Some interesting comparisons between the US and the UK in this one. Enjoy and read on!
Jimi Hendrix shock: He wants to retire for a year!
By Alan Smith
UP the creaking stairs, past the accommodation agency, up the stairs again, then to a hardboard door in the gloom. Knock on the hardboard and wait. Footsteps. Then the strangely soft voice of jimi Hendrix — “Who’s there? Who’s there?” — and I mention my name and he opens he door and up I go.
There may be more space upstairs, but this room mainly seems to be his home… lOft x lOft, a big double bed in the middle with a canopy overhead, personal possessions, a monster dog, and the immensely affable Noel Redding and Mitch Mitchell, all not necessarily in that order.
It’s 3 p.m. but he pulls the curtains and blinks his eyes beneath the pastel brim of an Ascot hat and hunches down over Alley Cat and the largest circulation weekly music paper in the world.
I find Hendrix, articulate master of the guitar, wild exponent of sex and soul, a shy and introverted man away from the stage and the electric involvement of working before an audience.
If his friends were not here, watching and listening in the cramped room above the hiss of traffic on a rainy day in London’s Brook Street, I suspect he might be different. But he pours me a white wine, and one for himself, and he sits low in the seat and we talk about his affection for Britain and the way he sees his future.
“It’s a different type of atmosphere here. People’re more mild mannered. But in the States there’s more money to be made — that’s why you have to go there. And not too many people say No specially when the money’s about ten times better.
“Emotionally, though, I dig anywhere as long as it doesn’t bore me to death. I always have music, but it’s pretty hard to say what else I need in life to turn me on. Anything, I guess (laughing)… anything!
I’m as human as anybody else, and I’m not so involved that it’s possible for me to work on and on without ever needing to take a break and forget and rest for a while. Like right, at this moment… we’ve been working solidly for about three years, and there has to come a time when you have to get away from it all.
“What I want to do is rest completely for one year. Completely. I’ll have to. Maybe something’ll happen and I’ll break my own rules, but I’ll have to try. It’s the physical and emotional toll I have to think of.”
Mitch Mitchell says he knows the feeling only too well and how so many people out there in the public don’t realise the way life can pile up on an artist, what with the food and the time changes and sometimes seeing a different country only for a few hours every day.
Noel Redding says it’s not really so bad, because Jimi and the Experience went to the States last year, and in a way it’s now just like getting on and off a bus.
Somehow we’re then talking about the advantages and disadvantages of recording in America and in this country, and Jimi returns from a temporary departure into the pages of the NME to say he has no real complaints about the quality of recording facilities in Britain. Some artists wail about it, sure. But not him.
“Mainly,” says Jimi, “it depends what kind of music you go into. You can get sixteen tracks in the States, but who needs sixteen? You need only four really, if you’re going into something straight. Only occasionally do we need more, like some of the thing’s we did on our last LP. That’s what I call expression music.”
I ask about break-ups and Noel says he can’t see the Experience and Jimi splitting up at all.
“I’ve got my thing going with Fat Mattress,” says Noel, “and nobody’s gonna stop me doing my thing.
“Just because of Fat Matress, it doesn’t mean it’s gonna break us lot up. Why should it? The pop business is getting more free, and that’s fine by me.
“The only time you get groups coming together and then breaking up soon after, the way it’s happened recently, is when you’ve got people like Dave Mason. Dave shouldn’t be in a group. He’s not made that way.”
There is no comment on all this from Jimi Hendrix because, once again, he is back among the pages of the largest-selling weekly music paper in the world!
But I do get him to talk about the way he’d face the future if he found himself poverty-stricken tomorrow. He laughs and says he’d probably do what he’s doin’ now, but without the money.
Talking about the past, he remembers how he once played with Wilson Pickett and Ike and Tina Turner and the Isley Brothers. “Once in a while I like to listen to that soul stuff, but I don’t like to play it too much anymore. Soul isn’t adventurous enough. It’s just the one same thing.”
About himself: “I like to treat people fair until they screw you around. You can be terribly honest these days, but this tends to bring out a certain evil thing in people. Sometimes I’d like to say !?*!! to the world, but I just can’t say it because it’s not in my nature.
“I don’t know, sometimes everything makes me uptight once in a while. What I hate is this thing of society these days trying to put everything and everybody into little tight cellophane compartments.
“I hate to be in any type of compartment unless I choose it myself. The world is getting to be a drag.”
He picks up the paper and sits up with a flash of The Untamed Hendrix bristling across the ten by ten.
“I ain’t gonna be any cellophane socialite,” says The Wild Man of Pop.
“They don’t get me in any cellophane cage. Nobody cages me.”