Hendrix & McLaughlin
Dave Holland - Bass, Buddy Miles - Drums
Guitar Player Magazine, September 1975
I first met Jimi in New York, through Mitch Mitchell, who had been with Georgie Fame and the Blue Flames. I used to play with Georgie years and years ago, but at that time I was with Tony Williams’ Lifetime. Mitch was just really nutty about Lifetime. He came over and said, “You better come down to the Record Plant because we’re recording tonight; just come on down.”
When I got there, Mitch wasn’t actually there at all. There was a guy called Buddy Miles playing drums. I didn’t know Buddy at the time; I just saw this guy who was playing some boogaloo. So I played, and then Jimi came and joined in. Dave Holland [Miles Davis’ bassist] was there, and we played all night – it was really nice.
Jimi used Marshall amps and would vary between a white custom Gibson Les Paul and a Fender Stratocaster. I was using a flat-top Gibson with a pickup on it. We worked some chords out but nothing complicated. We were just jamming.
How familiar he was with me, I have no idea. Because Mitch was really crazy about what Lifetime was doing, I imagine that Jimi was aware of us. Generally, Jimi was just a blues guitarist. I was into a completely different thing than he, though there was no conflict between our styles whatsoever. It’s not styles that clash; it’s people that clash. You can get the most completely opposite styles, but if people have harmony, it doesn’t matter because it’s all music. You can get Stravinsky to play with Miles Davis, because if they’re harmonious, they’re going to find something that’s above them both. It’s not like, “Don’t play too heavy, man.”
I just saw Jimi about two or three times after that jam at the Record Plant, but we didn’t play together then. Every time we met we were in a rehearsal studio, and it just happened; I have no secret disclosures. Listen, they tell me they found tapes of Jimi and me. There’s a whole hoo-ha about it, and it’s such a lot of bull. When I asked them to send something I’d want to hear, they sent me something which had two or three minutes on it – that’s all. But if there is something, enough to make an album or two or whatever, then I want to hear it. And if it’s good, I want it out; I want people to share it. But if it’s not good, it’s a ripoff. Jimi’s been ripped off artistically since he died, just for the sake of money, and that’s a ripoff of the people as well. So I won’t put anything out until I feel there’s something good, because I feel responsible for his and my own policy, no matter who says what. I know what’s good, and I’m not going to do it for money. I’m going to do it because the music is happening; that’s all. But believe me, if it’s good, it’s going to be out there.
Jimi was a beautiful guitar player. He wasn’t very schooled; he had a limited knowledge as far as musical harmony is concerned. But he had such an imagination that he made up for it. And that’s what makes things happen, because if you get a guy with all knowledge and no imagination, he doesn’t play anything. Knowledge helps, but I’m not saying knowledge is it.
I don’t know what all this talk is, like Jimi’s some kind of god. He’s just an ordinary guy. I mean, he’s just like a nice, loving, sweet person – that’s all. He’s just like one of your friends, you know? He wasn’t pretentious or anything. He was just a guitar player; that’s all he was. That’s all he ever wanted to be. I mean, he got spaced, you know, but we all were spaced in our own way. But he was still into the blues.
My impression of Jimi was of strength really. He was strong, and that meant something. To me he was soulful. There must have been a better word for it. What I mean is that he was dynamic. He could do things with the guitar that nobody had done before. In other words, he was a revolutionary, but he still had a lot of soul, and that’s what makes things work. If you don’t have that, you can’t make anything work. I think Jimi has had an effect on most contemporary guitar players. My influence on him is for him to say. I have no idea.
There has been this mystic status given to him, but I don’t think he ever wanted it. All he ever wanted to do was just play. But he had this thing around him. I feel that he had it projected on him by the people who surrounded him. I feel he was murdered, frankly. Somebody gave him something. Somebody gave him something that they shouldn’t have. I don’t think it was intentional or premeditated. Well, I don’t know, maybe it was, but I doubt it. Even so, it was like someone’s going to incur some bad karma.
I don’t know what happened to all his equipment and stuff after he died.The vultures probably came in and pecked him dry, pecked his bones clean. There’s been a lot of bad stuff around his name, not the least of it being people who have been releasing his music. You see, he wouldn’t like it without his having quality control, though Alan Douglas’ is one of the best that’s been out since Jimi died.
All in all, Jimi was a really sweet person and a beautiful guitar player