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Authors: Jimi Hendrix

Starting At Zero (9 page)

BOOK: Starting At Zero


OU MUST REMEMBER that Jimi Hendrix U.S.A. didn’t really have a chance to do anything because he was playing behind people. Then this happened
– thanks to Chas and Mike Jeffery, really. They were the ones who had the faith that I could make it over here. When Chas saw me in Greenwich Village he said it would all happen, just like it

Britain is our station now. It’s not my home, but it was our beginning, our birth. They took us in like lost babies. We’ll stay here probably until around the end of June, then
we’ll see if we can get something going in America. We’ve been told that we’ll do well, but I’m not sure we will be accepted as readily there. People are much more
narrow-minded than they are in Britain. In the States the disc jockeys stopped playing
Hey Joe
because people complained about the lyrics. If they do like us, great! If not, too bad!

I arrived here with just the suit I stood up in. I’m going back with the best wardrobe of gear that Carnaby Street can offer. Noel and Mitch will go
over great in the U.S. They’ll love them so much they won’t have to wash their own socks.



Paul McCartney was the big bad Beatle,
the beautiful cat who got us the gig at the Monterey Pop Festival.

That was our start in America.


done up the way it’s supposed to be done up.

Everything was perfect.


I said,
Everything’s together!

What am I gonna do?”


In other words, I was scared at that almost. I was scared to go up there and play in front of all those people. You really want to turn those people on. It’s just like a feeling of really
deep concern. You get very intense. That’s the way I look at it. That’s natural for me. Once you hit the first note, or once the first thing goes down, then it’s all right.
Let’s get to those people’s butts!

Music makes me high onstage, and that’s the truth. It’s almost like being addicted to music. You see, onstage I forget everything, even the pain. Look at my thumb – how ugly
it’s become. While I’m playing I don’t think about it. I just lay out there and jam. That’s what it’s all about, filling up the chest cavities and the empty kneecaps
and the elbows.

It’s another way of communication, of trying to make harmony amongst the people. When they feel and smile with that sleepy exhausted look, it’s like being carried on a wave. You get
into such a pitch sometimes that you go up into another thing. You don’t forget about the audience, but you forget about all the paranoia, that thing where you’re saying, “Oh
gosh, I’m onstage – what am I going to do now?” Then you go into this other thing, and it turns out to be almost like a play in certain ways. I have to hold myself back sometimes
because I get so excited – no, not excited, involved.

When I was in Britain I used to think about America every day. I’m American. I wanted people here to see me. I also wanted to see whether we could make it back here. And we made it, man,
because we did our own thing, and it really was our own thing and nobody else’s. We had our beautiful rock-blues-country-funky-freaky sound, and it was really turning people on. I felt like
we were turning the whole world on to this new thing, the best, most lovely new thing. So I decided to destroy my guitar at the end of the song as a sacrifice.

You sacrifice things you love.

I love my guitar.


HE MONTEREY FESTIVAL WAS A GOOD SCENE. All those beautiful people. We had a few days off, and then we did the Fillmore West. Then we played for
nothing [Golden Gate Park in San Francisco], and I really enjoyed it too. Those flower people are really groovy. All the bands playing for free, that’s what I call groovy teamwork. It was one
of the best gigs we’ve ever played, and it sold ten thousand albums for us!


Flower Power! Yeah!

I wonder what we’ll get next?

I suppose we’ll get
weed speed

and then I can’t wait for the winter when we’ll get all those

fog songs
on the scene.


It’s having fun though. I dig anything as long as it doesn’t hurt anybody, but anything as long as people are grooving off it. You’re not a love-in person just because you have
curly hair or wear bells and beads. You have to believe in it, not just throw flowers. It’s the feeling, and someone who wears a stiff white collar can have it.

Although the flower scene was all tied up with sensation stuff about drugs, the “love everybody” basic idea helped one hell of a lot with the color problem in the States. Colored
artists didn’t dare go near some southern audiences in the past. But since the flower power craze much of the violence has gone. Of course, a lot of those hippies may get busted once in a
while, but you don’t hear of banks being robbed by the hippies in California, do you?

I love the West Coast. That’s where I’d like to live. The weather’s nice, and there’s lots of funny little people. I like the cars, man, beautiful cars. Not too many
Volkswagens, which is good. Oh yeah, I nearly forgot – the girls. They even come down to the gigs. It’s beautiful, it’s ridiculous and all this other stuff, but I don’t know
what is happening at all!

WE HAD A GREAT TIME IN LOS ANGELES. We stayed at Peter Tork’s house. It had about a thousand rooms, a couple of baths and two balconies that overlook the world and
Piccadilly Circus. There’s a stereo that makes you feel you are in a recording emporium, with an electric piano and guitars and amplifiers all over the place. There’s a carport in which
there is a Mercedes, a GTO and something that looks like an old copper stove. And a cute lovely little yellow puppy-type dog.

Dave Crosby and a group called the Electric Flag came round to see us at the Whisky A Go Go. Electric Flag are real groovy. One guy, Buddy Miles, is someone I like talking music with. I’m
turned on to different things now, from the Electric Flag to Jefferson Airplane. I dig Jefferson Airplane’s sound, but they shouldn’t work for their lights. They’ve so much
talent, yet sometimes their light shows are so good that the group becomes only 25 percent of what’s happening. They become nothing but shadows, nothing but voices to the light patterns. I
don’t like that kind of thing blasting away throughout my act, but something different to illustrate each song would be nice – candles on stage for
The Wind Cries Mary
, a film
Purple Haze
and so on.


Then we got into a tour with the Monkees. They’re like plastic Beatles. The Beatles are one group you really can’t put down, because they’re just too much, and it’s so
embarrassing when America is sending over the Monkees. They’re a commercial product of American show business.
Oh God! Dishwater!
I really hate somebody like that to
make it so big when they’ve got groups in the States that are starving to death trying to get breaks.

Don’t get me wrong, I like the Monkees themselves. The personal part was beautiful. They’re such good cats. I got on well with Micky and Peter, and we fooled around a lot together.
All the rumors about being segregated on the plane were just nonsense.

We played seven performances with them, then pulled out of the tour because there was a hassle. Firstly, we were not getting any billing – all the posters for the show just screamed out
They didn’t even know we were there until we hit the stage. Then they gave us the “death” spot on the show – right before the Monkees were due on. The audience just screamed and yelled for the Monkees.

Finally they agreed to let us go on first, and things were much better. We got screams and good reactions, and some kids even rushed the stage.
The kids started digging us
more than the plastic Beatles!

Then some parents who brought their young kids complained that our act was vulgar.


They’d say,
“What is this all about – kid’s rushing that!?

Ugh! Too erotic!”


I am bemused by the whole thing. I suppose I might move around in certain ways, and girls in the front seats might have funny expressions on their faces, but it’s not downright sexy. I
believe it might have something to do with just the idea of somebody being on stage and showing themselves, and the people knowing they can’t really touch them but they would like to.
It’s a frustrated feeling, but it’s a good feeling. They probably don’t get a chance to scream until this one time, and then they let EVERYTHING out.

We hadn’t really played to that kind of kids’ audience before, and you have to realize that though the parents of the kids in England don’t interfere too much, the parents in
the States are something else. And then there are all those different kinds of stuffy organizations over here, right? In New York the Daughters of the American Revolution tried to stop our show
because they said we were too sexy. Imagine how these old ladies must have been turned on. They were turned on so bad they had to try and stop us from doing our thing. So this is where it’s
at now!

We decided it was just the wrong audience.
I think they replaced me with
Mickey Mouse


MERICA’S JUST LIKE ANY OTHER COUNTRY. It just takes a little more time. We did different little places around like the club scene in New
York, Central Park; Washington, D.C.; Ann Arbor, Michigan; and the Hollywood Bowl. We didn’t know where we were sometimes.

We were taken around a little with the Mamas and Papas. In New York we all went out to the Electric Circus club in the Village, which completely blew my mind. There was a group called the Seeds
playing there, but they had all these funny little acts going on between things. One guy walked up onto the stage and stood there and growled for about five minutes. Then he said, “Thank
you” and walked off! There was another guy who came on in a straitjacket and just rolled around on the floor for half an hour.

Then some funny little guys came swinging down on ropes from the ceiling. We couldn’t believe it! The Village Fugs are real crazy. They do things arranged from William Burroughs, songs
about lesbians and things like freaking out with a barrel of tomatoes, squashing them all between your armpits.
You’d never believe it, man, those
cats are downright vulgar. They tell these nasty, beautiful poems, the nastiest ones you can think of.

Yeah, it was a really groovy time in the States. Except I got pulled up by the police in Washington, D.C. and I was refused entry to one or two restaurants, but that was because I was with a
couple of hippies. One of them looked like Sitting Bull. It wasn’t a racial thing.

In New York taxi drivers would drive up to me, take a look at my appearance then drive away. Some of these guys want everybody to be the same conforming type as themselves. Well, they
ain’t gonna catch me like that.
Why should I be like the taxi driver?

I was completely unknown in America until the word got back that the British dug my kind of music. Now it’s sellout business here. At the clubs in Greenwich Village we were welcomed like
gods. Nobody who is continually experimenting with music makes big money, but they get respect in the right quarters.

I don’t do anything all that different, but suddenly the magazines like
are writing about me. It’s a funny feeling. These are the same people who first laughed. Ha, Ha! Now I’m not stupid Jimi anymore, I’m Mr. Hendrix. They try to analyze me and come
up with a psychiatrist’s report, and it doesn’t sound like me one little bit. They don’t know what’s running through my blood. We live in a different world. My world?
That’s hunger. It’s the slums, raging race hatred, and the only happiness is the kind you can hold in your hand.

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