The wind cries Jimi
And so does everything else at 40th anniversary of Hendrix's death
by Greg Cahill
March 16, 2010
Forty years after the mysterious death of rock icon Jimi Hendrix,
there's plenty of buzz when it comes to honoring the man Rolling
Stone has hailed as the greatest rock guitarist of all time.
Marin author, lecturer and Hendrix expert Steve Roby--who tried
unsuccessfully to get into the Guinness World Records last fall with
what he hoped would be the world's largest guitar ensemble playing
"Purple Haze"--has a new Hendrix biography headed for bookstore
shelves. Becoming Jimi: From Southern Crossroads to Psychedelic
London, the Untold Story of a Musical Genius, co-written by Brad
Schreiber, will be released this spring by Da Capo Press/Perseus Book.
The book recounts Hendrix's odyssey from his broken home in Seattle
to sideman for R&B acts on the club circuit to his breakthrough
performances in swingin' London.
The book includes speculation that Hendrix may have been murdered by
his manager and the revelation that the guitarist, often criticized
by black militants for catering to a white audience, was arrested at
an early civil rights sit-in.
Meanwhile, a CD of previously unreleased studio recordings, Valleys
of Neptune, is in stores this week in conjunction with the all-star
tribute concert Experience Hendrix, which rolled into San Francisco
Thursday, March 11. The 12-song disc is the initial release from the
new partnership between Sony/Legacy and the Hendrix estate, which had
been mired in legal actions with relatives and MCA for nearly a
decade. The release launches an ambitious schedule of remastered
Hendrix recordings that already have been reissued on several occasions.
Valleys of Neptune is billed as "a newly curated album of 12 fully
realized studio recordings." Indeed, these oft-bootlegged tracks are
previously unreleased commercially, but some may question that
they're fully realized: The album kicks off with a 1969 version of
"Stone Free," with bassist Billy Cox replacing original Experience
member Noel Redding, that sounds more like a demo than a fleshed-out
track. The title track, recorded between 1969 and Hendrix's death in
May of 1970, features Cox, drummer Mitch Mitchell and percussionist
Juma Sultan. A 1969 recording of "Hear My Train A Comin'," which has
appeared on several live Hendrix albums, boasts the original Experience lineup.
The rest of the tracks, for the most part, feature the original
Experience on studio outtakes that include inferior versions of
"Fire" and " Red House," 1967's bluesy "Mr. Bad Luck" (one of the few
originals that Hendrix performed in his pre-Experience days as the
frontman of Jimmy James & the Blue Flames) and 1969 recordings of
"Sunshine of Your Love" (with percussionist Rocki Dzidzornu), "Lover
Man," "Ships Passing Through the Night" (the blueprint for the
similar "Night Bird Flying"), "Lullaby for the Summer" and the
intriguing slow blues instrumental "Crying Blue Rain."
Nothing revelatory, but still a strong set of rare Hendrix tracks.
As part of the opening wave of releases for the Jimi Hendrix catalog
project, Legacy this week also released a deluxe CD/DVD edition of
Axis: Bold As Love, with similar reissues of Are You Experienced?,
Electric Ladyland and First Rays of the New Rising Sun to follow (and
also available on vinyl). Each expanded edition will feature a bonus
DVD with newly created documentaries directed by Grammy winner Bob
Smeaton (Beatles Anthology, Festival Express, Beatles: The Studio Recordings).
In addition, Smash Hits, Hendrix's original greatest hits
compilation, will be reintroduced and the critically acclaimed Live
at Woodstock will be reissued as a standard DVD as well as a Blu-ray disc.
Just don't look for surround sound versions of the Hendrix discs--a
Legacy spokesman says that none are in the works.
Share your Jimi Hendrix experiences with Greg at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bold as ever: The sound of Jimi Hendrix returns
By RICHARD ANTONE
March 18, 2010
The year 1969 was a busy and turbulent one for guitarist Jimi Hendrix.
His searing instrumental version of "The Star Spangled Banner" was
the highlight of Woodstock. His classic "If 6 Was 9" was on the
popular soundtrack to the smash hit film "Easy Rider."
He'd toured the world and was getting tired of playing his hits. He
appeared on "The Tonight Show" and "The Dick Cavett Show." His next
album was overdue. Before Woodstock, the original lineup of the Jimi
Hendrix Experience, with bassist Noel Redding and drummer Mitch
Mitchell, would be no more (Redding joined Hendrix for Woodstock and
other live dates).
After months of recording and rehearsals, Hendrix would close the
year settling a lawsuit by recording the classic live album "Band of
Gypsies" with drummer Buddy Miles and bassist Billy Cox at New York's
Fillmore East. Throughout four months in 1969, most of the tracks for
the new album "Valleys of Neptune" were recorded.
Arriving ahead of the 40th anniversary of the opening of Electric
Lady Studios and of his death, the "Valleys" CD has 12 previously
unreleased tracks, some heard only on bootlegs. Songs include a band
version of "Hear My Train A Comin' " and a scorching cover of Cream's
"Sunshine of Your Love."
Experience Hendrix, the musician's family's family-owned and run
label, is producing its fourth biennial Hendrix tribute tour, coming
to the Wellmont Theatre in Montclair March 24 and the Count Basie
Theatre in Red Bank March 25. The lineup includes Billy Cox, Living
Colour, Sacred Steel featuring (Irvington's) Robert Randolph, Joe
Satriani, Brad Whitford and Ernie Isley of the Isley Brothers.
Isley spoke from Santa Barbara, Calif., with enthusiasm about the tour.
"Everybody is bringing their own particular thing to the music. . .
folks that come to the show will get a full presentation of Jimi
Hendrix the composer and musician," Isley said.
Isley, who knew Hendrix when he played with the Isley Brothers in the
'60s, has down-to-earth memories of the man many speak of with reverence.
"The 40-foot poster of him I don't know who that is. I know the
person . . . I knew him when I was 11. At the time he left (the
group) in 1965, I was just picking up a pair of drumsticks . . . he
didn't need to practice. He was that good!"
As Isley recalls, "He stayed at our house (in Teaneck) from the
spring of 1963 to late 1965. (He played on the records) 'Testify' and
'Move On Over and Let Me Dance.' On 'Testify,' you can hear my
brother Kelly saying 'Burn, Jimi, burn!' My brothers (knew) the guy
was good. Although I was 11 years old, I could tell. Nobody else
played like that. When The Beatles were on Ed Sullivan, Kelly said,
'Everything has changed. They got two guitar players but we got
Jimi.' Jimi was grinning."
Even after his career took off, Hendrix stayed in touch. Isley
remembers his brother being blown away by a 1967 Jimi Hendrix
Experience concert in New Jersey.
Later, "he came by the house before Monterey Pop," Isley said. "He
came in with Kelly. Kelly said, 'Man, Jimi's killing 'em in England!
Marvin looked and said, 'Is that Jimi?' because he was dressed
differently. He had on boots, he had a hat, he had stuff around his
neck, he had rings on every finger, a sash and when he went down the
hall, he sounded like Shane with all this stuff jingling."
He fondly recalls visiting Electric Lady Studios after Hendrix's passing.
"We went down there once or twice," he said. "I could feel his presence."
Isley proudly acknowledges the influence of Hendrix on his own
recognizable guitar sound.
"If you listen to 'That Lady,' 'Voyage To Atlantis,' 'Climbing Up The
Ladder' or 'Go For Your Guns' or anything I played guitar on,
particularly lead, I think it's obvious . . . I've heard this guy in
my house without an amp . . . I already know he's the best. Like
Louis Armstrong and Miles Davis are to the trumpet, Jimi Hendrix is
to the electric guitar. He got every kind of sound out of it and
introduced sounds and phrases that no other player prior to him had
done. It makes him a significant landmark on the landscape of music,
particularly rock 'n' roll."
Hendrix gets second life with new release, tour
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
by Jon Bream
Elvis and Michael better watch out. Jimi is making a move.
Forty years after his death, Jimi Hendrix is enjoying the kind of a
resurgence in the posthumous rock-star derby that might rival the
sales of Elvis Presley and Michael Jackson. Last week, Hendrix's
estate released the first bona fide "new" Jimi album in decades as
well as deluxe remastered versions of his three landmark studio
albums. A Hendrix "Rock Band" video game is promised this year, and
there's talk of a Jimi "Anthology" a la the Beatles.
There's a concert tour called "Experience Hendrix" an all-star
revue of guitar heroes, including Joe Satriani, Robert Randolph,
Ernie Isley and Jonny Lang, performing tunes from the Hendrix catalog.
Isley said the mission of "Experience Hendrix" is to prove that the
Rock and Roll Hall of Famer was well rounded a first-rate
songwriter, imaginative interpreter and a pioneering guitar virtuoso.
Isley knew Jimmy Hendrix firsthand. From spring of 1963 until
Thanksgiving 1965, the guitarist lived in the Isley family's New
Jersey home while playing with the Isley Brothers.
Isley, who was 11 at the time, remembers watching the Beatles' debut
on "The Ed Sullivan Show" with Hendrix.
Hendrix, who was 10 years older than Ernie, used to stay in a back
room at the Isley house. Self-taught, he'd practice his electric
guitar without an amplifier and listen to a 5-foot-high stack of blues 45s.
Ernie, who didn't take up guitar until he was 15, remembers Hendrix
practicing how to play guitar behind his back and between his legs.
Hendrix liked to watch TV, too "Bonanza," "Wild Kingdom" and cartoons.
"He got along well with kids," Isley said. "He was polite. Great
sense of humor."
After leaving for England with his white Stratocaster guitar and his
destiny as Jimi Hendrix, he did visit the Isley household in 1967 en
route to the Monterey Pop Festival in California.
"He looked different in terms of his clothes," Isley recalled. "He
had a hat, scarf, rings on every finger, stuff around his neck. He
walked down the hallway sounding like (cowboy character) Shane."
Isley opens the "Experience Hendrix" show, backed by Stevie Ray
Vaughan's drummer, Chris Layton, and bassist Billy Cox, who
befriended Hendrix in the Army and played with him in 1969 and '70.
Isley says he doesn't necessarily try to replicate Hendrix' work, but
Satriani says that's unavoidable.
"Some of the stuff I love so much and I just have to hear it played
as close to the way Jimi had played it," Satriani said. "Having said
that, Jimi played it a million different ways. I imagine if (tour
producer) John McDermott comes to me before I go on and says, 'We
have twice as much time as I thought, so have fun,' then I can think
about some more outrageous, exploratory versions of the songs and
stretch it out."
Music historian McDermott is catalog director for Experience Hendrix
LLC.After each performer submitted a request list, McDermott decided
who would play which songs and with whom, to create special
moments. Satriani gets
"Third Stone From the Sun," "Foxey Lady" and "All Along the
Watchtower" backed by the band Living Colour, featuring guitarist Vernon Reid.
Satriani, 53, who started as a drummer, was profoundly affected by
Hendrix' death from a drug overdose at age 27 in 1970.
"The day he died was so devasting to me," he said, "that I remember
quitting the (high school) football team I was a tight end and
marching home and announcing to my family that I was going to become
a guitar player."
Ernie Isley remembers houseguest Jimi Hendrix
By Daniel Durchholz
The Experience Hendrix tour boasts a galaxy of guitar heroes, each of
them offering their own spin on the music of Jimi Hendrix. But only
one of them Ernie Isley can say that he and the legendary rock
icon once lived under the same roof.
In the early 1960s, when Hendrix played with the Isley Brothers
Ernie's older siblings O'Kelly, Rudy and Ron he moved into the
Isleys' Englewood, N.J., home.
"When I was introduced to him, I was 11 years old," says Isley, who
now lives in St. Louis. "He was obviously the star of the band. He
was the star of the band before his first rehearsal was over."
The guitar that Hendrix is most associated with is the Fender
Stratocaster. Isley remembers his brothers buying Jimi his first
Strat, much to the guitarist's delight.
"After they hired him, they said, 'The guitar you've got is kinda
scruffy looking. We'll get you a new one. What kind do you want?' He
said, 'Can I get a white Strat?'"
Isley has other indelible memories of Hendrix living with his family.
"When the Beatles performed on 'Ed Sullivan,' Jimi was in our house
and we were watching it," he says.
Eventually, Hendrix left the band as well as the Isleys' home. "I was
riding a bike and playing little league baseball and was just
starting to pick up a pair of drumsticks when he left," Isley says.
"All of a sudden he was no longer around and I was like, 'Where'd
Jimi go?' … The next time I saw him was on a poster in a record store."
Isley did see Hendrix in person again when Jimi stopped in after he'd
made it big in England, but before he electrified America with his
performance at the Monterey Pop Festival.
"He came in with O'Kelly, and Marvin was like, 'Is that Jimi?'
Because he looked different. He was dressed in different clothes. The
psychedelic thing hadn't happened in America yet, so he had on his
bell-bottoms and the belt and the hat and the scarf. A
rainbow-colored shirt and rings on every finger. When he walked down
the hallway, he sounded like [movie gunfighter] Shane."
Isley eventually moved to guitar and became a great musician in his
own right, playing in his brothers' band and moving on to a solo
career. But he'll always owe a debt, he admits, to Hendrix.
"If Jimi were here today," Isley says, "he'd be like, '"Who's That
Lady?" How'd you do that?' I'd be like, 'Man, I was listening to you.'"
As a player, Isley contends that Hendrix "got every sound that you
could out of an electric guitar. [He was] the first guy to do that.
Every kind of sound, every kind of feeling that you could
legitimately get from the instrument. And he has illuminated rock and
roll because of that. As much illumination, God bless him, as the
Beatles brought to all of music. For the electric guitar players,
Jimi did that, in his own way."