Jimi Hendrix died the morning of September 18, thanks to a casual helping of wine and sleeping pills. Drugs, exhaustion & carelessness silenced his guitar. With his habit of taking any quantity of any drug he was given, it's somewhat amazing he lasted as long as he did - (like other guitarists we could name....)
Though he and the Dead traveled in very different circles, their paths crossed a few times.
Musically they were nothing alike; though sometimes when the Dead were playing with noise (for instance on 2-14-70, in the second-set Feedback or the first-set space section in Dark Star) they could sound a bit like Hendrix. Their brief Foxy Lady jam on 4-21-69 is well-known; there's also an interesting moment about 17 minutes into the Lovelight on 4-11-70 - as the Lovelight breaks down they start another Foxy Lady-type riff, and Garcia wails in with a long sustained Hendrix-style feedback note almost like he's been possessed for a moment.
The Dead played before Hendrix at Monterey. Though Hendrix spent hours after the shows backstage jamming with others like John Cippollina, Jorma Kaukonen and Jack Casady, the stories differ, and though some claim he played with Garcia, it seems he never did. There's a famous story about how the Who and Hendrix tossed a coin to see who would go on first.....somehow it always gets left out that the Dead went on in-between them. In practically every Monterey account I've seen, the Dead's performance is either dismissed or forgotten entirely - by their refusal to be included in the film, they pretty much deleted themselves from that moment in musical history. (Though at the time they may have been more well-known in the US than Hendrix was - Are You Experienced didn't come out in the US until August.)
Film director Pennebaker also said, "We were trying not to use up all our film on any one band, so we figured one song per group -- that is, until we started shooting Hendrix and The Who and then just threw everything into the pot. The Grateful Dead presented another problem. They got started and didn't know how to stop. They purely outlasted us. After ten minutes they were still on their first song [Viola Lee], and we simply ran out of film and lost them."
Their set hasn't been released; Hendrix's set seems to be re-released every decade.
In early February '68 Hendrix's tourings took him again to San Francisco, where some of his shows on Feb 3-4 were taped - the Dead were on their Northwest tour. But in October '68 he returned for three more nights at the Winterland, while the Dead were playing three nights at the Avalon. By then he was a superstar - much as the Dead had their huge 'family', Hendrix also had his own entourage, a 24-hour party that followed him everywhere. He taped his shows at the Winterland for possible use in a live album, but decided they weren't good enough. (A selection was released in the '80s, and some of the sets can be played over at Wolfgangs Vault: http://concerts.wolfgangsvault.com/arr/jimi-hendrix/3342.html ) He used the occasion to bring on a number of San Francisco artists to jam with onstage, including Jack Casady - he was starting to get fed up with playing 'the hits' and was doing longer solos and instrumentals in his shows. Nonetheless, pressured by his management, he would always play mostly 'the hits' and the same few songs, and hardly ever did the kind of freeform shows he could have done - only in '69 did he sometimes play extended improvisations, so he had a very different approach to his shows than the Dead did.
Hendrix had constant troubles with his amplifiers through the Winterland shows; on October 12 they burned out completely mid-song, resulting in a long drum solo while they were fixed. The 12th had probably the weakest shows of the run, with Hendrix sounding despondent and constantly apologizing for the equipment trouble while his amps were fixed: "It's just too bad that we're having all this trouble tonight.... We'd like to come back here again to make up for these last two nights where we've been having very bad equipment, because we want you to hear us the way we really are....and make up for this junk we have behind us.... You must all be really tired, cause I really am, I'm sorry, I really am tired."
But, tired as he was, it seems it was on October 12/13 that Hendrix had his chance to jam with the Dead - Chet Helms tells the sad story:
"Hendrix is back in San Francisco and he calls me and asks me to put together a jam with him and Quicksilver and the Grateful Dead. He said he really enjoyed jamming at Monterey and would like to do it again... I told him, "Sure, I think I can set it up." I made a few calls and got it together....I set it up for Quicksilver and the Dead to show up and jam with Hendrix.... I called Hendrix back and told him to meet us at the ferry boat in Sausalito at 2 am, and we would jam all night. We go out to this place [October 12], and the Dead are beat and dead tired because they had just played the Avalon, but after all, it's a jam with Hendrix. We sit there from 2 am until morning, and Hendrix never shows. Everybody in Quicksilver and the Dead were pissed.... The Dead played again at the Avalon that night [October 13] and Hendrix shows up there while the Dead were playing. [His shows were through and he had the night free.] Hendrix comes up to me and I told him that the Dead and Quicksilver and I were waiting for him all night in Sausalito, and I asked him what happened. Hendrix says, "Oh, I met this broad, and we dropped acid and we fucked all night".... Hendrix said, "Can I jam with the Grateful Dead tonight on the stage?" and I said, "It's OK with me, but it's their gig - if they want that to happen, it's fine with me." I brought Hendrix into the dressing room and told the Dead that Jimi wanted to jam with them, and they're saying, "Great! We'll do it!" The Grateful Dead go back out onstage to do their last set of the night and start playing. And keep playing. I tell Hendrix and everybody that no matter what, I'm pulling the plug at midnight. [The Avalon had a strict curfew, so Dead shows there had to be kept short, which accounts for the rushed endings we hear at some of their shows there.] What happened was the Dead kept telling him to wait, and played out their set.... So Hendrix never jammed with the Grateful Dead, and the bottom line is they were pissed at him."
This is the show Hendrix waited through:
The Dead and Hendrix played famous sets at Woodstock in '69. The Dead's set is famed for being terrible - with delays, high winds, rain, a collapsing stage, radio signals in the speakers, and electric fireballs of death onstage - though they held together pretty well. Hendrix didn't arrive til the next day, and his set was also fairly chaotic what with an unrehearsed band, more sound problems onstage, and having to wait til 8 am to play to a sleeping, mud-drenched audience; but by the end of the show he got it together enough to perform a remarkable improvised, mostly instrumental medley that's perhaps his finest moment - and also the closest he came to a Dead-style medley that takes the listener on an emotional arc from rock to noise & feedback to a flamenco-like passage to a wordlessly fragile, melancholy finish. Afterwards Hendrix fled to a hotel, tired and unhappy with his performance and wanting to get away from everyone, and passed out.
The Dead's show of course hasn't been released (until a few selections this year) - Hendrix's show has been re-released several times.
The last time they appeared together was on May 16, 1970, playing a bill at Temple University in Philadelphia along with Steve Miller. Miller saw Hendrix backstage and says, "He was really sick. He looked like he was really strung out. He had a bunch of Mafia thugs who were working with him. The Grateful Dead played, then we played, then Jimi. When Jimi came out and walked by me, he smelled so bad it almost made you sick. He and Mitch Mitchell had just shot up a whole lot of methedrine and he was completely wigged out. They were both in really bad shape." A tape was made of Hendrix's show and it's one of the poorest shows of an erratic year for him - he's obviously quite wasted. Audience members also started taping the Dead's show until they were stopped by a mean Sam Cutler:
On September 19, 1970, while the Dead were in their Fillmore East run, Led Zeppelin were playing at Madison Square Garden, and Robert Plant took a moment to say to the audience: "Yesterday something happened - Jimi Hendrix died and we're all very sorry because he contributed a lot to the current music thing, and we'd like to just hope that everybody thinks it's a real shame."
The Dead, as far as I know, never commented, but Garcia in an interview shortly after Janis Joplin's death (which he called "a dumb fucking accident") complained about "that celebrity bullshit": "You can't get away from it....so it leaves the human things just completely fucked up and that's one of the things that has never been successfully handled in society.... The whole star system is not something that really happens; it's something somebody invented and laid on the public. It's responsible for all the evils in the music business, that whole trip, in terms of what it does, in terms of why people turn to downs or drugs and stuff like that just to get away from the shit for a while. I mean, Jimi Hendrix lived with it. I never saw him without a half-dozen weird people hanging around him - vampires and shit. It's just a bummer."
There was a stage set up at the far end of the Monterey fairgrounds, with lots of amps and instruments donated by an amp mfg. This is where the good jams took place, and Jerry and Jimi did play together, according to Rock Scully in the LIVING WITH THE DEAD book. As far as Jimi's demise, the latest rumors are that he was killed by manager Mike Jeffry's henchmenReplyDelete
Rock Scully did say that Hendrix jammed with the Dead on the 'other stage', things like Walkin' the Dog & Schoolgirl.... On the other hand, I don't trust Scully's memory, so it remains unconfirmed unless someone else remembers the same thing.ReplyDelete
Weir has said that he jammed with Hendrix and Paul Simon in one of the performers' tents.
They were probably all so high on acid it's a wonder if anyone remembers anything.
As for Jimi's demise, believe what you want. I say it was accident, like Janis, like Jim. Killing someone by drowning them in wine is rather unusual, even Shakespearean. The only person there was Monika Dannemann; her statements about the evening are dishonest and contradictory, to be sure.
But if the greatest musician in the world died in your apartment, and it was your fault, you probably wouldn't be very honest about it either. She killed herself years later.
In McNally's book he mentions that Weir briefly jammed with Jimi at an Amp maker's booth at Monterey.Delete
Yes, see the comment in March 2011 below.Delete
This is one of those posts where the comment thread is much longer than the original post!
there really is no saying Jimi death was an accident because its a matter of facts. Jimi's blood-alcohol content was 3.9 mgs according to Dr. John Bannister, yet the medics testify everything around him was drenched and they pumped out over a gallon out of him.ReplyDelete
then you have the fact that his gf and Eric Burdon BOTH lied about the time of his death, citing it around 10 when the medical report shows it was early as 3 am which means that they waited over 5 hours to attempt to save Jimi.
if you've researched Jimi's background, he was just too naive and innocent and controlled by thugs with mafia connection, this is all well documented in Hendrix books.
That's the most retarded shit I've read on this blog, dude.Delete
I get the feeling the writer is kind of presuming things out of laziness or ignorance... because I know you haven't actually heard the Philadelphia 1970 bootleg of Jimi's. (yes, it exists). the fact is, Miller is wrong and it is NOT a bad gig at all, Jimi delivers a classic Machine Gun and a great Hear My Train and Red House Blues.ReplyDelete
I decided to check out this bootleg which I had in my collection already but hadn't listened to yet. I had a pretty good feeling that this was not a bad gig. There were no bad gigs for Jimi.Delete
The way his musical brain worked, he was always creating musically offstage and onstage. There was no off switch for him. He was creative every time he picked up the guitar. So a bad gig for him didn't happen. Even his three song bad show at MSG in Jan. 1970 had interesting moments. The same with the short show he did in Europe in Sept. 1970 that was abandoned.
As soon as I turned on this concert, I knew the instant I heard him start to play that someone's account was incorrect. They probably didn't understand what Jimi was doing because he was so ahead of his time. Hence the "bad gig" label. It happens all the time for Bob Dylan these days.
I agree that he was creative every time he picked up the guitar, but can't agree that there were no bad gigs...some, at least, were much better than others. While I wouldn't say there were any gigs where he "didn't care," there are definitely a few where he's really not in the mood & is struggling.Delete
At any rate, I do greatly prefer the 1970 American shows mentioned in my 4/25/10 comment, over this 5/16/70 show. While not bad, I don't think it's that great either (while recognizing that even a middling Hendrix show is still "great" in many ways).
I did listen to the 5-16-70 show again, and it was better than I remembered (in spite of many annoying tapecuts). Hendrix still sounded pretty wired & rushed... I prefer other shows from the 1970 American tour like 4-25, 5-8, 5-30, and 6-13, or even 5-2 or 6-27...ReplyDelete
I have read the Hendrix books, and I don't recall one that supports the theory that Hendrix was murdered by his manager. How we interpret the death is a matter of faith, not of facts.
Monika Dannemann is completely untrustworthy, and her account is, I think, almost all lies. (She even claimed he was still alive when the ambulance came! Eric Burdon's memory is also quite self-serving.) So we don't know what happened in her apartment.
It is true that Hendrix apparently died hours before she claimed, and that he had a low blood-alcohol level. The barbiturate level, though, may have been enough to knock him out pretty well. (The medical report, by the way, does not mention time of death.)
We have Dr Bannister's word alone that Hendrix was drenched in wine. The two medics who got him (and the other doctor who worked on him) only said he was covered in vomit (they didn't mention wine at all), and the autopsy concluded that vomit inhalation due to barbiturate intoxication killed him. The autopsy said nothing about the stomach & lungs being full of wine. So to suggest he was 'drowned in wine' is relying a lot on one guy's memory (versus the other three).
The best book so far on the subject is Tony Brown's Hendrix: The Final Days, which compares all the witnesses & analyzes the report. (Most books rely too much on Monika's stories, since she sued any authors who contradicted her!)
As for Mike Jeffery, I have no doubt he was a despicable thug with mafia connections. As for the recent murder 'revelation' from James Wright, it is certainly odd that he'd only reveal it just before publishing his memoirs, 40 years later. And, just read part of it, it's ridiculous:
"I can still hear that conversation, see the man I'd known for so much of my life, his face pale, hand clutching at his glass in sudden rage... 'I had to do it, Tappy. You understand, don't you? I had to do it. You know damn well what I'm talking about... I was in London the night of Jimi's death and together with some old friends... we went round to Monika's hotel room, got a handful of pills and stuffed them into his mouth... then poured a few bottles of red wine deep into his windpipe... I had to do it. Jimi was worth much more to me dead than alive. That son of a bitch was going to leave me. If I lost him, I'd lose everything.'"
So, this secondhand report of a drunken conversation is reliable testimony?
Well...apparently, Jeffery was actually in Spain that night.
On top of that, Wright claims that Jeffery was the beneficiary of a huge life-insurance policy. But one biography says that Hendrix refused to sign any such policy, and I haven't found any proof that it existed. (Of course Jeffery may have become richer after the death regardless, as Hendrix sales boomed & he didn't have to pay him anymore!)
In short - Jimi's death is not a "matter of facts" - just loose ends, contradictions & unknowns. So those who like conspiracies have a happy hunting-ground here.
Garcia was asked in October 1970 if he'd ever jammed with Hendrix:ReplyDelete
"No, I never did. The opportunity just never came up."
I forgot to mention one odd parallel between them - they had both served in the army, Garcia in 1960, and Hendrix in 1961.
They were both broke & desperate high-school dropouts at the time - for Hendrix the army was a get-out-of-jail card, while Garcia was unhappy with his life and wanted to 'see the world.'
They both went through basic training at Ford Ord, California (Garcia a year earlier than Hendrix). Neither of them left the States - Garcia was stationed in San Francisco, and Hendrix in Kentucky.
Both, of course, disliked the army and were soon considered unfit for service - Garcia was court-martialed and discharged after repeatedly going AWOL, and Hendrix also managed to get an early discharge.
After the army, neither of them went back home - Garcia drifted aimlessly with the Palo Alto beatnik crowd for a while before he started playing guitar seriously; while Hendrix immediately formed a band and went on the road.
Garcia: "Being in the army is like having a bad job. I didn't take it seriously."
Hendrix: "Army people tell you what to do all the time...the Army's really a bad scene. They wouldn't let me have anything to do with music."
I didn't mention in the post that even though Garcia never jammed with Hendrix, Weir did.Delete
Weir said, “I found myself jamming with him at the Monterey Pop Festival backstage. I didn’t know who he was, and I don’t think he knew who I was. But we were plugged into the same amplifier and had a great time together basically destroying that amplifier. And we became friends after that.”
Another account of the Monterey jam from Weir:
"A friend of mine, his dad owned Guild guitars and he was big in the business. He had set up an exhibit booth for Guild musical instruments. Backstage, there were a number of those little expo booths set up. Guild had some guitars and basses and equipment set up there, and there was a jam just starting to happen, so I plugged into, I think it was a big Standel amplifier. One by one people started coming in. This black kid with a headband came in. He didn't have a place or an amplifier to plug into, so I said, 'Well here, you plug into the other channel on this one and we'll just see what we get.' Turns out it was Jimi Hendrix, and that was where I met him. We had a lot of fun and we went on endlessly. We were hanging like monkeys off this amplifier, having our instruments feedback and exploring scales and just jamming."
http://crosstowntorrents.org/archive/index.php/t-5643.html - see also https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OkUeO3sBMCo
Which makes it all the more lamentable that Hendrix didn't join the Dead for a giant Feedback session at the Avalon in '68!
Many of the additions & comments here come about because I finally, belatedly remember something I forgot to include months ago...ReplyDelete
And this is one of those.
One of the openers for the Dead's Oct '68 Avalon shows was organist Lee Michaels.
With Hendrix hanging around backstage on 10/13, I don't think this was first time he'd met Michaels, but something was sparked - he showed up to jam with Lee Michaels onstage at the Whiskey (probably when Michaels was playing there the following week), and the week after that invited Michaels to play on several studio sessions with him in L.A.
It's hard not to notice the glaring difference between Hendrix's involvement with Michaels and his non-involvement with the Dead! Particularly with them being at the same show.
Of course, there are a couple reasons - Hendrix often looked for a keyboard player to fill out his band's sound (he'd just pulled Herbie Rich from Buddy Miles' band to play with him at Winterland) - also, I think Michaels was friends with Buddy Miles, so that would automatically put him into proximity with Hendrix.
This is total speculation, but I wonder if things might have gone differently if Pigpen had been with the Dead that night? (He was absent from these shows, hence they had no keyboardist; and as their resident blues fan, he may well have struck it up with Hendrix...)
Dennis McNally tells an alternate story of the Avalon jam that almost happened:ReplyDelete
"On the one occasion that Hendrix had come to a show, ax in hand, the Dead had gotten so high on LSD and so deep in their music that when Mickey Hart finally remembered to signal for him to join them, it was hours later and he'd departed."
Clearly an anecdote from a band member...and probably not the truth! (The whole show was less than 80 minutes, and if anything they were rushed for time.) But it's interesting they'd remember it this way.
More information has come up, in the latest comments here:ReplyDelete
Robert Hunter gave a show in Seattle where he mentioned a no-show from Hendrix:
“A lot of people don’t realize that What's Become of the Baby is a very beautiful art-nouveau kind of thing. But the thing is, Jimi Hendrix was gonna come over to the studio, so we decided to get good & weird so he could hear it.” [sings a verse] “It was a minuet, but we already had one minuet on the record, Mountains of the Moon..."
The timeline fits - the Dead were working on WBOTB in the studio in early October 68, when Hendrix appeared in SF for his Winterland shows. Hendrix may have vaguely mentioned that he'd drop by the studio...but never did. Between his blowing off the jam and not showing up at the studio, the Dead were probably pretty annoyed with him.
(However, I'm dubious of Hunter's reasons for 'getting weird' with What's Become of the Baby. While Garcia's initial acoustic performance on the Aoxomoxoa outtakes tape is kind of similar to Hunter's performance, the impetus to make it weirder lasted long after Hendrix left, so it's interesting Hunter remembered it that way. And as far as it being too similar to Mountains, Mountains didn't show up at a live show for two more months...so I suspect it entirely postdated the WBOTB experiment. While it's fascinating to hear Hunter talk about the Aoxomoxoa sessions to an audience 40 years later, not everything he says might be strict truth!)
Thanks for the reference to the RH where he talks about WBOTB. That's really great to know about. But I think you're right to be dubious of RH's recollection for the reasons you give. Another point is that Mountains of the Moon is not a minuet, which are pretty much defined by being in triple meter. Mountains of the Moon is, however, definitely in duple. I think he might have meant Rosemary, which is in triple meter.
It also helps answer a question I've been looking for an answer for concerning WBOTB. There's a transcription of it in the Garcia-Hunter Songbook (2003) but included is an acoustic guitar intro that doesn't appear on either the officially released Aoxomoxoa or the bootlegged outtakes. I've been wondering where it may have come from and through Alan Trist I've been able to determine that it almost certainly originates from a tape that RH sent the publisher. It's interesting that that show in Seattle you quote from was in 2003, the same year the book was published, so it's quite possible that he performed and discussed it because he had just been involved in having it transcribed for that songbook.
I'm glad there are other people investigating these little mysteries of the Dead! Much remains to be discovered...Delete
It's probably coincidental, but the Dead play a little 20-second vamp before Truckin' in this show (track 14) that sounds just like Up From The Skies.ReplyDelete
That is no doubt Up From the Skies,it's so interesting to hear Jerry riffing on Jimi.I rarely listen to those tuning tracks and now I see what I could be missing.It is only a vamp,but it is a treat and a little window into the musical machinations of Jerry's brain.ReplyDelete
Sorry, that is NOT Up From The Skies, and it' s not Jerry, it's Bob who starts playing the jazzy chords. Those are generic jazzy-blues chords played in a shuffle rhythm and in fact if you were going to compare it to a Jimi song it would be "Rainy Day, Dream Away", not "Up From The Skies".Delete
I agree it is a generic jam that can't be identified as a particular song, although it is a similar feeling to a few Hendrix songs. However, it does sound to me like Jerry starting the jam, with Bob and the rest of the band joining, and towards the end Jerry solos briefly while Bob continues playing rhythm.Delete
I was asked to compare Garcia & Hendrix's playing styles more, something I didn't really do in this post. Someone more knowledgeable would have to make a close comparison, since I'm not really qualified, but I'll make a few comments.ReplyDelete
Stylistically they were extremely different - Hendrix was so much more into hard rock, R&B and blues, and hardly at all into fingerpicking folky stuff. Though Hendrix could drop into country-style picking from time to time as an old Nashville vet, & Garcia also did slow blues tunes like Death Don't sometimes. (And they both did Johnny B Goode...)
Hendrix often flirted with jazz, not only in his songs but also in jamming with folks like Larry Young (kind of the equivalent of the Garcia/Saunders collaboration), and even recorded with horns a couple times. He was a huge influence on Miles Davis, though they never recorded together.
Hendrix played Wes Montgomery-style octaves and Curtis Mayfield-style fills all the time, things you rarely hear from Garcia. I would say that both were good 'support' players - having backed for years in R&B bands, Hendrix was very strong at rhythm backgrounds & fills; while Garcia closely studied country & jazz players and really worked at backing others.
It's in his most 'psychedelic' playing in the early Dark Stars when Garcia perhaps comes closest to thinking 'outside the strings' in making strange guitar sounds - compare, say, the weird space-outs after the verse in a 1970 Dark Star to Hendrix's little space section in live I Don't Live Todays from 1969, using controlled feedback to make a musical illustration.
Their use of feedback is when the two touch hands, so to speak - but Garcia usually didn't extend & vibrate a single note of feedback (Hendrix's trademark). Garcia did it a lot more often in '67/68, but it sort of fell out of his repertoire after that. In general the Dead used feedback at specific places for a specific purpose, while Hendrix uses it all over the place, practically as decoration.
Though he sometimes played a Gibson, Hendix mostly preferred to use a Stratocaster. Garcia was more of a magpie with guitars, starting out with Gibsons in the '60s, switching to a Stratocaster in the early '70s, then moving on to customized guitars. But Hendrix would sometimes switch guitars in a show (for instance, getting a Gibson to play Red House), while Garcia was always a one-guitar-per-show guy.
Hendrix used the wah-wah pedal much more, on lots of songs; Garcia used it more sparingly - like in the early Sugar Magnolias, or the Playing in the Band jams. Hendrix also frequently used other effects, like the Octavia or Univibe; Garcia was much more sparing with effects in the early years, preferring simply to change his tone settings, though later on he did get more gadgets like the Mutron envelope filter. (Both of them had tech wizards behind the scenes to work on their guitar sound - Garcia had Owsley & the Alembic team, while Hendrix had Roger Mayer.)
Needless to say, Hendrix was much more of a showman using various stage tricks than Garcia was. Hendrix was also far more aggressive in his playing than Garcia, who could be noisy & distorted in '67-68 but toned down rapidly after the '60s. One advantage of Garcia's not constantly using a tremolo like Hendrix, was that he also wasn't constantly going out of tune like Hendrix!
I sadly have to say that Hendrix never got into full-band improvisation like the Dead did, or even Cream (one of his musical heroes) - he preferred to solo over a very rigid backing, and when jamming with others, it was usually in the taking-turns-to-solo mode. I can only imagine what Hendrix might've done if he'd ever picked a bass player like Lesh. (Though he did play with Jack Casady a couple times.)
That said, pieces like 1983 off Electric Ladyland certainly show that he could make lengthy, evocative soundscapes, given more time & freedom. Unfortunately he was even less disciplined than the Dead were, wasting agonizing amounts of time in the studio.
Any comparison is kind of unfair, going either way - for one thing, Hendrix had much more of an impact on the musical world than Garcia ever did. On the other hand, Hendrix did it in only 4 years, and we can only wonder what he could have come up with if he'd had 30.
I would add to the above: it seems to me that Garcia sustains more listening in the long run than Hendrix, for a few reasons - one is the simple issue of number of performances. With Hendrix, the number of shows & alternate performances soon runs dry (even as often as he recorded) while you can keep finding new Garcia/Dead shows for years.ReplyDelete
Hendrix also had a much smaller body of songs that he regularly played, and tended to play "the hits" at every show.
Garcia's playing style also has more variety than Hendrix's - he often fits his playing to the tune, and intentionally did a wide range of material. Hendrix, in live shows, did not broaden his range as much as he could have.
Garcia is also more "easy listening" than Hendrix - a sweeter sound, you might say; you can listen to Garcia solo for hours on end. Hendrix turns it up & blasts it out, and much of his playing has a very "heavy" feel, which in large quantities is easy for the listener to overdose on.
Of course, had Hendrix been playing & composing more through the '70s, these caveats would probably have become irrelevant.
There was an interesting discussion on the Archive forum recently about some of Hendrix's more unusual unreleased & live material, showing some potential directions he never pursued -
Sam Cutler has a brief chapter on the 5/16/70 Philadelphia show in his book, where he chatted with Hendrix. He writes, "Hendrix looked terrible, played in a desultory fashion, and seemed like he wasn't even on the same planet as us."
He tried to discuss with Hendrix the problem of the promoters not paying the other bands, but says Hendrix brushed him off. I think the general outline is probably true - Hendrix wouldn't talk about money issues with Cutler, & left those things to his management - though the specific dialogue in Cutler's book seems made-up to me.
The Dead played a few shows in New York in the first week of May 1968. According to McNally's book, after the Electric Circus shows (May 7-9), "the visit ended for Mickey in a jam with Jack Casady, Steve Winwood, and Jimi Hendrix at Electric Ladyland studios."
So, even if the Dead never jammed with Hendrix, perhaps Hart did?
I'm extremely uncertain about this story, though. For one thing, Electric Ladyland studios did not yet exist; Hendrix was recording at the Record Plant studios at that time. For another, Casady & Winwood are known to have jammed with Hendrix at the Record Plant (recording Voodoo Chile) on May 2 - Hendrix rounded them up at the Scene Club that night, but Hart's presence at that session is unrecorded; Mitch Mitchell was the drummer.
Nonetheless, the Dead had been in Philadelphia the previous week, and there's no reason why Hart might not have been visiting Jack Casady in NYC on the evening of May 2, and witnessed the Record Plant jam.
This quote is from a comment on my Cream post, but it's also relevant here. Frank Kofsky interviewed Garcia in early September 1967 (published in the recent book Dead Studies vol. 1) - Garcia had just seen Cream at the Fillmore and was still in shock. Kofsky also asked him about Hendrix...but Garcia felt Hendrix wasn't in the same league as Cream.ReplyDelete
KOFSKY: Who have you learned from recently?
GARCIA: The Cream.
KOFSKY: What about Jimi Hendrix? I've heard a lot of talk about him.
GARCIA: Nothing like the Cream. I mean, he's also got a three-piece band - similar sound, you know, because of the instrumentation - but the Cream is much heavier. They're much better musicians than Jimi Hendrix... You should have seen [Cream] at the Fillmore...cause they played with a lot of very heavy bands. They played with Gary Burton's band. They played with the Electric Flag. They played with Paul Butterfield's band and with Charlie Musselwhite's band. And they made them all sound pretty old-fashioned...
KOFSKY: I talked to Eric [Clapton] too, as a matter of fact...he mentioned Hendrix to me. That's one of the reasons I thought I'd ask you.
GARCIA: Well, you know, he probably thinks one way about Jimi Hendrix. I mean, Jimi Hendrix is very strong and he's got a fantastically good stage come-on... And he's a strong musician, too. I mean, he plays real good, and his ideas are good. He writes pretty good songs and stuff like that, but I really don't think that the whole level of that band is anything like Cream.
KOFSKY: He's one guy...but the Cream are three guys that are all -
GARCIA: Equally heavy.
KOFSKY: Yeah, definitely, it is a lot of an individual thing with the Cream... Whereas Jimi, it's always "Jimi Hendrix and blank blank." And the "blank blank" can be changed from day to day and wouldn't make much difference...
GARCIA: Right. The Cream have got a bigger thing together than Jimi Hendrix.
Garcia on Hendrix, 1991:ReplyDelete
"I remember watching Jimi play - we played a lot of shows together - and there were times when the guitar wouldn't do what he wanted it to do. It was sad or embarrassing, because it wouldn't do all that magic stuff. Sometimes it was just the instrument or the humidity - who knows? The stuff he was doing had so much to do with weird, fringey kinds of things. You know that little feedback where you just touch a note? He could control it so well. But if it isn't happening, making it happen isn't possible. Theoretically, everything is the same, but it doesn't work that way. I don't know why. I've had those kinds of nights where it seems like every other thing I do is wrong."
(from Jon Sievert, "Garcia & Grisman," Guitar Player, September 1991)
Hendrix and the Dead hardly played "a lot of shows together," and I'm not sure if Garcia ever saw him at other times, so I wonder which shows he's talking about here. Maybe one of Jimi's early San Francisco shows, but my guess is Garcia might be remembering the 5/16/70 Philadelphia show.
Hendrix was valuable to too many people. There was no reason to kill him. He wasn't a threat to anyone and nobody had anything to gain from him dying. Wouldn't Mike Jeffrey want the albums, tours, and money to keep rolling in?ReplyDelete
B/c Jeffrey knew he was about to get fired, hence, losing his source of cash flow, which he routinely robbed Hendrix of.Delete
I'd say the biggest stylistic difference was Jerry's foundation in bluegrass. Obviously, Jimi was a musical sponge, but as a black kid growing up in the 1950s, it's hard to imagine him having any interest in rural white music. He was captivated by showmanship, which naturally led to his eventual gigs with Little Richard, the Isleys, etc. Once that began to bore him, he gravitated toward -- as you point out -- Montgomery and Mayfield, and also the blues guitar virtuosos that few white North American kids apart from Mike Bloomfield, Robbie Robertson and Johnny Winter had the courage to copy. But Jimi went even deeper by getting into artists like Albert Collins and Earl King, virtually unknown to white audiences at the time. I think you made the point that Jerry played off other musicians better, which I agree with, but I'm firmly in the camp that Jimi was more of a musical visionary than Jerry. Jimi's 1970 band with Mitch and Billy Cox really could have developed into something incredible if other musicians had eventually been incorporated, but there are moments on every tape from that year that are jaw-dropping. There are a few versions of Spanish Castle Magic from that tour that are simply staggering -- Jimi using his solo to basically compose an entirely new song in real time. And of course, the Berkeley 1970 shows are untouchable. The modern music industry was basically created out of Jimi's popularity post-Monterey, and being at the centre of it crushed him. That's the real tragedy; if he had be given just a few more years, he would no doubt have gotten his shit together and likely would have become an artist similar to Prince -- completely self-sustained. I can't believe Jerry ever could have done that, although whenever I listen to his first two solo albums, I sometimes wish he would have given it a better shot.ReplyDelete
Jimi was more of a musical visionary than anybody in rock music. Jerry had entirely different, more modest ambitions. Possibly if Jerry had grown up in, say, Kentucky, he would have become a well-known bluegrass banjo star. But his main creative work was within the Dead, and his work outside the Dead wasn't very groundbreaking. Jimi was much more of a "solo" artist as well as showman, moving from one band to another without really sticking with any creative musical partners (unless you count Mitch). Jerry avoided that route; and he was much more distrustful of "the star trip" than Jimi was, though it eventually got him too.Delete
(Cross-posted from the Cream comments.)ReplyDelete
An April '68 article from the Seed, a Chicago underground paper, reporting on the San Francisco music scene circa Feb/March '68:
"The Cream returned to San Francisco and again demonstrated its ability to destroy minds at random; aside from the newly grown mustaches on Jack Bruce and Eric Clapton, the only major difference was the presence of the Atco Recording Co. to capture some of the excitement of a live performance for an LP.
Eric Clapton of The Cream can make a convincing claim to the title of best rock guitarist in the world. His improvisations are electric in every sense, there is little repetition, and most important, no hesitation or discontinuities are discernible.
Three other guitarists of similar stature come to mind: Jerry Garcia of the "Dead," Mike Bloomfield of the Electric Flag (formerly with Paul Butterfield), and Jimi Hendrix...
Jerry Garcia can improvise at an extraordinary up tempo pace, but his finger work on the bridge of the guitar is perhaps not as smooth as Eric Clapton's. Unfortunately the electric guitar connoisseur will find only smatterings of good Garcia guitar on the Grateful Dead's LP. The best indication of what Jerry Garcia can do live is on "Viola Lee Blues" with its quickening tempo and driving improvisation.
Jimi Hendrix unfortunately seems to be moving away from "clean" notes and emotional content into the realm of pure sound. The gutsy guitar solo in "Red House" on the first English album is pointed to by Hendrix admirers, but one is hardpressed to find more of the same on the subsequent American releases.
Mike Bloomfield is the guitarist most similar to Eric Clapton, but then this similarity exists because both have gained their reputations as blues guitarists. Clapton became widely acknowledged as the best blues guitarist in England during the two year period in which he played with John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers. A London LP entitled The Bluesbreakers: John Mayall with Eric Clapton has some fantastic Clapton guitar on it.
The Jimi Hendrix-John Mayall-Albert King dance concerts broke all attendance records in drawing nearly 20,000 people. The man who got them standing and yelling that weekend was Albert King. He gave a demonstration of what he termed "blues power" on his guitar (very powerful those blues) and at the same time was introduced to the great San Francisco audiences..."
(from "San Francisco Vibes," by Lou Niebaur, the Seed, 4/20/68, p.22)
It's become common for "the best rock guitarists" to be compared, but I'm intrigued to see such a comparison as early as 1968, and even more to see Garcia already listed among the top four. The advantage of this writer is that he could see them all live; the disadvantage was that their best work wasn't on album yet (Wheels of Fire, Anthem of the Sun & Electric Ladyland would come out later that year), or was only on English imports, so many record-buyers didn't have much to go on yet.
This particular reviewer prefers "clean notes" and smooth fingering, so he's dismayed that Hendrix is moving "into the realm of pure sound." Writing about the Hendrix/Albert King concerts, it seems King stole the show with his "blues power," which reminds me of negative comments King made about Hendrix relying on buttons and amplifiers in his playing:Delete
"That night I taught him a lesson about the blues... When you want to really come down and play the blues, well I could've easily played his songs, but he couldn't play mine."
"Jimi Hendrix used to take pictures of my fingers to try and see what I was doing. He never quite figured it out, but Jimi was a hell of guitar player, the fastest dude around – at the time... To me, he was overplaying to play the blues. He’d hit two or three good licks here and there and then speed them up and hit them over and over until he’d drown out all the good ones. The kids loved it and I liked his playing, too - that was his style. But don’t call him a great bluesman."