Jimi Hendrix: The Man in the Music (Part 5)
Jimi Hendrix – Eric Burdon and the Animals Connection
Early in 1966 at the Cheetah Club on West 21st Street, in Greenwich Village Linda Keith, girlfriend of Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards, was stoked by Jimi Hendrix magical touch on the guitar. She quickly recommended Jimi to Stones’ manager Andrew Loog Oldham and producer Seymour Stein, but neither was as impressed as she. She mentioned Jimi to The Animals’ bass player, Chas Chandler who was about to start and new career and looking for talent to manage and produce. Chandler had recently been handed the the lyrics to “Hey Joe” and was convinced he could create a hit single with the right artist. Jimi was the right one.
Hendrix an Chas Chandler arrived in the UK on September 24, 1966. The first task at hand was to form a band. Jimi had attempted to enlist some of his former band members in the States, but none were interested in crossing the sea. So it fell to Chandler to select suitable bandmates. He settled on two white Brits: bassist and backing vocalist Noel Redding and drummer Mitch Mitchell. Within a few months the pair sprouted Afros that match Jimi’s.
African Americans in New York were turned off, even angered by Jimi’s psychedelic blues. They saw him as playing ‘white kids music.’ It was a much different matter in London. The unique combination of Jimi’s race, flashy dressing, and guitar prowess drew the British into every club he played. The local press, enamored by his Afro, called him the Wild Man of Borneo.
The club scene in The scene in London’s clubs was something never experienced before nor after. It was not uncommon the find members of the Rolling Stones, Cream, the Who and Jeff Beck in the audience where Jimi played. Chas Chanler’s Animal mates were there as well. Early on Animals lead singer Eric Burdon struck friendship with Jimi. They were often seen together and frequently appeared in concerts together. The Jimi Hendrix – Eric Burdon friendship was well know at the time.
Jimi Hendrix the “Black Elvis”
While in London, Jimi and the Experience performed all over Europe. The Animals lead wrote this about Hendrix: “He made a quantum leap from being just another starving New York artist to being the toast of London, which hailed him as the Black Elvis. He was not only a brilliant and innovative player, but a riveting performer, and he took the Old World by storm. ”
Their fame grew, but he was still very little known back home in the States.
In June of 1967 Jimi returned to the United States not confident that he would be able to gain the fame that alluded him in the past. It took one concert, the Monterey International Pop Festival to catapult Jimi Hendrix and the Experience to stardom. Paul McCartney recommended Jimi to the concert organizers. They and Jimi owe a lot to the Beatle’s singer song writer. It was his spectacular performance of “Wild Thing,” that blew the audience’s mind.
While in California, Jimi spent much time at Burdon’s mansion in Bel Air.
Jimi would make several trips across the Atlantic to meet concert commitments in Europe. But London held a special place in Jimi’s heart. It was where his fame was born and where he could hang out with other of the generation’s headlining acts.
Sept. 16th, 1970, Jimi Hendrix joined Eric Burdon, and his new group War, on stage at Ronnie Scott’s in London for what would be the guitarist’s last-ever public appearance.
Later that evening his newest girlfriend Monika Dannemann picked Jimi up and drove him to her flat at the Samarkand Hotel, 22 Lansdowne Crescent, Notting Hill. On the 18th she called Burdon alerting him to Jimi being in danger. Burdon found Jimi dead. The Jimi Hendrix – Eric Burdon connection was strong.
The next post will concern Jimi’s death.
This article is an installment in the Jimi Hendrix Series on 60s Folks: