My ‘Experience’ Will Last a Lifetime

Posted by: Daniel R. Lehrman Posted in: Guitar Articles

Mitch Mitchell, the legendary drummer for the Jimi Hendrix Experience, died in his sleep on November 12th, 2008 of natural causes, US medical tests revealed.

Briton Mitchell, 61, whose fusion style allowed him and history’s greatest guitar player to feed off each other, was found early on Wednesday in his room at the Benson Hotel in Portland, Oregon.

The Jimi Hendrix Experience Band is gone. With the passing of James Marshall Hendrix September 18th 1970 and David “Noel” Redding having passed away on the 11th of May, 2003, the passing of Mitch Mitchell makes it final. Jimi would have been 67 years old on November 27th.

“The Experience’ Band is, if my research is correct, is the first ’60’s band to lose all of it’s members to the next world. When Hendrix arrived in England in September 1966 with his new manager Chas Chandler, they opened auditions to find him a backing band. Noel Redding was chosen for the bass spot. Even though he had never played bass before auditioning (he was a guitarist), Hendrix liked his look and attitude. Mitch Mitchell was a seasoned London drummer formerly with Georgie Fame and the Blue Flames who brought Jazz chops and a lead style of playing to the band. He would end up being Hendrix’s most valuable musical partner. The name The Jimi Hendrix Experience was coined by their business manager Mike Jeffery and is a bit confusing in that it can be taken as a group name, or just as a description of Jimi Hendrix’s performance.

While it wouldn’t have made that much difference who he chose to keep time behind him, he was fortunate to have found Mitch Mitchell. Hendrix went in so many mind blowing directions, in order for his vision to become a reality, he needed a special drummer with the chops and versatility to keep up with and complement him. Mitch Mitchell was the score. No rock drummers sounded like this, then. Keith Moon hit the ground running and, throughout the mid-‘60s, and reached the top with the release of ‘Tommy’. Ginger Baker kept the beat for Cream, one of the first super groups, keeping with Jack Bruce and Eric Clapton. But Mitchell never needed to evolve for his experience with Jimi Hendrix. Simply put, he came into the equation as a perfect match and compliment to Hendrix, fully formed and ready to contribute.

Mitchell named jazz drummer icons Elvin Jones and Max Roach as two of his primary influences. Mitchell, however, showed us how he blended his skills into the perfect combination, using the separately unique approaches of Jones and Roach. Roach’s nimble dexterity and Jones’s jackhammer pyrotechnics are blended and displayed on all of the Jimi Hendrix Experience recordings.

A couple of obvious examples: songs like “Hey Joe” and “Manic Depression” would be pretty complete regardless of Hendrix’s accompaniment, but there is no question that Mitchell’s passive-aggressive assault renders what is already whole and fully formed something a bit above and beyond. On the indelible “Third Stone from the Sun”, Mitchell is not just keeping time, he’s making time with inventive fills, and propulsive but never busy embellishment. On the other hand, “The Wind Cries Mary” is a clinic/drill in doing more with less.

Mitchell was able to bring the attack without exploding, or worse, trespassing on the considerable space Hendrix needed to clear for himself and enter the outskirts of infinity. Mitchell, had the uncanny ability to feel and compliment the unpredictable Hendrix providing perfect timing by keeping up his seamless beats and matching Jimi’s multitude of rhythms, even when Jimi made on the fly unscheduled change ups during a song. Realistically speaking, Mitchell was fast, he was clever, he was on the edge and he was original. He was the perfect engine for Hendrix’s uncopiable machine.

The Jimi Hendrix Experience was, out of all the ’60’s bands the act that changed music forever. Call it luck, call it brilliance, but it was a quirk of fate that united these three men from 1966 thru 1969 producing the band that set the model for three man bands. Every band since then can claim to have stolen something from ‘The Experience’ vibe.

Oddly it seems that once again they are together again. To be more precise, in the song ‘Voodochild’ Jimi says ” I’ll meet you on the next world and don’t be late”. I expect someday I’ll attend one of their concerts again.

Briefly, Noel Redding was a guitar player when he joined The Experience Band. He switched to bass to play with Hendrix. After Redding left the band in ’69, he started a band called The ‘Fat Mattress’, where he went back to being a lead guitar player.

To say that Jimi Hendrix and ‘The Experience’ Band influenced my life and the way I think is a pure understatement. What makes an artist and composer great? Other than the obvious items mentioned in this article, the test of time is a good barometer. How long will their music impact us? Forever at Guitar Players Center.

Examining composers such as Bach and Beethoven proves that the vibes produced by that generation of geniuses stood the test of time, of course, what has Bach or Beethoven done lately? Ultimately, Hendrix has and will continue to stand up to this test as well, and will always be my favorite Experience forever, no matter what anybody says. Enjoy this cool multi course Video.

4 Responses to My ‘Experience’ Will Last a Lifetime

  1. Pingback: My ‘Experience’ Will Last a Lifetime | Watch Band Videos

  2. Thanks for this article… I’ve just been listening to some of the ‘Experience’ concerts again. They really were worthy of their fame – unlike so many contemporary ‘Artists’.
    R.I.P Mr Mitchell.

  3. hey dude,
    on another topic, I hear you can right click on your blog to prevent people from cutting and pasting (and stealing your material).

  4. What a beautifully written article. Thanks, I thoroughly enjoyed this read.

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