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Jimi Hendrix Encyclopedia

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Recording

December 15th, 1969

Record Plant, New York
Studio Recording

Born Under A Bad Sign
Lover Man
Earth Blues
Message To Love
Changes
Lover Man
Burning Desire

Back in New York, Hendrix returned to the Record Plant for an extended evening session. Jimi led Buddy Miles and Billy Cox through takes of “Lover Man,” “Izabella,” “Earth Blues,” “Message To Love,” “Changes,” and “Burning Desire”, although no masters were achieved. One recording from this session, an impromptu rendition of Albert King’s “Born Under A Bad Sign” was issued posthumously as part of the 1994 compilation Jimi Hendrix :Blues (Experience Hendrix/MCA, 11060).

Recording

December 18th, 1969

Record Plant, New York
Studio Recording

Ezy Ryder
Message To Love
Bleeding Heart

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
Studio Rehearsals

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.

Recording

December 19th, 1969

Record Plant, New York
Studio Recording

Message To Love
Earth Blues

For the second consecutive evening, Hendrix, Cox, and Miles spent time at both the Record Plant and Baggy’s Studios.

It would appear that the group began the evening with an extended rehearsal session at Baggy’s Studios. Afterwards, Hendrix began a separate session with Cox and Miles at the Record Plant beginning at 3 a.m. Hendrix returned to “Message To Love”, achieving a satisfactory basic rhythm track with just a single take. Sixteen takes of “Earth Blues” followed, with the eleventh designated as ‘complete.’ Hendrix would add a host of overdubs to this working master, including guitar, lead vocal, backing vocals by the famed Ronettes, and even a new drum track by Mitch Mitchell before his death the following year. First issued as part of the since deleted Rainbow Bridge soundtrack, “Earth Blues” was reissued in 1997 as part of First Rays Of The New Rising Sun (Experience Hendrix/MCA, 11599). “Message To Love” has since been issued as part of the Jimi Hendrix Experience box set issued in September 2000.

Events

December 31st, 1969

Fillmore East, New York
Two Shows

Prior to their two concerts later that evening, Hendrix and his Band Of Gypsys held an afternoon sound check and rehearsal at the Fillmore East. Later that evening, before a sold out crowd of 2,639, Hendrix rang in the New Year and new decade with two unforgettable performances.

The evening’s festivities opened with a spirited set by the Voices Of East Harlem, an enthusiastic young gospel ensemble. With the anticipation of the sold out Fillmore audience heightened to fever pitch, Hendrix led his trio through a scintillating, seventy-five minute opening performance. None of the eleven songs presented had yet to grace an Experience album. In the place of signature songs like “Purple Haze” and “All Along The Watchtower” were confident renditions of “Izabella” and “Hear My Train A Comin’”.

At midnight, Kip Cohen, the venue’s master of ceremonies, rang in the new year and decade buffeted by Guy Lombardo’s “Auld Lang Syne”. Never one to be upstaged, Jimi and company greeted the joyous house with their own inspired reading of the holiday staple. For Amalie Rothschild, the Fillmore East’s house photographer, the experience was an unforgettable one. “Then there was the countdown at midnight. It was the countdown that was a real scream. We’re talking about the end of the Sixties. December 31, 1969 turning into January 1, 1970--.A new decade. This was significant. After all, we were living through it and we knew that the Sixties were the Sixties. We had this big countdown on the [Joshua White] light show screen with this big clock 10, 9, 8, 7, 6…and everybody is yelling together. Then the light show screen pulls up and everybody is on stage--all the crew and the musicians. Hendrix, who is now on stage, launches into this amazing rendition of ‘Auld Lang Syne’ and I filmed it [excerpts of Rothschild’s color film footage can be seen in the VHS/DVD Band Of Gypsys]. This was history in the making. You could not miss this. His performance was just so inspired. It was just terrific and I can’t find the words to describe it.”

The recordings which make up both Band Of Gypsys and its two disc sequel Live At The Fillmore East certainly bear out Rothschild’s remembrances. Jimi’s celebrated work with the Band Of Gypsys stands among his most impressive and lasting achievements.

After the show, Ian Dove of Record Mirror interviewed Jimi Hendrix for the January 10, 1970 edition of the British paper. Later that night, Hendrix retreated to The Café Caliph (previously known as The Café Au Go Go) in Greenwich Village where he joined The James Cotton Blues Band on stage for a jam.