Henry McNulty interviewed the Experience at the Bushnell Memorial Hall, Hartford,
August 1968. During July 2003 I was priveledged to be able to exchange e-mails
with Henry. He didn't tape the interview or the concert, instead he made notes
during the interview which unfortunately are now lost. What does remain
that he took during
the backstage interview, he
let me publish 3 of them here.
the Hartford Courant, Connecticut's biggest newspaper, for more than 25 years.
just 22 years
Courant had no tradition of interviewing or reviewing rock stars, or any type
of pop music stars, so my doing so was really a departure for the newspaper.
(I'm not sure, but it could have been the first locally-written interview of
a rock star the newspaper had ever printed.) The editor insisted that any story
be intelligible to adults as well as to young people, which is why there's
a lot of what seems to be needless explanation.
Before I interviewed Jimi Hendrix, I was told that he didn't like reporters,
so I was very polite and careful in approaching him. To my surprise and
pleasure, he turned out to be pleasant, a real gentleman. He didn't say
that any of my questions were stupid (although probably some of them were!),
and he and the band willingly posed for pictures. He was careful to ask
that I include Noel and Mitch in the interview too, saying that he didn't
want it just to be about himself. All in all, he seemed to be an intelligent
and modest person. And the concert was great.
thing I regret is that I didn't ask for his autograph!"
Cheshire, Connecticut USA
the thumbnails to view Henry's photographs. The scans open in a new
window and are exactly as send to me by Henry, no "Photoshopping" has
been applied. The woman to Jimi's right is Jeanette Jacobs who seems
to have been travelling with the Experience as she can also been seen
in photos taken backstage at the previous day's gig in New York City.
article was first published in Hartford Courant, 26 August 1968, what
is the article as re-printed in the "Eyewitness
Jimi Hendrix 'needs' the experience
by Henry B. McNulty
Jimi Hendrix is so
insistent that his group has the word "Experience" tacked
on the end that he wrote his own introduction at the Bushnell Saturday
night. "If they just say 'Jimi Hendrix,' then somebody might think
it's just me all alone." he said. But this was clearly not his main
reason for insisting on dictating the introduction. Jimi has great respect
for Noel Redding and Mitch Mitchell, the other members of the Experience,
and he hates to see them left out of anything. He requested that they be
present and he left a comfortable chair to pose with them for pictures.
But despite all Jimi's efforts, he is so different from Noel and Mitch
that it is difficult to think of them as one unit. Jimi is an American
Negro. Noel and Mitch are British Caucasians. Jimi speaks thoughtfully
and quietly, hardly ever smiling, while Noel and Mitch are loquacious
and chummy. On stage, Jimi plays a loud, commanding lead while Noel and
Mitch fill in the needed background. "It doesn't really bother me
if people say 'Jimi Hendrix' when they mean all of us." Mitch said. "But
sometimes it does get a little irritating. I mean, everyone is a separate
person." Mitch used to play with Georgie Fame and the Blue Flames. "When
the blue flame began to flicker , I left," he explains. Mitch and
Noel were seated on a couch in one of the Bushnell's dressing rooms.
They sat between two young girls. Noel talked about the Small Faces,
an english group who have released only one record in the United States. "They're
really great ... far above most routine stuff," he said.
Both Mitch and Noel refused to classify the Experience's music. "I
hate it when they call us one thing or another... how do they know what
we do? Besides, we change a little bit every time we play," said Mitch. "Turned-on
Psychoplasmic Vibrations," said Noel. "that sort of thing leaves
me cold. Why bother classifying?" While Noel and Mitch ate chicken
with the two girls, Jimi Hendrix sat in a chair smoking and chatting. He
was dressed in a flowing black shirt with drooping cuffs and black bell-bottomed
trousers with a silver design on one side. Jimi spoke in a voice barely
louder than a whisper. He spoke earnestly, especially about his music. "Any
kind of an audience is the right kind so long as they can listen. [...]
I do the best I can even if they don't care. But a really good audience
- one that listens and understands - turns me on." Jimi said he listens
to all types of music. He declined to state any preference for artists,
though he said he has enjoyed organist E. Power Biggs playing Bach. Then
he began talking with a young man about music. They discussed guitars,
amplifiers and special devices such as wah-wah and fuzz tone. Fuzz tone
and wah-wah are connected to the amplifier. The performer turns them on
and off with foot pedals.
Wah wah wah
Both names are self-explanatory. Fuzz tone blurs the music and wah-wah
makes each guitar note sound as if it was saying "wah wah wah." "Those
things used to be crutches, but not any more," Jimi said. "Now
they're useful tools." If they are tools, Jimi is a master artisan.
On stage, he is as quiet and careful as in an interview session. Until
the end of the performance, he doesn't wave his guitar in the air and
play it behind his back. At the end, he does. Seven-eighths of the time
he is on stage, Jimi stands virtually still, his eyes closed, his mouth
slightly open. At a particularily moving moment, he will grimace slightly,
but the wild histrionics don't appear until the last numbers. Then Jimi
plays the guitar with his teeth, behind his back, under his legs and
held at arm's length. He smashes an amplifier (behind which a stagehand
makes sure nothing tips over) and tosses the guitar over the amps. The
curtain comes down.
Jimi lit up a cigarette and drank Coke. He cautiously fingered the smashed
amp to see how much damage was done. He peered over the amp at the stage
hand, who was picking up the guitar. "What happened?" he asked. "Not
much," said the hand. "Mmmm... that's why I threw it into the
curtain and not on the floor," Jimi said. Mitch Mitchell headed
immediately for the dressing room while Noel Redding stood backstage
talking to members of The Eire Apparent, an Irish group sponsored by
Hendrix, who travel with the Experience. Then Jimi finished his Coke
and gently floated offstage, leaving almost 3,000 fans "experienced."
A big thank
Henry McNulty, Doug Bell & Ben Valkhoff.