Jimi Hendrix and Eric Burdon

Jimi Hendrix: The Man in the Music (Part 5)

Jimi Hendrix and Eric Burdon – 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.

The relationship between Jimi Hendrix and Eric Burdon was in the offing.

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.

Impressed with Hendrix’s version of Hey Joe, Chandler brought him to London and signed him to a management and production contract with himself and ex-Animals manager Michael Jeffery.

Jimi Hendrix and Eric Burdon Meet in London

Hendrix and 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.

Jimi Hendrix and Eric Burdon

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 and Eric Burdon friendship was well know at the time.

“Hendrix made his entrance during the second set. There was a crack in the air. I introduced Jimi to the audience … the typical London jazz crowd tried to show indifference as he took the stage, but a ripple of applause greeted the greatest guitar player in the world.”

He added, “The guys in War held their ground as we launched into a triple-time version of ‘Tobacco Road.’ Having Hendrix onstage made [War guitarist Howard Scott] play better than he ever had before. We slid into ‘Mother Earth,’ a beautiful blues written by Memphis Slim. We ended the set with a burning jam. Jimi was flying. And then it was over.”

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 Hendrix and Eric Burdon spent a lot of time at the Animal lead singer’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 and Eric Burdon with his new group War, were on stage at Ronnie Scott’s in London for what would be the guitarist’s last-ever public appearance.

Eric Burdon Finds Jim Hendrix Dead

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 and 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:

By Chowning

Richard Chowning was a teenager during the 60s. Being a Southern California resident during those years, he experienced many of the events and trends that distinguished those times.

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