SUE’S SUNDAY SOJOURN: Each week I will showcase a particular artist or band during my entire two hour set. Each week, prior to the set, there will be a blog post where I will write about my memories, favorite stories or share other interesting tidbits. The idea here is not to tell the story of the band or play two hours of their greatest hits. The idea behind Sue’s Sunday Sojourn will be to spend time with Sue, down in her music vault. As she puts together the set, she will reminisce and share special memories. “I remember when this came out,” or, “I recall hearing this for the first time and I thought…” She might share little known facts, favorite memories, fun stories or maybe even some personal experiences.
The sets will have plenty of the big hits but be ready for a few obscure tunes that may be her personal favorites. She will probably include a few rarities or possibly unreleased material, along with other sundry curios. So join her every Sunday night from 7-9 as she lets you into her world.
|Jimi Hendrix at the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967|
James Marshall Hendrix was actually born “Johnny Allen Hendrix” in 1942 in Seattle, Washington. He was born while his father was away fighting in World War II. Somehow, and I’ve heard conflicting stories on this, his return home resulted in him divorcing his wife and legally changing the child’s name to “James Marshall Hendrix.”
Hendrix learned to play the guitar at age 15 when his father bought him a $5 acoustic guitar. However, it failed to keep him busy enough to keep out of trouble and James had several run-ins with the law by the age 18, which included being caught riding in a stolen car on more than one occasion. He was given the choice of jail or enlisting in the Army, which he did in 1961.
Probably my favorite fun fact about Hendrix is that he served as member of the 101st Airborne Division, nicknamed the “Screamin’ Eagles.” Yes, Hendrix was a paratrooper with one of America’s most elite units. It was on his 26th jump that he broke his ankle and received an honorable discharge in the Summer of 1962. There are conflicting stories floating around on this and some say the Army discharged him because of his bad behavior and conduct. Jimi had always maintained that it was because of the broken ankle, which makes more sense with the honorable discharge in my opinion.
|James Hendrix, 101st Airborne, 1961|
After the Army, Hendrix began his music career. He was quite good and it wasn’t long before he started touring with the Isley Brothers and even recorded a single with them in 1964. He also appeared as a studio musician for Don Covay on his single, Mercy Mercy. In 1965, he joined Little Richard’s band and recorded a single with them, I Don't Know What You Got. I’ll play both Covay and Little Richard singles during Sunday’s set.
It was in New York that he met Chas Chandler, former bassist for the Animals, who was looking into becoming a manager and producer. He saw Hendrix’s potential and brought him to England in 1966. He also recommended he use the name, “Jimi Hendrix,” instead of “James Hendrix.” In London he formed the Jimi Hendrix Experience with two Brits, Noel Redding would play bass and Mitch Mitchell, drums.
Today, people are a bit surprised to hear that Jimi was more of a British phenomenon than he was in his native America. Are You Experienced was released in the UK and spent 33 weeks on the charts there, peaking at the #2 spot. It was Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band that kept it out of #1. A good example of the discrepancy was the single from that album, Purple Haze. In the UK it hit #3 on the charts, while in America; it never made it past the #65 position. Don’t get me wrong; he was a big success in the States, but he was a tremendous hit in the UK. America would not catch up in their appreciation of him until Woodstock in 1969.
Jimi was popular because no one had ever heard anyone like him before. He was known as the “Master of the Stratocaster,” which is a reference to the guitar he played most, the Fender Stratocaster. He managed all sorts of antics playing the “Strat,” as it is sometimes affectionately called. He played it behind his head or with his teeth, but it was at the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967 that he did something on stage that became a rather popular image of Jimi. He took out a can of lighter fluid and set his Stratocaster on fire. (See the picture at the top.) It was a seminal moment in Rock History.
Jimi had an on again, off again relationship with German figure skater, Monika Dannemann. It was in her London flat that Jimi took an overdose of barbiturates and was found dead by Monika on September 18, 1970. The overdose put him in a coma so he was unable to respond when he vomited during the night. He then aspirated on the vomit and died. Monika Dannemann’s death in 1996 was ruled a suicide, though many today think it was the result of foul play, unrelated to anything having to do with her relationship with Jimi. She had claimed, after Hendrix’s death that they were to be married but no one ever put much faith into this.
For most artists I would end with their deaths but with Hendrix it seemed he was just getting started. Shortly after he died, many of his recordings and material were stolen and found their way into bootleg releases. What was left was locked down and would not see the light of day for decades as Hendrix’s estate was fought over and law-suited beyond what anyone would deem fathomable. Things were finally settled by 2010 and Jimi Hendrix released his next studio album, 40 years after his death.
This album, Valleys of Neptune, was recorded in 1969. There was some new material but there was also some reworking of previously released material. One example was Fire, originally released on his debut album 2 years previous. He recognized that his sound had matured and evolved, and that some of his old stuff could be improved and benefit from this. During my Sue’s Sunday Sojourn set, I’ll play both the 1967 version and then the 1969 version of Fire, back to back so you can compare. The title cut, Valleys of Neptune, was one of the most sought after bootleg cuts before it was released in 2010. I’ll play that one too and maybe others.
In 2013, Hendrix released another posthumous studio album, People, Hell and Angels. It contained yet more unreleased material for yet another album he was working on at the time of his death. There is still some hope that more may come from the master. I’ll play a couple from this one too.
I promised that with Sue’s Sunday Sojourn that I would let you into my world a bit more than I usually do and maybe even give you a glimpse into my music vault. Let’s go…
The very first bootleg I ever bought was in the 70’s and it was a Jimi Hendrix boot. It was called “Sky High” and purported itself to be a jam session with many greats including Hendrix, along with Jim Morrison of the Doors, Johnny Winter and others. The source is a two track reel-to-reel recording stolen from Hendrix’s possession in 1970. The boot was released in 1970, a couple months after his death.
This is probably one of the most famous bootlegs ever and is high quality because Jimi recorded himself. Hendrix used to love to Jam in clubs and bars with other musicians and it was typical for him to record these sets. The one that is the subject of this boot is a Jam session he did at the Scene Club in New York City in 1968. This bootleg has been released many times, by various entities, of varying degrees of quality and many other names, including:
Sky High (1970)
Jamming Live at the Scene Club, NYC
High, Live 'n Dirty (1978)
Live At The Scene Club, N.Y., N.Y.
Woke Up This Morning and Found Myself Dead
Tomorrow Never Knows
Bleeding Heart (1994)
Sunshine of Your Love
And many others…
The Sky High version, the version I purchased over 40 years ago, was undoubtedly made directly from the tape stolen from Hendrix. Subsequent bootlegs were usually made from a recording of one of the previous bootleg records making them of far lesser and varying degrees of quality. I was lucky that it came into my possession when it did. Below is a picture of that vinyl bootleg record today, taken on chair in my living room and still in DJ Sue’s music vault in pristine condition some forty-something years later.
I’ll play a cut from this album on Sunday night in which Jimi plays Tomorrow Never Knows by the Beatles and Jim Morrison rambles on drunk, often unintelligible, to the music. I picked it for a couple of reasons, not the least of which is the fact that Hendrix identifies Morrison by name during the song. “In case any of y’all want to know what’s happening, I’ve asked Jim Morrison…” Early on in this cut it is hard to hear Morrison, though towards the end his ranting drowns out even Jimi’s guitar. Earlier in the jam session, Morrison was more coherent and you can easily hear him improvise lyrics to Jimi’s music. However, these are often explicit and rather raunchy, so much so that the 1978 version, High, Live 'n Dirty, actually sported an X rating on the cover, though this was more to boost sales since a bootleg would not be obligated to follow any sort of regulatory rating or warning.
Earlier, I said that this album boasts a long list of prominent musicians on stage with Hendrix, Morrison and the Jimi Hendrix Experience. This is just not true. Johnny Winter for instance was not even in New York at the time and always claimed he never was on stage with Morrison. We also know that Noel Redding and Mitch Mitchell (The Jimi Hendrix Experience) were not there as the album covers claim. The only two that we know were there for sure were Jimi Hendrix and Jim Morrison, both of whom died within a year of each other over 45 years ago. So, who else was on stage?
|My original Sky High bootleg, still in my "music vault"|