"Trumpets and violins I can hear in the distance. I think theyre calling our names."
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 main sources of these confusing albums were mainly the sessions dating from the time when Jimi worked with various R&B artists, some famous, some obscur. Other albums published through the years even featured recordings which don't even have Jimi on them, but an imitator (overdubbed after he had found fame)! So this important 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)
Bobby Taylor & The Vancouvers
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
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).
1963 STUDIO RECORDINGS
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).
1964 STUDIO RECORDINGS
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.
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 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.
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.
> 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".
1965 STUDIO RECORDINGS
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.
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.
> "Dance-A-Go-Go" - (This appeared on the B-side of a promo-only release of the single).
> 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.
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.
How prophetic this is of what was ahead for Jimmy: London, the military jacket,... the fuzzy headwear!
The clip : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Orqqozn8dSs
Jimmy soon appeared again on TV when Little Richard's band backed the singers Buddy & Stacey
as they 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 Georges Club 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 book "Becoming Jimi Hendrix" also reveals that Jimmy played on some recordings by this stragely named singer acompanied by Little Richard's band. You can't really hear Jimmy's touch on the little guitar playing that there is.
- "Home Boy"/"Wash My Back" (Golden Triangle 1966) - Recorded in July 1965
- "Fat Back (Part 1)"/"Fat Back (Part 2)" [instrumental] (Parkway 1966) - Recorded in July 1965
The World Famous Upsetters
"K.P." / "Cabbage Greens" (Sound Of Soul 1966) - Recorded in July 1965
Another Little Richard band spin-off with this Mr. Wiggles produced single. Jimmy is said to be on these recordings but the lead guitar here is played by Melvin Sparks.
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 IB Specials. This session, almost a year after the one that yeilded "Testify" unfortunately has minimal Hendrix contribution. Just some rhythm playing, no solo.
Jimmy James, guitarist with Curtis Knight & The SquiresCurtis Knight and The Squires
"How Would You Feel"/"Welcome Home" (RSVP, April 1966) - Recorded October & December 1965
Jimmy eventually decided to abandon touring the States and settled in the New York/New Jersey area. He had probably figured that building up a local following and reputation was a better way to advance his own professional career. He joined this local band (who also called themselves The Lovelights) in 1965 and recorded a few things in the studio with them for PPX Enterprises, a company who had signed them 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.
Curtis Knight & The Squires' first single, "How Would You Feel", 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). He 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. Jimmy is credited as arranger for "How Would You Feel" and this was the first appearance of his name on a record! The B-side, "Welcome Home", is quite a catchy Mowtown-like dance song and features a great little solo from Jimmy.
Despite his involvment with The Squires/Lovelights, Jimmy still gigged and recorded with other bands.
1966 STUDIO RECORDINGS
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 witn King Curtis.*Interesting triviia - In 1966, just after his arrival in London and before The Experience were formed, Jimi jammed in a London club with Brian Auger who would later release his own cover version of "Save Me" (with Julie Driscoll on vocals). There exists a promotional film of Brian and Julie miming to it in a parc.
This great funky track (the riff and song structure lifted from Them's fabulous "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.
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 with Jimmy, did more overdubbing 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).
Jayne Mansfield "Suey" (London 1967) - Recorded early 1966
This instrumental 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.
I wasn't convinced by this but "Becoming Hendrix" recently confirmed it. However, if Ed Chalpin was behind this recording, why didn't he include it on his later Hendrix exploitation albums?
"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
Youngblood was a fellow member in Curtis Knight's band The Squires. Jimmy and Lonnie got on well and decided to record together. "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 was later recyled in the 70s as the instrumental "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".
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.
One of the many collections of Lonnie Youngblood/Hendrix recordings with an image of Jimi circa 1968/69.
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 which 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).+ 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.
"(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"!
"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).
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
For the second single, PPX chose to release two excellent instrumentals written by Hendrix, "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 strong driving rhythms and solos. Great drums too.
"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)
Other recordings by Curtis Knight & The Squires
During this 1965-1966 period, Curtis Knight & The Squires recorded a number of other studio tracks with Jimmy but these were only released on albums once Jimi had become famous in order to cash-in on his international success. The other studio recordings were as follows :
Don't Accuse Me
Fool For You Baby
Gotta Have A New Dress
You Don't Want Me
No Such Animal
"Don't Accuse Me" is a neat little blues with some great guitar from Jimmy."Strange Things" is built on a basic Bo Diddley rhythm and the rest are rather lightweight R&B numbers with occasional punchy chords or little solos from Jimmy. That last song listed, "No Such Animal", is another instrumental and it has a similar feel to "Knock Yourself Out" . It surfaced as a posthumous single in October 1970 on the Audio Fidelity label. Because of contractual complications, the song has never appeared on the numerous posthume PPX albums (however it did turn up on an album called "Cosmic Turnaround" which featured mainly fake Hendrix tracks). "Simon Says" is a sort of a copy of an Isley Brothers song of the same name and I can't really hear Hendrix on the very weak "U.F.O". The rest are also of little interest.
There exists mono and stereo versions of some of these tracks and an instrumental version of "You Don't Want Me".
A couple of other instrumentals are known to have been recorded in this period, namely "Station Break"and "Flying On Instruments" . The latter seems to have disappeared without a trace but "Station Break" was seen in the listing of an auction a couple of years ago, though it has not yet shown up on the market or in collector's circles.
This neat 90s compilation on the Freud/Jungle label titled "Knock Yourself Out" used that nice accurate group photo. It featured all the above Curtis Knight tracks, except "U.F.O." and "No Such Animal".
For complete accuracy and honesty however, the title should have read "Curtis Knight & The Squires (featuring Jimmy Hendrix)" !
Check this review by John Perry , he's the ex-Only Ones guitarist and author of "33 1/3: Electric Ladyland" (Academi).
Curtis Knight demos/outtakes/rehearsals
Volume 3 of the "Authentic PPX Studio Recordings" collection included four demos which feature only Knight and Hendrix going through four songs. The tracks were also on the "The complete PPX Studio Recordings" box set. The demos are:
Better Times Ahead
Everybody Knew But Me
If You Gonna Make A Fool Of Somebody
Finally, on the private collector's ATM compilation "Curtis Knight & The Squires: The Complete Recordings Vol. 2 - Studio", there are versions of "Killing Floor" and "Last Night" that were obviously recorded with a fake live album in mind (either that or the band were rehearsing their show and taping it to see how it sounded). These tracks are also to be found with overdubbed audience noise on the "live" Hendrix/Knight albums (see below).
Curtis Knight live (?) recordings
DRIVIN' SOUTH (Released 2000 - Freud/Jungle)
Driving South, Travellin' To California, I'm A Man, I've Got A Sweet Little Angel, Killing Floor, Bleeding Heart, Bright Lights Big City, Get Out Of My Life Woman, Last Night, Baby what you want me to do, What'd I Say
The sound is pretty poor here but this is probably the most interesting pre-Experience CD there is, being the closest to where Jimmy was heading for in the future. Three songs played here were later in The Experience's repertoire ("Driving South", "Killing Floor" and "Bleeding Heart" * ) and the rest of the tracks are interesting blues numbers.
These tracks are said to have been recorded at Georges Club 20, Hackensack, New Jersey on December 26 1965. They have been exploited on countless albums over the years. The recordings seem to be live takes (perhaps recorded in an empty club) but the audience noise was evidently overdubbed and some tracks feature intrusive rhythm section overdubs (perhaps done in the early seventies).
As I said above, some bootlegs present a couple of tracks ("Killing Floor" and "Last Night") in their original form and reveal that the band were playing to an empty hall, but 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 with either a fake live album in mind or simply a demonstration tape the help the band get engagements. When Jimi became famous, producer Ed Chalpin came back the poorly recorded tapes and overdubbed audience noise (this was a technique sometimes used on albums by James Brown or Chuck Berry for exemple). On many tracks, he also overdubbed a rhythm section in an attempt to freshen up the sound.
On the recordings, Jimmy even sings on most of the numbers featured here: "Killing Floor", ""Bleeding Heart", I'm A Man", "What'd I Say", "Get Out My Life Woman" and "Travellin' To California" (often listed as "California Night", it is an Albert King song and seems to have been the basis for Jimi's own blues he was to pen later - "Red House").
The version of "Bleeding Heart" is superb but unfortunately fades out after a couple of minutes. "Drivin South", Jimmy's reading of Albert Collin's "Thaw Out", is also great, pointing to the Experience versions we know from the BBC and Paris Olympia performances.
Jimmy sounds very confident on these recordings, singing well and putting in some excellent guitar work. The blues "I've Got A Sweet Little Angel" , sung by Knight, is excellent also, with Jimmy playing fine solos.
*"Bleeding Heart" is also known as "Left Alone". It is listed as such on the PPX series of albums. (thanks to François for that info.)
From these "performances" there is also an instrumental bash titled "Hard Night" which ressembles "Come On (Part One)" a little, and it is sometimes listed as such on bootlegs.
> The radio documentary on "the Lifelines" box set in fact featured this version of "I'm A Man"
Here is an interesting review of Drivin' South (with an extract of "Bleeding heart" !) by John Perry again.
Finally, here is a list of all the "live" tracks that have cropped up on official or unofficial releases. Lonnie Youngblood is present on some titles. These are recordings from more than one source. At one point the band is introduced as simply The Lovelights. Certain songs feature overdubs and sound quality varies. There is a version of "Have Mercy" listed here but Curtis Knight takes lead vocal. The song was of course in The Experience's early repertoire. A few songs exist in a couple of versions. It must be said that the very best songs are on Jungle's "Drivin' South".
You Got What It Takes but Hang On Sloopy
I'll Be Doggone
What'd I Say
Hold (On To) What You've Got aka Hold What You've Got
I'm A Man
Stand By Me
Ain't That Peculiar
Sugar Pie Honey Bunch aka I Can't Help Myself
One Night With You
Let's Go, Let's Go, Let's Go
Walkin' The Dog
California Night (aka Travelin' To California) - 2 versions
Twist And Shout
Bright Lights, Big City
Land Of A Thousand Dances
Left Alone/Bleeding Heart
Get Out Of My Life, Woman
There Is Something On Your Mind
I'll Be Doggone
I Got You (I Feel Good) - 2 versions
Sweet Little Angel
Baby, What You Want Me To Do( aka You Got Me Running(
Just A Little Bit
Mercy Mercy (aka Have Mercy)
Something You've Got aka Something You Got
Killing Floor (2 versions)
Hard Night - vaguely similar to Come On (Part 1)
Forget the front cover of "Drivin' South", here's an idea of what Jimmy looked like
around the time of these December 1965 Georges Club recordings.
Mid 1966 and Jimmy has adopted a Dylan haircut, ressembling the Jimi that we all love.
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).
There exists a bootleg of Curtis Knight and The Squires that was supposedly recorded at the Club Cheetah
though I think it is simply some of the"Georges Club" recordings.
UNRELEASED EARLY 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)
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:
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.
The 1967 reunion sessions with Curtis Knight
Later in his career and once he had found fame, Jimi came back to New York and joined Curtis Knight for a couple of spontaneous reunion sessions at Studio 76. They jammed a little and Jimi touched up 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
A number of these pre-Experience recordings turned up in 2010 on the "West Coast Seattle Boy" box set. However, because of contractual disageements, no Curtis Knight or Lonnie Youngblood recordings were included. One can't imagine Experience Hendrix negociating with Ed Chalpin over the Curtis Knight material after all the years of legal wranglings.
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.
See Posthumous Studio Albums 2010.
BEWARE - FAKE HENDRIX 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.
The problem is that these things are still being sold or are all over YouTube etc. !
Here is a list of some the fake Hendrix tracks involved:
A mumblin' wind
Ain't gonna be no next time
Be my baby
Bring back my baby
Every little bit hurts
Everything you got
Feel that soul
Freedom and you
From this day on (she's so fine) (1)
Funky dish rag
Gangster of love
Girl so fine
Going home tomorrow
Gonna take a lot
Gonna take the lot
Gotta find some
Groovy little suzie
Hound Dog (2)
House of the rising sun
I love my baby
Keep a knockin'
Lawdy miss clawdy
Let me go
Let me thrill your soul
Let the god sing
Memories are made of this
My heart is higher
She's So Fine (3)
Short fat fanny
So called friend
Something you got
Two And One Goes
Voice in the wind
Walking with bessie mae
Win Your Love
Whole lotta shaking going on
Why don't you love me
Wild little tiger
You got it
You say you love me
(1) & (3) These have nothing to do with the Noel Redding song on "Axis: Bold As Love"
(2) This is not the BBC, Royal Albert Hall soundcheck or home acoustic version)
> The fake Hendrix album "Free Spirit" features guitarist Hermon Hitson (and a remix of The Icemen's "My Girl, She's A fox" which did feature young Jimmy).
These are Hermon Hitson recordings:
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
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
A rare portrait of "Jimi James" in New York 1966.
One night, while Jimmy was playing with Curtis Knight at The Cheetah Club, 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!).
Eventually, by mid 1966, urged by Linda and folk singer Richie Havens, Jimmy finally had the confidence to break away from Knight and try his luck in central New York. By this time he had dropped his stage name of Maurice James and now, as Jimi James, he hung around New York's Greenwich Village and after a spell of busking on street corners, he auditioned for the house band at the tiny Café Wha? He got the job and soon re-shaped the band which became The Blue Flame*(1) (they also called themselves The Rainflowers). In the group was a very young Randy California (later of the superb Spirit)*(2). In the band's repertoire were "Hey Joe", Like A Rolling Stone", "Wild Thing", "Killing Floor", "Shotgun" (the Junior Walker And The Allstars hit), "Mr. Bad Luck" (an early "Look Over Yonder") aswell 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.
John Hammond Jnr.
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). They played shows at the more prestigeous club The Café A Go Go. Al Kooper (of Blues Project and later Blood Sweat &Tears) even sat in from time to time. Thus, Jimmy was spotted by many famous British rock musicians who were in town, checking out the clubs for action.
When The Stones arrived, the Stones saw Jimi at the club Ondine's and Linda brought along their manager Andrew Loog Oldham to see if would be interested in managing Jimi or at least help him on his way. Oldham backed out, finding Jimi's situation too complicated to take over. Then Linda brought along the Animals bassist Chas Chandler*(3) down to see him play. Chas was on a farewell tour with The Animals and was looking for an artist to manage and produce. Linda had already played Chas Tim Rose's "Hey Joe" and Chas loved it, saying that if he could find the right act to manage, that song would be their first release. When Jimi 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 approached Jimi and convinced him that if he went to Britain, he could make it big. Jimmy was excited about this 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 Jimi to meet them. Chas then helped Jimi get his passport sorted out and cleared up the various contractual ties with a couple of record labels (but catastrophically not with PPX Enterprises, which Jimi failed to mention for some reason!).
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 is as 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!).
> I also read somewhere that in 1966, while on tour in the States, Mick Jagger came across 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.
> According to Brund Blum, in his biography of Lou Reed titled "Electric Dandy", Jimmy attended a Velvet Underground performance in New York in 1966 ! John Cale and Lou Reed's feedback drenched experimentations were obviously a great influence on his future guitar playing. Perhaps he had toyed with distortion techniques before that, but this event must have contributed to his own vision of his music.
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.
BEFORE FAME TIMELINE
1964 to September 1966 :
Niko has it sorted out on his super site: earlyhendrix.com
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