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Original Booklet Story for MCA's 1994 Jimi Hendrix :Blues CD

Jimi became a Voodoo child of deep blues. Of the mid-'60s his Harlem girlfriend, Fayne, recalled, "He was so tormented and just so torn apart, like he was obsessed with something really evil. He'd say, 'Well, you're from Georgia,' so he'd say I should know how people drive demons out, because I used to talk about my grandma and all her weird stuff. He'd talk about us goin' down there and havin' some root lady drive this demon out of him! He used to always talk about some devil or somethin' was in him, and he didn't have any control over it."

"Voodoo stuff!" declared Jimi. "You'd think that sort of thing is rubbish 'till it happens to you, then it's scary. There's different things they can do, they can put something in your food, or put some little hair in your shoe. I saw it. If I see it happen or if I feel it happen then I believe it, not necessarily if I just hear it being talked about. Around in the southern United States they have scenes like that goin' on."

Jimi & King Curtis Band

The Hendrix family tree has roots in Georgia with Irish and Cherokee blood. And Irish lore is central to blues and Voodoo history. In Whole Earth Review (1987) Michael Ventura reported, "The major studies don't mention that Africans were not the only slaves in the West Indies; they were not even the only slaves who had a...'pre-Christian' cosmology. In the 1650s, after Oliver Cromwell had conquered Ireland in a series of massacres, he left his brother, Henry, as the island's governor. In the next decade Henry sold thousands of Irish people, mostly women and children, as slaves to the West Indies. Estimates range between 30,000 and 80,000...The Irish slaves, most of them women, were mated with the Africans... Virtually every account of Voodoo notes, at some point, how similar are its sorcery practices to the practices of European witchcraft... practicing pagans from Ireland infused their beliefs with the Africans, mingling in Voodoo two great streams of non-Christianist metaphysics."

Jimi & Larry Coryell

This Afro-Irish cauldron, within an American Cherokee melting pot, reveals Jimi's Classic Lineage of the blues. "Classic" because blues are encoded with the Afro-Celtic essence of Voodoo images and rhythms. Like Jimi, Bob Marley was an Afro-Irish Voodoo Chile. And Charley Patton bore leprechaun features, who knows what his lineage was? "I heard some Irish folk songs that were so funky," noticed Jimi, "the words were so together and the feel. I adore folk blues. It doesn't necessarily mean that folk blues is the only type of blues in the world. You can have your own blues. My first instrument was a harmonica, which I got when I was about four. Next it was a violin. I always dug string instruments and pianos. Then I started digging guitars, it was the instrument that always seemed to be around. When I was upstairs while the grown-ups had parties listening to Muddy Waters, Elmore James, Howlin' Wolf, and Ray Charles, I'd sneak down after and eat potato chips and smoke butts. That sound was really - not evil - just a thick sound."

Al remembers, "I had listened to blues records ever since I was a kid. I had B.B. King and Muddy Waters records, they were 45s. Jimi used to listen to B.B. King and Muddy Waters, Chuck Berry and some others. I had a lot of records and he used to be playing them all the time and he'd plunk the guitar along with them."

"I was trying to learn how to play like Chuck Berry and Muddy Waters," said Jimi. "I was largely influenced by blues artists when I first started. When I first started playing guitar it was way up in the Northwest, in Seattle, Washington, and they don't have too many of the real blues singers up there. The first guitarist I was aware of was Muddy Waters. I heard one of his old records when I was a little boy and it scared me to death. Wow, what is that all about?"

Al warned him, "It's all right playing along with them now, but when you get up there on stage, you do our own thing."

"I didn't try to copy anybody," agreed Jimi. "When I first started, I liked anything from B.B. King to Muddy Waters, Bach to Eddie Cochran. I tend towards the blues as far as guitar players are concerned. I dug Howlin' Wolf and Elmore James. I liked Muddy Waters when he had only two guitars, harmonica and bass drum. Things like Rollin' and Tumblin' were what I liked, that real primitive guitar sound. But where I really learned to play was down South. I went into the army for about nine months, but I found a way to get out of that. When I came out I went down South and all the cats down there were playing blues, and this is when I really began to get interested in the scene, I just listened to the way the people played blues guitar and I dug it.

Some cat tried to get me to play behind my head because I would never move too much. I said, 'Oh, man, who wants to do all that junk?' And then all of a sudden you start to get bored with yourself, so you really had to play, 'cause those people were really hard to please. It was one of the hardest audiences, in the South, they hear it all the time. Everybody knows how to play guitar. Down south at some funky club, one cat up there starving to death and he might be the best guitar player you ever heard and you might not know his name. You walk down the street and people are sitting on the porch playing more guitar."