Jimi Hendrix Encyclopedia
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December 18th, 1969
Record Plant, New York
Message To Love
A long and productive evening of rehearsing and recording for Hendrix, Cox, and Miles. It is not known which session came first, but the Band Of Gypsys spent time on this day at Baggy’s Studios, a makeshift rehearsal facility, and the Record Plant.
At the Record Plant, Hendrix and the group made significant progress on “Message To Love,” “Ezy Ryder”, and “Bleeding Heart.” The last of eighteen takes provided a working master for “Message To Love”, although Hendrix opted to retry the song the following evening and this version as scrapped. However, the group successfully recorded the basic track for “Ezy Ryder” on this evening. Additional work in the form of numerous guitar, bass, and vocal overdubs would be completed for this track at Electric Lady Studios during the summer of 1970, but this inspired session yielded the basic rhythm track Hendrix desired. “Ezy Ryder” would later be issued as part of the 1997 compilation First Rays Of The New Rising Sun (Experience Hendrix/MCA, 11599)).
Baggy’s Studios, New York
At Baggy’s Studios, Hendrix, Cox, and Miles devoted their efforts toward refining the body of songs Hendrix wished to perform as part of his upcoming performances at the Fillmore East. Hendrix had elected to record the Fillmore East performances for a live album he would deliver to capitol records to settle a longstanding legal dispute. “We rehearsed at a place called Baggy’s in New York,” explains Cox. “It was located down by Chinatown. We were there prior to Christmas and then a little after, practicing and rehearsing. We were working up a set with the songs we were going to perform for the [Fillmore East] concert. Then we realized that we had to do four shows and we used quite a few of those numbers in each of the shows.”
Baggy’s Studios was a nondescript Manhattan rehearsal facility opened by former Soft Machine road manager Tom Edmonston. Baggy’s was by no means a recording studio designed to compete with the likes of the Record Plant. Baggy’s had no control room; its purpose was to provide a space for artists to rehearse without restriction and at full volume for as much time as they required. This was a simple, yet effective rehearsal facility geared to those such as Hendrix who had no other convenient space to prepare for a live event or concert tour. “Baggy’s had two floors,” remembers Cox. “It was essentially warehouse space. We worked in the large room downstairs. It was a pretty simple set up. There were rugs on the floor and the walls were padded and soundproofed. “ While commonplace now, the concept of a dedicated rehearsal room for rock acts [as opposed to vacant halls or theaters] had only begun to take hold in 1969. Cox explains. “The recording studio was exclusively used for creating and coming up with something new and different. This was something else. Previous to that time, whenever Jimi wanted to rehearse something he would call me up and I would come over to his apartment and we would play through some small amps. Rehearsal space did not exist as we know it today.” Perhaps most importantly, Baggy’s rental rates were a fraction of the cost of similar time at the Record Plant. With Hendrix’s finances hamstrung by the construction cost overruns of his own Electric Lady Studios and the continuing PPX litigation, this was an important consideration.
Some of Hendrix’s recordings of the Band Of Gypsys rehearsals have survived. They were originally made at 7 ½ i.p.s. on a two-track reel to reel tape machine. For Hendrix, these recordings served as a convenient tool to measure the group’s progress throughout the rehearsals. Gene McFadden, a member of Hendrix’s road crew, organized the group’s equipment and installed a sound system from which a feed was patched into the tape recorder. Hendrix loaded a full spool of tape and essentially left the machine to run. Each song was recorded live with no overdubs or other such attempts to finish or even polish them.
Twelve examples of these spirited rehearsals, many from the long session on this and the following day, are featured as part of the Dagger Records release Jimi Hendrix: The Baggy’s Rehearsal Sessions. Although dates for each recording from Baggy’s are not entirely clear, it is known from tape box markings that “Burning Desire” and “Hoochie Coochie Man” were recorded on this day.
Prior to the release of Jimi Hendrix: The Baggy’s Rehearsal Sessions, a few excerpts from Jimi’s rehearsals at Baggy’s have been commercially issued. “Burning Desire” and “Hoochie Coochie Man” first appeared overseas in 1973 as part of the long since deleted Loose Ends compilation. In recent years, the Baggy’s recording of Jimi’s yuletide medley of “Little Drummer Boy”, “Silent Night”, and “Auld Lang Syne” has been issued as the popular CD single Merry Christmas And A Happy New Year.