inkwell.vue.312 : Steven Roby, "Black Gold: The Lost Archives of Jimi Hendrix"
permalink #76 of 154: "The Best for Your Health!" (rik) Sun 18 Nov 07 10:39
    
Steve, you have the footage.   You've certainly seen more of Jimi than any
of us.   Is this making sense to you?
  
inkwell.vue.312 : Steven Roby, "Black Gold: The Lost Archives of Jimi Hendrix"
permalink #77 of 154: Tim Fox (timfox) Sun 18 Nov 07 10:55
    
It's my impression that towards the end of his life, he started
getting away from the stunts - playing the guitar with his teeth,
behind his back, etc. Am I correct in thinking that?
  
inkwell.vue.312 : Steven Roby, "Black Gold: The Lost Archives of Jimi Hendrix"
permalink #78 of 154: Ed Ward (captward) Sun 18 Nov 07 10:58
    
Well, those are chitlin' circuit antics, and I think he was hoping to
be taken more seriously as a musician and leave shit like that to the
many disciples of Guitar Slim. 
  
inkwell.vue.312 : Steven Roby, "Black Gold: The Lost Archives of Jimi Hendrix"
permalink #79 of 154: Steven Roby (jimijames) Sun 18 Nov 07 11:22
    
>>When Jimi set his guitar on fire at
Monterey, was it a spontaneous act of showmanship, or was it a
reaction to
having watched seen the reaction to the destruction that Townshend and
Daltry wreaked in closing their set?

Jimi had set his guitar on fire once before in England (1967) from
what sounded like a dare by reporter Keith Altham. Too bad no photos
exist. According to Eric Burden, at Monterey, Jimi's guitar B-B-Q was
more of a shaman ritual. Burden talks about seeing Hendrix paint his
guitar in great detail the day before outside his motel. Bobby Womack
says that Jimi used to set his guitar on fire while on the Chitlin'
Circuit, and that they'd keep a blanket ready to smolder it. Again, no
photos. So, I don't feel it was in anyway a reaction to Townshend. In
the new Who Documentary, you can see that Pete was doing the same
guitar antics at about the same Jimi was in the states, although I've
never seen Pete play it with his teeth.

>>It's my impression that towards the end of his life, he started
getting away from the stunts - playing the guitar with his teeth,
behind his back, etc. Am I correct in thinking that?

To a point. If you have a chance, watch the 1970 Atlanta Pop or Isle
of Wight footage. Jimi seems bored playing the "old" songs, but that's
what the crowd cried out for. There's less jumping around, and I don't
feel he was satisfied with the tone he was getting. You can see the
frustration. The new songs were quite different, and since they hadn't
been released, crowd reaction is mild. Jimi was in a rut that summer;
the record buying public's last "new" Hendrix record was a greatest
hits LP, and that came out over a year ago. Unlike today, there was no
way fans could know all the different projects he had been working.
  
inkwell.vue.312 : Steven Roby, "Black Gold: The Lost Archives of Jimi Hendrix"
permalink #80 of 154: Mark McDonough (mcdee) Sun 18 Nov 07 11:35
    
I think part of what we're seeing in this discussion is that Hendrix
was not the product of any one scene -- a bit of this, a bit of that,
and more than a bit of genius.  And he also emerged at a time when the
music industry was wide open to whatever seemed to appeal to an
audience that the old pros in the business clearly did not understand. 
Unfortunately, I don't think a lot of us really understood what we
were looking at in Jimi Hendrix either, at least not those of us who
were on the younger or less sophisticated end of the audience.  I had
never heard of Guitar Slim or T-Bone Walker at the time, and I'm sure
most people thought that Jimi Hendrix made up all that
guitar-playing-behind-the-head stuff.

One of the ironies of the way Hendrix was viewed is that a guy who was
genuinely very deeply rooted in black music was sometimes criticized
for being cut off from the black audience.  I guess part of that was
because he was rooted in a tradition that appealed more to older black
adults and was thus pretty much off the radar screen for most people.

Complicated stuff, music history.

One of the poignant things about Hendrix's life is you get the sense
that if the times he lived in hadn't been so chaotic, if his life
wasn't so full of rip-offs and hangers on and pseudo-mystical bullshit,
he might have gotten his feet under him and gone onto a decades-long
career.  He's often lumped together with Janis Joplin and Jim Morrison
because they died at roughly the same age and near the same time, but
you get the feeling that if you could re-wind the tape a few times,
Hendrix would survive, while the conclusion of the story in the cases
of Joplin and Morrison seems pretty much inevitable.
  
inkwell.vue.312 : Steven Roby, "Black Gold: The Lost Archives of Jimi Hendrix"
permalink #81 of 154: "The Best for Your Health!" (rik) Sun 18 Nov 07 12:01
    
Interesting.  I think you're right about his death.   I see it as an
avoidable accident, too, and agree that Morrison and Joplin were doomed.

"And he also emerged at a time when the
 music industry was wide open to whatever seemed to appeal to an
 audience that the old pros in the business clearly did not understand."

I hold that he was the reverse image of Elvis.  An attractive and talented
black guy who could play white peoples' music.
  
inkwell.vue.312 : Steven Roby, "Black Gold: The Lost Archives of Jimi Hendrix"
permalink #82 of 154: Mark McDonough (mcdee) Sun 18 Nov 07 12:57
    
There's definitely some truth to that, but I think of him more as an
attractive and intelligent guy who could play Jimi Hendrix music. ;-)

I sorta put him in the same category as, say, Lester Young.  There
were a lot of other great sax players... some of whom might have been
as good as Lester Young or even better in their own style... and there
were others who could even kinda sorta sound like Lester Young, at
least for a tune or two.

And then there's Lester Young.

Now granted, my own musical experience is confined to some long-ago
childhood piano lessons, so my perspective is that of a fairly
sophisticated music fan, not a guitar player.
  
inkwell.vue.312 : Steven Roby, "Black Gold: The Lost Archives of Jimi Hendrix"
permalink #83 of 154: Mark McDonough (mcdee) Sun 18 Nov 07 12:58
    
And besides, isn't Chuck Berry, a black guy playing country music, the
anti-Elvis. :-)
  
inkwell.vue.312 : Steven Roby, "Black Gold: The Lost Archives of Jimi Hendrix"
permalink #84 of 154: Scott MacFarlane (s-macfarlane) Sun 18 Nov 07 13:15
    
<<"I don't think he was a hippie. He changed his mode of dress, and he
did psychedelics, but his lifestyle excesses weren't all that
different than Elvis's or James Brown's, though he does appear to have
been a nicer guy than either of them.  He had the wherewithall to live
the libertine life, and he did so. By the time he hit, the true hippies
had left the Haight for Bolinas, "the Farm', and points more rural. My
point was that you have to see him as an entertainer as much as a
musician, and it would be as instructive to investigate the traditions
of entertainers as those of musicians.">>

Rik, I agree completely about the need to view Jimi both from the
angle of the entertainer as that of a unique musician.  I would
suggest, however, that you've defined "hippie" too narrowly.  Of course
 he wasn't a back-to-the-land, disenchanted, laid back, California
"true" hippie.  And as you aptly state, he lived a libertine life.  

Jimi was, from 1966 to 1970, on an entertainer's treadmill that
arguably killed him.  And, of course, most hippies were middle-class
white kids not fighting for enfranchisement, but rejecting the straight
values of the system.  Jimi's upbringing and young adult path were
more conflicted than this, but I think you can consider Hendrix, along
with Lee and Sly as black hippies.

If we look at the hippie movement, as many do, as essentially
Dionysian, and rock music as the core mode of artistic expression
emanating from the era, then I can't think of any single rock star more
like Dionysus than Jimi Hendrix. Like Dionysus, he goes abroad
(England) and returns (to America) to help lure the Bacchae/maenads
from the City-State to the mountain flowing with wine and honey.   [If
Hendrix best embodies the spirit of Dionysus, then we can look at the
hippies you refer to as the maenads. And, of course, all too soon Jimi
will chop down that mountain with the edge of his hand. [A similar
argument can be made for the Beatles (and other rock musicians) as
playing this Dionysian role, as well.] 

Jimi was a product, as Mark alludes, of many bits and pieces of
experiences and talent.  He came of age when America, on many fronts,
was in turmoil.  Jimi past influences notwithstanding, he was, I
believe, an amplified embodiment of a new consciousness.  

I think Jimi wholeheartedly embraced the new peace & love ethos and
that this wasn't an act. Steve quotes Jimi's girlfriend, Faye Pridgeon,
in 1964: "he chain-smoked, ate badly, and never dressed adequately for
the weather, but had a warmth, that none of the other fast-rapping
dudes had." Later, I also think Jimi tried to minimize involvement in
the politicized Black Power movement, though in many ways he agreed
with the aims. Maybe, this was because his managers discouraged such
association, but I think it had more to do with the fact that this
wasn't the way Jimi wanted to engage the world.

I think Jimi's song "If 6 were 9" is anthemic of an individualistic
stance that was also very much Dionysian in its opposition to the
"Apollonian" establishment: 

Got my own world to live through
And I aint gonna copy you.

if six turned out to be nine
Oh I dont mind, I dont mind
If all the hippies cut off all their hair
Oh I dont care, oh I dont care.
Dig.

cause Ive got my own world to live through and uh, huh
And I aint gonna copy you.

White collar conservative flashin down the street
Pointing their plastic finger at me, ha !
They're hoping soon my kind will drop and die but
I'm gonna wave my freak flag high, high !

Don't nobody know what I'm talkin about
I've got my own life to live
I'm the one that's gonna die when its time for me to die
So let me live my life the way I want to
Yeah, sing on brother, play on drummer


Also, Jimi's version of "The Star Spangled Banner" especially when
segued with "Machine Gun" in how it satirizes, non-verbally, the
national anthem, has been called the most anthemic song of the late
'60s era, and artistically brilliant.  Jimi expressed his anger and
frustrations through his music, but, as much as he could ground
himself, it was with his core warmth and sweet underlying demeanor.  

And I'm not convinced that his sense of mysticism was bullshit,
either.  In addition to all the places, experiences, and musical
traditions that shaped Jimi, I'm convinced that psychedelics shaped him
and his mystical outlook as well. His music (and an overt political
stance) offered a nonrational defiance to the straight world.  His
listeners widely embraced his plane of expression in a nonrational, but
powerful way. 

If I had to vote for who was the most Dionysian rock star of this
wildly Dionysian time, Jimi would get my vote.    
  
inkwell.vue.312 : Steven Roby, "Black Gold: The Lost Archives of Jimi Hendrix"
permalink #85 of 154: "The Best for Your Health!" (rik) Sun 18 Nov 07 13:19
    
Nope.  He was a nice try, and he did give us some great tunes and Keith
Richards, but he didn't pull crowds of half a million or more.   The time
wasn't right and he didn't have that paradoxical image of dangerous, but
not TOO dangerous.

Steve, that's fascinating stuff about his guitar-burning prior to
Monterey.  Now I have to ask myself if the Who lifted their destructive
style of dodging an encore from Jimi.

When you did the event at Bananas at Large, you showed some great footage
of the Royal Albert Hall concert and riot, and I could swear that I saw
John Entwhistle in some of the audience shots.  Now this was post-Monterey,
and I suspect that Jimi felt that he had to up the ante for shock value.
It wasn't a sacrificial guitar-burning anymore.  He was using his guitar to
tear up the Marshalls and smashing the Strat on the stage, Townshend
style.    For a guy who really was a supertalent, that had to be getting
old by then.

It does buttress my theory that it was showmanship and image that pulled in
the biggest portion of the ticket and record buyers and that folks like
(mcdee) and me, who are more musically oriented and who could appreciate
the stunning level of chops were a minority.   He had to know it, and it
had to hurt.
  
inkwell.vue.312 : Steven Roby, "Black Gold: The Lost Archives of Jimi Hendrix"
permalink #86 of 154: Street Figthing Man (carolw) Sun 18 Nov 07 15:49
    
rik, was that a slip?

Hendrix may have been a hippie or hippie-esque, but it appears that he
was a damned hard worker.  The years on the chitlin circuit, then the
concert tours, sound grueling.  And yet whenever he had a break, there
he was in the studio or rounding up musicians to jam with.  How did he
have time to seduce all those women, much less eat or sleep?
  
inkwell.vue.312 : Steven Roby, "Black Gold: The Lost Archives of Jimi Hendrix"
permalink #87 of 154: Gary Lambert (almanac) Sun 18 Nov 07 16:33
    <scribbled by almanac Sun 18 Nov 07 16:46>
  
inkwell.vue.312 : Steven Roby, "Black Gold: The Lost Archives of Jimi Hendrix"
permalink #88 of 154: Gary Lambert (almanac) Sun 18 Nov 07 16:46
    

>Now I have to ask myself if the Who lifted their destructive
>style of dodging an encore from Jimi

No, The Who started doing the smashola thing in their club days, which
I'm pretty sure predate Jimi's arrival in England. Antonioni wanted Pete
and the boys to duplicate their act in "Blow-Up," but it didn't work out
for some reason, so he wound up with the Yardbirds, with Jeff Beck doing
the demolition shtick.

I always suspected that the overtly psychedelic trappings of Jimi's act
were at least in part calculated marketing... as though Chas Chandler
or Mike Jeffrey or somebody saw this tremendously talented and
charismatic blues/R&B player and came up with what was essentially the
flip side of Sam Phillips' famous "if I could find a white man who can
sing black..." -- in essence, "if I could find a black man who can sing
hippie..."  I was not an immediate fan of Jimi in part because of that
stuff. The psychedelic jive and exhibitionism got in the way of
apprecicating his genuine musical talent for me. I wasn't alone in those
initial misgivings. Although the performance at Monterey has taken on
legendary status in retrospect, it was far from universally embraced in
real time. Several of the contemporaneous accounts of the festival
(including what was probably the most widely read one nationally, Bob
Christgau's piece in Esquire) featured out-and-out pans of Jimi, deeming
the tongue-flicking and eye-rolling part of a "psychedelic Uncle Tom"
act.

>It does buttress my theory that it was showmanship and image that
>pulled in the biggest portion of the ticket and record buyers and
>that folks like (mcdee) and me, who are more musically oriented
>and who could appreciate the stunning level of chops were a minority.
>He had to know it, and it had to hurt.

I agree, and there is definite evidence that he was aware of and deeply
conflicted over it. There's a famous story of Jimi playing Fillmore
East and, in the 8 o'clock show, doing all the most overt Jimi-shtick,
with predictably crowd-pleasing results. Between shows, Jimi bounced
into Bill Graham's office, happy about the way the audience had eaten
his act up, and asked Bill how he liked it. Bill said something like,
"Well, Jimi... I saw you lick your guitar... I saw you hump your
guitar...I saw you put the guitar behind your head... I saw you do a
backwards somersault with your guitar. But I never heard you *play* your
guitar" Surrounded by sycophants as he surely was, Jimi may have never
had anyone say that to his face. He wasn't happy with what he heard, but
he apparently took it to heart, because before the second show he told
Bill to be sure and check out the next set. And during that set, Jimi
stood stock still and *played* -- played with brilliance and focus and
passion and not one bit of pandering. And the audience went twice as
nuts as at the early show. He came to the wings at the end of the set,
looked Bill straight in the eye and said "There! You happy now?" Bill
said yes, very. And then Jimi went out to play the encore, and crammed
all the humping-licking-backwards-somersault shtick into a few minutes.
So *there*!

Jimi himself indicated that he was sick of the image not long before he
died, in a Rolling Stone article titled "I Don't Want To Be a Clown
Anymore."
  
inkwell.vue.312 : Steven Roby, "Black Gold: The Lost Archives of Jimi Hendrix"
permalink #89 of 154: Scott MacFarlane (s-macfarlane) Sun 18 Nov 07 17:00
    
Great Bill Graham story, Gary. 

For me, the music penned by Jimi himself, the lyrics and the
accompanying mood he evoked, indicate that the "psychedelic trappings"
were largely sincere, though certainly embellished by the flourishes in
his act and the manner he was packaged.

I also think that "Black Gold" provides ample evidence that Jimi was
more than ready by 1970 to not be forever caught in a trap of this
psychedelic image.  I think both of these developments––going to London
and looking towards jazz after he hit it big––are a compliment to
Jimi's drive to constantly push his limits as a musician. 
  
inkwell.vue.312 : Steven Roby, "Black Gold: The Lost Archives of Jimi Hendrix"
permalink #90 of 154: Scott MacFarlane (s-macfarlane) Sun 18 Nov 07 17:31
    <scribbled>
  
inkwell.vue.312 : Steven Roby, "Black Gold: The Lost Archives of Jimi Hendrix"
permalink #91 of 154: Gary Lambert (almanac) Sun 18 Nov 07 17:32
    

I think Jimi was very sincere in that desire to grow artistically -- and
also, it seems, very insecure about his ability to pull it off. That
Rolling Stone article I cited mentions some of those insecurities:

 "For example, he'd been wanting for some time to jam with jazz and
 'new music' avant-gardists, but worried that such musicians didn't take
him seriously enough to ever consider playing with him. 'Tell me,
 honestly,' he asked a friend, 'what do those guys think of me? Do they
 think I'm jiving?'"

 from "Jimi Hendrix: I Don't Want To Be a Clown Any More" RS46 11/15/69

<http://www.rollingstone.com/artists/bandofgypsies/articles/story/7513456/jimi_
hendrix_i_dont_want_to_be_a_clown_any_more>

Tellingly, the backstage encounter with Bill Graham that I mentioned
above happened *after* that Rolling Stone article was published
(specifically, according to Bill's posthumously published autobiography,
the second night of the famous Band of Gypsies New Year's stand of
1969-70). So while Jimmy was conscious of wanting to leave the jive
behind, something -- maybe those insecurities -- caused him to resort to
the shtick (even though he proved emphatically to Bill Graham and
himself that he didn't need it).
  
inkwell.vue.312 : Steven Roby, "Black Gold: The Lost Archives of Jimi Hendrix"
permalink #92 of 154: Gary Lambert (almanac) Sun 18 Nov 07 17:32
    

Scott slipped in.
  
inkwell.vue.312 : Steven Roby, "Black Gold: The Lost Archives of Jimi Hendrix"
permalink #93 of 154: Mark McDonough (mcdee) Mon 19 Nov 07 04:44
    
I think it's worth tempering what <rik> and I have been saying.  I do
think a lot of casual fans loved all the showboat stuff, but that's not
to say that they didn't also appreciate the fact that the guy could
really play the guitar.  

And sing.

I've always thought Hendrix was a very compelling singer, and that his
singing was an important part of his appeal.  Anyone agree or
disagree?
  
inkwell.vue.312 : Steven Roby, "Black Gold: The Lost Archives of Jimi Hendrix"
permalink #94 of 154: Darrell Jonsson (jonsson) Mon 19 Nov 07 10:12
    

It was a good year or 2 from the time I heard Hendrix to the
time I saw him in the Woodstock movie. 

Having no idea of his stage act or what he even looked 
like,  the first time I heard some of his songs on the radio 
I thought they were downright beautiful from the start...
songs like 'Wind Cries Mary', and 'Waterfall' and 
"3rd Stone from the Sun", other tracks didn't didn't do as 
much for me, and still don't. 

Most of his LPs in retrospect have brilliant moments, but 
I find myself hitting the fast forward on many of them. An exception 
is that 'Band of Gypsies' set, and the more futuristic tracks  
on Electric Ladyland.  He was a genius, I'm a Hendrix fan and all
that...I don't want to dis him, but I don't find his work consistent.

Later I saw Henrix with Cox on Bass, and Mitch Mitchell on drums, he
had abandoned much of the antics by then, it was an incredible show.
  
inkwell.vue.312 : Steven Roby, "Black Gold: The Lost Archives of Jimi Hendrix"
permalink #95 of 154: Darrell Jonsson (jonsson) Mon 19 Nov 07 10:15
    <scribbled by jonsson Mon 19 Nov 07 10:17>
  
inkwell.vue.312 : Steven Roby, "Black Gold: The Lost Archives of Jimi Hendrix"
permalink #96 of 154: Darrell Jonsson (jonsson) Mon 19 Nov 07 10:16
    
One thing I've always wondered about, does anybody know how 
much Hendrix was influenced by free-jazz. Particularly 
Coltrane and Ayler?
  
inkwell.vue.312 : Steven Roby, "Black Gold: The Lost Archives of Jimi Hendrix"
permalink #97 of 154: Scott MacFarlane (s-macfarlane) Mon 19 Nov 07 10:18
    
1. Innovative guitar playing that cuts to the core
2. Colorful, evocative lyrics and singing delivery
3. (a distant third) the showmanship.

This is coming from a non-musician, but has always been the way Jimi
appealed to me since I was about 13 or 14.  BTW,I do appreciate the
musical perspective you and Rik bring to this discussion.

Also, Steve, after thinking about your earlier question, I would most
like to see good quality video recordings from late 1967 or 1968 where
Jimi was appreciating his new success, but not yet jaded by the
straight-jacketing of his managers to never vary the act. This would
not include the ill-conceived Monkees tour.  Is there a run of Hendrix
shows, or specific tour that, in your opinion, was especially rivetting
during that time?
  
inkwell.vue.312 : Steven Roby, "Black Gold: The Lost Archives of Jimi Hendrix"
permalink #98 of 154: Steve Bjerklie (stevebj) Mon 19 Nov 07 12:23
    
Also, have any members of the Monkees ever talked on the record about
that bizarre tour? 
  
inkwell.vue.312 : Steven Roby, "Black Gold: The Lost Archives of Jimi Hendrix"
permalink #99 of 154: Gary Lambert (almanac) Mon 19 Nov 07 13:40
    

Yes, I've seen accounts of the Monkees' reactions to Jimi's less-than-
stellar experiences on that tour. They were big fans, and dismayed that
it didn't work out better.
  
inkwell.vue.312 : Steven Roby, "Black Gold: The Lost Archives of Jimi Hendrix"
permalink #100 of 154: Steven Roby (jimijames) Mon 19 Nov 07 19:59
    
>>When you did the event at Bananas at Large, you showed some great
footage
of the Royal Albert Hall concert and riot... I suspect that Jimi felt
that he had to up the ante for shock value.

True... if you noticed I let that clip play to the end, and you can
see Jimi shaking his in disbelief. He up'd the ante because the cameras
were on, and was probably told to. The month before Jimi was banned by
the BBC for letting the Lulu show go into overtime - first time that
ever happened! Right in the middle of "Hey Joe" he told the audience he
was tiered of this rubbish, and dedicated a song to the Cream. So when
it was time to play the hits again for crowd reaction...

Jimi returned to the states a few weeks later, and eventually did stop
playing that rubbish. The Experience broke up three months later, and
Jimi started jamming with Larry Young, John McLauglin, Buddy Miles, Jim
McCarty, and The Last Poets. This short-lived period in 1969 was
highly creative. You can a small taste on the out of print LP "Nine to
the Universe." 

>>have any members of the Monkees ever talked on the record about
that bizarre tour? 

Mickey Dolenz of The Monkees explains how The Jimi Hendrix Experience
rapidly went from hippie headliner to “opening for.” “It just so
happened that we were due to begin our summer tour in a couple of
weeks, and we still needed another opening act. When I got back to L.A.
I mentioned Hendrix and his impressive theatrics to [our producers].
The Monkees was very theatrical in my eyes and so was the Jimi Hendrix
Experience. It would make the perfect union. Jimi must have thought so
too, because a few weeks later he agreed to be the opening act for our
upcoming summer tour.”

Mike Nesmith: The Jimi Hendrix experience . . . were the apotheosis of
sixties psychedelic ribbon shirts and tie-dye, they had pinwheels for
eyes and their hair was out to here . . . I thought, ‘Man, I gotta see
this thing live.’ So that night, I stood in front of the stage and
listened to Hendrix at sound check. And I thought, ‘Well, this guy's
from Mars; he's from some other planet, but whatever it is, thank
heaven for this visitation.’ And I listened to him play the sound
checks and the concert. I thought, ‘This is some of the best music I've
heard in my life.’
  

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