Here is something that you don`t see very often nowadays – an interview and a article with the legendary and exceptionally influential guitarist that unfortunately left us all too soon. If he had lived – where would he have taken us? What would he have done later?
Scene`s wildest raver!
By John King
THE most obvious thing about Jimi Hendrix is that he’s not pretty — neither is his raw, exciting brand of beat music. This has not stopped him setting the pop scene on its ear. The perceptive Mr. Jagger has dropped into a late night club to hear his brilliant guitar-antics and the shrewd Mr. McCartney has invited him back to a little evening soiree with John Mayall and Marianne Faithfull.
In short, the Jimi Hendrix Experience is happening on the London club scene and “Hey Joe” (No. 8 this week) is reflecting the enthusiasm.
“The record is really a cowboy song,” said Jimi when I met him in his manager’s London office last Friday.
“The approach is r-and-b but that’s just the way we happened to feel it. I never do a number the same way twice — quite often I change the words.
Not a singer
“The one thing I really hate is miming — it’s so phoney. So far, the only thing I was asked to mime was a Radio London appearance and I felt guilty just standing there holding a guitar.
“If you want to scream and holler at a record you can do that at home — I’m strictly a live performer.
“I know I can’t sing — I’m primarily a guitarist. Some people think I’m good and that’s what I want to find out. I’ve been working with myself and my ideas for 21 years. Now I want to find out from everyone else if they are any good.
“I dream a lot and I put a lot of my dreams down as songs. I wrote one called “First Look Around The Corner” and another called “The Purple Haze” which was all about a dream I had that I was walking under the sea!”
Hendrix is surprised by his immediate success in England in spite of the overwhelming confidence which ex-Animal Chas Chandler – now his manager had in him. He’s even more surprised to find that he is able to play and perform what he really likes and get paid for it. His musical influences are rooted in the’ “blues and he claims that artists like B. B. King and “early” Muddy Waters had most influence on his playing although he also performs a number of contemporary Bob Dylan compositions and tunes like “Wild Thing” in his stage act.
“You have a lot of groovy groups here in England but some of the sounds are just too clean. You can’t expect deep feeling to come out of music put down on bits of paper with arrangements. I feel everything I play – it’s got to be inside you.”
Apart from music Jimi also takes an interest in science fiction – “I want to be the first man to write about the blues scene on Venus” and lists his most fascinating experience as jumping by parachute while he was enlisted in the U.S. Airborne Division.
“It’s the most alone feeling in the world,” says Jimi, “and every time you jump you’re scared that maybe this time it won’t open. Then you feel that tug on your collar and there’s that big beautiful white mushroom above you, and the air is going `ssssssh’ past your ears. That’s when you begin talking to youtself again.”
Jimi is a startling looking character – he has hair which looks like a guardsman’s busby that’s been left out in the rain and wears assorted military uniforms which make him look like the last of the comancheros. Essentially he is a nervous person — at least at interviews — a gentle kind of person who is a good deal more sensitive than those who point the finger of derision.
“I wear my hair long because that’s the way I like it. It was long in New York and it’s longer now because young people here are more open minded in their attitudes.
Insult to Army?
“Some people have told me that they think wearing a military jacket is an insult to the British army. Let me tell you I wear this old British coat out of respect. This was worn by one of those ‘cats’ who used to look after the donkeys which pulled the cannons way back in 1900. This coat has a history — there’s life to it. I don’t like war but I respect a fighting man and his courage. Maybe the guy who wore this coat got killed in action. Would people rather his coat be hung up and go mouldy somewhere to be forgotten like him?
“Men like that should not be forgotten and if I wear this coat I remember,” he suddenly smiled — ” anyway, I wear it because it’s comfortable!
“Do you know my biggest problem,” said Jimi with a worried frown as I prepared to leave, “I just can’t look straight into a camera and smile if I don’t feel like smiling — I just can’t do it man. It’s like being told to be happy to order!”