Hendrix: A Voodoo Child’s Not-So-Slight Return

Jimi Hendrix with his Danelectro guitar, circa August 1960, outside the family home on Yesler Street in Seattle, WA. Courtesy James “Al” Hendrix Collection/© Authentic Hendrix, LLC.

There are a lot of estate organizers, trusts and conglomerations that look after the posthumous interests and product of rock stars. But Experience Hendrix, LLC, is the gold standard in terms of how it should be done, for the artist who died in 1970 at the age of 27.

Jimi Hendrix at the Royal Albert Hall in London, Feb. 18, 1969. Photo by Graham F. Page/MoPOP/Authentic Hendrix, LLC.

In an effort to celebrate and continue the legacy of Jimi Hendrix, the organization (founded in 1995 my Jimi’s father Al and now overseen by half-sister Janie), has steadily released material by and based around the man generally thought of The Greatest Guitarist Ever. And that’s especially true in terms of putting out new (!) music in the form of box sets, live releases and obscurities, all sounding great and well annotated.

Two new releases are out to celebrate what would have been Hendrix’s 80th birthday this November 27. The first is Jimi Hendrix Experience: Los Angeles Forum, April 26, 1969.

The live recording captures the original band toward the end of their lifespan. They would play their last show together two months later, as tensions between Hendrix and bassist Noel Redding over creativity and input had reached a fever pitch.

While including popular evergreens “Foxey Lady” and “Purple Haze,” it opens with the expansive 16-minute instrumental “Tax Free.” Written as a jazz instrumental by Bo Hannson and Janne Karlsson, Hendrix turns it into pure rock magic.

In fact, Hendrix stretches out with extended improvs and solos on other tracks like the normally-compact “Spanish Castle Magic” and closer “Voodoo Child (Slight Return)” which morphs into Cream’s “Sunshine of Your Love” before going back again.

The CD includes Hendrix’s onstage raps, in which he frequently mentioned police presence at the show, dedicating one number to the “plainclothes policemen” in attendance (and also noting the TV countercultural comics the Smothers Brothers). And after the show is stopped when some excited audience members rush the stage, he attempts to calm them down by noting “I don’t feel like looking at these cats in blue hats.” It wouldn’t be the last time he’d have to calm the crowd.

This show also busts the myth that’s grown over the years of how Jimi Hendrix played his own distinct (and controversial to some) version of “The Star Spangled Banner” at Woodstock a few months after this show strictly because the event inspired him. In introducing a short version of it here, Hendrix takes a more negative view by pronouncing “Here’s a song that we were all brainwashed with. Remember this oldie but goodie?”

In addition to liner notes, there’s an essay penned by ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons, who had befriended Hendrix, was actually in attendance at this particular show, and whose band The Moving Sidewalks had opened up some Texas dates for the Experience.

For the more literary tastes, there’s the gorgeous coffee table book, simply titled Jimi, written by Janie Hendrix with Jimi scholar/writer/director John McDermott (320 pp., $50, Chronicle Chroma). And while the text does take the reader through Hendrix’s life (even back to when he was, surprisingly, very shy onstage!), there are deeper, more detailed bios out there.

Some nuggets of info explain how Mitch Mitchell only became the drummer for the Experience when he the similarly-pursued and equally-considered Aynsley Dunbar—unbeknownst to either drummer—came out on the losing side of a private coin toss. And that Hendrix really, really disliked the UK cover of Electric Ladyland—featuring 19 nude female models in a blatant publicity grab by the record company—because he felt it diminished the music inside.

Jimi Hendrix in Nottingham, England, April 20, 1967 Photo by Tony Gale/© Authentic Hendrix, LLC

The treasures here are the hundreds of in concert, casual, and staged photographs, posters and ephemera reproduced, as well as quotes from Jimi himself sprinkled throughout.

Not surprisingly for an authorized bio, there are two areas of Hendrix’s life that the text all but ignores or glosses over: his prodigious appetites for women and drugs. In the former, names of a couple girlfriends are briefly mentioned, and nothing about negative allegations that some have made about physical or mental treatment.

In the latter, discussing a 1969 bust in Toronto where a hash pipe and heroin were found in Jimi’s bag, all that’s said on the subject is “Jimi had experimented with numerous illegal substances in recent years, but in this instance, he denied the drugs were his.” Yeah, sure.

Still, both the record and book are more than welcome additions to the Jimi Hendrix shelves. And his musical accomplishments are all the more impressive when you consider he created all that seemingly endless music in about four years.

Proof of that passion for his six-stringed instrument (which he purportedly slept with while serving in the Army) comes from not a music journalist, record producer, fan or manager. It comes from a report filed by Sgt. Louis Hoekstra in one of Jimi’s personnel files.

“Private Hendrix plays a musical instrument during his off-duty hours, or so he says,” it reads. “This is one of his faults, because his mind apparently can not function while performing duties and thinking about his guitar.”

Seems like the United States military’s loss was definitely rock and roll’s gain.

Originally appeared at HoustonPress.com


About Bob Ruggiero

I am a passionate fan of classic rock (and related music) with nearly 30 years experience writing about it for daily/weekly newspapers and magazines. I am also the author of "Slippin' Out of Darkness: The Story of WAR." Available on Amazon!
This entry was posted in Books, Jimi Hendrix and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Hendrix: A Voodoo Child’s Not-So-Slight Return

  1. Rick Trotta LCSW, LADAC says:

    Jimmy Hendrix as musician a guitarists guitarist surely turned the music scene upside down on top it head for the better. Say what you will about his experimentation with illegal substances. The fact remains that his accidental untimely death may not be only the result of his ingesting an illegal substance. Because according to Anita Pallenberg whom Jimmy was in the company of he had complained of a severe headache and inability to sleep. She offered him some the Dilantin which was prescribed to mitigate her Epilepsy. What was never forensically determined is how much Dilantin Jimmy ingested the state of his CNS his sensitivities, any emergent undiagnosed CNS conditions and the real potential for the Dilantin inducing a sciezure. So something which has contually made me question the official narrative of the actual cause of his death. After I completed my formal Clinical preparatory education which includes psychopharmacolgy. I have considered how Jimmy’s inappropriate ingestion of Dilantin could have resulted in inducing a sciezure state which could have also included his spasmodically vomiting during such an event. Sadly it’s not inconceivable to consider that if he was actively vomiting when he was being transported to the hospital strapped to the stretcher while laying in a prone position. Which appears to be case as recorded in the medical record. That he could have just as easily died as a result of unintentional asphyxiation from inhaltion of his own vomit. Which yes can also can be induced by an overdose of certain illegal substances. But I have long maintained had Nina Pallenberg offered Jimmy something other than Dilantin for his head ache there is a good chance the Master of the Stratocaster could still be here with us continuing to turn the Music World Upside Down. Though officials recorded that Jimmy Hendrix died as the result of accidental drug overdose. One cannot overlook the inherent dangers associated with his ingestion of a psychotropic medication prescribed for Anita Pallenberg to mitigate her Epilepsy. Though Dilantin is prescribed to mitigate seizures it can also instigate and induce them in the human CNS which does not require such mitigation. My clinical education which includes psychopharmacology critical analysis and interest in forensic sciences has led me to consider that their is much more to the story of Jimmy Hendrix’s tragic death than has been been determined. His contributions to the musical lexicon and the tonal dialigues which came as a result are still being fathomed decades after his tragic death. There is good reason to understand why this the case. When one hears the testimonies of well established British musicians like Paul McCartney especially guitarists like Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page, Pete Townshend and Jeff Beck on how they reacted after after witnessing Jimmy Hendrix and the Experience. They all said the bar had been raised and rules of playing game were forever changed. RIP Brother Jimmy know your music never stopped informing my listening and playing.

    • KC says:

      The woman who was with Hendrix when he died was Monika Danniken(sp?), not Anita Pallenberg. Anita Pallenberg was the girlfriend of Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards. Also Hendrix spelled his first name J-i-m-i after Chas Chandler became his manager/producer…✊🏾🗽✌🏽🇺🇸

      • Bob Ruggiero says:

        Hi KC – You are correct. Jimi did not spend his last days with Anita Pallenberg, but with Monika Dannemann. Although her story has shifted over the years before her death, and others have conflicting timelines. I don’t think we’ll ever know the 100% truth, same with Jim Morrison’s death.

  2. Dennis F. says:

    All musician durng this period time associated with drugs. The incident in Toronto, from my perpective, the drugs was not his. Hendrix during the late sixities and early seventies became political. The Racism, The Vietnam War, in which he contributed money to The Black Panther Movement, his version of The Star Spangel Banner, the creation of his recording studio, and finally realized his Manager had been ripping the band off for years. In which he was preparing to severe ties and lawsuit. Inaddition Hendrix had a huge following, not only in states, but internationally well. In which his voice could become influential, and in pursuit of freeing himself from managment. Hendrix was going to be free. His death even to this day has been under suspicion. In which it definetly was no accident. Two women and his manager died., what information did they have. That we will never know about, pertaining to Mr James Marshal Hendrix death.

    • Jeffrey says:

      The manager was Chas Chandler was it not? Do you mean the producer? I don’t believe Chandler was or would have done that to Jimi.

      • Bob Ruggiero says:

        Hi Jeffrey – Chas was indeed Jimi’s manager early in his career, though he did not “discover” him, as some have said. He was hipped to Jimi by Linda Keith, a girlfriend of Keith Richards. In the latter part of his career, he was managed by Mike Jeffrey. It’s him that many Hendrix experts feel ripped Jimi off financially and also kept him on a schedule that no artist of his stature would have today.

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