MITCH MITCHELL 1946 - 2008
The news broke that Mitch Mitchell died in a Portland hotel on the 12th of November 2008 at 62 years old. This came as a shock even though Mitch did not appear to be in great shape on the recent videos that I have seen of him.
I will just say that he was one of my all time favourite drummers and thank God that he won the toss over Aynsley Dunbar back in 1966 to become a member of The Jimi Hendrix Experience. Mitch provided the perfect accompanyment for Jimi’s music, embellishing it with his lavish style. He could play anything for the band, straight punchy rock songs, blues, R&B or jazz,… he matched Jimi all the way, even pushing and inspiring him at the same time.
It’s all there, across just about all the records detailed on this site. Goodbye Mitch. Play on drummer.
Georgie Fame – Sweet Things
Roger Chapman – “Mail Order Magic”
Dave Morrison Band – “Someone’s In My Kitchen”
Mike Vernon – “Moment Of Madness”
Ramatam – “Ramatam”
Martha Velez – “Friends & Angels”
Bruce Cameron- “Midnight Daydream”
Junior Brown- “Long Walk Back”
Betty Davis – The Columbia Years 1968-1969
In mid May 1969, while the original Experience were well into their final tour, Jimi and Mitch were also jamming between dates at the Record Plant in New York with Jimi’s old chum Billy Cox. On May 14th and 20th, Mitch and Billy nipped over to Columbia Studios to participate in sessions for Betty Davis. Miles Davis and Ted Macero were behind the board and other musicians involved were John McLaughlin, Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, Larry Young and Harvey Brooks! An incredible line-up. These sessions came between Miles’ albums In A Silent Way and Bitches Brew. Unfortunately there is only about 20 minutes of music here and it’s all pretty repetetive, routine R’n’B/funk which doesn’t really go anywhere. Mitch however is terrific on drums but the rest of the band don’t get the opportunity to take off. McLaughlin puts in a few solos but it’s evident that this type of music wasn’t his thing. To pad out the album (to only about 30 minutes) there are some earlier recordings from 1968 added, which are in a more soul/R’n’B style with a brass section (including Hugh Masakela among others).
Full details and samples of the songs here
Also, check out Mitch’s lavishly illustrated book “The Hendrix Experience”.
NOEL REDDING 1945 - 2003
An excellent musician, Noel dropped his guitar in 1966 to play bass with Jimi. A hell of a bass player he was too. His thunderous playing was an essential part of The Jimi Hendrix Experience’s sound.
Born in Folkestone, England, he was a gifted guitarist and played with bands in his home region such as the Modern jazz Group. As part of another local group, The Loving Kind, he recorded three singles on the Picadilly label. While in London to audition as for a place as guitarist in The New Animals, he ended up instead with the job as bass player for the then unknown Jimi Hendrix. Jimi appreciated Noels quickness to grasp musical styles and liked his wirey afro-like hair and nicknamed him Bob Dylan’s Grandmother (Noel replied with “Jimi Henpecked”). The band made their first official public appearance at Evreux, France (13/10/66). The chemistry between Noel, Mitch Mitchell and Jimi was just right and the band quickly developped and refined their stage show. Noel would soon provide backing vocals on numbers like “Fire” , “I Don’t Live Today” or simple “Ooohs” and “Aaahs” on “Purple Haze”. He often joined Jimi in chatting humourously with the audience between songs.
Noel managed to get two of his own songs on the bands albums (“She’s So Fine” and “Little Miss Strange”). The music on “My Friend” was Noel’s (Jimi wrote the lyrics) but he was never credited for it.
However, frustrated with the role of bass man and tired of sitting around while Jimi perfected his studio recordings, he soon developed his own solo project Fat Mattress (he even opened with them at some Experience gigs). He became more and more estranged from Jimi and began to question the management about where all the money was going. The last straw was when Jimi announced to others about his intention to expand the group, without mentioning it to him before hand. So he quit the band.
In 1970 he decided to bury the hatchet and was on the point of rejoining the Experience and he met up with Jimi and Mitch for a press interview to announce this. Jimi however chose to keep Billy Cox from his Band Of Gypsys line-up. It is a pity that Jimi didn’t keep Noel as a second guitarist, it was after all his intention to expand the group.
On guitar with Fat Matress he worked on two albums: “Fat Matress” (Polydor 1969) and “Fat Matress II” which he abandoned when the album was only half finished. He then played bass again with the group Road, recording the album “Road” on the US label Rare Earth in 1972. That same year he also played with Jimi’s old friend Randy California (under the hilarious pseudonyme of Clit McTorious) for the very Hendrix inspired album “Kapt Kopter And The Fabulous Twirly Birds”.
Then he setted in Ireland to form The Noel Redding Band with the ex Thin Lizzy guitarist Eric Bell. They put out two albums: “Clonakilty Cowboys” (RCA 1975) and “Blowin'” (RCA 1976) and more tracks came out later as “The Missing Album” (Griffin 1995).
In 1990 he published his memoires with the book “Are You Experienced: The Inside Story Of The Jimi Hendrix Experience” .
When Jimi’s old flat in London’s Montague Square received a commemorative blue plaque in the nineties, an emotional Noel was there paying his respects in front of the gathered crowd and journalists.
In 1995/96 he toured with the Hendrix tribute band More Experience and later participated in many other Hendrix tribute events in America and Europe and appears on albums “Stone Free” (Dressed To Kill 2001), “On Tour” (Brilliant 2001) and “Live From Bunkr-Prague” (Track 2002). He also put in an appearance with Mitch to jam at The Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall Of Fame to celebrate Jimi’s inauguration. He also toured with a band he formed called Secret Freaks.
The Jimi Hendrix Experience was an unparalleled three man band. After Noel left the group in mid 1969, Jimi and Mitch never found quite the same excitement that the three of them together could muster.
NOEL REDDING – The Experience Sessions – Released 2003
See end of “Posthumous Studio Releases”.
“Friends” – Jimi played guitar on an as yet unpublished Noel Redding song titled “Friends”. This was done while Noel was working on an album to be titled “Nervous Breakdown” in 1970. Apparently the tapes are held in the Electric Lady Studio’s vault.
The album “Live from the Bunker – Prague” features covers of Voodoo Child, Stone Free, Come On, Purple Haze, Llittle Wing, Red House, Little Miss Lover, Wild Thing, Hey Joe .
The live album “West Coast Tuning” (which is Noel and the band 3:05 AM) features Can You See Me, Stone Free, Come On, Hey Joe. The album was re-released many times as “On Tour with 3:05 AM”, “Stone Free”, “West Coast Experience”.
Are You Experienced?
Noel’s book, “Are You Experienced? – The Inside Story Of The Jimi Hendrix Experience” is worth a read. It underlines the chaos that the 1966 to 1970 period really was, with all the excesses of drugs, sex, bad management, crippling tours, lawsuits, theft, you name it. It is full of horrendous anecdotes and poor Noel emerged a junkie, an alcaholic and quite destroyed by The Jimi Hendrix Experience.
GEORGE "BUDDY" MILES 1947 - 2008
On February 27th 2008, the news broke that Buddy had died.
The multi-talented Buddy Miles played an important role in the evolution of Jimi’s music. In 1969, when an exhausted, soul searching Hendrix turned his back on the “swinging sixties” feeling the need return to his roots, he gathered together his old pals and began to redefine his music. It was the intention of each member of The Experience to take a break with their own peronnal projects. For Mitch it was the group Mind Octopus (which never got off the ground) for Noel it was Fat Mattres and for Jimi, A Band Of Gypsys.
It took Jimi many months of costly, explorative jamming before his creative juices began to flow again. By then, Jimi’s management became worried that his established audience wouldn’t be seduced by an all black, soul-tinged trio. Jimi too began to have doubts, eventually feeling that Miles’s often intrusive style was taking him too far back to the music of his old R’n’B days.
The Band Of Gypsys was a fascinating experiment with a few stunning live moments and spirited studio recordings but ultimately, Miles’s somewhat simplistic drum style lacked the expansive dexterity that Jimi needed to enhance his compositions and live explorations, capacities in which Mitch Mitchell had excelled. Also, Miles’s ambition and enthusiasm for Band Of Gypsys was seen as opportunist and presumptuous by many in Jimi’s entourage. So, to his dismay, Miles was evicted in rather ugly circumstances (see “Jimi’s Own Releases” section).
It must be said that Buddy Miles contributed greatly to the rennaissance of Jimi Hendrix in 1970, helping him to focus his ideas and supporting him at a time of emotional turmoil.
Just lay back and groove and listen to those stunning “Band Of Gypsys” tracks and the great studio recordings such as “Rainy Day, Dream Away”, “Room Full Of Mirrors”, “Ezy Ryder”, “Earth Blues”…
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