Read Starting At Zero Online

Authors: Jimi Hendrix

Starting At Zero (6 page)

BOOK: Starting At Zero
ads

Part of the whole thing is seeing the reaction the group gets when we walk out onstage. We play really hard in the clubs. The club managers think we are an abomination, but the public thinks
it’s awesome. One time, we played at the new London club the Upper Cut where we had about five thousand turn up. It scared me half to death when I saw all those people out there! But I just
went on and did what I felt like, and everything worked out all right.

 

At the Saville Theatre I had this gadget on the guitar that every time I hit a certain note the lights would go up. I would like to someday play a note and have it come out as a
color with lights and film. That’ll be the total experience!

The Beatles used to come and see us sometimes, like at the Saville Theatre, and Paul McCartney told me they were planning to do a film [
Magical Mystery Tour
], and he
wanted us to be in this film. We weren’t known then and McCartney was trying to help us, but we got a nice break before they got the movie together.

The Beatles and the Stones are all such beautiful cats off record, but it’s a family thing, such a family thing, that sometimes it all begins to sound alike. Sometimes you
don’t want to be part of the family. I believe soon all the English records will sound alike, just like Motown all sound alike. That’s nice in a way, but what happens if
you have your own thing going?

POSTCARD TO AL HENDRIX, NOVEMBER 1966:

Dear Dad,

Well … Although I lost the address, I feel I must write before I get too far away. We’re in Munich, Germany, now. We just left Paris and Nancy, France.
We’re playing around London now. That’s where I’m staying these days. I have my own group and will have a record out in about 2 months named ‘Hey Joe’. By the
Jimi Hendrix Experience. I hope you get this card. I’ll write a decent letter. I think things are going a little better.

Your loving Son, Jimi.

 

{DECEMBER 16, 1966, FIRST SINGLE RELEASED IN THE U.K.}

We all dug
Hey Joe
as a number, so we put it down on record. While we were working on it I don’t think we played it the same way twice. Lots of people have done different
arrangements of it, and Timmy Rose was the first to do it slowly. I like it played slowly. There are probably 1,000 versions of it fast, by the Byrds, Standells, Love and others.

It was the first time I ever tried to sing on a record. I was too scared to sing. Chas made me sing serious. I just wish I could sing really nice, but I know I can’t. I just feel the words
out. I try all night to hit a pretty note, but I’m more like an entertainer and performer than a singer.
Guitar is the basic thing for me.
Voice is just another way of
getting across what I’m doing musically.

{FEBRUARY 1967,
HEY JOE
REACHED
#4
IN THE
U.K. CHARTS.}

Hey Joe
is really a blues arrangement of a cowboy song. It isn’t quite a commercial song, so I’m surprised that it got so high in the hit parade. I’m just wondering how
people are going to take the next one, because it’s so different. They’d picked out
Love Or Confusion
to be our next single, but I had this thing on my mind about a dream I had
that I was walking under the sea. It’s linked to a story I read in a science fiction magazine about a purple death ray. It’s called
Purple Haze
– excuse me!

 

PURPLE HAZE ALL IN MY BRAIN,

LATELY THINGS DON’T SEEM THE SAME,

ACTIN’ FUNNY, BUT I DON’T KNOW WHY,

’SCUSE ME WHILE I KISS THE SKY.

 

PURPLE HAZE ALL AROUND,

DON’T KNOW IF I’M COMING UP OR DOWN.

AM I HAPPY OR IN MISERY?

WHATEVER IT IS, THAT GIRL PUT

A SPELL ON ME!

 

PURPLE HAZE ALL IN MY EYES,

DON’T KNOW IF IT’S DAY OR NIGHT.

YOU’VE GOT ME BLOWING, BLOWIN’ MY MIND.

IS IT TOMORROW OR JUST THE END

OF TIME?

 

It’s about this guy who doesn’t know which way he’s going. This girl turned this cat on, and he doesn’t know if it’s bad or good – that’s all. It could
be stuff like going into different strange areas like most curious people do. It’s nothing to do with drugs. The key to the meaning of the song lies in the line
“that girl put a
spell on me.
” The song progresses from there.

 

We really had a funny time last night.

I met this girl and she was really outasight.

I said, baby, what you doin’?

She said, “Well, you know, I’m alright. How are you?”

I said, well, everything’s the old thing, just a big drag.

I was just wonderin’, what’s that you got in that little sack there?

She said, “This?”

And she opened it up and it went like this …
[
feedback
].

 

I said WHEW! Close it! Close it! Baby, look out!

She put her little thumb in. So I stuck my fingers in and

 

 

{RELEASED IN MARCH 1967,
PURPLE HAZE
ENTERED THE
U.K. CHARTS IN SIX DAYS AND REACHED
#3.
}

I would under no circumstances call my music psychedelic. We had guys ten years ago in the States playing what they’re now calling psychedelic. You hear these cats saying, “Look at
the band, they’re playing psychedelic music,” and all they’re really doing is flashing lights on them and playing
Johnny B. Goode
with the wrong chords.

The ones who call themselves that are so bad. I’d hate to go on a trip and hear all that noise. Freak-out, psychedelic and so on, that’s all pretty limited. I don’t want
anybody to stick a psychedelic label around my neck. Sooner Bach and Beethoven. Don’t misunderstand me, I love Bach and Beethoven. I have many records by them, also by Gustav Mahler.

On the whole I think it’s a mistake to try to divide different kinds of music into small categories. There really doesn’t have to be any specific name for different kinds of music.
The name of the band is good enough, isn’t it? You might hear one little thing and say, “Hey, that’s kind of nice,” but our music’s like that jar of candy over there.
Everything’s all mixed up. It’s a mixture of rock, blues and jazz, a music that’s still developing, that’s just now coming,
a music of the future
. If it must be a tag,
I’d like it to be called “Free Feeling.” It’s a mixture of rock, freak-out, blues and rave music. My rock-blues-funky-freaky sound.

I was influenced by everything at the same time – Muddy Waters, Jimmy Reed, Chet Atkins, B.B. King. I dug Howlin’ Wolf and Elmore James, but I was into other stuff too –
Ritchie Valens, Eddie Cochran and
Summertime Blues
. And you could also say that I was influenced by Bob Dylan and Brian Jones. I listen to everything, from Bach to the Beatles. See, a
mixture of those things, and hearing those things at the same time, which way do you go?

I was digging them for themselves, not for what I could get from them or wishing I could be like that. I’m not copying what I heard before. Like when you’re a baby, you’re used
to one little thing, not using it but just used to it, sucking on it until you grow up, and then you don’t think about it anymore. You’ve got to dig everything and then get your own
ideas. Too much digging and not enough doing will set you spinning.

 

A
LOT OF THE PEOPLE I listen to now are British. It’s almost like being in the States! I don’t believe they can sound exactly like the
American cats, but a few do. Stevie Winwood and Spencer Davis come about the closest to really having that feeling. And Tom Jones! Why? I guess they get tired of hearing all those Herman’s
Hermits records. If they can really dig a cat like Ray Charles, who’s one of the all-time greats when you’re talking of soul, it isn’t too surprising when they come up with that
soulful feeling. It just shows that they’re really listening.

You’re a Sagittarian?

Constantly. Twenty-seventh.

Personal points?

5 feet 11 inches; 11 stone 5 pounds; dark brown eyes – black sometimes; dark brown hair.

Origin of stage name?

88 percent from my birth certificate, 12 percent from misspelling.

Any pets?

My two little furry-minded guitars.

Favorite food and drinks?

Spaghetti, strawberry shortcake with whipped cream and banana cream pie. I like typical soul food too – greens and rice.

English food?

Oh god! man. See, English food, it’s difficult to explain. You get mashed potatoes with just about everything, and I ain’t gonna say anything good about
that!

What do you think of London?

It’s a different kind of atmosphere here. People are more mild-mannered. I like all the little streets and the boutiques. It’s like a kind of fairyland. But
you know what really turns me on about London? Just watching the girls go by. It’s a fantastic city for girl-watchers. They’re all so beautiful and so many different
nationalities.

Do you smoke?

If I didn’t smoke I’d be fat as a pig. My nerves are very bad. I like tipped cigarettes mostly, alternating with menthol ones – about a pack over a day
and a half.

Do you have any hobbies?

I like to watch the lightning. Especially on the fields and flowers when I’m on my own. I read a lot of science fiction. And I love reading fairy tales, like Hans
Christian Andersen, and
Winnie-the-Pooh
.

What don’t you like?

I don’t like ordinary things or people with very neat eyebrows who look very neat.

What kind of person are you?

I’m a little bit quiet, a little closed. Most of the time I don’t talk so much. What I have to say I say with my guitar.

Immediate plans?

I want to stay in England. In the States I was always playing behind other people, and I found it difficult to contain myself. It’s much better now I have my own
group. I understand there won’t be any difficulty getting work permits and so on as long as I’m a good little boy.

How important is your music to you?

For us it’s very important. If we stop playing we have no money to buy food with.

Professional ambition?

I want to be the first man to write about the blues scene on Venus.

Personal ambition?

To see my mother and family again.

How long since you’ve been home?

About seven years. I don’t even know my six-year-old sister. I just called my dad once when I came to England to let him know I’d reached something.

What did he say?

He asked me who I had robbed to get the money to go to England. Actually, I’m scared to go home. My father is a very strict man. He would straight away grab hold
of me, tear my clothes off and cut my hair! I’d like to have enough money to send home to my father. One day I’m going to build him a house. Just to tease him a little bit, and
because he paid for my first guitar.

Why do you wear your hair like that?

I think maybe because my dad used to cut it all the time when I was a kid, and I used to go to school looking like a plucked chicken. Maybe that gave me a complex.

Do you comb your hair?

No, I use a brush. A comb would get stuck. A girl asked me if she could comb my hair. NOBODY can comb my hair. I can’t even comb my hair. But I think this
hairstyle is groovy. A mod Shirley Temple. A frizzy permanent. Anyway, it’s better than having dull, straight hair. The strands, you see, are vibrations. If your hair is straight and
pointing to the ground you don’t get many vibrations. This way, though, I’ve got vibrations shooting out all ways.

ADS
15.4Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
READ BOOK DOWNLOAD BOOK

Other books

The Mystery at the Fair by Gertrude Chandler Warner
In Memory of Angel Clare by Christopher Bram
The Evil Hours by David J. Morris
A Family Forever by Helen Scott Taylor
The Island Horse by Susan Hughes
The Disciple by Steven Dunne