I found this book with cool interviews in... here's the main one that struck me. Have a look, guys! You'll probably find it interesting!
SCENE AND HEARD, Radio 1's rock magazine programme, had a
special edition in August 1970 celebrating the Isle of Wight Festival. All the
line-up were included in the programme, apart from Jimi Hendrix. Producer Jeff
Griffin was determined to speak to Hendrix, who eventually agreed to talk to
one of the programme's contributors, Keith Altham.
Keith spoke to
Hendrix in a hotel in London's Park Lane on 12 September. Jimi's bassist, Billy
Cox, had just flown back to the States with drug problems.
'Jimi was sprawled on
a double bed, with my tape recorder balanced on the other end,' recalls Altham.
'I think he may have been drinking, but there was no evidence of the drugs that
everyone talks about in connection with Hendrix. Although it was two days
before his death, he didn't strike me as being particularly down or depressed
in any way.
'He could turn on
this amazing exhibitionism on stage, but off stage he was extremely shy and
introverted, so he was never especially lively in an interview situation. He
was extraordinarily popular at the time, especially in America, but he was
still more famous for his wild antics on stage than for his musicianship. I
think he'd reached the stage where he'd made anough money, and now he wanted to
push the barriers back further and extend himself a bit further. In fact I
found him in fairly optimistic mood, with all kinda or plans for the future.
Very little of this
interview has ever been broadcast, simply because of the way Hendrix talks in
it, often mumbling and laughing. He was found dead two days after it was
ALTHAM: Everybody, subsequent to the Isle of White Festival,
has been talking about the new subdued, mature Jimi Hendrix. I wonder if you
could tell us why this is, and where it started from.
HENDRIX: This is a period when I stop talking so much,
because I'm going through certain things here and there. Whatever. I guess I
just got very quiet for a while. I just do gigs, and stay down. I try to stay
away, you know. Because I was changing, and getting into heavier music. It was
getting unbearable with three pieces [in the band], you know. I always wanted
to expand on all this. But I think I'll go back to three pieces again now. And
get another bass player. And I'll probably be loud again. [LAUGHS]
ALTHAM: It does appear that the days of the baubles and
bangles and the freaky hairstyle have disappeared. Are you not worried that
maybe your quieter approach may lose a little of the mystique that there was
with Jimi Hendrix which attracted people to begin with?
HENDRIX: You see, everybody goes through those stages. But I
don't know, I just did that because I felt like I was being too loud. Because
my nature changes, you know.
ALTHAM: You were quoted in one paper as saying you never
wanted to be a visual thing.
HENDRIX: What I wanted to be basically - this is only hyped
up on all the visual thing - I wanted to be listened to. I don't know if they
were [listening] or not, though. After a while, I started getting aware too
much of what was going down. That started to bring me down a little bit, so I
just started cutting my hair, and start the rings disappearing one by one.
ALTHAM: Are you in fact saying that that kind of freak thing
was really a publicity hype?
HENDRIX: No. No, all they did is let me do what I really
wanted to do, my own kind of scenes. Like, one time I said, 'Maybe I should
burn a guitar tonight, I really feel low.' Or, 'Maybe I should smash a guitar',
or something like that. All they said, 'Yeah, yeah', and I said, 'Do you really
think I should?' They said, 'Yeah, that would be cool', so I said, 'OK'. So I
just has to work up anough anger as to where I could do it. But I didn't take
too much of the hype scene and all that, because I dug wearing all those
different things. It was fun. And I still do, but I don't see where many other
people are doing it, so it gives me a dumb or stupid tendency to hold back on
my own desires and so forth.
ALTHAM: So the anger, maybe, has dispersed a little bit.
HENDRIX: I didn't know it was anger until they told me that
it was, you know, like with destruction and all that. I believe everybody
should have a room where they get rid of all their... releases, where they can
do all their releases. So me room was on stage.
ALTHAM: What is going to happen now? You apparantly said
after the Isle of White festival that you were going to do less personal
HENDRIX: I think it can't work if we did less personal
appearances. We're trying to get a tour in England together now. That's
definitely going to call for another bass player.
ALTHAM: Would it be practical for you to get together maybe
an organist, or a vocalist, so that you can step back as a guitarist?
HENDRIX: That's exactly what I want to do, actually. All
I'll do is probably get two guitarists, counting myself, an organist and a
singer. And drums, quite naturally, and bass. If I can get something like that,
that would be out of sight.
ALTHAM: I remember talking to Alvin Lee of Ten Years After,
and he said of you that you'd never really been truely appreciated or analysed
as a song-writer. Do you feel that maybe your image got in the way of that? Do
you feel that you've never truly been criticised as a songwriter?
HENDRIX: Well, probably that was good thing, because I'm
still trying to get that together. All I write is just what I feel, that's all.
I don't really round it off too good, I keep it almost naked. The words are so
blank and everything, they probably didn't want to get into that. When we go to
play, you flick it around, you flash it around, but they don't see nothing but
what their eyes see, you know, forget about their ears/ I hate to be in one
corner, I hate to be put as only a guitar player, or only as a songwriter, only
as a tap-dancer or something. I like to fool around.
ALTHAM: Is it important for you to achieve recognition as a
HENDRIX: I guess it would be if I wanted to lay back and
predominantly write songs, when I can't go on stage anymore.
ALTHAM: You were quoted in one paper as saying you didn't
really care what you did, as long as you 'turn people on'. What do you want to
turn people on to, apart from your music? Is there any moral or political
intent in the things you want to write?
HENDRIX: I like for them to get easier in the mind a little
bit, because there's too many heavy songs out nowadays. Music is getting too
heavy, almost to the state of unbearable. I have this thing, 'When things get
too heavy, just call me helium, the lightest gas known to man.' [LAUGHS]
ALTHAM: So where are your inspirations for songs coming from
at the present time? Where are you turning for your directions as a writer?
HENDRIX: Right from my recent experiences. What I try to do
is look at the totality of that, and give them the other half. First of all you
have the experience, then you have the second half, the solution to whatever it
might be, which is the use of it all. I was just trying to go through a lot of
changes, so I could write the nice part about them, you know? But right now,
it's taken a while.
ALTHAM: You've been quoted as saying in the past that we're
now at an end of something in music, and the next stage of popular music will
change the world. Do you really believe that, or do you think that music is a
reflection of the world?
HENDRIX: It's always a reflection, but a reflection of the
world is, like, blues. That's where that part of music is at. But then you get
this other kind of music that's trying to come around - it's not sunshine music
necessarily, but it's like an easier type of thing, with more meaning to it.
You're not going to be singing about love all the time in order to give love to
the people. I was just feeling all nice and enthusiastic when I said that. I
can't go back on what I said, because that's a nice thought.
ALTHAM: Do you want to change the world?
HENDRIX: I'd like to take part in a change in reality,
probably. not the way to handle it, necessarily, but the was to get along
better, as it were. Old and young don't clash so much together.
ALTHAM: What are the things you would like to see change?
HENDRIX: I don't know. More colour in the streets, probably.
[LAUGHS] I really don't know. Whatever happens, it should have a chance to be
brought into the open. If there's a new idea, a new invention, or a new gas, or
a new whatever, it should be brought at least into the open, and be respected
as being new, and probably a decent change that would help the human race,
instead of keeping carrying the same old burdens around with them. You have to
have your long hair and talk a certain way in order to be with them. In order
to be the other, you have to have your hair short and wear ties. So we're
trying to make a third world happen, you know what I mean.
ALTHAM: I think certain people think of your music as angry
music, raging against established principles.
HENDRIX: It's raging against it. If it was up to me there
wouldn't be any such thing as establishment. Reality is each persons way of
thinking, and the establishment grabs a big piece of that, and the Church of
England and so forth. But it's the blues, that's what I'm singing about,
ALTHAM: Do you have any politics, in fact?
HENDRIX: Not really. I was getting ready to get into all
that, but everybody goes through those stages too. It all comes out in the
music, most of the time. We had this one song called 'Straight Ahead', and it
says 'Power to the people, freedom to the soul, pass it on the yound and old.
We don't give a damn if your hair is short or long, communication's coming on
ALTHAM: When you look back on things like 'Hey Joe' not, how
do you feel about those musically?
HENDRIX: I think they're alright, I guess. I don't have
anything to regret at all in the past. Except that I might have unintentionally
hurt someone else, or something. And the music, I think that they're all on a
kind of downbeat. I just look at them as changes.
ALTHAM: It has been said of you, that you invented
HENDRIX: [LAUGHS] A mad scientist!
ALTHAM: ...Do you think that's fair? Do you think of
yourself as a psychedelic writer?
HENDRIX: I think it's more that than anything else. I'm
trying to get more into other things. I don't know what the word means, really.
What is it? You say one thing and mean another? Or you can get about three
different meanings out of one thing? Is that where it's at?
ALTHAM: I think psychedelic to most people has connotations
HENDRIX: You mean strictly LSD, or that type or
ALTHAM: ...with dreams...
HENDIX: Right. You have to get a little bit of a dream on,
so you can hear it over again, because it might come in a different mood.
Different dreams come from different moods.
ALTHAM: You've talked quite a bit about audio-visual
importance, the importance or having a film with your music. Are you thinking
in terms of the days when we can fit a cassette into the side of our television
and play music and film together?
HENDRIX: A lot of people are making more money then they
ever have nowadays, like when they get a flat they find themselves with an
extra room. So this whole room can be a total audio-visual environment, where
you just lay back and the whole thing just blossoms out, with this colour and
sound type of scene. You can go in here and you can just jingle out your nerves
or something. That goes with a cassette, yeah. You put in your favourite star,
and all of a sudden, the music and the visual scene comes in. Plus on stage, if
we ever did any more stage things with this new band, it would definately have
to be audio-visual. There would probably only be about 5000 people at the performance.
Because we'd have this geodesic dome. It would probably take about three days
to set the whole thing up. Then you get a performance under that for the next
three days. And just handfuls of people coming in. I think that would be
dynamite, because everybody would get more of an effect from it. Instead of
putting a big black screen behind you.
ALTHAM: What about the subject of festivals? Do you think
the Isle of White is, as some people have said, the last big festival?
HENDRIX: I don't know why they're always trying to kill the
festivals really. It was great. People milling out, digging each other, so many
mixtures of different countries. The only hostility you're going to get from
festivals is not from the people themselves, but from the other people who
can't understand the idea of mixing so many different people together, under
the name of music, peace and love. Because this is a completely different from
the World War II set-up. In World War II, all these countries were completely
against each other. Now we're getting them all together through the idea of
ALTHAM: Do you feel personally that you've got enough money
now, without necessarily making more money as a professional entertainer?
HENDRIX: I don't think so, not in the way I'd like to live -
I want to get up in the morning and roll out of bed into an indoor swimming
pool. Then swim to the breakfast table, come up for air and maybe get a drink
of orange juice. And just flop over from the chair into the swimming pool and
swim into the bathroom.
ALTHAM: You don't want to live just comfortably, you want to
HENDRIX: No. Is that luxurious? I was thinking about a tent,
baby, overhanging a mountain stream. [LAUGHS]
ALTHAM: Now Billy Cox [Jimi Hendrix Experience member] has
split. So whatever happens, you've got to find a new bass player. Do you intend
to form another small unit, or are you hoping to get something bigger together?
HENDRIX: I don't know. I think I'll get another small one
together. It's really hard to decide. I'd like to have both if I could. And use
one for touring, and then sometimes I could do a tour with the big one, or
whatever. But it's really hard to know what people want around here sometimes.
All I'm going to do is I'm just going to do what I feel, but right now I can't
feel anything. There's a few things since this happened, so I just have to lay
back and think about it all.
ALTHAM: Do you feel any kind of compulsion to prove yourself
as 'King Guitar', which is the label that people have slapped on you?
HENDRIX: I don't know. I was always just playing lous,
that's the only difference. No, I don't even let that bother me. Because they
say a lot of things about people that, if they let it bother them, they
wouldn't even be around today. 'King Guitar'? No, that's a bit heavy.