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Hit Factory, New York Studio Recording 1 ) Message To The Universe 2 ) Lover Man 3 ) Izabella 4 ) Message To The Universe 5 ) Izabella 6 ) Burning Desire 7 ) Easy Blues 8 ) Izabella 9 ) Beginnings Jimi returned to the recording studio for the first time in nearly three months. The guitarist was accompanied by his expanded ensemble Gypsy Sun & Rainbows, as well as engineer Eddie Kramer. Jimi had readied a slate of promising new material and looked to make progress on his next studio album. A number of recordings from this session were later issued on disc. The two most prominent were “Message To The Universe”, now a part of South Saturn Delta and “Izabella” from the box set The Jimi Hendrix Experience. While no longer in print, two other recordings from this session have been previously released. An edited version of “Easy Blues” was part of the 1980 compilation Nine To The Universe. “Beginnings” was posthumously overhauled in 1974 and fitted with new overdubs as part of the ill advised [and long since deleted] Midnight Lightning album produced by Alan Douglas.
Hit Factory, New York Studio Recording 1) Izabella 2) Message To The Universe 3) Izabella 4) Machine Gun 5) Izabella 6) Message To The Universe 7) Jam Jimi returned to the Hit Factory for new attempts at “Izabella” and “Message To The Universe.” A sparse demo of “Machine Gun” was buttressed with overdubs by session musicians in 1974 and issued as part of the controversial [and long since deleted] Midnight Lightning.
In a lively session with Hendrix on guitar and Buddy Miles on drums, the two musicians run through a number of takes of “Izabella” plus lay the foundations for “Room Full Of Mirrors.” As John McDermott explains in Jimi Hendrix: Sessions, “Shortly after reel two began, technical problems slowed the pair’s progress. Hendrix, in particular, was bothered by the volume and general quality of the recording being supplied to his headphones. [Engineers] Jack Adams and Dave Ragno feverishly attempted to remedy the situation, but when recording resumed, Jimi’s amplifier started to malfunction, causing his guitar sound to drop out intermittently. This again caused a scramble in the control room. To help salvage the session, engineer Tony Bongiovi was sent for, and, thought he was not listed on the tape box, his distinctive voice can be plainly heard from this point forward.” As the session regrouped and recordings continued, a series of takes of “Room Full Of Mirrors” was laid to tape as was a couple of interesting takes of “Shame, Shame, Shame” (a song which eluded to the strained relationship with his step-brother Leon), plus a gritty rendition of “Ezy Ryder.” It was during these sessions that Alan Douglas deepened his involvement with Hendrix. Although his exact role in the sessions of the 7th is unknown, the tape marked simply marked as being for client, Douglas Records. As Stefan Bright and Douglas increased their control and influence over Hendrix in the studio, their exact involvement and reason for being there seemed puzzling. Tom Erdelyi (second engineer for several Record Plant sessions) explained the changes in the studio in McDermott’s Jimi Hendrix: Sessions. “Douglas and Bright just sort of came in and took over. They were running the show. I was surprised, because I was a fan of the Jimi Hendrix Experience, and no one seemed to understand what Jimi was trying to accomplish. Jimi was such a perfectionist. It seemed as if he was just taking his time, because no tracks were being completed. We thought that Douglas was being patient. “I don’t know whether they had specific titles or not,” continues Erdelyi. “But Stefan Bridge was supposed to be the producer and Alan Douglas the executive producer. There were times when just Stefan Bright was there, but Jimi just played what he wanted, and those guys made comments from the control room.”
Joined by Billy Cox, Hendrix and Miles returned to the Record Plant studios in New York City to continue work on several new tracks including “Room Full Of Mirrors,” “Stepping Stone,” and “Ezy Rider.” Second engineer Tom Erdelyi recalls additional recordings being worked on including “Izabella,” “Machine Gun,” “Dolly Dagger,” and “Message To Love.” During this session, Hendrix brought in Albert and Arthur Allen (the Ghetto Fighters) to provide backing vocals for “Room Full Of Mirrors.” The basic track of “Room Full Of Mirrors” is the foundation for the recording heard on 1997’s First Ray s Of The New Rising Sun (Experience Hendrix/ MCA, 11599). Afterwards, Hendrix and the Allen twins visited Studio B where Mountain was recording their latest hit, “Mississippi Queen.” Thrilled by the chance meeting, Hendrix invited Leslie West back to his studio for a jam.
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.
Record Plant, New York Studio Recording Sky Blues Today [Stepping Stone] Izabella Hendrix prepared new mixes of “Sky Blues Today” and “Izabella”.
Back at the Record Plant, rough mixes of “Sky Blues Today” and “Izabella” were prepared but later scrapped in favor of new ones.
Record Plant, New York Studio Recording A mixing session dedicated to the Band Of Gypsys studio recording of “Izabella.”
During a mixing session for Band Of Gypsys at the Record Plant, Dave Ragno and Bob Hughes joined Hendrix for the completion of a rough mix of “Izabella.”
Record Plant, New York Studio Recording Work continued on the mixing of “Izabella” before Hendrix and engineer Bob Hughes crafted what was deemed the master. This mix, coupled with “Stepping Stone”, would later be issued by Reprise as a single in April 1970. The track can now be heard as part of the Voodoo Child: The Jimi Hendrix compilation. With “Izabella” deemed complete, Hendrix began work on mixes of “Sky Blues Today” [“Stepping Stone”].
Back at the Record Plant, additional rough mixes of “Izabella” plus “Sky Blues Today” were completed. The mix of “Izabella” was considered the master.
Juggy Sound, New York Studio Recording Hendrix and Eddie Kramer continued final editing and mixing of the Band Of Gypsys album at Juggy Sound. Record Plant, New York Studio Recording Following his session at Juggy, Hendrix went to the Record Plant where a master mix for “Sky Blues Today” was achieved during this Record Plant. This master, later retitled “Stepping Stone” by the guitarist, was coupled with February 12 master of “Izabella” and would be released on April 13, 1970 as a Reprise Records single.
A master mix for “Sky Blues Today” was achieved during the session at the Records Plant. This master, coupled with “Izabella” from the session on the 12th would later be released (April 13, 1970) on the short-run single “Stepping Stone” b/w “Izabella” (Reprise Records, 0905)
With Band Of Gypsys riding high in the Billboard US album chart, Reprise Records issued the single “Stepping Stone” coupled with “Izabella”. Apart from “All Along The Watchtower”, Jimi had little success at US Top 40 radio. “Stepping Stone” and “Izabella” proved to be no exception. Moreover, Capitol Records complained that Reprise was trying to distract consumers from Band Of Gypsys. As the delivery of that album had resolved a bitter lawsuit between Hendrix, Capitol, and Reprise, the single quickly faded from view and has since become a prized collector’s item. For those unable to track down an original vinyl copy, both versions can now be heard as part of the Voodoo Child: The Jimi Hendrix Collection issued in May 2001.