Jimi Hendrix: Mr. Phenomenon!

NOW hear this — and kindly hear it good! Are you one of the fans who think there’s nothing much new happening on the pop scene?

Right… then we want to bring your attention to a new artist, a new star-in-the-making, who we predict is going to whirl round the business like a tornado.

Name: Jimi Hendrix. Occupation: Guitarist-singer-composer-showman-dervish-original. His group, just three-strong: The Jimi Hendrix Experience.

Bill Harry and I dropped in at the Bag O’Nails’ club in Kingley Street to hear the trio working out for the benefit of Press and bookers. An astonished Harry muttered: “Is that full, big, blasting, swinging sound really being created by only three people?” It was, with the aid of a mountain of amplification equipment.

Jimi was in full flight. Whirling like a demon, swirling his guitar every which-way, this 20-year-old (looking rather like James Brown) was quite amazing. Visually, he grabs eyeballs with his techniques of playing the guitar with his teeth, his elbow, rubbing it across the stage… but he also pleasurably hammers the eardrums with his expert playing. An astonishing technique… specially considering he started playing only five or six years ago.

Sweatily exhausted, Jimi said afterwards: “I’ve only been in London three months — but Britain is really groovy. Just been working in Paris and Munich.”

In the trio: drummer Mitch Mitchell, a jazz fan, and rock ‘n’ roll addict Noel Redding on bass. “We don’t want to be classed in any category,” said Jimi. “If it must have a tag, I’d like it to be called ‘Free Feeling’. It’s a mixture of rock, freak-out, blues and rave music.”

Guiding Jimi’s career here (discs have been cut; release information soon) are Chas Chandler, ex-Animal, and Mike Jeffreys. Said Chas: “I first heard Jimi play in Greenwich Village. A friend of mine, an English girl, suggested I called to see him. I was knocked out by his technique and his showmanship. He’s only just started singing, though he’s had a lot of experience with top American groups.

“Anyway, I suggested we got together — and he agreed. So we brought him over, auditioned to find the right musicians to follow his style — and gave the three of them a chance to find their feet on the Continent. Now we’re waiting on a full work permit…

“He really does play incredibly good guitar. You can watch him seven nights on the trot and he changes individual items each time. You just can’t get bored with him. It’s the first time I’ve seen such a brilliant musician who can put on such a good visual performance. He has this unique stage appeal. And his mastery of the instrument.

“We want to stick with just two musicians working with him. Noel and Mitch can follow his every mood — if we got even one more in it could spoil the understanding. Make it slower. Now we hope to get Jimi working the R and B clubs, building up a following.”

Believe us, Jimi is really something positively new. We think he’ll become a sensational success.

About that thing of playing the guitar with his teeth: he says it doesn’t worry him. He doesn’t feel anything. “But I do have to brush my teeth three times a day!”

© Peter Jones, 1966

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