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Authors: Jimi Hendrix

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Why is it necessary to be dressed peculiarly?

Well, I don’t consider it actually necessary. This is the way I like to dress and look, off stage and on. I like shades of color that clash. I always wanted to be
a cowboy, or Hadji Baba, or the Prisoner of Zenda. Before I go onstage my road manager says to me, “Jimi, you scruffy looking git, you’re not going on looking like that tonight,
are you?” And I say, “As soon as I’ve put out this cigarette – I’m fully dressed.” I feel comfortable like this.

Where is fashion going?

I don’t know, and I don’t care, really. Maybe people will wear different colored sheets, like in the olden days. And don’t ask me those silly questions
about whether I wear underwear.
I swear you should have gotten someone else for this interview.

 

P
EOPLE ASK ME whether I dress and do my hair like this just for effect, but it’s not true. This is me. I don’t like to be misunderstood
by anything or anybody, so if I want to wear a red bandanna and turquoise slacks and if I want hair down to my ankles, well, that’s me. All those photographs you might have seen of me in a
tuxedo and a bow tie playing in Wilson Pickett’s backing group were me when I was shy, scared and afraid to be myself. I had my hair slicked back and my mind combed out.

The jacket I’m wearing now is Royal Army Veterinary Corps, 1898 I believe. Very good year for uniforms. The other night I was about half a block away from the Cromwellian Club, wearing
this gear. Up comes this wagon with a blue light flashing, and about five or six policemen jump out at me. They look into my face real close and severe. Then one of them points to my jacket and
says, “That’s British, isn’t it?” So I said, “Yeah, I think it is.” And they frowned and all that bit, and they said, “You’re not supposed to be
wearing that. Men fought and died in that uniform.” The guy’s eyes were so bad he couldn’t read the little print on the badges.

So I said, “What, in the Veterinary Corps? Anyway, I like uniforms. I wore one long enough in the United States Army.” They said, “What? You trying to get smart with us? Show
us your passport.” So we did all that bit too. I had to convince them that my accent was really American. Then they asked me what group I was with, and I said the Experience. So they made fun
of that as well and made cracks about roving minstrels. After they made a few more funnies and when they’d finally got their kicks, they said they didn’t want to see me with the gear on
anymore, and they let me go. Just as I was walking away one of them said, “Hey, you said you’re with the Experience. What are you experiencing?” I said,
“Harassment”
and took off as quick as I could.

People take us strange ways, but I don’t care how they take us. Man, we’ll be moving, because in this life you’ve got to do what you want. You’ve got to let your mind and
fancy flow, flow free.

 

W
HITE COLLARED CONSERVATIVE FLASHING

DOWN THE STREET
,

P
OINTING THEIR PLASTIC FINGER AT ME
.

T
HEY’RE HOPING SOON MY KIND WILL DROP AND DIE
,

B
UT
I
’M GONNA WAVE MY FREAK FLAG HIGH, HIGH
.

W
OW
! W
AVE ON, WAVE ON
.

 

F
ALL MOUNTAINS, JUST DON’T FALL ON ME
.

G
O AHEAD ON
M
R. BUSINESSMAN, YOU CAN’T DRESS LIKE ME
.

 

Do you know my biggest problem? I just can’t look straight into a camera and smile if I don’t feel like smiling. I just can’t do it. It’s like being told to be happy to
order! Anyway, the photographers always try to make me look so evil. All the photos I had done for publicity to begin with were picked because I looked so grim. We threw away all the smiley-smiley
shots and kept the horrors. That made me a kind of monster. Honestly, I don’t know why the people want to see me as a horror type. They’d love it if I’d look like a cannibal! But
I guess it was necessary to get that visual thing going before we could make people listen.

{BY THE END OF MARCH 1967, THE HENDRIX EXPERIENCE HAD GIVEN
OVER EIGHTY PERFORMANCES IN THE U.K., FRANCE AND HOLLAND. THE BRITISH TABLOIDS HAD DUBBED
HENDRIX “THE WILD MAN OF POP.”}

Some people ask what on earth am I? Are we being invaded? But the comments don’t bother me. I used to listen to what people said, go away and lie in bed and worry about it. But you
can’t worry yourself about that. It’s just conventional people wanting the whole world to be conventional with them. We set out to be a trip, that’s the reason we are like this.
We really want to freak them out when we play.

We play very, very loud.
We play loud to create a certain effect, to make it all as physical as possible, so it goes right through you. It should hurt. We were in
Holland doing a TV show, and the equipment was the best ever. They said play as loud as you like, and we were really grooving when this little fairy comes running in and yells,
“Stop! Stop!

The ceiling in the studio below is falling down!”

And it was too, plaster and all! I like to play loud. I always did like to play loud.

I get accused of being electrically hung up, but I like electric sounds, feedback and so forth. Static. People make sounds when they clap, so we make sounds back. Musically,
“freak-out” is almost like playing wrong notes. It’s playing the opposite notes to what you think the notes should be. If you hit it right, with the right amount of feedback, it
can come up very nice. It’s like playing the wrong notes seriously, dig? It’s a lot of fun.

We don’t use gimmicks for their own sake. What happens on stage is what I do myself. I mean, when I’m moving around out there I’m just squeezing that little bit more out of my
guitar. Sometimes I jump on the guitar, sometimes I grind the strings up against the frets. The more it grinds, the more it whines. Sometimes I rub up against the amplifier, sometimes I sit on it,
sometimes I play with my teeth, or I’ll be playing along and I’ll feel like playing with my elbow. I can’t remember all the things I do. It’s just the way I play. I’d
die of boredom if I didn’t put everything into it.

The one thing I really hate is miming. It’s so phoney. I was asked to mime at a Radio London appearance, and I felt guilty just standing there holding a guitar. I can’t feel the
music when it’s like that. You can’t expect me to play guitar with my teeth when there is a recording going on in the background. That’s crazy.

When you play with your teeth you have to know what you are doing or you might hurt yourself. Everywhere I go they tell me about one group who got up like us, and the fella tried to play the
guitar with his teeth and his teeth fell out all over the stage. “That’s what you get for not brushing your teeth,” I tell them. I’ve never broken anything playing, but I
was thinking once, for a freak-out of course, of putting bits of paper in my mouth before the show and then spitting them out like all my teeth were dropping out!

 

A
LOT OF PEOPLE THINK what I do with my guitar is vulgar. I don’t think it’s vulgar. Perhaps it’s sexy, but what music
with a big beat isn’t? Music is such a personal expression it’s bound to project sex. What is so wrong about that? Is it so shameful? Is it any more shameful than some of
the erotic adverts you see in the papers or on television? The world revolves around sex. Music should be matched with human emotions, and if you can tell me a more human one than sex,
then you’ve got me fooled. Those who think we are filthy are the same people who don’t want to let Joan Baez sing her anti-war songs publicly.

I play and move as I feel. It’s not an act but a state of being. My music, my instrument, my sound, my body are all one action with my mind. It’s like a contact high
between the music and me. The actual music is like a fast, lingering high. It might be sex or love to certain people in the audience, but to me it just gets me stoned out of my mind. If
they think our show is sexy, that’s nice, and if the show gives them other feelings, that’s just as good. If my music makes them feel free to do what they think best for
themselves, that is a step ahead.

 

As long as they’re not passive.

{MARCH 31, 1967, THE JIMI HENDRIX EXPERIENCE JOINED THE
WALKER BROTHERS’ TOUR.}

The first night of the Walker Brothers’ tour was when I started to worry. I knew where it was at when it came to specialist blues scenes, but this was in front of audiences who had come to
see the Walker Brothers, Engelbert Humperdinck and Cat Stevens. All the sweet people follow us on the bill, so we have to make it hot for them. We have to hit ’em and hit ’em good.

Those who come to hear Engelbert sing
Release Me
may not dig me, but that’s not tragic. You can only plan so far in these things. We’ll play for ourselves. We’ve done it
before, where the audience stands about with their mouths open, and you wait ten minutes before they clap.

I’m not trying to entertain the teenyboppers or the very old. I’m trying to be honest, and I’m trying to be me. I can’t imagine the people buying Engelbert’s discs
are buying mine, unless they are musical freaks who buy every record because it’s in the hit parade. I sat down and listened to Engelbert one night. He really has a very good voice.
It’s flawless. Maybe if you don’t have a very good imagination you need good looks and a flawless voice.

LETTER TO A FAN, APRIL 1967:

Dear David,

Stay groovy. I’m sorry to say that we don’t have any more photos of us at the moment. Some guys stole our whole supply from the tour bus. But we all (all
three of us) really appreciate you writing us at this most crucial moment (Walkers, Hump, Cat, everything against us). Thanx again and the best of luck.

From Jimi Hendrix Experience.

 

T
HE TOUR BOSSES ARE GIVING US HELL. I don’t know if it’s like this on all tours, but they don’t give us a chance to tune up before
we go onstage. And just before I go on, I turn ’round and find a guitar string is broken, or I find my guitar is all out of tune after I just tuned it. I kinda don’t know what to say
about that. They just don’t give a damn about us. They say we are obscene and vulgar. We refuse to change our act, and the result is my amplifier sometimes gets cut off at the funniest of
times.

I have been threatened by the tour manager every night so far, but I’m not going to stop for him. I’ve been using this act all the way since I’ve been in Britain. There’s
nothing vulgar about it at all. I just don’t know where these people get their ideas. But they are not getting rid of us unless we are officially thrown off the tour.

Naturally, there were some things we did for publicity. I mean, the flaming guitar thing I did was all rigged. We just poured petrol all over the damn thing and set a light to it. The security
men went wild, but we made every paper! I remember the promoter, who was in on the trick, kept screaming at me and shaking his fist, shouting, “You can’t do things like that, Hendrix!
I’m having you off this tour!” Meantime he was concealing the evidence for me under his coat – my burned-up guitar that all the police and firemen were looking for.

 

T
HE TOUR WAS GOOD EXPERIENCE, but our billing position was all wrong. I was setting the stage on fire for everyone else. That Engelflumplefuff
hadn’t any stage presence. He never got anything going. Stopped it all stone dead. But it was a gas, in spite of the hassles.

I really learned a lot about British audiences, because every night we had two more to meet, and after each show Chas and I would discuss how everything went down and ways to improve. In the
theater at Luton one guy jumped about twenty feet from a box onto the stage, just to shake hands with us. We’d step outside the stage door where the teenyboppers were and think, “Oh,
they won’t bother about us,” and get torn apart! A girl was hanging on to my guitar saying, “You don’t want it.” I said to her, “You must be out of your
mind!” We were good in something called Leicester too.

I feel embarrassed when I hear a compere giving me a big buildup before I go on stage or I see my name in lights outside a theater. I can’t believe it’s happening to me. Sometimes
the audience says
“Hooray”
so loud it scares me out of my mind. I want to say,
“Not so loud!”
But I like it. It makes me
feel like crying.

We three had a kinda feeling that we were on the way to success as far as Britain was concerned. Strange, because a lot of people don’t know who we are individually. We would walk into a
press conference as the three question marks and they would ask which one is which. I guess that emphasizes that it is what we have been playing which has got us off the ground.

{IN MAY 1967, SIX DAYS AFTER ITS RELEASE,
THE WIND
CRIES MARY
ENTERED THE U.K. CHARTS. IT REMAINED THERE
FOR ELEVEN WEEKS, REACHING A TOP POSITION OF #6.}

I don’t know how it happened so suddenly, but our records began to sell at an incredible rate.
Purple Haze
is still in the charts right now. We never thought it would be this big.
Maybe we should have waited for it to cool down before releasing
The Wind Cries Mary
. But in England you have to keep releasing records. They have very quick minds, and they get bored
easily. They are very bizarre people in certain senses, which is exciting.

You can’t blame me for being selfish by trying to get our songs across to the public as quick as possible. I really hate to lose out. If you’re really interested
and really involved in music, then you can be very hungry. The more you contribute, the more you want to make. It makes you hungrier, regardless of how many times you eat a day.

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