But anyway, what came of it is that the Experience was going to be his main concern.
"We're in the process of, you know, getting our own thing together now again. Like we'll have time scheduled in a way so there'll be time on the side to play with your friends. That's why like I'll be jamming with Billy and Buddy and probably recording, too, on the side."
Would there be any new musical direction for the re-constituted Experience?
"Well," Hendrix grinned at Mitchell and Redding, "I'll try to make it more of an up." They all nodded. "We're going to go out somewhere into the hills and woodshed or whatever you call it, to get some new songs and arrangements and stuff together. So we'll have something new to offer, whether it's different or not."
Their first gig will be in mid-April at the Forum in Los Angeles. In mid-March they'll sequester themselves somewhere in England for that one-month workout.
Precisely how Hendrix and his management managed to patch up the bad feelings that reportedly undid the Experience in the first place was not mine to discover. But Mitchell and Redding said they were quite happy with the new schedule, which allows them time for themselves and their own projects. Redding is presently completing his second LP with Fat Mattress and may record further with them. But he'll not take them on the road again. At present, Mitchell is touring with Jack Bruce, Larry Coryell, and Mike Kandel, a sort of super-jam band. He'll do a lot of this playing in the future.
Mitchell was talking about other musicians he digs. He is particularly captivated by Tony Williams' drumming because it's so entirely original to Williams.
But when you ask the Experience about their influences, they're all quick to say they got where they are without picking up much from anybody. They grant major similarities between the way avant garde jazzmen like Cecil Taylor and Albert Ayler play and the sound of the Experience in full flight. To Jimi, it has a lot to do with the drumming. "That's where it all comes from, is the drumming," he says.
Mitchell: "Actually, in this group, the drummer and the bass player's roles are very much reversed. Because Noel is like such a good timekeeper that I don't have to be there with the drums. The bass and drum roles can be switched around at any particular time, at any particular moment."
Again, the undeniable parallel with contemporary jazz.
It's revealing to hear Hendrix talk about jamming in London last year with Roland Kirk, jazz's amazing blind multihorn player. Jimi was in awe of Roland, afraid that he would play something that would get in Roland's way. You can tell, by the way he speaks of Kirk, that Hendrix regards him as some kind of Master Musician. As it worked out, Jimi played what he normally plays, Roland played what he normally plays, and they fit like hand in glove. As Hendrix tells it. "Boy – that Roland Kirk!" says Jimi, pursing his lips. It is a fond memory.
A fond hope for Hendrix is that one day he'll form a band with Steve Winwood. Simplest might be for Winwood to join the Experience. But any way at all, Hendrix would love to be performing with him on a regular basis.
Interestingly, while Hendrix retains his fondness for Dylan – including Nashville Skyline, from which Jimi intends to record "that one about the drifter" – none of the Experience are especially admiring of the Band. Hendrix allowed as how the Band definitely have it together enough to take you on their trip, if that's where you want to go. Mitch Mitchell asked with a small smile if the Band didn't all have pipes and mustaches.
Afterward, Hendrix stood out on East 37th, shivering as the night and the ice descended. The chill air had picked him up. This was not like part of the formal interview trip, so he could just rap. He had been amazed to see the stuff written about him and the Panthers, he said, because that wasn't where he was at at all.
A younger black cat stepped up and said, "Hiya, Jimi!"
Hendrix shook his hand and said, "How are you, man?"
It was not certain whether this was an acquaintance of Jimi,'s, but the other cat plunged right into it. "I saw your picture in the Voice, man," he said. "With Devon."
"At the Moratorium." said Hendrix.
"That was far-out."
"Yeah." said Hendrix. His long black limousine pulled up to the curb.
"How's it going with the band, man?"
"That's what we were just talking about. It's going to be groovy."
"You got any records coming out soon?"
"Yeah, I think pretty soon. That's where we're going now. Gonna listen to some tapes and do some mixing."
He gave Hendrix another handshake and a slap alongside the shoulder and told him that the next time he played the city, man, he'd be there, and he'd dig talking again. Then he turned and walked down the sidewalk puffing great clouds of breath/steam into the darkening five-degree air.
Hendrix smiled wistfully, dropped the last reassurance that it was going to be "the best arrangement for all of us, I guess, you know?" The comeback of the Experience.
Another smile, another handshake, and he disappeared into the limousine, behind the steamed-over car windows. The limousine expelled a huge cloud of exhaust. No one was willing to let the long car break into traffic, and it was still waiting to get away from the curb, in the same place, when I turned the corner, walking.
* * *
Two and half weeks later, I received a phone call from Hendrix' publicity person, suggesting that Jimi had a lot more to say. Too late, too late. The story as written was already laid out in the newspaper. But was there any important news? Well, yes, there was. As it turned out, Noel Redding decided to take a tour with Jeff Beck, so Hendrix would be using Billy Cox – his bassist with the Band of Gypsies – in his place. Otherwise, everything was pretty much the same. Redding would likely return to the group later. So it was still actually the Experience, and could I adjust the story I'd written accordingly?
This story is from the March 19th, 1970 issue of Rolling Stone.
To read the new issue of Rolling Stone online, plus the entire RS archive: Click Here
Picks From Around the Web
blog comments powered by Disqus