Inkwell: Authors and Artists
Steven Roby (jimijames) Fri 16 Nov 07 10:18
>>New question: Steven, did you have any contact with the former Sandy Fisher, who was a studio engineer at Ladyland? No.
Steven Roby (jimijames) Fri 16 Nov 07 10:30
>>In "Black Gold" you mention Jimi, near the end, talking with Arthur Lee about cutting an album together. There's about two hours of sessions recorded in 1970. I'm really surprised that nothing has been released so far, but many of these recordings are still tied up with legal disputes. Arthur told me that he said some was there filming it too. >>You also mention that he did share a concert with Sly and the Family Stone. Do you know if Jimi and Sly had much interaction? Unfortunately not in the studio. Someone recently sent me a list of Hendrix reel-to-reel recordings that are being sold to those with deep pockets ($3 million) -- more lost archives. One of the tape boxes is marked "Jam with Larry Graham." Larry was the bass player for the Family Stone. I bet that was a killer session. No offense to Billy or Noel, but can you imagine Jimi with Buddy Miles AND Larry Graham. Jimi and Sly both appreciated each others music. On the night of his death, Jimi was supposed to sit in with Sly at a London nightclub, but never showed up.
Steven Roby (jimijames) Fri 16 Nov 07 10:32
>> I read where Jimi's family chose to have a memorial service for Jimi in Seattle instead of a big wake for him in NYC. The reason given was that the Hendrix family was afraid that the Black Panthers would distrupt such a musical gathering. Do you know anything about this scenario? Never heard about it.
Ed Ward (captward) Fri 16 Nov 07 11:09
There's one track from that Arthur Lee/Hendrix session on one of the Blue Thumb albums. I've got it at the bottom of a huge stack here, or I'd give you the title. I think it showed up on the album that had Arthur dressed like a janitor on the cover.
Steven Roby (jimijames) Fri 16 Nov 07 11:26
The album was called "Vindicator." I wish I still had it, or had on CD. A favorite of mine. There's nothing with Jimi on that LP, just a great photo of the two of them together. The only released track is called "The Everlasting First" and is found on the CD "False Start."
Ed Ward (captward) Fri 16 Nov 07 11:39
It's out (as part of The Blue Thumb Recordings) on Hip-O Select, the internet mail-order wing of Universal's reissue division.
Sharon Lynne Fisher (slf) Fri 16 Nov 07 12:15
Coincidentally, I'm listening to Dave Matthews Band playing "Jimi Thing."
Scott MacFarlane (s-macfarlane) Fri 16 Nov 07 13:01
Steve, I'm not going to let you off so easily on the influence of Seattle on Jimi. Let's think of it as a West Coast adaptation. I don't think it's an accident that the three black American artists most prominent in the mostly white Psychedelic Rock explosion were products of a West Coast upbringingArthur Lee (Los Angeles), Sly Stone (San Francisco) and Jimi Hendrix (Seattle). By no means did any of them fully abandon the issues of being black in America at the time, but all managed to transcend racial barriers to become successful in a largely white segment of the music market. Sly's "Hot Fun In the Summertime" is a poignant satire of the inner city riots that were afflicting so many inner cities across the US in the mid-60s. Also, had Jimi tried to kiss a white girl in Montgomery, Alabama in 1959, he may have been lynched, not kicked out of school. In any event,he wouldn't have been attending the same school as white kids. In the early '60s African-Americans were still called Negros, by the late '60s the term "black" was the acceptible phrase. All these guys had to deal with racism, of course, but the magnitude of the problem was not the same in all parts of the U.S., and the West, culturally, in the 60's still embraced the potential of a "new beginning." Racism was not absent from the burgeoning hippie movement of the late Sixties, but institutionalized prejudice was one of many things for which "the establishment" was being harshly criticized by the youth. I see Jimi being very adept at moving between worlds. Again, in the West there was still a spirit of "starting over" of self-reliance and rugged individualism that Jimi seemed to pick up on. He wasn't going to let conventions of society/race/musical tradition get in the way of his exceedingly strong desire to make it as a musician. Part of his own identity as an American black man, was to wear his freak flag high, not by adopting a confined sense of Black Power or turning his back on his blackness, but by being, as much as he could, his own man. As a guitarist, even in the early '60s Jimi was exploring and creating new ways to use amplification while playing guitar. This seemed to give him a unique sound that, later, happened to mesh with the music of psychedelia, that was blatantly borrowing from American Blues and R&B. His backfeeding and use of distortions elevated his growing talent as a blues and Soul guitarist to new heights. Steve, do you see Jimi's uniqueness musically, as stemming foremost from these early experiments with amplification uniquely merged with his blues and R&B guitar playing? Also, as for Jimi as a songwriter, I'm curious if you know of anyone who has ever compared Jimi's own song lyrics from before 1966 (if there are any), with those he wrote afterwards? ["Black Gold" states that Jimi first took acid in Greenwich Village in 1966. Jimi favors imagery with strong colors and vivid sensory detail. This psychedelic flavor certainly seems as though it would have been influenced by the tripping Jimi experienced.]
this (d)rugged individualist (carolw) Fri 16 Nov 07 13:11
My favorite factlet from the book so far is that when 'Electric Ladyland' first charted, Billboard listed it as 'Electric Landlady'.
Scott MacFarlane (s-macfarlane) Fri 16 Nov 07 14:14
:=) I laughed outloud at that, too. Let me try this question again: Steve, do you see Jimi's uniqueness musically, as stemming foremost from these early experiments with amplification and the way he later merged those sound effects with his blues and R&B guitar playing?
Life Is Easy When Considered From Another Point Of View (dam) Fri 16 Nov 07 15:29
Steve, is the still the first issue of your book. I read it when the book originally came out. I'm with you on your interest of all the unreleased studio stuff and I actually have a copy of the LA Forum bootleg I bought on vinyl back in '72, I think. I find the amount of unreleased stuff and/or concert material just fascinating for many, many artists.
Tim Fox (timfox) Fri 16 Nov 07 16:06
Hendrix' next project at the time of his death was to have been to record with Gil Evans, with Evans arranging and conducting Hendrix' music to accompany the guitarist's playing, rather in the spirit of Evans' collaborations with Miles (Sketches of Spain, Porgy and Bess). (A recording was released later, with John Abercrombie taking the lead guitar chair.) I'd be interested to hear what you could tell us about that project, Steven. I've heard stories of Hendrix jamming with John McLaughlin and Stanley Clarke towards the end of his like, and I've often thought that he'd just about exhausted the possibilities of blues and rock and, had he lived, would have developed in a more jazz, jazz/fusion direction.
Steven Roby (jimijames) Fri 16 Nov 07 16:49
Scott, "Managing to transcend racial barriers to become successful in a largely white...music market" was more about how artists were marketed by their managers and record companies. These 3 happened to make it-- we don't know about all the others who tried and where their roots were. LA isn't San Francisco (or Oakland where Sly was from), or Seattle. The West Coast isn't so homogenous a place. You want to see Seattle as a key player, have at it. >> do you see Jimi's uniqueness musically, as stemming foremost from these early experiments with amplification and the way he later merged those sound effects with his blues and R&B guitar playing? Sure, that's part of it. >>Jimi favors imagery with strong colors and vivid sensory detail. This psychedelic flavor certainly seems as though it would have been influenced by the tripping Jimi experienced. Not much has shown up (lyric wise) prior to 1966. Jimi was encouraged by Chas Chandler to write his own songs, but prior to that he's credited more with instrumentals. Part LSD influence, part listening to other composers like Dylan, part science fiction buff--maybe he had synesthesia (see Oliver Saks' "Musicophilia" book).
Steven Roby (jimijames) Fri 16 Nov 07 17:07
>>I'd be interested to hear what you could tell us about that (Gil Evans) project Tim, there was to be a project Miles Davis and another with Gil Evans. Alan Douglas, with his background in jazz, was organizing these session. I discuss them in detail in "Black Gold." I get the feeling the Miles Davis session would have taken place in 1971 since Jimi had to finish "First Rays," work out legal matters, and decide whether to reform a rock trio. There were so many new avenues for Jimi to explore. I would have like to have seen him take some time out, raise his kids, and be a guest artist/producer now and then. >>I've heard stories of Hendrix jamming with John McLaughlin and Stanley Clarke towards the end of his life, and I've often thought that he'd just about exhausted the possibilities of blues and rock and, had he lived, would have developed in a more jazz, jazz/fusion direction. In my head, when I listen to Miles Davis recordings from the late sixties to early seventies, I replace the guitarist with Jimi, and imagine what he would have filled in -- it's always better. The only problem with Jimi lasting with jazz fusion, is that he loved to sing and compose. I feel Jimi may have stepped aside in the early '70s, and let some of the young guitar studs do their thing.
Tim Fox (timfox) Fri 16 Nov 07 17:23
Steven, thanks for that. I've your book on order, so pardon me if I'm asking things that you've addressed within. It would have been splendid to hear Hendrix work with Miles, but McLaughlin's collaboration was pretty wonderful and I don't think that Jimi would have been better, just different.
Tim Fox (timfox) Fri 16 Nov 07 17:36
Another question. Was Hendrix' inability to read/write music inhibiting his ability to develop and communicate with the kind of musicians he was coming into contact with towards the end of his life. I'm reminded of Django Reinhardt who towards the end of his life realized his dream of touring with Duke Ellington. He couldn't read Duke's charts, so Duke would feature him with just a rhythm section (there's only one recording that I'm aware of, a live concert in Chicago in 1946). How lovely it would have been if Ellington had been able to really write for the man.
Scott MacFarlane (s-macfarlane) Fri 16 Nov 07 19:19
<< The West Coast isn't so homogenous a place. You want to see Seattle as a key player, have at it.>> My point is not about a provincial homogeneity, but to better understand a time when greater cultural diversity was being embraced out of the social tumult erupting in America and the Western "advanced" democracies. Psychedelia erupted in New York, Amsterdam, London, etc., but nowhere as strongly as on the West Coast of North Americamost significantly in SF, but also in LA, Portland, Seattle, Vancouver. If we take the longer historical view, I think a strong argument can be made that this wild exploration in the frontier of consciousness (and notably with music) is not unrelated to the reverberations of a manifest destiny contained. [Kesey and the Pranksters were West Coast "intrepid travelers" in the early '60s exploring a wild, new frontier lifestyle as artistic expression. As we see in Kesey's Cuckoo's Nest and Great Notion, the very idea of wilderness was shifting from the external West to be conquered, into an internal wilderness of the mind.] The way specific artists were marketed is part of the equation when understanding their Rock stardom, but the individual artistand I think that Sly, Lee and Jimi were all exceptionally gifted and sincere artistsalso had to be able to successfully assume their role as artists in this cutting edge world. I'm confident that the fact that they grew up on the West Coast abetted this sensitivity/adaptability. "The Psychedelic Rock Star" was a frontier phenomenon because such a role had never existed before. ["Are You Experienced?", was a whole new experience]. Sly, Jimi and Arthur Lee (and Shuggie Otis, another West Coast black kid) succeeded impressively for fairly short psychedelic rock careers, which wasn't uncommon for any musical entity during this time. Also, the interracial tensions they faced became an additional layer of pressure that plagued them, and likely contributed to the undoing of their bands and, with Jimi, perhaps his life. Being pushed by his managers to perform beyond reasonable limits, also contributed to Jimi's overloaded, wearying state. I do think that Jimi would have experimented more heavily with Jazz (Miles Davis attended Jimi's funeral service in Seattle in Oct 1970), but like Jeff Beck's work with rock/jazz fusion, I'm not so sure, had he lived to do this, that Jimi wouldn't have always been most closely associated with the significant innovations he made in the realm of hard, psychedelic rock, a frontier world where he reigned supreme. The thing I most liked about "Black Gold" was the way in which this archival information allows us to trace, both musically and culturally, the "scenes" or "veins" in Jimi's life which coalesced for him in London. Yes, Jimi was a West Coast black kid, then an American Army private with no war to be sent to. His drive to make it as a guitarist took him through an apprenticeship that gained him impressive skills in plying the Blues, R&B/Soul, and RockNRoll. He added his own distinctive touches with distortion and backfeeding, that also helped him create a unique sound. This was a skill set gained as a dedicated starving artist. It preceeded any marketing of him and set the stage. Simultaneously, the rockers in England were borrowing heavily from this same skill set and those same musical traditions. As you rightly suggest, the business managers of the "British Invasion" groups packaged their music to a "white" audience of American youth. Of course there was luck involved for Jimi to be in the right place at the right time and to find backers willing to heavily promote him, but, as "Black Gold" shows, Jimi's skillset and unique innovations also gained him immediate respect from the finest rock guitar players in London. Jimi, unwittingly, had followed a developmental path to be appreciated there musically; he had the right kind of bearing and transcendent stage presence (helped by his interracial West coast upbringing). Jimi tapped into several "ripe" musical and cultural veins. All these factors propelled him to his mercurial success in 1966 and 1967. "Black Gold" can be useful, I think, both to future musicologists, but also to cultural historians. There is a growing body of Grateful Dead scholars well represented in The Well who talk of setting the record straight for the future. Steve, when you set out to write this book were you mostly thinking of future guitar players, musical historians, Hendrix afficionados or a wider reading audience?
Steven Roby (jimijames) Fri 16 Nov 07 20:32
>>Was Hendrix' inability to read/write music inhibiting his ability to develop and communicate with the kind of musicians he was coming into contact with towards the end of his life. Yes and no. Miles said in his biography that he laid out some charts for Jimi at an informal meeting. Jimi gave him a blank look, but according to Miles he caught on fast. I asked Quincy Jones about a session he lined up for Jimi, but he said he never showed up. Maybe he was intimidated. The song was called "Humin'" a Nate Adderly song. According to Alan Douglas, they were going to send Jimi to the Julliard School of Music, so he could learn some of the basics. Imagine where that would have taken him.
Steven Roby (jimijames) Fri 16 Nov 07 20:51
>>Steve, when you set out to write this book were you mostly thinking of future guitar players, musical historians, Hendrix afficionados or a wider reading audience? Scott, a bit of each. Originally, the book was meant to be an oral history, a collection of all the interviews I conducted, but then I thought it should include all the archival information I discovered over the years. It grew from there, and is constantly being updated on my webiste. At present I'm contemplating two other books on Hendrix. As an archivist I never thought I'd be an author. As an author I never thought I'd be a teacher. I am branching out, and will be teaching a course on the history of rock 'n' television next year along with the course on Hendrix.
Scott MacFarlane (s-macfarlane) Fri 16 Nov 07 21:36
I suspect that your courses on Hendrix are popular. Do they fill up? How do you address the element of Jimi's and the era's drug use when teaching college kids?
Darrell Jonsson (jonsson) Sat 17 Nov 07 04:37
>Let's think of it as a West Coast adaptation.... I don't buy the West Coast thing on this so much. Arthur Lee was born in Memphis, and seems more product of the gun-toting- virtual-L.A.-south than otherwise, in a way it is also significant that he died in Memphis. Hendrix may of been from Seattle, but I think he despised the place and bloomed elsewhere. Big dose of black virtual south no doubt in the Seattle meme, but Seattle back then was a fairly racist place, having spent time in both L.A. and Seattle during that time (BTW, I was born in Seattle) can say Seattle was far more racist than L.A. or Alaska from what I saw of it. Hendrix settled his soul on the chitlin circuit and didn't he find more of a spiritual home in places like London, NYC and Woodstock? As per the psychedelic thread the injection for Hendrix seemed to be by way of London, rubbing elbows with the Psychedelicised Animals and not to mention early Soft Machine, Pink Floyd and the scenes evolving around places like the UFO club. Sly I don't know much about, but from my POV, Hendrix and Arthur Lee were products of an eclectic Afro-American tradition linked more to sophisticated oral and musical culture of their mixed distinct heritage, and sharp intellects more than anything that had to do with the West Coast. England seemed to be a better support base for both of them in someways than California. Correct me if I'm wrong, I doubt if I'm 100% correct, my mytho-poetic reality though where Hendrix and Arthur Lee were coming from has little to do with West Coast beatniks or hippies. Also as a die-hard Yarbirds fan, I see the sort of guitar psychedelia Hendrix expanded on as being more a product of Jeff Beck's explorations than that of Garcia or Cippolina, and certainly the poetics of Hendrix and Lee seemed to becoming from some other place.
Darrell Jonsson (jonsson) Sat 17 Nov 07 04:48
<scribbled by jonsson Sat 17 Nov 07 04:54>
"The Best for Your Health!" (rik) Sat 17 Nov 07 06:26
That last paragraph nails it for me. Hendrix's overmarshalled high-gain sound was far more British than West Coast. I was living in Topanga in 67-68, and got to hear Stills and Young talking about him. Stills was talking about learning fluidity from Clapton and riding overdrive from Hendrix. Musically, a case can be made that Jimi became Jimi in England.
"The Best for Your Health!" (rik) Sat 17 Nov 07 06:33
In fact even the amp choices were telling. The English guys got an entirely different sound out of their Marshalls, while the American guys played Fenders, or Fender style amps. It was only after Hendrix that Marshalls began to catch on over here. Garcia and Cipollina sounded nothing like that.
Scott MacFarlane (s-macfarlane) Sat 17 Nov 07 08:26
Maybe what we're looking at here is an early case of true globalization and cultural fusion. I still suggest that the West Coast sense of openess to the new (the frontier) played into the mix. These English rockers at the demise of the British Empire were drawing especially hard from American music, ranging from the Beatles listening to the Beach Boys (especially "Pet Sounds") or covering Chuck Berry, to the Stones "borrowing" all those blues riffs from Muddy Waters. Jimi hit town already highly accomplished at playing the sound that most grabbed these Brits at the heart of the London music scene. As for multiculturalism in Rock, Jimi was at the vanguard and was fairly well developed musically before he went to London in mid-1966. He was a bonafide product of those African-American musical stylings of Blues and R&B/Soul combined with his own experimentations. The influence of London on him was more of a fine tuning and a last layering of his personal sound. Jimi, after the Army, was drawn to the strongest musical veins he could find, and, yes, that wasn't Seattle. (However, Steve has some great anecdotes about Jimi hooking up for some gigs/jams in Vancouver, BC at a club owned by Tommy Chong, later of Cheech and Chong fame). It would have been interesting if Jimi had cycled through the Detroit Motown scene, but he never made it there. The "Chitlin Circuit" was a great learning ground for him, however, and was far more influential on his development than London. As for multiculturalism, more than the Motown sound, or the Southern R&B sound, I think the West Coast fusion angle is not to be ignored. Carlos Santana, from the Bay Area, amplified his Latin sound to great cross-over appeal. Also, Eric Burden, tiring of the Animal's hard driving blues/rock, went to LA and had great success combining his talents with War's funky mix. Sly Stone was irrefutably a product of the Bay Area's psychedelia. Shuggie Otis, at 14, and from LA, had an amazing first album that was very psychedelic and derivative of the Hendrix sound. In the early '70s, Tower of Power embraced a cross-over multicultural sound that has been called California funk. Those guys still plugging away on the "Chitlin' Circuit" never expanded their sound into such cross-over appeal, although Chuck Berry and Little Richard had some come-back success as "nostalgia" acts. They were hugely influential because of their Rock N Roll successes in the 50s, but, unlike those groups just mentioned, weren't at the cutting edge of the explosion of Rock from 1966 to 1972. Hendrix and the Experience, Love, Sly & the Family Stone, War, Tower of Power were not seen as "black" groups in the same way as the Motown musicians, and were all more culturally transcendent. A West Coast cross-cultural sensibility did play a role. Steve, did you ever count how many times Jimi got kicked out of R&B bands when he was touring the South? I think that his own yearning to be his own man and showcase his own unique sound was certainly a product of his own bright intellect and talent, but, whether he loathed the small-city limits of a rainy, sleepy, pre-Microsoft, pre-Starbucks, pre-hip, mostly white [extractive (logging/fishing), engineering (Boeing), shipping (for the Pacific Rim)] Seattle, I still see that a West Coast spirit of individuality was a major influence on Jimi's development and ability to adapt to this psychedelic rock scene. Cultural influences in an increasingly intercultural world are difficult to track and pinpoint, but this is an interesting discussion. The importance of Seattle can be overblown out of provincial pride, but it should not be discounted either. For two/thirds of Jimi's life (from birth until he was almost 18) he never went anywhere else (except for short stints in Vancouver, BC.). Of course he would have never become a global success had he not followed the heart of the action. Clearly, we are all strongly influenced by where we grow up. Defining which of those influences shape who we become, is the tough part.
Members: Enter the conference to participate