Bumping into Jimi Hendrix

jimi_hendrix

One of the differences in recording “No Shame” was that we recorded it in different sessions. Steve Hansen and I were going into the studio to record our parts for Mark Landon, we were walking down the hall when I bumped into this person carrying a guitar case, I said, “sorry man,” then I looked up and saw who I had bumped into. I had literally bumped into Jimi Hendrix. He was, gun slinging his Strat, wearing black leather pants, a black conquistador hat, Indian silver belt and rattlesnake jacket. I recognized him immediately. He was small in stature (but my being six foot five always put me a head above the crowd), he had his familiar afro hairstyle. We started talking, I explained that I played lead guitar for Hunger! I asked him why he burned his guitar on stage. He told me it was all about the current climate of the world with war. It was an expression of sacrifice in a small way that he could reach a mass audience. Like the burning Buddhist priest, the ultimate sacrifice to immolate himself. As far as I’m concerned the legend is for both the man and the myth. He may have been small in stature but he was a ten foot Buddha in how he projected himself, and he was very serious about peace and love throughout the world. He invited us in to watch him record, he was recording stereo versions of “Crosstown Traffic” and “Fire” both of which had been previously recorded for British release but in mono. He wanted stereo versions for the U.S. release of those songs, and he played the hell out of his guitar. Watching Jimi Hendrix play in the studio was magic. It was like the guitar was part of his body. It was just mesmerizing. There were sounds coming out the instrument that I had never heard before or since, he created a landscape that transported me someplace else. It wasn’t what he played, it was how he played. He was high on the music. In my opinion there’s no one that can come close to the power he possessed. I was just jaw dropped awe struck. That’s the closest I can come to explaining in words. He just wasn’t of this world. He had a presence about him like no one I’d ever known.

When he had finished doing the final mix on the songs I asked Jimi about his trademark upside down Stratocaster. He saw my Swept-Wing guitar and said, “you keep going man your going to be known for that Swept-Wing like I am with the Stratocaster. That body is something else! Where did you get it?” I told him the story of how I got the guitar. Jimi said he wouldn’t mind having one for his collection. He was pretty much locked in with Fender especially with his own sound. You know the really cool thing we were always playing the same venues but never at the same time. I still wonder to this day how great that would have been to be on the same stage with Jimi Hendrix, but back then I wasn’t aware of the legend he’d become. I just knew him as the guy who had a big hit with ‘Foxy Lady’. It wasn’t that uncommon to be associated with great musicians and artists on a daily basis. When he was done he said. “hey man, you want to use my amp? I’m done with my session, and it‘s all set-up.” That brought me back to the present like a deer in the headlights. I looked at him and said, “wow! Really? Sure man!” He smiled, walked out the session, put on his black rimmed hat and rattle snake jacket. Then put his Strat in his case and walked out like a gunslinger from Tombstone who had out gunned you and shot you between the eyes. Now that was a moment I’ll never forget!

I plugged straight into his Marshall amp with Arbitron fuzz and Octavia. I had no idea what an Octavia, Arbitraton fuzz and Vox wah-wah pedal were and was actually wary of messing with his personal setup and didn’t use his effects. I had never used effects so I ran straight thru the amp. It was sweet. I thought, ‘how can Jimi get such a controlled sound like that on stage?’ I recorded my part of “No Shame” with Jimi’s Marshall amp and at a lowered treble tone it had a punch and tone I couldn’t begin to achieve with my amp. It gave my Swept-Wing guitar this rich, full sound like I never heard before. I was super pleased with how my opening lead turned out, it had the punch and presence the song needed.

This is an excerpt from the forthcoming book “Strictly From Hunger: A Rock and Roll Memoir” by John Morton. The book is expected to be published in October 2017. For more information and to get updates on the publication visit and “like” the Strictly From Hunger! Facebook page.

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