Jimi Hendrix Experience drummer Mitch Mitchell was found dead in a Portland, Oregon hotel this morning at the age of 62. Early reports indicate he died due to natural causes. Raised in London as John Mitchell, he and bassist Noel Redding comprised Jimi Hendrix's rhythm section from 1966 until 1969, with Mitchell joining the guitar great on all three Experience albums — Are You Experienced?, Axis: Bold As Love and Electric Ladyland — as well as legendary performances at the Isle of Wight and Woodstock. Mitchell also played in the Dirty Mac with John Lennon, Eric Clapton and Keith Richards for The Rolling Stones Rock & Roll Circus.
Post-Experience, Mitchell remained mostly under the radar, performing at the occasional studio session or concert before ultimately joining first the Gypsy Sun Experience and, most recently, the Experience Hendrix tour (he performed on the tour in Portland this past Friday). With the death of Hendrix in 1970 and Redding in 2003, Mitchell was the last surviving original Jimi Hendrix Experience member. Sadly, Mitchell is the second drummer associated with Hendrix to die this year: Hendrix's Band of Gypsys bandmate Buddy Miles also passed away in February.
In a statement on behalf of the Hendrix estate, Janie Hendrix (Jimi's sister) said, "We're all devastated to hear of Mitch's passing. He was a wonderful man, a brilliant musician and a true friend." Kenny Wayne Shepherd, who played on three Experience Hendrix tours with Mitchell, said in a statement, "Today many of us have lost a dear friend, and the world has lost a rock & roll hero." Velvet Revolver's Matt Sorum also paid tribute to Mitchell. "I had the pleasure of meeting him a few times," Sorum said. "Next time you put on Electric Ladyland, Axis: Bold as Love or Are You Experienced?, listen to the pure musicianship of one of the greatest drummers of all time. God bless Mitch Mitchell!"
Related Stories: • Catching Up With Mitch Mitchell • Album Review: The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Are You Experienced?
• Album Review: The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Axis: Bold As Love • Album Review: The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Electric Ladyland