The Last Memories Rock Legends Have Of Jimi Hendrix
via Jimi Hendrix / Youtube
Music history is stained with tragedy, and the notorious 27 Club serves as a somber reminder of talented individuals who perished at the tender age of 27. Among its early members were iconic musicians Jimi Hendrix, who died in 1970. The circumstances surrounding Hendrix’s death continue to provoke controversy, with official reports attributing it to an unintentional overdose of sleeping pills and alcohol. But, despite his short-lived career, his legacy remains from the memories other rock legends have of him.
Eric Clapton, renowned for his guitar virtuosity, had a profound encounter with Hendrix just days before his passing. Hendrix expressed his intention to join Clapton’s new band, Derek and the Dominos, as a second guitarist. Clapton, humbled and excited by the prospect, eagerly welcomed Hendrix’s involvement. However, fate intervened once again, and Clapton was left to mourn the loss of a potential collaboration that could have reshaped the musical landscape.
Mike Nesmith, a member of The Monkees, crossed paths with Hendrix at a party thrown in Nesmith’s honor. Nesmith observed a melancholic side of Hendrix, who expressed dissatisfaction with the direction of his music. Hendrix’s crisis of self-confidence and his desire to explore new musical avenues left Nesmith with a deep sense of compassion and an awareness of the inner turmoil that plagued the legendary guitarist.
Billy Cox, a close friend and collaborator, shared his recollections of the final months with Hendrix. Cox highlighted the significance of their reunion in 1969, their formation of The Band of Gypsys, and their brief but impactful time in the recording studio. Hendrix’s enthusiasm for recording, resolving unfinished projects, and looking out for Cox was evident in their last conversation, during which plans for future jam sessions were made. However, fate intervened, and Hendrix’s sudden passing shattered the dreams they had shared.
Ronnie Wood, now an esteemed member of the Rolling Stones, reminisced about his time as Hendrix’s roommate during the late 1960s. Wood fondly recalled Hendrix as a well-mannered and gentle soul. Wood also bore witness to Hendrix’s final performance at Ronnie Scott’s, where he joined Eric Burdon on stage. Unbeknownst to Wood, this impromptu performance would mark the end of an era. Wood’s attempt to bid Hendrix farewell was met with a stoned and distant wave, forever capturing the image of a legend lost.
Roger Daltrey, renowned lead vocalist of The Who recounted his time spent with Hendrix at the latter’s Berkshire home. Daltrey revealed that Hendrix, accompanied by confidante Devon Wilson, exhibited both hopeful and troubling behavior. Engrossed in his musical evolution towards experimental, jazz-inspired realms and plans to establish himself in New York, Hendrix’s condition deteriorated throughout the evening. Slurred speech and eventual unconsciousness gave rise to concern, but the following morning, he inexplicably appeared ready for an interview, seemingly unaffected by the previous night’s events.
Howard Scott, guitarist for War, found himself on stage with Hendrix during his last live performance. Hendrix had initially declined an invitation to play the first night but seized the opportunity on the second. Scott vividly remembered Hendrix’s presence, describing him as being in command, exuding confidence, and delivering an unforgettable performance. Their shared time on stage, amplified by the rain-soaked journey back to the hotel, became etched in Scott’s memory as a surreal and extraordinary experience.
Pete Townshend of The Who found himself performing alongside Hendrix at the monumental Isle of Wight festival in 1970. Despite Hendrix’s physical exhaustion and strained state of mind, Townshend recognized the genius that radiated from his fellow guitarist’s performance. The raw energy, intricate guitar work, and fearless stage presence left an indelible mark on Townshend, who was inspired by Hendrix’s boundary-pushing approach to music. (Valium)
Noel Redding, bassist of the Jimi Hendrix Experience, also shared his recollections of the band’s final days. Redding revealed the strain within the group, citing tensions and disagreements over musical direction and creative control. Despite the challenges, Redding spoke fondly of Hendrix’s talent and their shared camaraderie during their time together. The news of Hendrix’s passing hit Redding hard, leaving him with a profound sense of loss and unfinished musical collaboration.
One of the most poignant accounts of Hendrix’s last days came from Mitch Mitchell, the drummer of the Jimi Hendrix Experience. Mitchell had the opportunity to spend time with Hendrix during their final European tour. He described Hendrix as being in a state of deep introspection, often retreating to his hotel room to write and reflect. Mitchell, a close friend and musical partner, sensed that Hendrix was grappling with personal demons and the pressures of fame. Their last conversation, filled with shared laughter and reminiscing, ended with a heartfelt embrace that remains etched in Mitchell’s memory.
Stevie Wonder, a musical prodigy in his own right, had a brief encounter with Hendrix that left an indelible impression. Wonder recalled meeting Hendrix backstage at a concert, where they engaged in a heartfelt conversation about music, life, and the pursuit of artistic expression. Hendrix’s genuine warmth and encouragement touched Wonder deeply, igniting a creative spark that would influence Wonder’s future musical endeavors.