While the rest of the world knows guitarist Jimi Hendrix best for his breakthroughs in rock and jazz, he was actually born in Seattle.
His father was an African American soldier who left the US Army later in life to become a preacher.
The young Jimi eventually followed his father’s footsteps, but with the instrument of choice being a guitar. He grew up playing at clubs all around Seattle and eventually joined Johnny Allen’s band called The Velvetones, which was composed entirely of blues musicians. It wasn’t long before Hendrix was getting noticed and he eventually ended up in New York.
His success in music was rapid, and it wasn’t long before Hendrix had become a prominent figure in the counterculture of the 1960s.
By the end of 1965, Jimi Hendrix had made his way to London and into the prestigious house band at Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club, where he would attempt to make an impression with his guitar playing.
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Although interest in Jimi’s music was high, there were also people who felt that he was not fitting into London’s many influential establishments like The Beatles or The Stones, but instead wanted him to play jazz or blues instead.
The first time Jimi Hendrix came to London was in October of 1966 at the age of 23.
This was after he had released his self-titled debut album (known as The Black Gold) which ultimately ended up flopping. When Hendrix first got to London, he was extremely excited to be there and later expressed this excitement in his song “Voodoo Child (Slight Return)” by saying “I’m gonna move to the London city (yeah yeah yeah)”.
At that point, his move to London was an attempt at stardom, but now it appears that Hendrix didn’t expect the surge in popularity before it happened.
When Hendrix first arrived in London, he was receiving offers to play gigs.
He had two albums out at the time and was being offered £200 for a one-off performance, so it’s safe to assume that his manager wasn’t too happy about the unpredictable behavior of Jimi to have created this situation.
There were already rumours circulating that Hendrix’s music was influenced by jazz, blues and other American styles of music making it hard to tell what type of sound he would be playing.
Jimi Hendrix was eventually offered a job to perform at the Flamingo nightclub.
The job offer came from a producer named Ken Townsend, who wanted Jimi to play a specific style of music. Instead of doing as asked, Jimi went to Bramwell Road Studios and recorded “Hey Joe”.
After the performance at Flamingo, Hendrix received a telegram from Meek saying that he could perform as he liked as long as it didn’t clash with other acts that were booked into the club.
This type of treatment from Meek would go on for many years.
To perform at nightclubs around London and, at one stage.
Perhaps the most famous performance in this period was in July 1967 when he played a free concert outside The Roundhouse in Camden Town.
The venue was overflowing with fans and reporters who had heard about the performance and had arrived in numbers. The overbearing amount of listeners at the free concert would go on to become a pattern for Hendrix.
The Duke of Bedford was impressed by Hendrix, at one point.
It is said that he was so impressed by Jimi Hendrix’s performance at his club that he offered him the role of resident guitarist at his three venues for £100 a week. It was an offer that wasn’t taken up by Hendrix because he already had other offers on the table.
When asked about this in The Evening Standard, the Duke said that “Jimi would have eventually tired of The Marquee”. It eventually transpired that Hendrix played there once in December 1966 and left after one song.
According to Jimi Hendrix’s manager, Mike Jeffery, Meekie’s “A&R men” were still.
He was banned from ever playing there again because Meek wanted a “fresh” image and a truer sound.
It was a ban that ended up not stopping a long-lasting professional relationship from occurring.
After performing at The Marquee Club in February 1967
He moved into the Samarkand Hotel where he was spotted by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards after they had watched The Who play at the NME Poll Winners’ Concert.
The two men took Jimi up to hotels to meet them, but this was only because Meekie had booked the room for Jimi.