April 24, 1969 On this evening, Jimi and Billy Cox were again joined by percussionist Al Marks and drummer Rocky Isaac from the Washington D.C. based group The Cherry People.
April 24, 1969 Record Plant, New York Studio Recording 1) Crash Landing 2) Bleeding Heart 3) Hey Gypsy Boy On this evening, Jimi and Billy Cox were again joined by percussionist Al Marks and drummer Rocky Isaac from the Washington D.C. based group The Cherry People. Al Marks details the events of that memorable evening. EH: What happened at the April 24, 1969 session? AM: We drove back Wednesday [April 23, 1969] and went to the Record Plant. We spoke to the receptionist and told him we were here to record with Jimi. He remembered us from the other night but informed us Jimi had not booked a session for that night. All of a sudden our jaws dropped. Mike Burke and [Washington Post critic] Richard Harrington looked at us and were complaining that we had driven all this way for nothing. Mike Burke agreed to stay, but Harrington left to take a train back to D.C. We had no place to stay so we asked if we could hang out at the studio. They let us in and we crashed on the floor of the studio. In the morning, we were awoken by Vinnie Bell and Tony Mottola from the Tonight Show band. Vinnie was the guy who invented the electric sitar. [Ed. Marks may have also solved another puzzling Hendrix historical question. On April 6, 1969 Jimi was recorded playing a Coral electric sitar at the Record Plant. It now seems apparent that he was given the instrument by Bell]. They were arriving to do session work for a movie soundtrack. These guys were in suits and we were a bunch of scraggly hippies in buckskin jackets. Before we left that morning, Jimi called the studio to set up the session for that night. The studio told him we were there and he asked us to return that night at 9. Somehow we then lost Rocky. We couldn’t locate him, so we ended up spending the day walking around the city. He showed up back at the studio around 7 p.m. looking refreshed. He asked us where we had been because Jimi had reserved a hotel room for us. We were stunned. Rocky had left a note for us but the guy at the Record Plant had forgotten to tell us. We all ran over to the hotel room Jimi had reserved for us and took quick showers. When we returned to the studio, Jimi and Rocky were going over the new songs he wanted to play. The first number we did was “Bleeding Heart”. We did about fifteen or sixteen takes and it seemed to work out fairly well. It was the same line-up as the previous session. Jimi then wanted to try another song so Chris and I took the opportunity to switch instruments. My leg was so damn sore that I couldn’t keep doing it anymore so I took over tambourine and Chris picked up the maracas. [Ed. Jimi made several attempts at “Hey Gypsy Boy”, an uptempo new original song whose lyrics bore close similarity to what would later develop as “Hey Baby (New Rising Sun)”]. Jimi then started to play “Crash Landing”. There were no vocals at first. He was focusing on the track itself. This went really well and after ten or fifteen takes he asked everybody to leave the studio. I asked him if we were being thrown out and he explained that he would not allow anybody to be in the studio while he recorded vocals on a track. In the control room, Gary Kellgren told us that it was just an idiosyncrasy that Jimi had. Gary went out and constructed a booth around him. Jimi had a sheet with lyrics and he stood behind there and sang beautifully. We were bug eyed in the control room. Then, all of sudden, Punky Meadows, who had been sleeping in the back of the studio, woke up and started walking across the room. Jimi saw him and literally flipped out. He threw down the papers in his hand and yelled, ‘What the fuck are you doing in the studio when I am doing vocals?’ In the control room, Gary Kellgren put his hands to his head. Apparently, that was the worst thing anyone could do on a Hendrix session. He yelled to us, ‘Get him out of there!’ We hustled Punky out to the bathroom and Jimi regained his composure and started doing vocals again. When he finished, he walked in to the control room and said, ‘Man, no one walks through that studio when I am doing vocals. Didn’t Gary tell you that?’ We explained that Punky had been asleep and we didn’t know where he was. Jimi laughed. ‘Punky? What kind of name is Punky?’ Punky came out from hiding and they met. All Jimi kept asking him was what kind of name was Punky? It was funny. At the end of the session, he thanked us and hoped that we would run into each other. We drove back to D.C. after that. EH: Did you ever imagine that any of the music to which you contributed would be released? AM: Years later I bought the Crash Landing album thinking it was us on the track but they had erased everything. I have been looking for some validation of this session for thirty years. Every time I would see “Room Full Of Mirrors” on a Jimi Hendrix album I would look to see if my name was on it. Then this year I got an advance of the new box set. I heard “Room Full Of Mirrors” and lo and behold it was it us. This is the song I played on! When I saw the credits, I was disappointed that no one seemed to know who the hell I was! It was great to talk to you about it. I am so grateful to know that this track is on the box set. I love Jimi and its an honor to be a part of something like this. I’ve been on a high since!