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The Jimi Hendrix Experience were an English-American psychedelic rock band that formed in Londonmarker in October 1966. Comprising eponymous singer-songwriter and guitarist Jimi Hendrix, bassist and backing vocalist Noel Redding and drummer Mitch Mitchell, the band were active until June 1969, in which time they released three successful studio albums. After Redding left the band, Hendrix and Mitchell stayed together through other projects. The Experience 'reunited' in 1970 with Billy Cox dubbed "The Cry of Love", until Hendrix's death in September 1970. Redding died in 2003, and Mitchell became the last original member of the band to die in November 2008.

Widely recognised as a band hugely influential on the development of hard rock and heavy metal in the 1970s and beyond, The Experience were arguably best known for the skill, style and charisma of frontman Hendrix, who has been noted as one of the greatest guitarists ever by various music publications and writers. All three of the band's studio albums, Are You Experienced (1967), Axis: Bold as Love (1967) and Electric Ladyland (1968), were featured in the Rolling Stone list of The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time, at positions 15, 82 and 54 respectively, and in 1992, The Jimi Hendrix Experience were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Famemarker.

History

Jimi Hendrix arrived in England in September 1966 and with his new manager Chas Chandler formed a backing band with bassist Noel Redding and drummer Mitch Mitchell. 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 prove to be Hendrix's most valuable musical partner. Redding was chosen because Hendrix liked his attitude towards music and hairstyle. It was the first time that he had ever played bass in a band, as he was a guitarist. The name "The Jimi Hendrix Experience" was coined by their business manager Mike Jeffery.

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 popularise the "power trio" format, which essentially stripped a rock band line-up down to the essentials: guitar, bass and drums. This smaller format also encouraged more extroverted playing from the band members, 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 guitar effects such as feedback and later the wah-wah pedal to an extent that had never been heard before. Mitchell played hard-hitting jazz-influenced grooves that often served a melodic role as much as they did timekeeping. Redding played deceptively simple bass lines that helped to anchor the band's sound. Visually, they set the trend in psychedelic clothes, and, following his band-mates' Bob Dylan 1966-style hair-do's, Mitchell got himself a permed copy. The group came to prominence in the US only after the June 1967 Monterey Pop Festivalmarker, one of the first major rock music festivals. The band's performance ended with Hendrix famously setting his psychedelically painted Fender Stratocaster on fire. After the festival they were then asked to go on tour with The Monkees as the opening act. They left the tour after only a few dates - Chas Chandler later said that it was all a publicity stunt.

With the band, Hendrix recorded his five hit singles "Hey Joe", "Purple Haze", "The Wind Cries Mary", "Burning of the Midnight Lamp" and "All Along the Watchtower", and his three most successful albums, Are You Experienced, Axis: Bold as Love, and Electric Ladyland. By April of 1969, Hendrix had decided to break up the group, and flew his old friend Billy Cox up to New York to begin working with him. Deteriorating relations with Redding had come to a head, and Hendrix also felt his musical development was hampered by the trio format. The original group held together long enough to fulfill their existing engagements, culminating in the Denver Pop Festival on 29 June where, following the infamous announcement by Hendrix, from the stage: "This is the last gig we'll be playing together", the original Experience was dissolved. Hendrix experimented with a larger band line-up known as Gypsy Sun and Rainbows for his Woodstockmarker concert in August 1969, but would revert to the trio format with the Band of Gypsys. But by 1970, Hendrix had disbanded the Band of Gypsys - it has been claimed this was due to the desire of Michael Jeffery (now Jimi's only manager) to reform the original Experience line-up, but as Trixie Sullivan, Jeffery's assistant, testified, Jimi did exactly as he felt musically and Jeffery just handled the business side, as usual. Also, according to Billy Cox, the all-black power trio was mainly a one-off to help Hendrix fulfill an outstanding obligation to Ed Chaplin by recording a one-off live LP. Jeffery called Redding and Mitchell about reforming the Experience. Both agreed to participate in what would seem to be a great money maker of a tour; Mitchell and Redding could use the cash, and the tour would also get Jimi out of the financial problems he was in at the time partly due to the building of Electric Lady Studios. Hendrix was open to have Mitchell rejoin, but reluctant to bring Redding back into the fold.

Hendrix himself had begun to experiment with depressants and psychedelic drugs. His own performance had become erratic, which created conflicts within the band and contributed to the first breakup.

In early February 1970, it seemed as if the original Experience was reformed. Manager Michael Jeffery even set up an interview with Rolling Stone magazine to announce the return of the group, published on 19 March 1970 in Rolling Stone as J.H.: The End of a Beginning Maybe (and reprinted in Guitar Player magazine five years after Hendrix's death). 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 only to learn that he had been replaced by Billy Cox. Before it started Jimi "called this tour The Cry of Love, because that's what it is" in an interview; this is the only mention of that name, prior to the posthumous LP of that name (1971), and the group itself was still referred to in all ads, articles, promos, bookings, introductions etc. as the "Jimi Hendrix Experience" or just "Jimi Hendrix". So after a break of nearly ten months (during which he only played six dates) the "Jimi Hendrix Experience" hit the road for one last tour. Soundboard and audience recordings of the American leg show Hendrix at his best and creatively inspired. Jimi felt the band should stay in America and record for the next LP, while Mike Jefferey's wanted a tour of Europe. The band set for Europe and the tour was a bad decision from the start. Hendrix had a cold, was not getting rest, and was still affected by the change of climate zone's. His disdainment with the management and his financial situation accumulated stress and by the European leg it was evident Hendrix was unhappy and unfit for tour. Mitchell reported that Hendrix was not even doing sound checks before the performances. Audience tapes reveal moments of brilliance but a less inspired Jimi Hendrix.During this period, before the Isle of Wight festival, Jimi spoke to his friend Richie Havens about his trouble's. Haven's recollects, "He was terribly unhappy, extremely depressed, and asked for my help. 'I'm having a real bad time with my managers and lawyers' Jimi said. 'They're killing me; everything is wired against me and it's getting so bad I can't eat or sleep...'".

During a break in the tour later that year, Hendrix died on September 18, 1970 in controversial circumstances. In 1992, The Experience was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Famemarker.

Noel Redding was found dead in his home in Ireland on May 11, 2003.

Mitch Mitchell was found dead at approximately 3 AM on November 12, 2008 in his room at the Benson Hotel in downtown Portland. He was the last surviving member of the original Jimi Hendrix Experience.

Members



Discography



Notes

1. As well as his regular position on lead vocals and guitar, Jimi Hendrix also played bass on Electric Ladyland; backing vocals on "Foxy Lady", "She's So Fine", "Long Hot Summer Night", "Mastermind", "Changes" and "We Gotta Live Together"; piano on "Are You Experienced?", "Spanish Castle Magic" and "Crosstown Traffic"; glockenspiel on "Little Wing"; flute on "If 6 Was 9"; harpsichord on "Bold as Love" and "Burning of the Midnight Lamp"; mellotron on "Burning of the Midnight Lamp"; and percussion on "1983... ".
2. As well as his regular position on bass and backing vocals, Noel Redding also played electric guitar and acoustic guitar on "Little Miss Strange" and lead vocals on "She's So Fine" and "Little Miss Strange".


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