guitar on it).
The four July-August 1967 recordings are Hush Now, Love Love, No Business (bass only from Jimi on the latter) and a useless alternate Gloomy Monday featuring session musician overdubs of guitar and sitar that Chalpin added after the original session with Jimi which took place in June 1967 (so a waste of time and space here).
So the only interesting things are in fact Hush Now and Love Love, which are finally, after 53 years (!), stripped of the lousy Chalpin/Knight post-session vocal and instrumental overdubs. Also, the sound quality is far superior than any previously released versions of these thanks to an Eddie Kramer mix and mastering and a Bernie Grundman mastering. Jimi is having fun with his new toy: a wah-wah pedal. Some of the noodling is around the basic riff of The Stars That Play With Laughing Sam’s Dice and a little like 1983, A Merman I Should Turn To Be.
The take titled No Business is again Jimi’s song Takin’ Care Of No Business but unfortunately it’s from the 1967 jam session where he only played fuzz bass. This version has a different structure to the Jimi Hendrix Experience version that appeared in 2000 in the purple box set.
So this collection doesn’t really deserve so much attention but for completeness, here are the writing credits:
Working All Day, Hush Now, Love Love, Hornet’s Nest, No Business/Take Care Of No Business – Hendrix
Two Little Birds – Hendrix/Knight
UFO, Gloomy Monday, My Best Friend, How Would You Feel, Suddenly, Better Times Ahead, Everybody Knew Me But Me – Knight
I Need You Every Day (Sick & Tired) – Kenner/Bartholomy
Suey – Chalpin/Henderson
If You Gonna Make A Fool Of Somebody – Rudy Clark
The musicians listed for the sessions are the same as those on You Can’t Use My Name.
> One 1965/66 song that didn’t make it onto either of these PPX recordings albums was Your Love, which was instrumental cover of the Petula Clark song with perhaps Hendrix on bass. It surfaced in the 70s on some Chalpin exploitation albums as My Heart Is Higher).
> For more information about the 1967 reunion sessions with Knight, see the Curtis Knight link in the Guest Appearances section.
That grainy photo is from one of the two 1967 Knight/Hendrix reunion sessions, so it’s not really apt for this 1965-66 dominated collection (twelve of the nineteen tracks here are from that pre-Experience era). – 3/10
Exclusive to this old Music For Pleasure (France) compilation of PPX tracks includes
the only release of a 1966 demo of Curtis Knight’s “Ballad Of Jimmy” a.k.a. “My Best Friend”
(listed as Ballad Of Jimi” on this 1974 album). No Hendrix on the demo though
(unless it’s him on bass, which is doubtful).
The 1967 reunion sessions with Curtis Knight
As mentioned above, a little over a year after Jimi quit New York, to find fame in Europe he came back to New York and joined Curtis Knight for a couple of spontaneous reunion sessions at Studio 76 in July and August. They merely jammed a little and Jimi added bass to a few old tapes.
Soon after, some of the Curtis Knight studio tapes featuring 1965 to 1967 recordings) were released with Jimi on the front cover (the two albums pictured below).
Hendrix and his management/label were powerless to stop them.
> See The 1967 Curtis Knight reunion sessions
Once Ed Chalpin had those 1967 recordings in the can, he assembled the albums Get That Feeling (1967) and Flashing (1968).
Because there was so little to be gleaned from the two meagre ’67 sessions, he added some 1965/66 recordings to complete the sides.
In the 70s and beyond, Chalpin threw the Georges Club recordings into the pot and proceeded to mush the lot together and release confusing albums for decades, with the Hendrix estate being legally powerless to stop him
Just a few of the many PPX exploitation albums that have clogged up the Hendrix record racks over the decades.
These were either themed as live albums (Georges Club 20) or they mixed together all the PPX sources (1965 to 1967)
and also mixed up with some fake Hendrix tracks (detailed further down).
This photo was taken at The Club Cheetah (with band in cheetah motif shirts) and this is where Linda Keith first saw him perform
(see “Jimi Breaks Away” paragraph further down). Some bootlegs appeared, touted as being Cheetah Club recordings but they are simply the same George’s Club as detailed further up.
THE BEST OF THE PRE-EXPERIENCE STUDIO & HOME RECORDINGS
So what are the best of all these pre-Experience recordings from 1963 to mid-1966?
Young Jimmy recorded with many greats (Little Richard, The Isley Brothers, Don Covey, King Curtis) but if one is looking for
some good HENDRIX that, I would recommend the following recordings, which are all from his work
with Lonnie Youngblood and Curtis Knight.
Recordings with Lonnie Youngblood:
Wipe The Sweat I, II and III (the latter features a vocal from Jimmy)
Under The Table (two takes)
Go Go Shoes/Go Go Place
Recordings with Curtis Knight:
Everybody Knew But Me (demo)
Working All Day (demo)
Don’t Accuse Me (the version without the backing vocals)
Hornet’s Nest (without organ)
Knock Yourself Out
No Such Animal
UNRELEASED EARLY RECORDINGS
It has been said Jimmy played on these unreleased recordings:
Johnny Jones – “Feels So Bad Like A Ball Game On A Rainy Day” (1963)
The Bonnevilles – “Snuff Dripper”, “Ouch” and two other recordings (1963)
George Yates & Sandra Wright – “I”m Crying” (1963)
Jimmy Norman – “On You Girlie, That Looks Good”, “Family Tree” (1966)
Rumoured participations and false information
The book “Becoming Jimi Hendrix” also reveals that Jimmy played on some recordings by the stragely named singer Mr. Wiggles, acompanied by Little Richard’s band. You can’t really hear Jimmy’s touch on the little guitar playing that there is.
Mr. Wiggles: “Home Boy”/”Wash My Back” (Golden Triangle 1966) and “Fat Back (Part 1)”/”Fat Back (Part 2)” [instrumental] (Parkway 1966) – Both recorded in July 1965
The World Famous Upsetters – “K.P.” / “Cabbage Greens” (Sound Of Soul 1966) – Recorded in July 1965
Little Richard’s band do their own thing with this Mr. Wiggles produced single. Jimmy was rumoured to be on these recordings but the lead guitar here is played by Melvin Sparks. There remains the possibility that Jimi is in the mix on rhythm guitar but I suppose we’ll never know.
BEWARE – FAKE HENDRIX ALBUMS & TRACKS !!!
Over the years, a number of so-called “Hendrix” albums contained recordings which didn’t even feature Jimi at all!
The albums mostly pictured/picture Jimi at the height of his fame and usually attributing the recordings to his pre-Experience period.
Examples are the albums “Free Spirit”, “Moods”, “Rare Hendrix”, “Roots Of Hendrix”, “In The Beginning” and also the so-called Little Richard/Hendrix albums. Many albums released featured some of these ridiculous tracks mixed up with the 1968 Scene Club, 1969 Royal Albert Hall and PPX recordings. An utter mess.
The album “Cosmic Turnaround” did feature one track with Hendrix: “No Such Animal” (an instrumental penned by Jimi from his 1966 Curtis Knight days).
The fake Hendrix album “Free Spirit” features guitarist Hermon Hitson (plus a remix of The Icemen’s “My Girl, She’s A Fox” which did actually feature young Jimmy). Hitson said that the tapes (probably from 1971) were meant to be released under his name but it all ended up being packaged as a collection of lost pre-Experience Hendrix recordings! These were the tracks:
Free Spirit, House Of The Rising Sun, Let The God Sing, Suspicious, Bring My Baby Back, Voice In The Wind, Hey Leroy, Good Feeling, Let Me Thrill Your Soul, Something You Got, Hot Trigger
The problem is that these tracks are still being sold or are all over YouTube etc.!
Here is a list of some the fake Hendrix tracks involved:
A Mumblin’ Word
All I Want
Back Room Lady
Be My Baby
Bring my baby back
Come On Baby
Every Little Bit Hurt
Everything You Get
Feel That Soul
Freedom And You
From This Day On (She’s So Fine)
Funky Dish Rag
Gangster Of Love
Girl So Fine
God Save the Queen (by David Henderson)
Going home tomorrow
Gonna Take A Lot
Gotta find some
Groovy little suzie
Hound Dog (not the BBC or acoustic version)
House of the rising sun
I Love My Baby I’m a Fool For You
I’m Gonna Be Good
It’s Gonna Take A Lot To Bring Me Back Baby
Let Me Go
Let me thrill your soul
Let the god sing
Let The Good Times Roll (= Good Times)
Looking For A Love
Memories are made of This
She’s So Fine (a.k.a. From This Day On)
Short fat fanny
Simon Says (Isley’s version)
So Called Friend
Something you got
SuspiciousThe Last Girl
Two And One Goes
Voice in the wind
Walking with bessie mae
Why don’t you love me
Wild As A Tiger
Win Your Love
You Are Too Much For The Human Heart
You Got It
You Say You Love Me
There is also no Hendrix on the following songs from those faked Little Richard/Hendrix albums:
Goin’ Home Tomorrow
Good Golly Miss Molly
Keep A Knockin
Lawdy Miss Claudie
Oooh My Soul
Rip It Up
Send Me Some Lovin’
Slippin’ And A Slidin
Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On
The origins of some other tracks have been identified by researchers:
Miracle Worker – Sam Williams
So Called Friend – Sam Williams
Gangster of Love – Jimmy Norman
Young Generation – Billy Lamont
From This Day On/She’s So Fine = “I’m Gonna Be Good” by Nate Adams
Human Heart = “You Are Too Much For The Human Heart” by Hermon Hitson
Louisville = “You Are Too Much For The Human Heart” by Hermon Hitson
Edda Mae = “Find Someone To Love” by Ohio Players
Find Someone = “The Man That I Am” by Ohio Players
Be My Baby = “Birth Of A Playboy” by The Chosen Few
Everything You Get = “Nobody Can Save Me” by The Chosen Few
Some tracks used for these fake albums were in fact pre-Experience recordings, sometimes with overdubs added on (not Jimi’s overdubs of course):
Groove (uses Groovemaker by Jimmy Norman)
Psycho (uses I Wonder (What It Takes) by The Icemen)
Two And One Goes (uses You’re Only Hurting Yourself by Jimmy Norman)
Whipper (uses Wipe The Sweat take III)
Win Your Love (uses I Wonder (What It Takes) by The Icemen)
Some instrumental versions of PPX recordings also appear with new song titles:
Sleepy Fate = No Business
Torture Me Honey = Hush Now
You Can Do It = Strange Things
Mercy Lady Day = Love
Wah Wah = Hush Now (alternate take)
JIMMY JAMES BREAKS AWAY
In an October 1967 interview (published in the February 1968 issue of Music Maker magazine), Jimi mentioned that in 1965, Mick Jagger had met him and had tried to get him on a tour (whether that meant a Stones tour is open to speculation). However Jimi backed down, feeling that he wasn’t ready.
Once Jimmy had settled in New York from mid 1965 onwards, he did session work when he found it and played with the backing bands of Calm Holmes and Joey Dee. He also continued to play with Curtis Knight (gradually imposing his own artistic direction) and on the side, began to get his own thing together in the open-minded, more bohemian environment of the city’s Greenwich Village area. His reputation was spreading and Jimi later said (in the interview which is in the Winterland box) that during this New York period, he did get offers from record companies but he turned them down, because again, he felt that he wasn’t quite ready to embark on a solo career.
Then the Rolling Stones again came into the picture. One night in the Spring of 1966, while Jimmy was playing at the very plush but almost empty Cheetah Club on Broadway backing Curtis Knight, he was seen by the English fashion model Linda Keith who was in New York waiting for her boyfriend Keith Richards, who was due to arrive in the city with the Rolling Stones a few weeks later. Very impressed by the guitarist in the band, she asked a friend to invite Jimmy to come join them at their table and consequently to an apartment gathering after the gig. A quite nervous Jimi told Linda that he didn’t feel that he could go it alone in music because of his lack of confidence as a singer. Linda said that was nonsense and that Dylan was a good example of a brilliant singer without having great “voice” in the traditional sense. Jimi was of course already a Dylan fan but this gave him the nudge to get a hold on his musical career. Linda sort of took him under her wing (even lending him one of Richards’ Strats!) and thus began a new chapter in his life.
Here is an interesting 1973 interview with Linda Keith about that first meeting.
Linda and folk singer Richie Havens urged Jimmy to break away on his own and play more blues. In fact it was Havens who recommended that Jimi tried to find work in the Greenwich Village district of the city. So Jimi took that advice and even had a spell busking on street corners (with Linda on percussion and occasional vocals!). Havens had also given Jimi the names of a few clubs to check out for work and one of those was the tiny Café Wha?
Before long, Jimi auditioned for the house band of the club. He got the job and soon re-shaped the band which became The Blue Flame*(1) (they also called themselves The Rainflowers). It has also been said that he also made sure that the pavement chalkboards put his name up as “Jimi James” (but the usual story is that Jimi and Chas came up with the spelling shortly before their flight to London.
In Jimi’s Greenwich village band was a very young Randy California (later of the group Spirit). Future Steely Dan guitarist Jeff “Skunk” Baxter also occasionally jammed with the band on bass. In the band’s repertoire already were “Hey Joe”, Like A Rolling Stone”, “Wild Thing”, “Killing Floor”, “Shotgun” (the Junior Walker And The Allstars hit), The Beatles’ “Rain”, “Mr. Bad Luck” (an early “Look Over Yonder”) as well as embryonic versions of “Third Stone From The Sun” and “Foxy Lady”! The late Randy California claimed to have a live recording of the group but it has never surfaced unfortunately.
When The Stones finally arrived in New York in early July, Linda spoke to band about Jimmy and took them and their manager Andrew Loog Oldham to see him perform at the club Ondine’s. Linda said that he wasn’t impressed but Oldham later said that he had liked Jimmy’s playing, he didn’t feel that he could commit to helping him, finding his situation too complicated to take on. He also feared that Linda’s commitment to helping Jimmy would cause friction with Keith Richards. Linda remembered things differently and said that Oldman simply didn’t get it, he didn’t see Jimi’s potential. Linda has made no mention of the fact that Jimi had already met Mick Jagger (and possibly the other Stones back in 1965).
Linda also took impresario Seymour Stein to see Jimmy play at the club (Stein would later become president of Sire Records and he discovered Madonna). He also didn’t feel compelled to take Hendrix on!
Then a few days later, Linda met The Animals bassist Chas Chandler*(2) and brought him down to see him play at The Café Wha?. Chas was at the time on a farewell tour with The Animals and was interested in finding for an artist to produce and manage. Before the gig, Linda played Chas Tim Rose’s “Hey Joe” and he loved it, saying that if he could find the right act to manage, that song would be their first release. When Jimmy took the stage at The Café Wha?, he opened with “Hey Joe” (this was perhaps set up by Linda). Chas had found what he was looking for. However, Chas had a few weeks of dates to play on the Animals’ tour, so he promised Jimmy that he would be back as soon as it was over to try and sort things out for him.
Meanwhile, word got around about Jimi until the respected white blues singer John Hammond Jnr. joined up with the Blue Flame (they would also collectively adopted the name The Screaming Night Hawks). Journalist Bill Stout said that the name The Blue Flame was only coined once the band teamed up with Hammond). With Hammond on lead vocals and harmonica, they played shows at the more prestigeous club The Café A Go Go. Keyboard players that occasionally joined the band on stage were Al Kooper (of The Blues Project) and Barry Goldberg (future Electric Flag and Butterfield Blues Band).
When Chas Chandler returned to New York in early September, he met up with Jimmy and convinced him that if he went to Britain, he could make it big. Jimmy was excited about the London/UK scene and also at the prospect of meeting two guitarists that he greatly admired, Eric Clapton and Jeff Beck. Chas knew them well of course and promised to arrange for Jimmy to meet them.
Chas and his Animals manager and now partner Mike Jeffery went into business together to manage Jimmy. First, they helped him get his passport sorted out and set about clearing up various contractual ties that he had. Jimmy told them that he had contacts with Sue Records and PPX Enterprises. Jeffery said that the contracts weren’t legal because Jimmy hadn’t had representation of his own. Jeffery told Jimmy not to worry, saying that he would handle it.*(3) Chas got Sue Records to abandon their contract but nothing was done in relation to PPX. In the following years, this error would come back to haunt all concerned.
Jimmy wanted to go to London with Randy “California” Wolfe and he even called Billy Cox to ask him if he wanted to accompany him. Randy was too young and Billy declined. Chandler and Jeffery also just wanted too keep things simple and take only Jimmy to Britain.
On September 24th, 1966, on the plane to England, Jimmy James dropped his New York stage name and was re-born as JIMI HENDRIX.
Jimi’s new passport photo. Today London, tomorrow the world!
*(1) Cosmic coincidence: Mitch Mitchell had played with the British star Georgie Fame and The Blue Flames before meeting Jimi!
Note that Jimi’s New York band was called The Blue Flame and not The Blue Flames.
*(2) I read in David Shadwick’s book that Jimmy had met Chas in 1965 while The Animals were on tour! Jimmy was at that time playing in Little Richard’s band who were on the same bill as The Animals. After the show and an incident where Richard had an argument with the organisers, Chas and Jimmy ended up sharing a smoke on a window ledge. Chas said much later that he remembered the moment but had not connected with the fact that was Hendrix! This leaves us to speculate that Jimi must have remembered a smoke with The Animal’s bass player and had perhaps reminded Chas of this when they met again in August 1966 at The Café Wha. Fascinating (if true!).
*(3) From “Jimi Hendrix: The Man, the Magic, the Truth” (Sharon Lawrence)
> According to Brund Blum, in his biography of Lou Reed titled “Electric Dandy”, Jimmy attended a Velvet Underground performance in New York in 1966 ! I mailed Blum and asked what his source was for this information but he said that someone told him but he couldn’t remember who. So it’s just hearsay unfortunately. If Jimmy did attend a performance, John Cale and Lou Reed’s feedback drenched experimentations might obviously have been a great influence on his future guitar playing. According to Billy Cox, Jimi had toyed with distortion way before 1966 anyway.
> Here’s an interesting page by Guitar World founding editor Noe Gold, who knew Jimi during those crucial Greenwich Village days.
Check out these great books which provide a lot of detail about Jimi’s early years.
Becoming Jimi Hendrix by Steve Roby and Brad Schreiber all about Jimi’s life and career before fame.
Room Full Of Mirrors by Charles R. Cross which covers his entire career but has well-researched chapters about Jimi’s childhood and early years.
“The Uncut Story” 3 hour documentary DVD.
This also provides great insight into Jimi’s childhood and formative years as a musician
BEFORE FAME TIMELINE
1964 to September 1966 :
Niko has it sorted out on his super site: earlyhendrix.com
VARIOUS ARTISTS : “New York Soul ’66”
(History Of Soul 2017)
An interesting 2CD compilation which focuses on soul/R’n’B coming out of New York in 1966 – the musical environment in which Jimi was operating at the time, just before his move to England (September 1966).
Jimi is even present on this set, backing The Icemen on “(My Girl) She’s A Fox”. There’s also a song by Jimmy Norman (who Jimi backed on another single – see above). Who knows, perhaps Jimi played some guitar on another song here.
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