The Jimi Hendrix Experience was a highly influential, though short-lived, American English rock band famous for the guitar work of front man Jimi Hendrix.
A Brief Background of Jimi
Hendrix arrived in England in November 1966 and, together with his new manager Chas Chandler, auditions were launched to find him a backing band. Noel Redding a guitarist was chosen for the bass spot. Even though he had never played bass before auditioning, Hendrix liked his look and attitude. Mitch Mitchell was a seasoned London drummer who brought jazz chops and a lead style of playing to the table. He would prove to be Hendrix's most valuable musical partner. Though initially conceived as Hendrix's backing band, The Experience soon became much more than that. Following the lead of Cream, they were one of the first groups to popularize the "power trio" format, which essentially strips a rock band lineup down to the essentials: bass, guitar and drums. This smaller format also encourages more extroverts playing from the players involved, often at very high volumes. In the case of The Experience, Hendrix mixed lead and rhythm guitar duties into one, while also making use of then-revolutionary guitar effects such as feedback.
Mitchell played hard-hitting jazz-influenced grooves that often served a melodic role as much as they did timekeeping. Redding was often seen as the eye of the storm, playing deceptively simple bass lines that helped to anchor the band's sound. Visually, they decked themselves out in psychedelic costumes. The Experience was also one of the first integrated bands. Given the racial turmoil of the times, the sheer idea of having a black front man with two white men was quite a strong political statement. The lineup first came to prominence during the Monterey Pop Festival, one of the first major music festivals. The band delivered a stellar performance, which ended with Hendrix famously setting his guitar on fire. The moment was immortalized in a photograph which was used as a cover of Rolling Stone magazine. The appearance was also filmed and put into the documentary film Monterey Pop. This brought them to the attention of North American audiences. They were then asked to go on tour with The Monkees as the opening act. They abruptly left the tour after only a few dates. Chas Chandler later said that it was a publicity stunt.
Hendrix recorded his three most successful albums,
Are You Experienced
Axis: Bold as Love,
In June of 1969, Hendrix decided to break up the group. Deteriorating relations with Redding had come to a head, and he also felt stunted by the trio format. Following the infamous admission by Hendrix "This is the last gig we'll be playing together," the original Experience dissolved. Using a larger band lineup for his Woodstock concert in August 1969, Hendrix was able to expand the former boundaries of the old band, but would revert back to the trio format with the Band of Gypsy's. By 1970, Hendrix had disbanded the Band of Gypsy's. Hendrix was once again open to have Mitchell rejoin, but reluctant of bringing Redding back into the fold. In early February of 1970, it seemed as if the original Experience was reformed from the ashes of Denver. Manager Michael Jeffery had even gone as far as setting up an interview with Rolling Stone magazine to announce the reformation of the group. This was not published until 5 years after Hendrix's death in the pages of Guitar Player magazine. While the interview gave the impression that the old wounds were healed and the future seemingly bright for the Experience, it was far from the truth. Redding was waiting for weeks to hear back about rehearsals for the upcoming tour when he finally spoke with Mitchell's girlfriend and was told, much to his disappointment, that he had been replaced by Billy Cox. The new line-up was referred to as The Cry of Love and subsequently went on tour. Hendrix died later that year.
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