4 Jimi Hendrix When he forgot his underpants.
From page 47 of Classic Rock Magazine November 2006
“Come and say hello to Jimi.” Chas Chandler pointed out a huddled figure squatting on the floor in a darkened corner. Guests at Chandler’s birthday party were stepping over the mysterious American. He was clearly trying to hide, overwhelmed by the clamour of strange British accents. But above the din I heard the visitor utter a faint “Hi”. Jimi Hendrix extended his hand.
It was our first meeting and Jimi looked shy, nervous and unsure what he was doing in London. It was December 18, 1966 and the party was at Ringo Starr’s flat in Montagu Square, where Chandler had just moved in. Chas had given up bass playing with The Animals to manage the young guitarist he’d just discovered in New York.
Chas had been raving on the phone to me about his artist, confidently predicting stardom. Yet at least one record company A&R man had told Chas that Hendrix “didn’t have anything”. Undaunted, Chas spent the weeks since Jimi’s arrival forming The Experience and recording such songs as Hey Joe .
After our brief meeting, when Jimi was dressed in black and seemed unable to speak, I went to see him play at Blaises, a nightclub in London’s Queensgate. It was a revelation. He tore the place apart with tunes like Rock Me Baby , Third Stone From The Sun , Like A Rolling Stone , Hey Joe and Wild Thing . In the audience were Jeff Beck, Eric Clapton and Pete Townshend. All appeared stunned. Not long after this exclusive gig the world began catching up with Hendrix as he hit the charts with Purple Haze and The Wind Cries Mary .
I met Jimi again and this time he was chatty and friendly and enjoying life at his flat near Marble Arch. He played me his debut album Are You Experienced? and told me about playing a flaming guitar with his teeth: “I regard myself as a guitarist and an entertainer. I just wish I could sing really nice but I know I can’t sing. I just feel the words out and try to hit a pretty note. But it’s hard.”
Jimi smoked endless cigarettes as he played me Beatles albums and raved about Eric Clapton. This time he eschewed black clothes in favour of a brightly coloured shirt and purple satin trousers. However, there was one item of clothing he didn’t have. As we got into a crowded lift after the interview he grinned and told all and sundry: “Uh-oh. I forgot to put on my underpants.” Chris Welch