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CURTIS KNIGHT (& THE SQUIRES)


Pictures

 
Cheetah
AD IN "VILLAGE VOICE" 12 MAY 1966

Cheetah 1966
The pictures of the Squires on this page were supposedly taken at the Cheetah, Broadway & 53rd Street, New York City, hence the specially made "Cheetah skin" stage clothing. This would put the date as May 1966 when Curtis Knight was playing at the club according to a magazine ad. However, if you look at photographs on the Getty Images website taken at the Cheetah on 10&12 May 1966 a couple of things do not quite fit. The stage is elevated so the bandstand was above the audience & the dancefloor at the front. The shots of the Squires look like they would have been taken at the front of the stage but from an angle of someone standing higher than stage level. That would not be possible at the Cheetah unless the photographer was standing on a ladder or shooting from the back of the club with a teleobjective. A Teleobjective in turn would suggest a professional photographer but the pictures are fuzzy & out of focus, more like the work of an amateur with a pocket camera.

The backdrop is nowhere to be seen in the photos of the club, the back of the stage was covered with mirrors. All the other live shots of the Squires show much more of the interior of the clubs and in some cases also several members of the audience. There is no audience to be seen in the Cheetah shots and the only thing that you can see of the surroundings is the backdrop. The band is tightly cropped against a neutral background so these shots could have been taken anywhere.

I think it could be possible that these pictures were staged for one reason or another. None of the comments made above rule out the possibility that they are authentic live shots from the Cheetah but for such a high profile gig one would have expected the photographer to also shoot the audience and the surroundings and the pictures don't have anything about them that says "Cheetah" except the band's clothing.

The Cheetah had just been opened on 28th of April 1966 1. It's unknown when the Squires engagement started but it continued until 18 May 2. The headliner for the gigs was The Denims consisting of Ronnie Duff, Peter St. John, Mike Zaccor, Steve Curry, Artie Arnell and Doug Super 3. A 13 September 1966 article 3 in the newspaper Toledo Blade stated about the Denims that "In New York, they opened the new discotheque, the Cheetah". If this is correct it could be that the Squires also appeared at the club for the whole 28 April - 18 May  -period. The lead singer of the Denims, Steve Curry, returned to the Cheetah in December 1967 as a member of the cast for the musical  "Hair".

If anyone knows how to contact any of the members of the Denims please email me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Documentary
See a 1967 documentary about the Cheetah on YouTube. Filmed a year after the Curtis Knight gigs of course but it does still give one an authentic picture of the times and an idea how the club looked like and what the gigs were like.

Personnel
Personnel at this point includes:

Curtis Knight - vocals, rhythm guitar
Jimi Hendrix - vocals, lead guitar
Marion Booker - drums
Nathaniel Edmonds Sr. - organ
Napoleon Anderson (aka Hank Anderson) - bass

The 10 June 1966 RSVP contract lists this line-up, and Curtis Knight identified the players from the pictures 4 (including "Hank", see also the personnel -section).

 

cheetah1
Jimi Hendrix - guitar, Marion Booker - drums, Nate Edmonds - organ,
Curtis Knight - guitar

cheetah 2
Jimi Hendrix - guitar, Marion Booker - drums, Nate Edmonds - organ,
Curtis Knight - guitar

cheetah3
Napoleon Anderson - bass (behind Jimi), Jimi Hendrix - guitar,
Nate Edmonds - organ, Curtis Knight - guitar

cheetah4
Nate Edmonds, Jimi Hendrix, Marion Booker (in the back),
Napoleon Anderson (in front), Curtis Knight

 

SOURCES
1 The Billboard magazine issue for April 16, 1966 featured on news item by Mike Gross on the frontpage with the headline "'Rocksteria' Grips New York as Clubs Sprout Up With Teen Acts". The article listed several new clubs to open in the city, including: "Opening this week are Ondine, which begins a new policy of top group bookings...Due to open April 28 is the Cheetah, a teen-oriented nightclub..."

2 Billboard magazine May 21, 1966 issue reported: "The Denims and Curtis Knight will be appearing at Cheetah until May 18. The Soul Searchers and the Commanders follow until June 1."

3 The Denims line-up listed in the 13 September 1966 issue of Toledo Blade.

4 Recorded interview with Curtis Knight by Paul de Bie, Curtis Knight's apartment, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, 24 October 1994. Parts of the interview were published in Jimpress issue 39 (photo id part not included in the transcript but on tape).

CURTIS KNIGHT (& THE SQUIRES)


AVAILABLE Demos
These four demos first surfaced on the cd "The Authentic PPX Studio Recordings vol. 3", released by the German SPV label in 1996.

The tracks sound like home recordings, probably dating from early 1966 as "U.F.O." was recorded for RSVP in around June 1966. Interestingly each of the songs fades out, probably to hide an abrupt ending, and all 4 tracks together time under 10 minutes. So more material like this could well still exist, or at least a more complete version of this tape.

U.F.O.
Composer: Curtis Knight?
Recorded at: New York City
Date: 1966?
Vocals: Curtis Knight
Guitar: Jimi Hendrix

Available on:
Cd Jimi Hendrix: Ballad Of Jimi - The Authentic PPX Studio Recordings vol. 3 (SPV 085-44682)

Better Times Ahead
Composers: Curtis Knight?
Recorded at: New York City
Date: 1966?
Vocals: Curtis Knight
Harmony vocals: Jimi Hendrix
Guitar: Jimi Hendrix

Available on:
Cd Jimi Hendrix: Ballad Of Jimi - The Authentic PPX Studio Recordings vol. 3 (SPV 085-44682)

Everybody Knew But Me
Composers: Curtis Knight?
Recorded at: New York City
Date: 1966?
Vocals: Curtis Knight
Guitar: Jimi Hendrix

Available on:
Cd Jimi Hendrix: Ballad Of Jimi - The Authentic PPX Studio Recordings vol. 3 (SPV 085-44682)

If You Gotta Make A Fool Of Somebody (aka If You Gonna Make A Fool Of Somebody)
Composer: Rudy Clark
Recorded at: New York City
Date: 1966?
Vocals: Curtis Knight
Harmony vocals: Jimi Hendrix?
Guitar: Jimi Hendrix?

First released by James Ray with The Hutch Davie Orchestra on the 45 "If You Gotta Make A Fool Of Somebody / It's Been A Drag" (Caprice 110) in 1961. Probably the most recent version at the time of recording of this demo was by Maxine Brown released as the 45 "If You Gotta Make A Fool Of Somebody / You're in Love" (Wand WND 1104) in November 1965 1. Wand and Curtis Knight / RSVP were both operating in the same building (see the 1650 Broadway -section), Curtis Knight making a demo of a song that Maxine Brown released could be a co-incidence or the demo might have had something to do with Wand. Of the four currently known demo recordings only "UFO" was later recorded by Curtis Knight so these demos might have originally been made to demonstrate songs / arrangements to other artists?

Available on:
Cd Jimi Hendrix: Ballad Of Jimi - The Authentic PPX Studio Recordings vol. 3 (SPV 085-44682)


UNAVAILABLE Demos

There is a big possibility that more demos exist / did exists. Jimi did speak of one recording that could have been a demo he and Curtis had made:

I Ain't Taking Care Of No Business
Composer: Jimi Hendrix
Recorded at: New York City
Date: March? 1966?

Jimi signed a publishing contract with R.S.V.P. MUSIC, INC for the track "I Ain't Taking Care of No Business" on 30 March 1966. The contract was offered for sale by Lelands.com in 2002. He's credited as the sole composer for the song. The track was later recorded by the Jimi Hendrix Experience during sessions for Axis: Bold As Love in May 1967, and again recorded during the July / August 1967 Curtis Knight sessions (released as "No Business").

According to Jimi, speaking of the 1967 PPX sessions:
"There was one time that Curtis started playing this song - I think it was No Business - and like he was playing an old version of it, some demo version or something, I don't know. And we were playing with it. But that old version was made like, you know, a while back" 2.

So apparently there wasn't a proper studio recording made of the track in 1966, only a demo recording which might still exist somewhere. Curtis Knight had signed with RSVP in February and the RSVP publishing contract for the song was signed in March so the demo probably was made in or around March 1966. Since Curtis Knight & Ed Chalpin seem to have had the tape in their possession in 1967 it could be one of the home demos made by Jimi & Curtis.


SOURCES
1 the Maxine Brown single "If You Gotta Make A Fool Of Somebody / You're in Love" (Wand WND 1104) was reviewed in Billboard issue 27 November 1965.
2 Jimi's PPX court case deposition interview recorded 7 March 1968 in New York City, partially reproduced in Univibes issue #35

 

CURTIS KNIGHT (& THE SQUIRES)


Pictures

 

George's Club 20
Ace Hall was shown these pictures and he identified this location as George's Club 20, Hackensack, New Jersey. According to him the Squires were the house band during weekends.

unknown 1
Ditto Edwards - drums, Jimi Hendrix - guitar, Curtis Knight - guitar


Jimi Hendrix - guitar, Curtis Knight - guitar, Lonnie Youngblood - sax


Jimi Hendrix - guitar, Curtis Knight - guitar, Lonnie Youngblood - sax, Ace Hall - bass


Jimi Hendrix - guitar, Lonnie Youngblood - sax, Curtis Knight - guitar, Ace Hall - bass


Ditto Edwards - drums, Jimi Hendrix - guitar, Curtis Knight - guitar, Ace Hall - bass

unknown2
Jimi Hendrix, Ditto Edwards, Curtis Knight, Lonnie Youngblood, Ace Hall

pic7
Jimi Hendrix

pic8
Faye Pridgeon, Jimi Hendrix