LOS ANGELES — Jimi Hendrix has named an old Army buddy as the bass player he may soon be recording with and hinted during a recent visit to Los Angeles that as soon as contracts allow, the Jimi Hendrix Experience may make the transition from trio to creative commune.
The bassist is Billy Cox, who was stationed with Hendrix at Ft. Campbell, Ky., several years ago when both were in the Army and then for three years following the service, in the Clarksville, Ky., and Nashville areas. Since that time, Cox has remained in Nashville, playing pickup dates and touring occasionally with Wilson Pickett, Gene Chandler and most recently, Buddy Miles.
Hendrix emphasized that Cox will not be replacing Noel Redding necessarily, although Redding has announced the formation of his own group and Cox was in Los Angeles with Hendrix, rehearsing and writing tunes. (Redding and drummer Mitch Mitchell were in London “partying,” Hendrix said.) Hendrix also said all upcoming gigs would feature the Experience as it currently is.
But . . . the guitarist did say that in the future the group would not be called the Jimi Hendrix Experience or the Jimi Hendrix anything. Also, it would probably be larger in size, including writers and other vocalists as well as additional musicians, and would be performing free or on a donation basis as often as possible.
Hendrix described the new format as a “sky church sort of thing,” saying he didn’t like the word “church,” but “until we find something better, we’ll have to use that, so we can keep identification some kind of way.”
“It’s best not to harp upon us – the personalities and all that,” he said. “It’s the whole thing, what the whole thing is trying to get across. I’d like to get ahold of the Buddy Miles group and call them the Freedom Express, featuring Buddy Miles. Billy (Cox) will be our bass player. I’d like to get three soul sisters, regardless of whether they’re Italian or Irish or whatever, so long as they got feeling. It’s a feeling first. We have this family thing we’re trying to get together, and then the money will come. Nowadays too many musicians think of the money and the image first, before they figure out what they’re trying to get across.”
Hendrix made these statements during a two-week working vacation, following his dope bust in Canada and a visit to Hawaii and prior to his scheduled appearance at a Los Angeles pop festival.
Working with Hendrix and Cox was the first of the songwriters Hendrix indicated would be a part of the “church” now being organized – Albert Allen of New York, formerly half of a R&B duo called the Twins.
Allen said the first time the new Hendrix combo would appear would be July 11th at the Apollo Theater in Harlem. He said this performance would be a benefit for Biafra Calls, a Harlem-based charitable organization, and also would feature Buddy Miles and Big Maybelle. Allen is serving as the concert’s promoter.
Hendrix said he would introduce his “church” at the Apollo because “I’d rather experiment up there than down in the Village . . . you get very bad scenes down there; everybody cops off each other, so you don’t get nothing real.
“You go uptown to hear real music in the first place, right?”
This story is from the July 12, 1969 issue of Rolling Stone.