Sunday, November 27, 2011

Jimi Hendrix 69th Birthday Commemorated Amid Renewed Recognition

Happy Birthday, Jimi Hendrix!

By Lee Zimmerman
Sun., Nov. 27 2011 @ 7:27AM

​Arguably the greatest Rock guitarist of all time, James Marshall "Jimi" Hendrix (born Johnny Allen Hendrix on November 27, 1942) achieved a reputation that lingered well past the accidental overdose that took his life on September 18, 1970.

Known for his flamboyant stage performances, his singular form of psychedelia and a wild and reckless lifestyle that all but defined Rock Star mores, Hendrix's career was short-lived (his band, the Experience, produced only three studio albums during their short stint of activity) but his legacy remains more vital than ever, thanks to a consistent procession of live recordings, issues of unfinished efforts and the ongoing efforts of his family's enterprise, Experience Hendrix LLC, which, in conjunction with Sony Records, has made reissues of his work a non-stop endeavor.

Thanks to this steady succession of posthumous offerings and the obvious influence he's had on other musicians that followed in his wake (Prince, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Robin Trower, Kirk Hammett and Billy Gibbons, among them), it's likely that Hendrix will always maintain a vital presence as long as Rock remains relevant. He's been credited with helping to introduce both Heavy Metal and Funk into the rock 'n' roll lexicon, even as his later recordings suggested he was steering towards the avant-garde.

Likewise, his core devotion to the Blues - nurtured by his admiration for B.B. King, Muddy Walters, Howlin' Wolf, Elmore James and Albert King -helped popularize that idiom among the masses and bring with it appreciation for its role in Rock's evolution.

Some of his most prestigious honors came long after his passing - a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, membership in the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of fame, an induction into the United States National Recording Registry (for the album Are You Experienced), and universal recognition as one of the singularly most important Rock artists of all time.

(It bears noting that when Hendrix himself was asked in a Rolling Stone interview, "How does it feel to be the greatest guitarist in the world?," he suggested the writer direct that question to the Irish guitarist Rory Gallagher instead.)

Still, despite the giant shadow he continues to cast, it's worth noting that when he died at the tragically young age of 27, he was in the midst of launching a new phase in his career, one he hoped would greatly expand his possibilities and allow him to explore new musical horizons. He left behind some 300 unreleased recordings, which, while indicative of his prolific drive, also leave tantalizing hints as to where he might have been headed. At the time of his death, he working on an album he planned to title First Rays of the New Rising Sun (tracks from those sessions were originally released in the early '70s as Cry of Love and later reissued under their true title). He had also voiced his intention to incorporate a "Blacker" sound into his music; it's said that part of his motivation might have been to reaffirm his connection with that segment of the African American community which had earlier tried to enlist his moral and financial support for their separatist causes.

Had he lived, Hendrix would have turned 69 today, an age impossible to imagine for a man with such vitality and irrepressible instincts. Perhaps he would have settled into the role of being a venerable Bluesman, veering from the gentlemanly domain of, say, B.B. King and Eric Clapton, to the rowdier realms of an elder statesman like Buddy Guy, who, at age 75, emulates Hendrix by playing with his teeth and manipulating his guitar behind his back. Or maybe his penchant for experimentation would have brought him further into cosmic realms, sort of like Sun Ra, whose spacey soirées kept him at the cutting edge of imagination well into his seventies. Given the fact that he apparently loved associating with other musicians - Cream, Traffic, the Beatles, the Rolling Stones and Emerson Lake and Palmer were among the acts he interfaced with - it's altogether likely he would continue to collaborate with both his peers and the younger bands that would certainly shower him with adulation. Would a collaboration with Pearl Jam have been a possibility? Or super sessions with the Stepkids or the Black Keys? Doubtless, Hendrix would have been right at home, either behind the boards or out on stage drawing from that same energy and enthusiasm.

Hopefully, the fact that he was given to drug taking and other vices wouldn't have gotten the better of him later on, or turned him into a recluse or eccentric who would surface only on occasion, only to reaffirm his weirdness. (Think Sly Stone.) On the other hand, it's even harder to imagine him out on the oldies circuit, rehashing hits like "Purple Haze" or "Foxy Lady" for the geriatric crowd. ("Here's an oldie some of you might remember. That is, if you can recall anything at all... Keep time with your canes and rock on your rockers, but don't let your pacemakers do all the work... Foxy granny, coming to getcha...") And we can only hope that he wouldn't follow the lead of Elton John or Billy Joel and opt for the showbiz circuit that might take him from Atlantic City to Las Vegas, conforming to well-trod formulas along the way. Likewise, what would become of that magnificent Afro and the dazzling stage garb? One can only hope that he'd keep his cred and even make occasional cameos with a fellow senior like Bob Dylan for a rocking replay of "All Along the Watchtower."

Of course, that's one of the unknowns we're left with when our heroes die young and leave behind a beautiful corpse. Like Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, Kurt Cobain, Brian Jones, Amy Winehouse and the other ill-fated members of that "27 Club" (so-named because of the age they all died), we still retain the images of individuals at the peak of their prowess. And the need to wonder "What if...?"

Jimi Hendrix Plays Memorial Auditorium: A Recording From 1969 and A Poster from '70

By Robert Wilonsky
Fri., Nov. 25 2011 at 11:58 AM

One of the best photos we've ever posted to Unfair Park was this February 16, 1968, snapshot of Angus Wynne and Jimi Hendrix taken at Love Field, shortly before Dallas experienced the man and his band at the Fair Park Music Hall. That picture, of course, accompanied an audience recording of the Jimi Hendrix Experience made that night. To which I'll add this bonus round: Hendrix's April 20, 1969, return to Dallas -- this time, to Memorial Auditorium in downtown. It's rough, ragged, another popular audience keepsake.

Ex-Crawdaddy Rick Vittenson spent time with Jimi before that '69 show and recalls, among other things:
There were three of us who drove to Dallas. We found out where Jimi was staying, went to the front desk and just asked where Jimi was. In those days you could do things like that! With Jimi's room number from the front desk we went up and knocked on the door. Noel Redding answered and we told him we were looking for Jimi. He told us that Jimi's room was down the hall. We went to the room that Noel directed us to and the door was slightly ajar. We knocked and Jimi opened the door with a smile on his face and said, "Come in, Come in." I'll never forget that. He didn't know who we were or why we were there but he asked us to come in. It was wonderful.

Jimi was alone in the room and told us that he had been watching roller derby on television. He had just ordered his lunch, which was a bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken and some Heineken Beer.

Hendrix returned to Memorial one last time on June 5, 1970, just three months before his death. There are no recordings of that show, only a few photos and rare copies of the handbill, one available on Wolfgang's Vault for $525 and another from Record Mecca at a slightly higher price. The world was a better place when Neimans sold concert tickets.

Book Excerpt: The Man Who Saved Jimi Hendrix from the Mafia

In 'American Desperado,' drug trafficker Jon Roberts recounts Jimi Hendrix's mob kidnapping and water skiing mishap

by: Evan Wright

America Desperado

Jon Roberts, the convicted cocaine trafficker who masterminded the Medellin Cartel's rise in the 1980s and the importation of as much as 15 billion dollars worth of cocaine for them, told a few stories that strained credulity when we first sat down for the interviews that would form the basis of our book, 'American Desperado' (Crown, published November 1st, 2011).

Among them, he claimed that as a young New York Mafia soldier in the late 1960s – nearly a decade before he got into the "cocaine industry," as he refers to it – he rescued Jimi Hendrix from a kidnapping attempt. The tale seemed patently absurd until I began to look into the twisted history of the New York club scene in the late 1960s. Based on research and interviews I conducted, it turns out that not only does Roberts' story appear to be true, he solves a mystery that has intrigued Hendrix biographers for more than three decades.

Shortly after Hendrix's death in 1970, members of his inner circle revealed that about a year earlier, just after Woodstock, Hendrix had been abducted by Mafia gunmen and held in upstate New York in a dispute involving a recording deal. One version of the story named his abductors as "John Riccobono."

As it happens, that was Roberts' name in the late 1960s (before he changed it and fled a murder investigation for which he was a prime suspect). As "Riccobono" he had served as point man in a successful Mafia effort to take control of Salvation, a top Manhattan nightclub.

According to independent research for our book, far from kidnapping Hendrix, Roberts and his Mafia partner Andy Benfante, helped rescue him two times – not just from a bungled, amateurish kidnapping plot, but from an ill-advised rock star foray onto water-skis.

As Roberts relates it in 'American Desperado':

When you run a nightclub, you will always get heat from the cops. The liquor license gives them an automatic reason to come into your place and snoop. Within a year of getting into the business, Andy and I started to draw real heat – not from the New York cops, who could always be bought, but from the FBI. Two incidents made them nosy about us.

The first was the kidnapping of Jim Hendrix. Jimi and I were never great friends. He was so far gone, I don't think he was truly friends with anybody. Jimi was a bad junkie. Jimi had people around him all the time, too. He was suffocating from these hangers-on. After we met at Salvation, he came to our house on Fire Island so he could get away from it all. We'd make sure nobody would bother him except for his real friends. Jimi really liked [blues guitarist] Leslie West, and one night the two of them played our living room all night long. Jimi had to shoot speed in his arm to keep up with Leslie. That's how good Leslie West was. A few times, we took Jimi water-skiing off the back of my Donzi. He liked getting out and doing things physically, even when he was stoned.

He nearly drowned one time. Jimi's out there – no life vest on – and he falls off the skis. He's in the water thrashing around. I swing the boat past and throw him the rope. It's floating a couple feet from his hands, but he's waving his arms like crazy. Suddenly, I'm wondering if he can even swim. Andy has to jump in the water and swim the rope over to him, because Jesus Christ, if this guy dies while out with us, what a headache that would be.

I had some good times with Jimi, but he was a disaster on water skis.

I got involved in Jimi's so-called kidnapping after he was grabbed by some guys out of Salvation. Later on some people accused me of being involved in kidnapping him. They said I was involved with kidnappers who tied Jimi to a chair and forced him to shoot heroin. Please. Nobody would have had to force Jimi to shoot anything. Just give him the heroin and he'd inject it himself. It was Jimi going out searching for drugs that got him into trouble. Andy and I were the ones who helped get him out of it.

Jimi had people who would usually buy dope for him. But sometimes he'd get so sick, he'd come into our clubs looking for drugs on his own. One night two Italian kids at our club – not Mafia but wiseguy wannabes – saw Jimi in there looking for dope and decided, "Hey, that's Jimi Hendrix. Let's grab him and see what we can get."

These guys were morons. They promised Jimi some dope and took him to a house out of the city. I don't know if they wanted money or a piece of his record contract, but they called Jimi's manager demanding something. Next thing I knew the club manager called me and said Jimi had been taken from our club by some Italians.

It took me and Andy two or three phone calls to get the names of the kids who were holding Jimi. We reached out to these kids and made it clear, "You let Jimi go, or you are dead. Do not harm a hair of his Afro."

They let Jimi go. The whole thing lasted maybe two days. Jimi was so stoned, he probably didn't even know he was ever kidnapped. Andy and I waited a week or so and went after these kids. We gave them a beating they would never forget.

Here I was, the Good Samaritan, but unfortunately, when Jimi was grabbed, some of his people contacted the FBI. Even after he was safely returned, the FBI started poking around our business.

This later led them to tie Andy Benfante and me to the murder of Robert Wood. That one good deed for Jimi Hendrix was resulted in me having to flee New York for Miami. Who knows? If it hadn't been for me saving Jimi Hendrix, I might never have hooked up with the Medellin Cartel and Pablo Escobar in Miami and started in the cocaine smuggling business. Wherever you are Jimi, thank you.

Reprinted from the book 'American Desperado'
by Jon Roberts and Evan Wright. Copyright © 2011 by Jon Roberts. Published by Crown, a division of Random House, Inc.

The Jimi Hendrix Special on Tuesday Nov. 29th 8pm-10pm

Heads Up Hendrix Fans!! Once again it is time for a Dream Clinic Special featuring the music of Jimi Hendrix.

Tune in to The Dream Clinic Tuesday 8-10pm Nov. 29th for our yearly tribute to the artist who changed the world of music and whose influence is still heard today.

Don't miss it...tell a friend!!

To listen just click on the URL below:

No comments: