… the Jimi Hendrix Experience is officially over.
Funny thing about being a blogging boomer: looks like “One of my musical heroes has left the building” is going to be a dependable subject line for the foreseeable future.
KGW.com, Portland (OR):
The Jimi Hendrix Experience’s drummer Mitch Mitchell was found dead in a downtown Portland hotel Wednesday.
Mitchell had been playing with the Experience Hendrix tour that just made a stop in Portland at the Schnitz last Friday.
Mitchell along with bass players Noel Redding and Billy Cox backed Hendrix for the generation defining sounds of his electrified psychedelic blues. Hendrix died in 1970, Redding died in 2003. Mitchell was with the group from 1966-69.
I always thought that Mitch deserved a lot more credit than he got; he was one hell of a drummer, but was overshadowed by more flamboyant contemporaries. His musical contributions were far more compelling than what I heard from Cream’s Ginger Baker, and held their own quite respectably in comparison to the brilliance of Keith Moon.
(And who the hell would have expected Baker to be the last one standing? The dude looked like a walking cadaver in 1968!)
Mitchell’s career post-Hendrix provides one more example of how effectively the suits in the music business work to cheat the artists who create the product that makes them rich:
According to Eddie Kramer’s book Hendrix: Setting the Record Straight, Michael Jeffery, Hendrix’s manager, an innovator in getting Hendrix promoted and established, relegated both Mitch Mitchell and Noel Redding to the status of mere paid employees without an ownership share in future revenues. This limited their earnings to a very low rate and led to Mitchell and Redding being largely excluded from sharing in future revenues generated from their work with The Jimi Hendrix Experience. This arrangement pressured Mitchell in the mid-1970s to sell a prized Hendrix guitar. In addition, he sold his small legal claim to future Hendrix record sales for a sum reported to be in the range of $200,000.
And Noel Redding?
In his book Are You Experienced? (Redding) spoke openly about his disappointment in his being cut off from the profits of the continued sale of the Hendrix recordings. He was forced to sign away his royalties in 1974, and later had to sell the bass guitar he used during that time. Redding had received £100,000 as a one-off payment after he had been told that there would be no more releases of Jimi Hendrix Experience material but this had been before the advent of CDs and DVDs which sold millions of copies. Right up until his death, Redding had been planning legal action against the Hendrix estate for payment estimated at £3.26 million for his part in Hendrix’ recording and for ongoing royalties.
So keep this in mind when next you listen to “Hey, Joe” or “Purple Haze:” you’re hearing the work of guys who scrounged for the rest of their lives to make ends meet. And remember it every time you hear some bastard from the record industry bleating about the way file-sharing “hurts the artists;” he’s only upset because that’s his job.