"Trumpets and violins I can hear in the distance. I think theyre calling our names."
The following five releases collect together the bulk of Jimi's pre-Experience recordings:
West Coast Seattle Boy
A number of pre-Experience recordings with numerous artists (including Little Richard, The Isley Brothers and Don Covay)
were gathered together in 2010 on CD1 of the "West Coast Seattle Boy" box set.
Unfortunately, some tracks are not the original recordings and feature overdubs which were added when the labels cashed-in on Jimi's late 60s success. Because of contractual disagreements at the time of release, no Curtis Knight or Lonnie Youngblood recordings were included. However two compilations of recordings that Jimi made with Curtis Knight were released by Experience Hendrix soon after:
Curtis Knight & The Squires - RSVP/PPX Sessions
One of the bands that Jimmy played with just before he was spotted by Linda Keith and introduced to Chas Chandler.
Two collections of studio recordings on Sony Legacy and on Dagger Records.
Note that these also feature tracks that were recorded during the two low-key Hendrix/Knight reunion sessions in the summer of 1967.
Details futher down.
CURTIS KNIGHT / JIMI HENDRIX - Live At George's Club 20, 1965 & 1966
Released in March 2017 on Dagger Records, this is a collection of live recordings. Details futher down.
Lonnie Youngblood featuring Jimi Hendrix
Jimmy (he became "Jimi" later) met Youngblood when the two played with Curtis Knight.
They hit it off and became musical partners in early 1966.
This release (not from the Hendrix Estate) collected the few tracks together
and included a number of alternate takes and versions. Details below.
HENDRIX BEFORE FAME
Here are the details about all the known recordings of Jimi before he came to fame in the UK in late 1966/early 1967.
Guitar for hire
For many years, there were far more releases of pre-Experience recordings than the regular Hendrix material on the market! Practically all of the releases pictured Jimi at the height of his fame with no indication of the source of the recordings, creating confusion about his musical heritage.A brief history of the early years
The sources of these confusing albums were mainly the sessions dating from the time when he worked with various R&B artists, some famous, some obscur. Other albums published through the years included cobbled together tracks from a 1967 reunion session with Jimi's old band leader Curtis Knight and some albums even featured recordings which don't even feature Jimi, but an imitator! See the list of FAKE tracks near the bottom of the page.
So this important, early period in Jimi's evolution as a professional musician merits close attention.
As a youngster in his hometown of Seattle, Jimmy joined local groups such as The Velvetones, The Rocking Kings, Luther Rabb & The Stags and The Tom Cats. In 1962, after getting out of the 101st Airborne, he settled in Nashville and formed The King Casuals with Billy Cox (who he had met in the army). Then he met the singer/impressario/MC Gorgeous George who found him a number of professional engagements. Through 1962/63, Jimmy toured with anyone he could (often joined by Billy Cox), landing jobs with Bobby Taylor & The Vancouvers, Tommy Tucker and the great Slim Harpo.
In 1964 came his first big break when he was hired by The Isley Brothers, as guitarist in their backing band (The I.B. Specials) and his recording career really began. He then went on to tour with such prestigeous artists as Little Richard, Ike & Tina Turner, BB King, Sam Cooke, Jackie Wilson and many more.
All of this was invaluable experience of how to handle audiences, put on a show and to stay tight as a professional musician playing R'n'B, rock 'n' roll, blues, doo-wop and pop.
Here is a complete list of the known artists that Jimi either toured with or played the odd gig:The King Casuals (a.k.a. The Casuals)
Tommy Tucker (who wrote "High Heeled Sneekers")
Ironing Board Sam
Bob Fisher and the Barnesvilles (met Larry Lee)
The Marvelettes (who supported The Impressions with Curtis Mayfield)
The Isley Brothers
Gorgeous George Odell (on tour with B.B. King, Sam Cooke & Jackie Wilson)
The Valentinos (with Harry and Bobby Womack)
Buddy & Stacey
Ike and Tina Turner
Curtis Knight and the Squires (a.k.a. The Lovelights)
Joey Dee and The Starlighters
The King Curtis Band
Carl Holmes and the Commanders
Check out also my Timeline Before Fame
July 1963 and this fascinating little press advertisement reveals that not only was Billy Cox doing gigs under his own name
but also on the bill was his buddy Jimmy Hendrix and his magic guitar!
EARLY HENDRIX RECORDINGS
The young Jimmy (he spelt it "Jimi" later in 1966) was captured on tape with only The Isley Brothers, Little Richard, King Curtis, Don Covay, and a few other lesser known artists. Some of the recordings of this period are quite interesting, although rather dated. The following are the only recordings with confirmed involvement by Jimmy (according to the very thorough earlyhendrix.com).
Photo: Frank Howard on television in 1966
Frank Howard & The Commanders
"I'm So Glad"/"I'm Sorry for You" (Barry Records 1965) - Recorded in August - November 1963Both songs here were written by Billy Cox! That's about all that is worth reporting about these rather dull songs. The A-side has nothing whatsoever to do with Cream's "I'm So Glad" of course. Jimi is mixed way back and the more audible guitar is by Johnny Jones. Jimmy also recorded a song called "Feels So Bad, Like a Ball Game On A Rainy Day" with Jones in August 1963 (I don't know if this was a Jones single or not).
> To be found today on the "West Coast Seattle Boy" box set.
Don Covay & The Goodtimers
"Mercy Mercy"/"Can't Stay Away" (Rosemart, August 1964) - Recorded May 13, 1964
This is a classic little song with a lovely clean production. In an interview, DonCovay affirmed that the main guitar you hear is not Jimmy (who only did some fill-ins) but Ronnie Miller. Jimmy only plays some rhythm guitar on the track.*
About 18 months later Jimi was playing the song in live shows with Curtis Knight & The Squires (as documented on Live At The George's Club album - see below).
Hendrix obviously loved the song as he later included it in the early Experience repertoire (it is often listed on unofficial releases as "Have Mercy") and you can hear Jimi, Mitch and Noel play it on the bootleg of the Flamingo Club concert, recorded in February 1967 (rather poor sound however) and also at the Stora Scenen, Lund, Sweden, in September 1967 (better sound but the power failed half-way through dammit!).
> The bassist on this song was Ace Hall who played alongside Jimmy 18 months later in Curtis Knight's band..
* Source: https://www.jerryosborne.com/12-3-07.htm
> The Don Covay version is to be found today on the "West Coast Seattle Boy" box set.> The Rolling Stones liked Covay's song too and covered it on their 1965 album "Out Of Our Heads". Their version is a very faithful reproduction of this original single.
Three Time Loser
Hendrix researcher Steve Roby interviewed Don Covay who informed him that his 1977 L.P. Funky Yo-o was comprised of 1960s demos and that one track features Hendrix!
The track is called "Three Time Loser". A quick check on Youtube and it does sound like Jimi's rhythm playing on ther (perhaps not the solo though).
Jimmy with a regulation haircut, on-stage with The Isley Brothers
Photo credit: Caesar Glebbeek Collection; scan c/o T. Pershing
The Isley Brothers
"Testify (Part 1)"/"Testify (Part 2)" (T-Neck, June 1964) - Recorded May 21, 1964
Three 1964 and 1965 sessions with the superb Isleys resulting in these singles on Atlantic. This is very early Hendrix (or rather "Maurice James" as he called himself at the time!) but you can already feel his dynamic touch in the punchy rhythms and the brief but neat solo on "Testify". It's a totally wild song, a sort of crazy rap where the band imitate Ray Charles, James Brown and Stevie Wonder, shouting all over the place. In "Part 2" he gets the chance to play a short solo.
These songs recorded with The Isley Brothers appeared in altered form on the album "In The Beginning" with Jimmy's guitar parts mixed up front and new vocal tracks. Unfortunately, these 70s remixes were used by Experience Hendrix on the "West Coast Seattle Boy" compilation.
> To be found today on the "West Coast Seattle Boy" box set (but it's the 70s remix!).
> In 1971, The Isleys paid hommage to Jimi on their album "Givin' It Up" which opened with "Ohio/Machine Gun" ("Ohio" being the famous Neil Young song). As the 70s continued, Ernie Isley became the Hendrix figure of the band, dressing like Jimi and laying his fuzz guitar solos on hits like "Live It Up", Summer Breeze" or "Who's That Lady".
Rosa Lee Brooks
Rosa Lee Brooks
"My Diary"/"Utee" (Revis, June 1965) - Recorded March 27, 1965
It was said that Arthur Lee (later of Love) wrote "My Diary"* (he is on backing vocals and production) but Brooks claims that she wrote it with Hendrix. It opens with Jimmy's guitar in a gentle "Little Wing" type way, before the song continues in standard soul fashion. "Utee" is similarly Mowtown inspired, sounding rather like Martha Reeves & The Vandellas for example. Jimmy's guitar comes over very clearly here and he puts in a great little solo.
> To be found today on the "West Coast Seattle Boy" box set.
Rosa Lee Brooks
Right: Jimmy on-stage with a silver wigged Little Richard
(and not Gorgous George as is often said).
"I Don't Know What You Got But Its Got Me Part 1& 2" (Vee-Jay, October 1965) - Recorded June 2, 1965
Like with the Isleys, Little Richard was one of Jimmy's most prestigeous early employers though the artist was past his glory years at this stage. On tour the act was billed as Little Richard and the Royal Company. Few recording sessions were done with Hendrix however. In the late sixties (or early seventies) a Hendrix imitator was even overdubbed on some Richard tapes to cash in on the legend. The album "Friends From The Beginning" doesn't even contain the track here, which is reportedly the only one that Jimmy is said to have definately played on! Young Jimmy's contribution on this dreary song is very low key and the song drags on. It reminds me of James Brown's "Please, Please, Please" but without the passion.
Jimmy's spell with Little Richard gave him an opportunity to observe what being flash and flamboyant on-stage was all about.
*The song was listed as being written by Don Covay but in an interview, Ace Hall (the leader of Don Covay's backing band The Goodtimers) stated that he in fact wrote the song with Jimmy! Note also that Billy Preston plays organ on this.
Second Little Richard single with Hendrix:
"What You've Got / "Dance A Go Go" (also known as "Dancing All Around The World") (Vee-Jay 1965)
This appears to have been a promo only single. The A-side is simply an alternate take of the first single.
> "I Don't Know What You Got But Its Got Me Part 1& 2" and "Dance All Round The World" are featured on the "West Coast Seattle Boy" box set.
> Steve Roby & Brad Schreiber's recent book ("Becoming Jimi Hendrix") states that young Jimmy also played on the Little Richard recordings "Every Time I Think About You (Something Moves in My Heart)" and "You Better Stop" but unfortunately there is hardly any guitar to be heard.
Beware of the many albums purporting to be Little Richard/Hendrix collaborations. They feature FAKE tracks. Hendrix was only present on the two songs listed above.
On a recently discovered TV recording from 1965, Jimmy can be seen standing behind Little Richard
dressed as a Grenadier guard! This was Little Richard's Royal Company as he called his band at that time.
Here is a quote from Al Hendrix's book …"When Jimi came to Seattle with the Experience,
he told me that Little Richard had fired him... I said, "Yeah, I heard about you playing with his group.
I didn't see you, but some friends saw you on TV with him. Jimmy was in the background, they told me
and he had on big plumes like on the hats worn by the Buckingham Place guards."
How prophetic this is of what was ahead for Jimmy: London, the military jacket,... the fuzzy headwear!
Jimmy soon appeared again on TV when Little Richard's band backed the singers Buddy & Stacey
who performed their version of the Junior Walker & The All Stars hit "Shotgun".
To see the clip, just type "Hendrix Stacey" on YouTube (check out the superb Junior Walker original also!).
It seems that Jimmy did no studio recordings with the duo.
You can also hear Jimmy playing "Shotgun" on one of the live recordings of Curtis Knight & The Squires.
Soon after, in New York's Greenwich Village, Jimmy had the song in the repertoire of his first group The Rainflowers (aka The Blue Flame).
The Isley Brothers
"Move Over And Let Me Dance"/"Have You ever Been Disappointed" (Atlantic, September 1965) - Recorded August 5, 1965
Jimi was in and out of the Isley's backing band The IB Specials. This session, almost a year after the one that yeilded "Testify" unfortunately only has minimal Hendrix contribution. Just some rhythm playing, no solo.
> To be found today on the "West Coast Seattle Boy" box set.
"How Would You Feel"/"Welcome Home"
The very first record to feature Jimmy's name!
He is credited as arranger for this "Like A Rolling Stone" inspired song.
Curtis Knight and The Squires
"How Would You Feel"/"Welcome Home" (RSVP, April 1966) - Recorded October & December 1965
After a finding work with The Isley Brothers again, Jimi ended up in New York October 1965. He was flat broke and even had to pawn his guitar.
By chance he met Curtis Knight who was trying to make a name for himself with his new band The Lovelights (who later become Curtis Knight & The Lovers and then The Squires). Knight's bass player was Ace Hall, who had also played on Don Covay's "Mercy, Mercy". Perhaps it was Hall who introduced Jimmy to Knight. For years, Curtis Knight had been trying to make a name for himself, first as a member of The Titans in the late 50s, then The Ink Spots, after which he released many solo singles in the early 60s (including a bluesy one titled "Voodoo Woman"!). So from then up to mid 1966, Jimi recorded a few things in the studio with Knight for PPX Enterprises, a company who had signed the band up. PPX and their owner Ed Chalpin were to cause Jimi many headaches over the years to come, concerning recording rights. The legal battles with the various Hendrix managements continued into the 21st century.
Jimmy James, guitarist with Curtis Knight & The Squires
By the time the band's first single was released (April 1966) The Lovelights had become Curtis Knight & The Squires. The song chosen for the A side was "How Would You Feel", which is a cry for racial equality and in musical terms it owes a lot to Dylan's "Like A Rolling Stone" (which was later in Hendrix's own repertoire from 1966 to 1968 of course). Jimmy plays through a fuzz box all through this but some of his cleaner overdubbed runs here are identical to what you hear on the famous Monterey version of the Dylan song. He is credited as arranger for "How Would You Feel" and this was the first appearance of his name on a record! So it's interesting to see that here, for the first time, Jimmy was exerting an artistic influence on the group in which he played.
The B-side, "Welcome Home", is a catchy Motown-like dance song (basically built on the riff/groove of Marvin Gaye's "Can I Get A Witness" or "Wonderful One") and features a great little solo from Jimmy and some of his fantastic rhythm playing - nobody was playing as tight as this in 1965, not even Steve Cropper (who was one of Jimmy's heroes).
Despite his involvment with The Lovelights/Squires, Jimmy still gigged and recorded with other bands.
> Incredible as it seems, "How Would You Feel" was re-released two years later on Jimi's own label Track Records (with"You Don't Want Me" on the flip-side).
This was part of a settlement deal with Ed Chalpin and his company PPX Enterprises as Jimi was technically still signed to them despite rocketing to succes with Chandler and Jeffrey behind him!
1965 demos with Curtis Knight
Nine low-fi studio demos dating from October 1965 have been collected together on the CD No Business, released in October 2020 - see further down
CURTIS KNIGHT / JIMI HENDRIX - Live At George's Club 20, 1965 & 1966
Released: March 2017 (Dagger Records)
Killing Floor, Last Night, Get Out Of My Life Woman, Ain’t That Peculiar, Mercy, Mercy, I’m A Man, Driving South, Baby What You Want Me To Do, I’ll Be Doggone, Sweet Little Angel, Let’s Go, Let’s Go, Let’s Go, Travelin’ To California, What I Say, Land Of 1000 Dances, Come On
These precious live recordings (Georges Club 20, Hackensack, New Jersey on December 26 1965 and January 22 1966) provide a fascinating snapshot of where Jimmy was at, nine months before he left for London with Chas Chandler. These recordings have of course been released a multitude of times on various labels since the late 60s and it's interesting to hear what Eddie Kramer has done with them.
On these dates it seems that the band (in fact called The Lovelights at that point) were playing to an empty hall as Knight pretends to address an audience. You can hear that this made Jimmy crack up, laughing presumably at the absurdity of it all. So it would seem that the recordings were done as a demonstration tape the help the band get club engagements. The numerous Ed Chalpin releases of these recordings featured rather intrusive overdubs of club noise and even an additional rhythm section, in an attempt to improve the sound. On this Dagger album however, the instrumental overdubs have been taken off (although it seems that a little bass is still present on a couple of songs but it's quite subtle). Some of the fake club background noise is still in there, though much more subdued (perhaps the raw tapes are lost forever?). Sometimes it sounds like the band are in an empty club, or at least with a handful of people and there is no applause whatsoever throughout the recordings presented here. So the tapes are more honestly presented but it's not as if there's a great improvement on the overall sound. The quality varies in fact, as the two "gigs" were recorded on different tape recorders. You could say that this is the Hendrix equivalent of The Beatles' Star Club tapes.
Despite the rough sound, this is definitely the most interesting pre-Experience album there is, being the closest to where Jimmy was heading for in the near future. Four songs played here for example were later in The Experience's repertoire - "Killing Floor", "Driving South", "Mercy Mercy and "Land Of A 1000 Dances" (they played the latter song during one or two of their very early gigs according to Noel Redding). Also, "Travelling To California" comes over as a sort of blueprint of "Red House" (which was also partially built around Elmore James' "The Sky Is Crying"). However, the song listed as "Come On" isn't an early version of the song that Jimi covered on Electric Ladyland at all. On some past releases the song has also been titled "Hard Night" but it's in fact built on Freddie King's "Just Pickin". It's really just a platform for Jimmy to showcase his soloing.
It's important to understand that, unlike the other pre-Experience recordings, Jimmy is no longer the stifled guitarist in the back row here. He's up-front as the co-frontman of the band. He even sings the lead vocals on many numbers here: "Killing Floor", I'm A Man", "What'd I Say", "Get Out My Life Woman", "Land Of A 1000 Dances", "Come On" and Albert King's "Travellin' To California" (also known as "California Night"). He sounds very confident on these recordings, singing very well and playing some brilliant guitar solos on practically every song (the exceptions being "Aint That Peculiar", "Mercy Mercy", "I'll Be Doggone" and "What'd I Say").
Alongside Jimmy and Curtis Knight on these recordings are Harry Jensen (rhythm guitar), Ace Hall (bass), Ditto Edwards and George Bragg (drums) plus Lonnie Youngblood (sax on a few songs). Jimmy would of course team up with Youngblood for later studio work.
One big error in the sleevenotes which says "This is what Chas Chandler heard when he first encountered Jimmy James in the summer of 1966". That is incorrect as Chas saw Jimmy for the first time in July '66 at The Café Wha? playing with his own band (6 months after the George Club recordings). In fact Jimi had played his last gig with Curtis Knight in May '66. No, these tapes are closer to what Linda Keith saw when she discovered the unknown Jimmy at The Cheetah Club in May 1966 (unless she saw Jimmy in The Commanders - Carl Holmes backing band).
The recordings are even closer to what Les Paul saw in December 1965 when he saw Jimmy playing in a Lodi (New Jersey) night club. Soon after the performance, Paul tried to track Jimmy down in order to sign him but couldn't find any trace of him. In 1967 he saw his face on the cover of Are You Experienced and realised it was the ace guitarist that he had seen in that New Jersey club in December 1965!
> Here's more in-depth review of the album over at earlyhendrix.com
Highlights:> The radio documentary which was released as a box set titled "Lifelines" in 1990 featured this version of "I'm A Man".
Killing Floor, Last Night, Get Out Of My Life Woman, I’m A Man, Driving South, Sweet Little Angel, Travelin’ To California, Come On (Just Pickin)
> All the Dagger Records releases
Other live Knight/Hendrix recordings
More live recordings of The Lovelights/Squires have surfaced over the years on the numerous PPX exploitation albums and bootlegs/collector's discs.
These are recordings from more than one source. Some tracks do in fact sound like actual concert recordings as the audience noise appears to be authentic (as opposed to the obviously over-dubbed party noises on some of the other tracks). Certain songs feature overdubs and sound quality varies.
Songs with a Hendrix vocal:
Something You've Got
Hang On Sloopy
Walkin' The Dog
Bright Lights, Big City
Day Tripper (joint vocal with Knight - not to be confused with the 1967 studio reunion jam version)
Bleeding Heart (usually listed as Left Alone). Another song Jimi performed later with The Experience and the Band Of Gypsys. Unfortunately; the tape cut out half way through).
Travellin' To California - an alternate live take
Killing Floor - an alternate live take with saxophone (also listed as I Should've Quit You)
Knight and another vocalist (and occasional Hendrix backing vocals and the guitar solos - some of which are superb):
Mr. Pitiful (this Otis Redding song bears a resemblance to Jimi's Remember which he recorded a year later)
Walkin' The Dog
Stand By Me
Twist And Shout
I Got You (I Feel Good) - 2 versions
Sugar Pie Honey Bunch aka I Can't Help Myself
One Night With You
You Got What It Takes
Hold What You've Got
There Is Something On Your Mind
Just A Little Bit
^ Just a few of the many inferior releases of the Georges Club 20 recording that have appeared over the years (with the obtrusive overdubs).
Here are some live shots of Jimmy with Curtis Knight & The Squires (a.k.a. The Lovelights):
In May of 1966, Jimmy would meet Linda Keith. In July he would The Rolling Stones and in August, Linda introduced him to Chas Chandler and the following month
the they headed for London, to create The Jimi Hendrix Experience.
So here is what Jimmy goy up to right before all that was set in motion.
Ray Sharpe with The King Curtis Orchestra
"Help Me get That feeling (Part 1&2)" (Atco 1966) - Recorded January 21, 1966
While with The Isley Brothers, Jimmy had been seen by King Curtis and Juggy Murray the manager of Sue Records. Murray was impressed and signed Jimmy to his label and Jimmy went on to tour and record with King Curtis.*Interesting triviia - In 1966, just after his arrival in London and before The Experience were formed, Jimi got a helping hand from Brian Auger who halped Jimi gain exposure by letting him jam with his band The Trinity. In 1967, Brian Auger Julie Driscoll & The Trinity would release their own cover version of "Save Me" (with Julie Driscoll on vocals).
This great funky track (the riff and song structure lifted from Them's "Gloria") was recorded with King Curtis who also produced the session. The results were so good that Curtis used the backing track a second time for a single by Owen Gray"(Help Me"/"Insence"). I'm not sure that the basic riff is played by Jimmy but that's certainly him behind, playing what are almost like "wakka-wakka" wah-wah rhythms (of course Jimi didn't use a wah-wah pedal until mid to late 1967).
In 1967, to avoid contractual problems, King Curtis replaced Jimmy's contribution with another guitarist and used it as the backing for Aretha Franklin's superb "Save Me"*.
Then later, in 1969, Curtis came back again to the master (which had featured Jimmy), put on more overdubs and released it under his own name as King Curtis & The Kingpins - "Instant Groove" / Sweet Inspiration" (unfortunately, the 1969 remixed version was used by Experience Hendrix on the "West Coast Seattle Boy" compilation presumably because the sound is better).
> "Instant Groove can be found today on the "West Coast Seattle Boy" box set.
Jayne Mansfield "Suey" (London 1967) - Recorded early 1966
This cropped up as a B-side of a single by the famous Hollywood starlet in 1967. PPX Enterprises were behind it, which explains the connection with Jimmy.> Jayne Mansfield once attended an Experience gig in Bolton, England in 1967 ! She left with Englebert Humperdink.
One can't really hear Jimmy's guitar style in there but the alternate version that was 2018 released sounds a bit more like him.
A different version of "Suey" appeared in 2018 on 7" vinyl with a never before released song on the B-side: Ricky Mason - "I Need You Every Day" - see below
"I Need You Every Day"
Another Ed Chalpin produced song which was recorded 10th of February 1966 but remained buried until it surfaced in 2018 as the B-side of the above 7" Jayne Manfsfield single.
Some great research over at earlyhendrix.com has revealed that this song features lyrics that come from a song titled "Sick And Tired" by Chris Kenner (it was also later recorded by Fats Domino). Check the findings at the site Here
Both sides of the Mansfield/Mason single were included on the 2020 CD of PPX Enterprises recordings titled No Business - see further down.
"Go Go Shoes" / "Go Go Place" (Fairmont 1966) - Recorded in June 1966
"Soul Food (That's What I Like)" / "Goodbye Bessie Mae" (Fairmont 1966) - Recorded in June 1966
Lonnie Youngblood was a fellow member in Curtis Knight's band The Squires. When Knight seemed to lose interest in the group, Lonnie and Jimi formed another band who performed live as Blood Brothers.They met the influential producer Johnn Brantley and recorded these singles. "Go Go Shoes" is a mid-tempo song featuring a funky, stabbing rhythm from Jimmy. There's no solo but the initial flourish from Jimmy reminds me of a passage that he later used in "3 Little Bears".
On the flip-side however, ("Go Go Place") Lonnie asks the guitar player to do his thing and Jimmy finally puts in a little solo. Not much happenning for Jimmy on the other single however, apart from a breif solo on "Goodbye Bessie Mae".
The Hendrix/Youngblood sessions
Apart from the two Youngblood singles above, Lonnie and Jimi recorded a number of instrumental backing tracks which were destined to receive vocals from up and coming R'n'B singers. Billy Lamont's "Sweet Thang" used such a backing track and it also turned up on singles by other artists. The backing track itself appeared with its original title "Wipe The Sweat" in various versions (there were often many different takes) one of which features some very good solo playing from Jimmy. There is a second mix/version "Wipe The Sweat Part II" with some vocal and sax overdubs from Youngblood and also a "Wipe The Sweat Part III" which features a rap vocal from Jimmy!
Another instrumental track titled "Under The Table" was used for The Icemen's "I Wonder What It Takes". Later, the instrumental track of "Under The Table" received Youngblood sax and some guitar overdubs in the 70s.
The backing track used for Jimmy Norman's "You're Only Hurting Yourself", later surfaced as the sax instrumental "Two In One Goes".
> On some dodgy releases, "Soul Food (That's What I Like)" is titled "All I Want".
The recordings that Hendrix made with his session mate Lonnie have been heavily exploited over the years. Some "Hendrix" albums that appeared after Jimi's death featured these tracks (in remixed form) alongside many other songs. However a court ruling in 1997 saw some albums withdrawn due to the absence of Hendrix involvement on most of the recordings! The albums concerned were "Moods", "Rare Hendrix" and "In The Beginning" and "Free Spirit" (which also featured The Icemen's "She's A Fox" on which Hendrix played.
LONNIE YOUNGBLOOD featuring Jimi Hendrix - Two Great Experiences Together
Released March 2003 (BMG/Empire Musicwerks)
Mother, Mother, Under The Table (Takes 1 & 2), Wipe The Sweat (Takes 1, 2 & 3), Go Go Shoes, Go Go Place, Soul Food, Goodbye Bessie Mae, Sweet Thing, Groove Maker (Takes 1 & 2), She's A Fox, Go Go Shoes (Fairmount 45), Go Go Place (Fairmount 45), Soul Food (Fairmount 45), Goodbye Bessie Mae (Fairmount 45)
One of the many collections of Lonnie Youngblood/Hendrix recordings that have appeared over the years. There are few songs here but they are presented in various takes and versions. Note the inclusion of the singles by The Icemen ("She's A Fox") and Billy Lamont ("Sweet Thang").
A clumsy montage featuring a photo of Jimi circa 1968-69 (misleading for the casual buyer) - 0/10
> Here's an interesting article about Lonnie Youngblood.
Later in his career, once famous, Jimi met up again with Youngblood (March 1969) for a jam in the studio and the session produced two exciting numbers:
"Georgia Blues" - on "Martin Scorcese Presents the Blues: Jimi Hendrix"
"Let Me Move You" - on "People, Hell and Angels"
> see Posthumous Studio Albums - 2010s
"Sweet Thang"/"Please Don't Leave" (20th Century Fox 1968) - Recorded in 1966
A pre-Experience recording but released in 1968. This was built on an instrumental ("Wipe The Sweat") that Hendrix and Youngblood had recorded in 1965 or 1966 (see above).
Jimmy bursts in here with a superb snappy guitar intro, then he carries the whole thing along with a dense funky rhythm backed with brass. No solo however.
+ Another version of "Sweet Thang" turned up on George Scott's album "Find Someone To Love" (Maple M-6008). Also, a ballad on the album, titled "I'm A Fool For You" (a.k.a."Gonna Take A Lot" or "It's Gonna Take A Lot To Bring Me Back") is thought to include guitar from Hendrix and horns by Youngblood. Details about the George Scott album here.+ Lenny Howard "Keep The Faith"/Darlin' (Real George 501) - The A side here simply uses the backing track of "Sweet Thang" with a different vocal from Lenny Howard. The B-side song, "Darlin", is a more rudimentary recording and it does sound like Jimmy's funky guitar on there.
> The Billy Lamont version of "Sweet Thang" is to be found today on the "West Coast Seattle Boy" box set.
"(My Girl) She's A Fox"/"(I Wonder) What It Takes" (Samar 1966) - Recorded in June, 1966
Jimmy participated in this session with Lonnie Youngblood. This is really a copy of The Impressions "Gypsy Woman" with new lyrics and because of that it is very close to the version of that song which Jimi performed at Woodstock in 1969. The performance of that song, with Larry Lee on vocals, was not put on the MCA release "Live At Woodstock" but it can be heard on bootlegs of the show. The arrangement, Jimi's playing and the vocals (with Jimi on backing vocals) are all very similar to this 1966 single by The Icemen. Like with "My Diary", you can hear the roots of "Little Wing" also in his gentle guitar style. The title itself also points to "Foxy Lady"!
The B-side "I Wonder What It Takes" uses Jimmy and Lonnie's "Under The Table" as a backing track.
> "(My Girl) She's A Fox" can be found today on the "West Coast Seattle Boy" box set.
"You're Only Hurting Yourself"/"That Little Old Groovemaker" (Samar 1966) - Recorded in June, 1966
Nothing of real Hendrix interest going on here.
Another Jimmy Norman single called "Gangster Of Love" had no Hendrix involvement (but that didn't stop it appearing on some dodgy "Hendrix albums" in later years).
> "That Little Old Groovemaker" can be found today on the "West Coast Seattle Boy" box set.
"Hornet's Nest"/"Knock Yourself Out"
The very first record to feature Hendrix compositions.
These two instrumentals are credited to J. Hendrix/J. Simon (the producer of the sessions)
Curtis Knight and The Squires
"Hornets Nest"/"Knock Yourself Out" (RSVP 1966 ) - Both songs written by Hendrix and co-credited to the producer Jerry Simon - Recorded in June 1966
As detailed further up, this outfit recorded "How Would You Feel"/"Welcome Home" in late 1965 but only released them as a single in April 1966. For the second single, two months later, PPX chose to release two excellent instrumentals written by Jimmy! "Hornets Nest"/"Knock Yourself Out" (with producer Jerry Simon also credited). Importantly, these are the first Hendrix compositions to appear on record. "Hornets Nest" (inspired by the TV series "The Green Hornet") has a monster fuzzy (buzzing) guitar from Jimmy and some dramatic spookie organ. "Knock Yourself Out" is more interesting, with some superb driving rhythms and solos. Great drums too. I love this track.
As I said above, in Knight's band, Jimmy finally had the opportunity to assert his own personnality on the music played. "How Would You Feel" was so heavily inspired by "Like A Rolling Stone" that Jimmy must have coaxed Knight into writing a close copy of Dylan's song. The fact that he is credited as arranger makes this all the more evident. Here, it's Jimmy who wrote the two instrumentals (with perhaps some input from producer Jerry Simon which merited a writing credit). Free from being a simple side-man with a big name artist, Jimmy was finally beginning to emerge as an artist in his own right.
> In the John McDermott/Eddie Kramer book "Setting The Record Straight", it is recounted that Jimi was in a London club with Mike Jeffrey and the DJ played this single. Jimi proudly boasted that he had played on it and this was how the stunned Jeffrey found about about his contract with RSVP and eventually and more importantly his signed contract as exclusive artist for Ed Chalpin's PPX Enterprises. However, Jeffrey told Jimi not to worry about and that he would buy out the PPX contract, just as he had done with the other labels in the U.S.A. Unfortunately, Chalpin refused to be bought and would take Jimi's management to court. A deal was later done to award Chalpin (and Capitol Records) the rights for the Jimi Hendrix Experience album that would follow Electric Ladyland. Jimi tried a dodge, submitting the Band Of Gypsys live album instead but Chalpin wasn't fooled and soon came back asking for what he had been promised. The case dragged on for decades and Chalpin carried on releasing and recycling the few Knight/Hendrix tapes in his possession on a multitude of albums all over the world. Finally, in 2015 a deal was struck for Experience Hendrix to issue the Curtis Knight recordings Sony Legacy and Dagger Records and Chalpin handed over all the PPX tapes to the Hendrix estate (though Lawrence Miller of Purple Haze Records informed me that CHalpin only temporarily leased to tapes to Experience Hendrix). Ed Chalpin and Lawrence Miller passed away in 2019.
CURTIS KNIGHT & THE SQUIRES - You Can't Use My Name: The RSVP/PPX Sessions (Volume 1)
Release date: March 2015 (Sony Legacy)
CD: How Would You Feel, Gotta Have a New Dress, Don't Accuse Me, Fool for You Baby, No Such Animal, Welcome Home, Knock Yourself Out (Flying on Instruments), Simon Says, Station Break, Strange Things, Hornet's Nest (alternate take), You Don't Want Me, ("You Can't Use My Name"), Gloomy Monday (alternate take from 1967)For decades, that arch enemy of the Hendrix Estate Ed Chalpin issued album after album of the recordings that he had rights to, with misleading album covers showing Jimi at the height of his fame. Thousands, millions of people were duped into buying albums with sub-standard material where Jimi's involvement had been that of a side-man or session musician. When news came that Experience Hendrix had aquired the rights to publish these same recordings themselves (on Sony Legacy) many/most Hendrix fans were horrified. After nearly 50 years and over 100 albums released which already featured these songs, Experience Hendrix published the Ed Chalpin RSVP/PPX tapes. Unreal. Note that Ed Chalpin passed away in 2019.
VINYL: How Would You Feel, Gotta Have a New Dress, Don't Accuse Me, Fool for You Baby, No Such Animal, You Don't Want Me, Welcome Home, Knock Yourself Out (Flying on Instruments), Strange Things, Station Break, Gloomy Monday
Bickering aside folks, this is an important part of Jimi's history and they have at least made a very good job of this. First off, Jimi's name isn't on the cover! At last, the presentation is correct, as these recordings are by Curtis Knight & The Squires! Also, the master tapes have been given a five star Eddie Kramer transfer and mixing treatment with a final Bernie Grundman mastering, so this disc blows away the multitude of previous releases of this material. However some tracks suffer from over-separation (guitar left, organ right, drums centre, etc...). I would have preferred a more central mix or even mono! Anyway, this sonic update gives the material a much deserved reappraisal. Forget the past 48 years and enjoy hearing JImmy emerge.
I haven't sat down and compared all of these to the previous releases because I only have a few old albums which I had bought cheap for research purposes. See my link below to the review at earlyhendrix.com for a thorough analysis. There were so many releases over the years of this material, with a multitude of alternate mixes and versions, all mixed up with the 1967 sessions and the 1965 live tracks, which would follow soon after. Most of the material here does feature new mixes in relation to all the old PPX versions that have flooded the market since the late 60s.
So this album is for the most part made up of the studio recordings made in 1965 and 1966, with only "Gloomy Monday" from the reunion sessions of 1967. That is a logical inclusion as it is in the same R&B vein as the rest. This is in fact a previously unreleased take of that song (all previous releases featured a different take with post production overdubs). The track "You Can't Use My Name" is simply studio dialogue from that second '67 session (just before the band worked on "Gloomy Monday") where Jimi insists that Chalpin musn't use his name if the recordings made that day were put out*. So that is out of context really, in relation to all of the 65-66 recordings on this album (12 tracks!). Anyway, Jimi's wish has finally been granted and the album's title is a sarcastic jab at Ed Chalpin.
The band's singles "How Would You Feel"/"Welcome Home" and "Knock Yourself Out"/"Hornet' Nest" are included here of course detailed futher up.
"Gotta Have A New Dress"* and "Fool For You Baby" are pretty ordinary R&B songs but still featuring some nice guitar. "Don't Accuse Me" is a neat little blues with some great guitar from Jimi. The backing vocals seem more prominent here and I think I hear Jimi's voice in there. The spooky "Strange Things" is built on a basic Bo Diddley rhythm with again some great guitar. Knight's crazy laughter is thankfully mixed down here.
* Curtis Knight had released "Gotta Have A New Dress" in 1962 as a single on the Shell label. In 1965, he came back to the tapes, modified it and got Jimmy to put some extra guitar on it. The original can be found on YouTube.
The June 1966 instrumentals
The good news is the never before released (or heard on bootleg) instrumental "Station Break". It has a very Booker T & The MGs in feel and with "Hornet's Nest", "Knock Yourself Out" and "No Such Animal", that makes four Hendrix-penned instrumentals on this album! This is one of the reasons why this material deserves its place in the Hendrix discography. "Hornest's Nest" is in fact not the old single version but a never before released take.
"No Such Animal" didn't appear on the dozens of PPX exploitation albums and was only previously seen as a single in the 70s and then on the weak LP "Cosmic Turnaround" (which apart from that featured Lonnie Youngblood and fake Hendrix tracks). These instrumentals are all the more interesting as they highlight Jimi's soloing and rhythm chops in June 1966, just after Linda Keith came across him at The Cheetah Club (playing with either Carl Holmes or Knight's band). So they represent Hendrix just a few months before he recorded "Hey Joe" and a number of tracks for his first album in London. These versions of the instrumentals all clock-in at around 5 or 6 minutes and are perhaps longer than any of the previously released versions. A special mention for Marion Booker and his funky drumming which provides a very powerful drive for many of these recordings.
*Chalpin told a bare-faced lie of course and put the '67 recordings out on the albums "Get That Feeling" and "Flashing". Jimi and his management failed to stop Chalpin however and ended up owing him a Hendrix album (which turned out to be "Band Of Gypsys").
> Watch out vinyl fans, that version of the album is missing three songs "Simon Says", "Hornet's Nest", "You Don't Want Me" and the dialogue "You Can't Use My Name"
Check out Niko's review at earlyhendrix.com
As said above, full marks for attributing this album to Curtis Knight & The Squires and them alone. That classic group photo was the obvious choice and fits the content perfectly. - 10/10
CURTIS KNIGHT & THE SQUIRES - No Business: The PPX Sessions Volume 2
Release date: October 2020 (Dagger Records)
Studio recordings: UFO, No Business, Hush Now, Gloomy Monday [Alternate], How Would You Feel (Alternate), Love Love, My Best Friend [Takes 3/4/5], Hornet’s Nest [Alternate], I Need You Every Day (Sick & Tired)*, Suey
Demos: Taking Care Of No Business, Working All Day, Two Little Birds, Suddenly, UFO, Better Times Ahead, Everybody Knew But Me, If You Gonna Make A Fool Of Somebody, My Best Friend
* Vocal by Ricky Mason on a recording previously seen In 2018 as the B-side of Suey (Jayne Mansfield) which is also included here.A collection of more recordings from sessions for PPX Enterprises from some October 1965 demos, 1966 studio sessions and a few things from the summer 1967 reunion session. The 1967 (July and August) recordings are Hush Now, Love Love, Gloomy Monday, No Business (bass only from Jimi on the latter)
Not much to shout about here because the bulk of this material has been exploited for decades by Ed Chalpin on a multitude of labels and albums (dozens and dozens). The sound quality is superior here though.
The interesting tracks:
Hush Now and Love Love - Jimi in 1967 trying out his new wah-wah pedal. Some of the guitar noodling sounds a little like 1983, A Merman I Should Turn To Be and The Stars That Play With Laughing Sam's Dice.
Working All Day - a home demo with a Hendrix vocal! This Hendrix song has never surfaced before (even on bootlegs).
Takin' Care Of No Business - Jimi on co-vocals for the demo. Note that Jimi re-recorded this song in 1967 with the Experience (it's in the purple box).
Everybody Knew But Me - Quite a good demo song with perhaps Knight's best vocal.
More details as it comes in and when I get to here it.
Special edition Record Store Day vinyl L.P.
Side A - Gloomy Monday [Alternate], Hush Now, No Business, Love Love
Side B - UFO, My Best Friend (Takes 3/4/5), How Would You Feel (Alternate), Hornet’s Nest (Alternate); I Need You Every Day (Sick & Tired), Suey, Taking Care Of No Business (Demo)
That grainy photo is from one of the 1967 Knight/Hendrix reunion sessions, so not really apt for this 1965-66 dominated collection. - 3/10
The 1967 reunion sessions with Curtis Knight
As mentioned above, a little over a year after Jimi quit New York, to find fame in Europe he came back to New York and joined Curtis Knight for a couple of spontaneous reunion sessions at Studio 76. They merely jammed a little and Jimi added bass to a few old tapes.
After The Experience's triumph at the Monterey Pop Festival of June 1967, some of the Curtis Knight studio tapes were released, with Jimi being powerless to stop them.
See Curtis Knight recordings released in Jimi's Lifetime
Once Ed Chalpin had those 1967 recordings in the can, he assembled the albums Get That Feeling (1967) and Flashing (1968).
Because there was so little to be gleaned from the two meagre '67 sessions, he added some 1965/66 recordings to complete the sides.
In the 70s and beyond, Chalpin threw the Georges Club recordings into the pot and proceeded to mush the lot together and release confusing albums for decades, with the Hendrix estate being legally powerless to stop him:
Just a few of the many PPX exploitation albums that have clogged up the Hendrix record racks over the decades.
These were either themed as live albums (Georges Club 20) or mixed together all the PPX sources (1965 to 1967)
and also mixed up with some fake Hendrix tracks.
Back to 1966...
In this photo from spring May 1966, Jimmy has adopted a Dylan haircut which would become his trademark and set off the whole "Afro" fashion which
was later adopted by Eric Clapton, Alvin Lee, Sly Stone, James Brown, Miles Davis,The Jackson 5 and practically every black artist well into the 70s.
This photo was taken at The Club Cheetah (hence the costumes) and this is where Linda Keith first saw him perform
(see "Jimi Breaks Away" paragraph below).
Some the"Georges Club" recordings have been published, touted as Cheetah Club recordings (false - no recordings of these club dates have ever appeared).
THE BEST OF THE PRE-EXPERIENCE STUDIO RECORDINGS
So young Jimmy recorded with many greats (Little Richard, The Isley Brothers, Don Covey, King Curtis) but if one is looking for some good HENDRIX
in all the pre-Experience material, I would recommend the following, which are all from his work with Lonnie Youngblood and Curtis Knight.
Wipe The Sweat I, II and III (the latter features a vocal from Jimmy)
Under The Table (two takes)
Go Go Shoes
Go Go Place
Everybody Knew But Me (demo)
Don't Accuse Me (the version without the backing vocals)
Hornet's Nest (without organ)
Knock Yourself Out
No Such Animal
UNRELEASED EARLY RECORDINGS
It has been said Jimmy played on these unreleased recordings:
Johnny Jones - "Feels So Bad Like A Ball Game On A Rainy Day" (1963)
The Bonnevilles - "Snuff Dripper", "Ouch" and two other recordings (1963)
George Yates & Sandra Wright - "I"m Crying" (1963)
Jimmy Norman - "On You Girlie, That Looks Good", "Family Tree" (1966)
Rumoured participations and false information
Mr. Wiggles: "Home Boy"/"Wash My Back" (Golden Triangle 1966) and "Fat Back (Part 1)"/"Fat Back (Part 2)" [instrumental] (Parkway 1966) - Both recorded in July 1965
The book "Becoming Jimi Hendrix" also reveals that Jimmy played on some recordings by the stragely named singer Mr. Wiggles, acompanied by Little Richard's band.
You can't really hear Jimmy's touch on the little guitar playing that there is.
The World Famous Upsetters - "K.P." / "Cabbage Greens" (Sound Of Soul 1966) - Recorded in July 1965
Little Richard's band do their own thing with this Mr. Wiggles produced single. Jimmy was rumoured to be on these recordings but the lead guitar here is played by Melvin Sparks. It perhaps remains a possibility that Jimi is in the mix on rhythm guitar but I suppose we'll never know.
BEWARE - FAKE HENDRIX ALBUMS & TRACKS !!!
Over the years, a number of so-called "Hendrix" albums contained recordings which didn't even feature Jimi at all! The albums mostly pictured/picture Jimi at the height of his fame and usually attributing the recordings to his pre-Experience period.
Albums such as "Free Spirit", "Moods", "Rare Hendrix", "Roots Of Hendrix", "In The Beginning" and also the so-called Little Richard/Hendrix albums. Many albums released featured some of these ridiculous tracks mixed up with the 1968 Scene Club, 1969 Royal Albert Hall and PPX recordings. An utter mess.
The album "Cosmic Turnaround" did feature one track with Hendrix: "No Such Animal" (an instrumental penned by Jimi from his 1966 Curtis Knight days).
The problem is that these tracks are still being sold or are all over YouTube etc.!
Here is a list of some the fake Hendrix tracks involved:
A mumblin' word
Back Room Lady
Be My Baby
Bring my baby back
Come On Baby
Every Little Bit Hurt
Everything You Get
Feel That Soul
Freedom And You
From This Day On (She's So Fine)
Funky Dish Rag
Gangster Of Love
Girl So Fine
God Save the Queen (by David Henderson)
Going home tomorrow
Gonna Take A Lot
Gotta find some
Groovy little suzie
Hound Dog (not the BBC or acoustic version)
House of the rising sun
I Love My Baby
I'm a Fool For You
I'm Gonna Be Good
It's Gonna Take A Lot To Bring Me Back Baby
Let Me Go
Let me thrill your soul
Let the god sing
Looking For A Love
Memories are made of this
My Heart Is Higher
She's So Fine (a.k.a. From This Day On)
Short fat fanny
Simon Says (Isley's version)
So Called Friend
Something you got
The Last Girl
Two And One Goes
Voice in the wind
Walking with bessie mae
Why don't you love me
Wild As A Tiger
Win Your Love
You Are Too Much For The Human Heart
You Got It
You Say You Love Me
There is no Hendrix on the following songs from those faked Little Richard/Hendrix albums:
Goin' Home Tomorrow
Good Golly Miss Molly
Keep A Knockin
Lawdy Miss Claudie
Oooh My Soul
Rip It Up
Send Me Some Lovin'
Slippin' And A Slidin
Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On
> The fake Hendrix album "Free Spirit" features guitarist Hermon Hitson (plus a remix of The Icemen's "My Girl, She's A fox" which did actually feature young Jimmy). Hitson said that the tapes (probably from 1971) were meant to be released under his name but it all ended up being packaged as a collection of lost pre-Experience Hendrix recordings! These were the tracks:
Free Spirit, House Of The Rising Sun, Let The God Sing, Suspicious, Bring My Baby Back, Voice In The Wind, Hey Leroy, Good Feeling, Let Me Thrill Your Soul, Something You Got, Hot Trigger
Some tracks used for these fake albums were in fact pre-Experience recordings, sometimes with overdubs added on (not Jimi's overdubs of course):
Groove (uses Groovemaker by Jimmy Norman)
Psycho (uses I Wonder (What It Takes) by The Icemen)
Two And One Goes (uses You're Only Hurting Yourself by Jimmy Norman)
Whipper (uses Wipe The Sweat take 3)
Win Your Love (uses I Wonder (What It Takes) by The Icemen)
The origins of some other tracks have been identified by researchers:
Miracle Worker - Sam Williams
So Called Friend - Sam Williams
Gangster of Love - Jimmy Norman
Young Generation - Billy Lamont
From This Day On/She's So Fine = "I'm Gonna Be Good" by Nate Adams
Human Heart = "You Are Too Much For The Human Heart" by Hermon Hitson
Louisville = "You Are Too Much For The Human Heart" by Hermon Hitson
Edda Mae = "Find Someone To Love" by Ohio Players
Find Someone = "The Man That I Am" by Ohio Players
Be My Baby = "Birth Of A Playboy" by The Chosen Few
Everything You Get = "Nobody Can Save Me" by The Chosen Few
Fake track albums
Here are some details of a few albums that feature fake tracks mixed up with Lonnie Youngblood,
Scene Club, Curtis Knight and Royal Albert Hall tracks.
JIMMY JAMES BREAKS AWAY
Once Jimmy had settled in New York, he did session work when he found it and played with the backing bands of Calm Holmes and Joey Dee. He also continued to play with Curtis Knight (gradually imposing his own artistic direction) and on the side, began to get his own thing together in the open-minded, more bohemian environment of the city's Greewich Village area. His reputation was spreading and Jimi later said (in the interview which is in the Winterland box) that during this New York period, he did get offers from record companies but he turned them down because he had felt that he wasn't quite ready to set about a solo career.
One night, while Jimmy was playing at The Cheetah Club (backing either Curtis Knight or Carl Holmes), he was seen by the English model Linda Keith who was in New York waiting for her boyfriend Keith Richards who was due to arrive in the city with the Rolling Stones a few weeks later. She befreinded Jimi and sort of took him under her wing (even lending him one of Richard's Strats!).
Linda and folk singer Richie Havens (who also first saw Jimmy at the Cheetah Club) urged Jimmy to break away on his own and play more blues. So he persevered in Greenwich Village and even had a spell busking on street corners (with Linda on percussion and occasional vocals!). Before long, he auditioned for the house band at the tiny Café Wha? club. He got the job and soon re-shaped the band which became The Blue Flames*(1) (they also called themselves The Rainflowers). He also made sure that the pavement chalkboards put his name up as "Jimi James". In the group was a very young Randy California (later of the group Spirit)*(2). In the band's repertoire already were "Hey Joe", Like A Rolling Stone", "Wild Thing", "Killing Floor", "Shotgun" (the Junior Walker And The Allstars hit), The Beatles' "Rain", "Mr. Bad Luck" (an early "Look Over Yonder") as well as embryonic versions of "Third Stone From The Sun" and "Foxy Lady"! The late Randy California claimed to have a live recording of the group but it has never surfaced unfortunately.
Randy "California" Wolfe
John Hammond Jnr.
This press cutting show the band listed as The Blue Flame (not Flames). In the bonus section of the 2005 DVD A Film About Jimi Hendrix, John Hammond Jnr. himself says "The Blue Flame".
This was most certainly a slight name change for the short run of gigs with Hammond as all other witnesses refer to the band as The Blue Flames.
Word got around about Jimi until the respected white blues singer John Hammond Jnr. joined up with the Blue Flame (they would also collectively adopted the name The Screaming Night Hawks). With Hammond on lead vocals and harmonica, they played shows at the more prestigeous club The Café A Go Go. Thus, Jimmy was spotted by famous British rock musicians who were in town, checking out the clubs for action.Andrew Loog-Oldman
When The Stones finally arrived in New York, Linda spoke to band about Jimmy and took them and their manager Andrew Loog Oldham to see him perform at the club Ondine's. Oldham also didn't feel that he could commit to helping Jimmy, finding his situation too complicated to take on. Linda also took impresario Seymour Stein to see Jimmy play at the club (Stein would later become president of Sire Records and he discovered Madonna). He wasn't impressed enough either!
Then one day, Linda bumped into The Animals bassist Chas Chandler*(3) and brought him down to see him play at The Café Wha?. Chas was at the time on a farewell tour with The Animals and was interested in finding for an artist to manage and produce. Before the gig, Linda played Chas Tim Rose's "Hey Joe" and he loved it, saying that if he could find the right act to manage, that song would be their first release. When Jimmy took the stage at The Café Wha?, he opened with "Hey Joe" (this was perhaps set up by Linda). Chas had found what he was looking for. He convinced Jimmy that if he went to Britain, he could make it big. Jimmy was excited about the London/UK scene and also at the prospect of meeting two guitarists that he greatly admired, Eric Clapton and Jeff Beck. Chas knew them well of course and promised to arrange for Jimmy to meet them.
Chas and Jeffrey then helped Jimmy get his passport sorted out and set about clearing up various contractual ties that he had. Jimmy told them that he had contacts with Sue Records and PPX Enterprises. Jeffrey said that the contracts weren't legal because Jimmy hadn't had representation of his own. Jeffrey told Jimmy not to worry, saying that he would handle it.*(4) Chas got Sue to abandon their contract but nothing was done in relation to PPX. In the following years, this error would come back to haunt all concerned.
Jimmy wanted to go to London with Randy Wolfe and he even called Billy Cox to ask him if he wanted to accompany him. Randy was too young and Billy declined. Chandler and Jeffrey also wanted too keep things simpler and take only Jimmy.
On September 24th, 1966, on the plane to England, Jimmy James dropped his New York stage name and was re-born as JIMI HENDRIX.
Jimi's new passport photo. Today London, tomorrow the world!
*(1) Cosmic coincidence: Mitch Mitchell had played with the British star Georgie Fame and The Blue Flames before meeting Jimi!
*(2) Here is a very interesting interview with Randy California about these early days.
*(3) I read in David Shadwick's book that Jimmy had met Chas in 1965 while The Animals were on tour! Jimmy was at that time playing in Little Richard's band who were on the same bill as The Animals. After the show and an incident where Richard had an argument with the organisers, Chas and Jimmy ended up sharing a smoke on a window ledge. Chas said much later that he remembered the moment but had not connected with the fact that was Hendrix! This leaves us to speculate that Jimi must have remembered a smoke with The Animal's bass player and had perhaps reminded Chas of this when they met again in August 1966 at The Café Wha. Fascinating (if true!).
*(4) From "Jimi Hendrix: The Man, the Magis, the Truth" (Sharon Lawrence)
> I also read somewhere that in 1966, while on tour in the States, Mick Jagger met Jimmy and was interested enough to talk of organising a tour for him! Jimmy is said to have wisely felt that he wasn't ready for it. Perhaps this was when The Stones saw Jimi at Ondines in New York in the summer of 1966.
> According to Brund Blum, in his biography of Lou Reed titled "Electric Dandy", Jimmy attended a Velvet Underground performance in New York in 1966 ! I mailed Blum and asked what his source was for this information but he said that someone told him but he couldn't remember who. So it's just hearsay unfortunately. If Jimmy did attend a performance, John Cale and Lou Reed's feedback drenched experimentations might obviously have been a great influence on his future guitar playing. According to Billy Cox, Jimi had toyed with distortion way before 1966 anyway.
Check out this great book by Steve Roby and Brad Schreiber all about Jimi's life and career before fame.
(De Capo Press 2010)
"The Uncut Story" 3 hour documentary DVD provides great insight into Jimi's childhood and formative years as a musician.
JIMI'S INSPIRATION :
VARIOUS ARTISTS : "The Roots Of Hendrix"
(Free with Mojo Magazine - December 2005)
Howlin' Wolf - Killing Floor (Burnett)
Albert King - Born Under A Bad Sign (Jones/Bell)
Jimmy Reed - Bright Lights, Big City (Reed)
B.B. King - Sweet Little Angel (Bogan/Smith)
Buddy Guy - When My Left Eye Jumps (Dixon)
T-Bone Walker - You're My Best Poker Hand (Burghardt)
The Fabulous Wailers - Tall Cool One (Dangel/Greek/Morrill)
Cropper/Staples/King - What'd I Say (Charles)
Booker T & The MGs - It's Your Thing (Isley Brothers)
Elmore James - (My) Bleeding Heart (James/Sehorn)
Muddy Waters - (I'm Your) Hoochie Coochie Man (Dixon)
Little Richard - I Don't Know What You Got, But It's Got Me (Parts 1&2) (Covay)
John Hammond Jnr - So Many Roads, So many Trains (Paul)
Robert Petway - Catfish Blues (Petway)
Big Bill Broonzy - Key To The Highway (Broonzy/Segar)
This CD was free with the December 2005 issue of Mojo magazine. The record does not just concentrate on songs that Jimi included in his own repertoire from 1966 onwards, but is a collection from artists who greatly influenced him during his formative years. There are however familiar Hendrix favourites "Killing Floor", "Born Under A Bad Sign", "Bleeding Heart", "Hoochie Coochie Man" and "Catfish Blues".
There is one track that actually features the young Jimmy, "I Don't Know What You Got But It's Got Me" by Little Richard. It resembles James Brown's "Please, Please, Please" and features some delicate guitar work from Jimmy, not unlike what he played on The Icemen's "She's A Fox" (seen later on the album "Free Spirit" among others).
"Tall Cool One", I didn't know, is the first song that little Jimmy learned to play ! Not to be confused with the Jamaican Wailers of course.
A few numbers, "Sweet Little Angel", "What'd I Say" and "Bright Lights, Big City" were of course featured in Curtis Knight's repertoire.
Buddy Guy's "When My Left Eye Jumps" is very close to what Jimi would do with "Red House" (as was Albert King's "Travellin To California" which Jimmy played and sang with Curtis Knight & The Squires).
It was nice to include John Hammond Jnr. He had of course "discovered" Hendrix before Chas Chandler and even teamed up with him for some Greenwich Village gigs in the summer/fall of 1966 and "So Many Roads, So Many Trains" was in the set-list just before Jimmy left for England (to become Jimi Hendrix).
T-Bone Walker is present as, apart from being another great blues influence, he would sometimes play his guitar behind his head and do the splits on stage. An essential ingrediant for the Wild Man Of Rock !
Booker T. & The MGs are there as Jimmy loved Steve Cropper's technique.
Finally Big Bill Broonzy is listed as he had followed a similar path to Jimi. After the army he travelled to New York and was helped along by John Hammond Snr.
The magazine also features an extensive article about Jimi's early years and on November 4th, "Mojo - The Radio Station" even broadcast a special show on the subject, presumably airing a number of these songs.
Thank you Mojo !
VARIOUS ARTISTS : "Jimi Hendrix's Jukebox"
(Chrome Dreams - 2007)
Elvis Presley Blue Suede Shoes 1956 Perkins
Little Richard Long Tall Sally 1956 Penniman/Blackwell/Johnson
Bill Doggett Honky Tonk 1956 Butler/Doggett/Scott/Berisford/Shepherd
T-Bone Walker Call It Stormy Monday 1947 Walker
Eddie "Guitar Slim" Jones The Things That I Used To Do 1954 Jones
Young Johnny Watson Space Guitar 1954 Watson
Johnny "Guitar" Watson Three Hours Past Midnight 1956 Watson/Bihari
Ray Charles Losing Hand 1953 Calhoun
B.B King Every Day I Have The Blues 1955 Chatman
B.B King Three O'Clock Blues 1951 King/Taub
Miles Davis Round Midnight 1955 Monk/Hanighen/Williams
Robert Petway Catfish Blues 1941 Petway
Big Bill Broonzy Key To The Highway 1941 Broonzy/Segar
Jimmy Reed Pretty Thing 1955 Reed
Gene Vincent Race With The Devil 1956 Vincent/Tex Davis
Howlin' Wolf Moanin' At Midnight 1951 Burnett
Howlin' Wolf Smokestack Lightnin' 1956 Burnett
Chuck Berry No Money Down 1955 Berry
Elmore James Dust My Broom 1951 Johnson, arr James
Miles Davis Sweet Sue, Just You 1956 W.J. Harris/V. Young
Muddy Waters (I'm Your) Hoochie Koochie Man 1954 Dixon
Fats Domino Blueberry Hill 1956 Al Lewis/Vincent Rose
Earl King Mother Told Me Not To Go 1956 Earl Silas Johnson
John Lee Hooker Dimples 1956 Hooker
Big Mama Thornton Hound Dog 1953 Leiber/Stoller
A new release along the same lines as the Mojo freebie. I do not know if Jimi was known to have actually liked or possessed these specific songs (one would assume so, looking at the title). The choice of Gene Vincent over Eddie Cochran is strange. Jimi did incorporate the riff of a song titled "Race With The Devil" during his 1970 tours but his inspiration was the song of the same name by the group Gun.
VARIOUS ARTISTS : "The Roots Of Jimi Hendrix"
(Complete Blues 2008)
Elvis Presley -Money Honey
Jackie Brenston - Rocket 88
T-Bone Walker - Alimony Blues
BB King - Bye Bye Baby
Guitar Slim - Things That I Used to Do
Little Richard - Can't Believe You Wanna Leave
Earl King - Mother's Love
Howlin Wolf - How Many More Years
Muddy Waters - Mannish Boy
Richard Berry - Louie Louie
Young Johnny Watson - Space Guitar
Elmore James - Elmore's Contribution to Jazz
Slim Harpo - Got Love If You Want It
Lightnin' Hopkins - Black Cat Bone
Robert Johnson - Preaching Blues (Up Jumped the Devil)
Son House - Death Letter
Howlin Wolf - Moanin' at Midnight
Lowell Fulson - Reconsider Baby
Jimmy Reed - I Ain't Got You
BB King - Troubles, Troubles, Troubles
Robert Johnson - If I Had Possession Over Judgement Day
Blind Joe Reynolds - Outside Woman Blues
A new compilation that has appeared.
VARIOUS ARTISTS : "New York Soul '66"An interesting 2CD compilation which focuses on soul/R'n'B coming out of New York in 1966 - the musical environment in which Jimi was operating at the time, just before his move to England (September 1966).
(History Of Soul 2017)
Jimi is even present on this set, backing The Icemen on "(My Girl) She's A Fox". There's also a song by Jimmy Norman (who Jimi backed on another single - see above). Who knows, perhaps Jimi played some guitar on another song here.
MORE INFO - PHOTOS - COVERS - LABELS
> Check out this excellent site for a wealth of information on the pre-Experience materiel - www.earlyhendrix.com> Over at the French Forum Jimi Hendrix there is a fantastic collection of photos, sleeves and labels by Mandake:
and all known photos of Jimi's early years:
> A nice collection of photos also on Maurice's site Brume Pourpre - Select Concert Dates > Pre-Experience.
BEFORE FAME TIMELINE
1964 to September 1966 :
Niko has it sorted out on his super site: earlyhendrix.com
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