ABONNEZ-VOUS À LA
On the heels of Hendrix delivering the completed Band Of Gypsys release to Capitol Records on February 25, 1970, the label quickly jumped into the mastering stage for the record, ensuring its speedy delivery to store shelves.
Noel Redding returns to New York expecting to begin rehearsing with Hendrix and Mitchell for the next Jimi Hendrix Experience tour unaware that Billy Cox has replaced him in the band. “Noel wasn’t told until he came back, expecting to rehearse for the tour,” explains Mitch Mitchell. “Basically, no one had the balls to do it.”
Hearing news that Kathy Etchingham had just married, Jimi calls her in London to confirm the account. “I hadn’t heard from Jimi for a while and apparently he was having problems,” explained Etchingham in her book Through Gypsy Eyes (Victor Gallancz, 1998). “He had a disastrous gig at Madison Square Gardens and walked off-stage. Around this time someone must have told him about me getting married to Ray. [Jimi] rang to find out if it was true.”
Jimi flies to London where he meets Kathy Etchingham and tries to convince her to leave her new husband and move back to New York, where Jimi assures her, “everything will be all right, all those people I was hanging out with have gone.” With Ray now living with Kathy at her Brook Street flat, Kathy helped get Jimi checked in at the Londonberry Hotel (Park Lane, W1).
While in London, Jimi heads to The Revolution where he attends a performance by Rubber Duck.
Island Studios, London Studio Recording Jimi was recruited by Stephen Stills to lend guitar to his upcoming debut solo release, Stephen Stills (Atlantic Records, 1970). Jimi added lead guitar to the track “Old Times, Good Times” and also recorded some additional tracks with Stills that remain unreleased.
Petticoat’s Keith Altham interviews Hendrix for a May 30th piece where Jimi talks about his voice. “Singing… I used to be embarrassed by my voice. We drowned it on the first few albums I made, but then I realized I was judging it by the wrong yardstick. Dylan has a lousy voice technically, but it is good because he sings things he believes in. True feelings are really the only qualities worth listening for in a voice.” Jimi also entered into discussions with Emerson, Lake & Palmer about a possible joint tour in the future.
Olympic Studios, London Studio Recording Hendrix returned to Olympic Studios, the recording facility where his first two albums Are You Experienced and Axis: Bold As Love were recorded to record with Love. Invited by Love founder Arthur Lee to contribute to their album, Hendrix and percussionist Remi Kabaka joined Love in recording “The Everlasting First,” which would later be issued as part of False Start (Blue Thumb, 1970). In addition, Hendrix took part in an extended instrumental jam session as well as a version of his own composition, “Ezy Ryder.”
Hendrix and Stephen Stills jam at the famed London nightspot The Speakeasy.
Now a solo artist, Noel Redding begins recording the album Nervous Breakdown at New York’s Sound Center Studios. Redding was joined by vocalist Roger Chapman (Family), Paul Caruso, organist Gerry Guida (Big Three) and fifteen year old drummer Steve Angel. The sessions included recordings of “Walking Through The Garden,” (previously recorded by Fat Mattress) and Eddie Cochrane’s “Nervous Breakdown.” Also recorded were “Everything’s Blue,” “Highway,” “Eric The Red,” “Wearing Yellow,” and “Blues In ¾.” Ever industrious, Redding copped support from many friends who joined the bassist in the studio including Lee Michaels, Neil Landon and even the doorman from the Penn Garden Hotel (on bagpipes no less).
Hendrix joined his former bassist to add guitar to Redding’s own “My Friend.” The song remains unreleased however, as despite his best efforts, Redding’s self-financed project never saw commercial release.
Working alone, Jimi arrived at the Record Plant intent on realizing a more traditional Delta blues arrangement of “Midnight Lightning” than he had previously attempted. Singing and playing live as he sat on a chair, Jimi utilized a finger picking style he rarely incorporated on his recordings. The song’s slow beat was accented, in the tradition of such blues men as Lightnin’ Hopkins and John Lee Hooker, by the steady tapping of his foot on the floor. One of his favorite blues themes, Jimi would later make several attempts to complete a group version with Cox and Mitchell that summer at Electric Lady. Sadly, his untimely death in September 1970 came before “Midnight Lightning” and many other scintillating works in progress could be completed.
Hendrix began this session joined by an unidentified drummer [likely Steve Angel] and together the two players recorded a quick rendition of “Bleeding Heart”. This was followed by three takes of “Midnight Lightning.” Bassist Billy Cox joined the session and s the tandem ran through four takes of “Bleeding Heart,” the later of which was flagged as the master and later transferred to Jimi’s own Electric Lady Studios where additional guitar and a new drum part were overdubbed by Jimi and Mitch Mitchell. Although Jimi never fully completed “Bleeding Heart” prior to his death, it has since been issued as part of First Rays Of The New Rising Sun (Experience Hendrix/MCA, 1997).
Capitol Records released the eagerly anticipated live album, Band Of Gypsys. The album featured six tracks from the two Fillmore East performances on January 1, 1970. “Who Knows” and “Machine Gun,” were recorded during the evening’s first while all of the album’s second side was drawn from the second show. Despite the dramatic shift in sound and style—especially when compared with Electric Ladyland–Band Of Gypsys nonetheless enjoyed wide commercial approval. The album debuted on Billboard’s US Top 200 chart at 18 and climbed to its peak at 5. The album remained on the chart for sixty-one weeks. At the time of Jimi’s death, Band Of Gypsys was Hendrix’s most commercially successful album since Are You Experienced, his 1967 debut.