Hendrix UK Haze

Hendrix UK Haze

Hendrix UK Haze

The newly minted Jimi Hendrix’s path to the legendary Jimi Hendrix opened when he arrived in London on September 24, 1966–a Saturday  At least that seems to be the date. He arrived with an overnight bag and $40 he’d borrowed from drummer friend Charles Otis.

Jimi had already paid his musical road dues with several bands after a shortened stint in the US Army.  Without the insistence of Linda Keith, Chas Chandler, the Animals’ ex-bassist and now Hendrix’s co-manager, would never have discovered Jimi. At least, he would not have been in a position to sign Jimi.

Hendrix UK Haze

Zoot Money

Jimi arrived in the UK with only a 7-day tourist visa, so without a work permit and until he got one he could sit in with other musicians but not get paid.

But the first thing was to get a guitar! Jimi had a speckled history with guitars, often losing them, pawning them, or borrowing for a bit.

Zoot from his site

Chandler asked friend musician Zoot Money (who would later play with the Eric Burden‘s re-formed Animals, if he could borrow one? Money was heading his Big Roll Band. The band’s guitarist was Andy Summers, who’d later become one-third of Police.

Summer’s lived in Zoot’s basement. Zoot lived with his wife Ronnie. Angie King (who married Burdon in 1967) and Kathy Etchingham renting the top floor.

Zoot offered a guitar, but Chander hoped to find another.

Hendrix UK Haze

The Scotch of St James

According to its site, “On 14th July 1965, The Scotch Of St James officially opened for business. Amongst those who attended the launch were three members of the Beatles, all but Charlie from the Rolling Stones, as well as members of The Who, The Kinks, The Animals and The Hollies. In fact just about every known face from the 1960’s music scene could have been spotted that night, making their way through Mason’s Yard, as yet unaware of the Rock ‘n’ Roll royalty they were to become, or the role that The Scotch Of St James would play in their lives.”

Incidentally, close to the Scotch was the Indica art gallery and bookshop. Paul McCartney was involved in its business and more importantly John Lennon would meet an artist there named Yoko Ono.

Chandler knew Rod Harrod, the venue’s manager, but Harrod could only offer the quiet Monday night, so on Monday 26 September 1966, the now Jimi Hendrix played for the first time outside the United States.

The house band that week was The VIPs. Though a “quiet” Monday night, the co-managers of the Who, Kit Lambert and Chris Stamp, were there. At first they’d hoped to manage Jimi, but finding out they were beaten to that punch, they offered something better: signing Jimi to their nascent record label Track.

Hendrix UK Haze

Linda Tossed/Kathy Held

Showing up that night not surprisingly was Linda Keith, but also Ronnie Money and Kathy Etchingham. Linda, hoping to kindle more than just a friendship with Jimi now that Keith Richards had broken up with her and would write Ruby Tuesday as a result, got into a fight with the two women and was thrown out of the club.

Hendrix UK Haze

How To Promote? 

And once he got a work permit, the question Chandler faced was how to promote such a stellar guitarist?

Chandler tried the American Folk and Blues Festival, but Jimi did not fit into a genre with so many older blues musicians.

Next Chandler offered Jimi’s services to keyboard player Brian Auger whose band Trinity combined R & B and jazz, but Trinity had a female singer, Julie Driscoll and a guitarist, Vic Briggs (who would later play with Eric Burden)  Brian did allow Jimi to sit in for a show at the Blaises. That show was apparently September 29.

An accommodating Briggs allowed Jimi  (James Marshall Hendrix) to use his amp, a Marshall amp and Marshall being appropriately developed by one Jim Marshall.  Reports are that Jimi turned it up to an unheard (an admittedly ironic adjective) 10.

That same day, Chandler had arranged for Jimi to open for Johnny Hallyday–the Elvis Presley of France–for a French tour.

Hendrix UK Haze

Clapton Quits

By 1966, any rock guitarist knew who Eric Clapton and his current band Cream were. The CLAPTON IS GOD graffiti had certified his position on Mt Olympus. And Jimi Hendrix wanted to meet him.

It was October 1 and Chas Chandler requested and Cream acquiesced to Chandler’s asking if Jimi could sit in for a song with them at the Polytechnic of Central London. Apparently the song, “Killing   Floor,” was one Clapton had just learned with difficulty.

Jimi put on the full Jimi: effortlessly, smoothly, orally, backwardly, and sexually. Chandler recalled that halfway through the song, Clapton stopped playing and left the stage.

Hendrix UK Haze

The Experience Forms

It was still early October and next came the formation of a band to back Jimi. Chandler wanted proficient players, but not star players. No need for a rhythm guitarist since Jimi’s style was both that of lead and rhythm. A bass player.

Noel Redding had just failed his attempt to be the new guitarist for Eric Burden’s new Animals. Chandler offered Redding the bass spot in Jimi’s band. He accepted despite never playing the instrument.

Drums.  Mitch Mitchell had been playing with Georgie Fame’s Blue FlamesAynsley Dunbar was the other possibility. Apparently the Mitchell won the coin toss. Dunbar would go on to play with, among others, Frank Zappa, David Bowie, and Lou Reed.

A Mitchell bonus was that he’d worked with Jim Marshall and was able to acquire a couple of his powerful amps.

Before he left for France, Jimi contacted Al Hendrix, his dad. To this point Jimi hadn’t told Al about the London venture. Accounts vary. Al was delighted. Al warned Jimi he’d have to pay for the collect phone call and hung up.

Hendrix UK Haze

Tours and De Lane

On October 12 the band flew to France to support Johnny Hallyday. They did four shows (October 13, 14, 15, and 18) before returning to London.  The Experience’s experience was not stellar. The band still needed time to coalesce.  Jimi also found out what it was like to open for an extremely popular performer and that that is who the audience wanted. Not whatever they saw.

Jimi would learn that lesson again in nine months when he briefly opened for The Monkees.

On October 23 the band recorded Hey Joe at De Lane Lea Studios in London. On November 2, the band recorded Stone Free and Can You See Me there.

November 8, 9, 10, and 11 the band did two shows a night in Munich, Germany at the Big Apple Club. The band’s reception was stronger than in France and Jimi learned something. He sometimes went into the crowd to play (attached to an extra long cord) and on one occasion had to throw the guitar onto the stage to be able to return.

It broke slightly and Jimi decided to break it a bit more. Pete Townshend guitar smashing had already started to display Gustav Metzger’s “auto destructive art.” Chandler eye on the bottom line made sure Jimi’s antics didn’t completely destroy a guitar beyond repair.

 

Back in the UK, Jimi continued to live at the Hyde Park Towers and Kathy Etchingham continued with him as well. The relationship continued for another 2 1/2 years, the longest of any for Jimi. Though as new to London as Jimi was, she became his tour guide to the tourist Jimi. On one of those forays, Jimi bought a used blue Victorian military tunic.

As were the times, not everyone thought the outfit was appropriate for a long-haired musician, but his own demure attitude (or a friend’s quiet intervention) saved Jimi from anything more nasty than baiting comments.

Hendrix UK Haze

The Bag O’Nails

Selling some of his guitars to finance the event, Chas Chandler arranged for a press conference and performance at the Bag O’Nails Club in London on November 25, 1966. “Everyone” was there: some Beatles, some Stones, Jeff Beck, Terry Reid, and others. The beginning had definitely begun.

Jimi turned 24 on the 30th and saw The Young Rascals at Blaises.

Hendrix UK Haze

New Digs/Hey Joe

Though it may seem impossible, Chas Chandler was still financially supporting Jimi and Chandler decided that Jimi’s stay at the Hyde Park Towers, though not expensive, was more than he could afford.

Ringo owned a duplex that he rented for a pittance and Chandler moved Jimi and Kathy into it on December 6. In fact, Chandler himself and his girlfriend Lotte Null moved in as well.

On December 11, Jimi heard that Little Richard was in town. Having played on and off with Little Richard several times, Jimi went to visit. Jimi also thought Little Richard owed him $50. Little Richard welcomed Jimi, but no money was forthcoming.

Hendrix UK Haze

On December 16, Polydor Records released “Hey Joe” (b-side, “Stone Free”). Track records wasn’t up and running yet, thus Polydor’s release.

Hendrix UK Haze

To promote Hendrix and the release, he appeared on the popular (at least with a younger audience) Ready Steady Go! and then on the 29th he appeared on an even more popular show, Top of the Pops.

1966 ended with Jimi having seen Europe, experienced many of its tourist spots, having formed a band, met his guitar heros, impressed those same heros, and was about to release his own album.

Hendrix UK Haze

1967

1967 would be the year that Americans would discover their native son and Jimi’s snowball would expand and gather plenty of momentum. But that would happen in June at the Monterey International Pop Festival. And that was still six months away.

Hendrix UK Haze

Promotion II

Payola

DJ payola had already made headlines in the United States. President Eisenhower had even addressed it. Though not eradicated, it still nearly ruined the rising career of one Dick Clark and did ruin the careers of Alan Freed.

The UK was less observant of an equally pervasive habit. Managers bulk-bought singles to get them onto the charts and knew which DJ could be bribed to play a song.

With Jimi’s TV appearances and co-manager Mike Jeffery‘s business acumen, Jimi’s “Hey Joe” reached #6.

 Gered Mankowitz

Chandler selected photographer Gered Mankowitz for Jimi and the Experience’s first photo shoot. The Jimi we see in some of the photos  the Jimi we now think of: bouffant hair, army jacket, cigarette, and that endearing smile. Some of the pictures were not to Jimi’s liking as the image (“wild man”) Mankowitz was told to go for was not the image Jimi wanted to portray.

One-night stands

Though Jimi’s reputation continued strong (on January 29 the Experience opened for the Who at Brian Epstein‘s Saville Theatre. In the audience were John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Eric Clapton, Ginger Baker, Jack Bruce [who went home with a bass line that developed into Sunshine of Your Love]), manager Mike Jeffrey “knew” that Jimi could not last–no band did–and had booked the band for continuous shows.

They traveled in a single van with one roadie–Gerry Stickells, a friend of Noel Redding and car mechanic. Stickells was indispensable. He fixed the always blowing out Marshall amps, broken strings, and broken guitars as the band played on.

Purple Haze

Hendrix UK Haze

Jimi loved science fiction since childhood [he nicknamed himself Buster after action actor Buster Crabbe] and one of his favorite writers was  Philip José Farmer.  Farmer’s Night of Light  A Wikipedia plot summary states that “Once every seven years, a world in orbit around a binary star is bathed in a bizarre radiance that rearranges physical reality.”  The “radiance” is a purplish haze.

Chas Chandler heard Jimi doodling an early version of the song and told him that that would be the next single. Remember, even in 1967, despite the increasing success of albums, singles still drove sales.

Financial challenges continued to beset Chandler’s need to record. Reluctant at first, Polydor reluctantly provided a line of credit and the Experience entered Olympic Studio.  The studio manager happily handed off the job to a young engineer named Eddie Kramer.

From Kramer’s site: Working with Jimi Hendrix in the studio was a roller coaster ride of intensity that never stopped. Jimi had laser like concentration on the job at hand, from the first run-throughs of the song through to the last notes of the overdubs. I had to be permanently on my toes to be able to handle any situation as it developed as he could switch musical direction at the drop of a hat. His ideas came fast and furious with a devilish glint in his eye as he would rack up a particular sound from his amp that would give me a challenge to interpret what was going on from the floor of the studio to bringing that enormous sound into the control room through that marvelous Helios Console and onto a Tube Ampex tape machine. Then to watch his expression as he heard the playback was a joy to behold.

And so on February 3, 1967 Jimi began recording songs for his first (of only three studio) albums.

Hendrix UK Haze

Enhanced Sounds

Electronic recording enhancements combined with a willingness to use those enhancements in playing led many young guitarists to experiment with the new technology.

Roger Mayer was 21 and had already worked for the British Admiralty on underwater sound projects for submarines. He was into sound, to say the least.

He had developed a new fuzz box he called Octavia because a guitarist could raise or lower their guitar’s pitch by a whole octave. He offered it to Jimi. Jimi loved it. Jimi called it Octavio. He overdubbed solos with it on Purple Haze and Fire.

The effects of Mayer on Jimi’s sounds can be heard on each of his three (and only) studio albums.

Hendrix UK Haze

Rather than save “Purple Haze” for the upcoming album, Chandler decided to release it as the Experience’s second single on March 17 and on Track Records.

It reached #3 in Britain and the top 20 in Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, and Australia.

It would not be released in the US until June 19, the day after his performance at the Monterey Pop Festival.

Hendrix UK Haze

Fire

Still in need of promotion and not the headliner. on  March 31, the Experience joined a tour with the Walker Brothers, Cat Stevens, and Engelbert Humperdinck. Yes, another example of mismatching.

With the mismatch in mind, Chandler wondered what Jimi could add to his set? Someone, seeing the song “Fire” on Jimi’s 5-song set, jokingly suggested that Jimi set his guitar on fire, a la Pete Townshend‘s guitar smashing that  Gustav Metzger had inspired with his concept of Auto-destructive art.

Someone ran out for some lighter fluid. Jimi needed a few tries to get it going. He swung the flaming guitar around, burning his fingers a bit in the process, and then threw it into the audience.

The stunt garnered the hoped-for media attention, but Jimi would not repeat it until June at his American premiere.

The Wind Cries Mary

Though Jimi and Kathy Etchingham continued to live in the same house as Chandler and his girlfriend Lotte, Jimi and Kathy had many rows.

One in particular involved food that Kathy had made. She smashed some plates and left.

Jimi swept up and wrote some more lyrics with Kathy, whose middle name was Mary and a name he sometimes used to talk with her, in mind.

A broom is drearily sweeping
Up the broken pieces of yesterday’s life
Somewhere, a queen is weeping
Somewhere, a king has no wife

Though not completely the result of their argument, the song still holds onto that story.

The song became the third Experience single and Track released it on May 4.  It was another success.

Hendrix UK Haze

Are You Experienced

Though not wanting to oversaturate Jimi’s footprint, the release of the Experience’s first album arrived in the UK on May 12.

Hendrix wrote each of the eleven songs:

Side one:

  1. Foxy Lady
  2. Manic Depression
  3. Red House
  4. Can You See Me
  5. Love or Confusion
  6. I Don’t Live Today

Side two:

  1. May This Be Love
  2. Fire
  3. 3rd Stone from the Sun
  4. Remember
  5. Are You Experienced

The album was a huge success spending thirty-three weeks on the UK album charts, peaking at #2.

Hendrix UK Haze
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