Members: Jimi Hendrix (Guitar), Noel Redding (Bass), Mitch Mitchell (Drums)
If you see a song missing click on Albums and listen to all 3 full studio albums and plenty of live albums from The Jimi Hendrix Experience, check back for more as I will be uploading more from my Jimi Hendrix vault. Also check out videos from some of their first performances over in England to when they become one of the world's biggest bands.
Hendrix arrived in England in September 1966 and with his new manager Chas Chandler formed a backing band with bassist Noel Redding and drummer Mitch Mitchell. Mitchell was a seasoned London drummer formerly with Georgie Fame and the Blue Flames who brought Jazz chops and a lead style of playing to the band. He would prove to be Hendrix's most valuable musical partner. The name The Jimi Hendrix Experience was coined by their business manager Mike Jeffery.
Though initially conceived as Hendrix's backing band, The Experience soon became much more than that. Following the lead of Cream, they were one of the first groups to popularize the "power trio" format, which essentially strips a rock band lineup down to the essentials: bass, guitar and drums. This smaller format also encourages more extroverted playing from the band members, often at very high volumes. In the case of The Experience, Hendrix mixed lead and rhythm guitar duties into one, while also making use of guitar effects such as feedback and later the wah-wah pedal to an extent that had never been heard before. Mitchell played hard-hitting jazz-influenced grooves that often served a melodic role as much as they did timekeeping. Redding was often seen as the eye of the storm, playing deceptively simple bass lines that helped to anchor the band's sound. Visually, they set the trend in psychedelic clothes and, following the other two's Bob Dylan 1966 style hair-do's, Mitch (briefly) got himself a permed copy (as did most of the London trend-followers, including Eric Clapton). The lineup came to prominence in the U.S. only after the June 1967 Monterey Pop Festival, one of the first major rock music festivals. The band's performance ended with Hendrix famously setting his psychedelically painted Fender Stratocaster, given to him by Redding, on fire. The Experience's appearance was also filmed for the documentary film Monterey Pop which premiered at Lincoln Center in New York on 26 December 1968 and was only seen by the general public starting in 1969. After the festival they were then asked to go on tour with The Monkees as the opening act. They left the tour after only a few dates - Chas Chandler later said that it was all a publicity stunt.
With the band, Hendrix recorded his five hit singles "Hey Joe", "Purple Haze", "The Wind Cries Mary", "Burning of the Midnight Lamp" and "All Along the Watchtower", and his three most successful albums, Are You Experienced, Axis: Bold as Love, and Electric Ladyland. By April of 1969, Hendrix had decided to break up the group, and flew his old friend Billy Cox up to New York to begin working with him. Deteriorating relations with Redding had come to a head, and Hendrix also felt his musical development was hampered by the trio format. The original group held together long enough to fulfill their existing engagements, culminating in the Denver Pop Festival on 29 June where, following the infamous announcement by Hendrix, from the stage: "This is the last gig we'll be playing together", the original Experience was dissolved. Hendrix experimented with a larger band lineup known as Gypsy Sun and Rainbows for his Woodstock concert in August 1969, but would revert to the trio format with the Band of Gypsys. But by 1970, Hendrix had disbanded the Band of Gypsys - it has been claimed this was due to the desire of Michael Jeffery (now Jimi's only manager) to reform the original Experience lineup, but as Trixie Sullivan, Jeffery's assistant, testified, Jimi did exactly as he felt musically and Jeffery just handled the business side, as usual. Also, according to Billy Cox, the all-black power trio was mainly a one-off to help Hendrix fulfill an outstanding obligation to Ed Chalpin by recording a one-off live LP. Jeffery called Redding and Mitchell about reforming the Experience. Both agreed to participate in what would seem to be a great money maker of a tour; Mitchell and Redding could use the cash, and the tour would also get Jimi out of the financial problems he was in at the time partly due to the building of Electric Lady Studios. Hendrix was open to have Mitchell rejoin, but reluctant to bring Redding back into the fold.
Throughout the mature and end-stage periods of the Experience, drugs were a companion, sometimes boon, sometimes bane. The Experience exemplified the psychedelic rock-band lifestyle; performances which ended late shaded into parties that lasted till the morning, often to the detriment of the music, especially when the band began to tour via airplane, necessitating early wakeup calls and taking away the hours of sleep and relaxation on the Greyhound that had been their staple before 1968. Hendrix himself had begun to experiment with depressants and other psychadelic drugs, his own performance had become erratic, resulting in inter-band conflicts that contributed to the first breakup.