Original Booklet Notes for MCA's 1994 JIMI HENDRIX :BLUES CD

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So, what are the Hendrix blues Points Of Exclusion? The litmus test list follows the three R's - Region, Repertoire, and Range:

1) Region: He wasn't from the Delta, Peidmont, or Lonestar. Each region has its icons: Robert Johnson/Muddy Waters (Mississippi), Willie McTell/Blind Blake (Georgia), Blind Lemon Jefferson/T-Bone Walker (Texas).

Jimi was eighteen when he was stationed in Kentucky and from there he explored the South over the next five years as a touring musician. But, as Eddie Kirkland maintains, Jimi's Southern roots really began at age thirteen in Macon. Still, as Billy Cox recalls, "A lot of the guys used to laugh at us, because Jimi and I were not from the South. But our early influences were."

2) Repertoire: Most Hendrix songs are not standard blues progressions. Two dozen Hendrix songs, which have appeared on official releases, conform to blues progressions, and there are dozens of other bootlegged or unreleased blues performances by Jimi. Of his known recordings, likely over a third are blues. And it should be noted that many of the original blues artists themselves sang a wide variety of non-blues songs. This was true of the original Trinity of blueswomen - Bessie Smith, Ma Rainy, and Ida Cox - and it's true of Patton and Son House too. "Most music now is based upon the blues," said Jimi, "but who the hell wants to play that for the rest of your life? They get silly and uptight when you try to expand."

3) Range: Purists point out that Jimi wasn't a great blues singer. But neither are Earl Hooker, Hubert Sumlin, Johnny Winter, or Albert Collins, and their blues credentials aren't questioned for it. Jimi sang in a Muddy Waters / John Lee Hooker tradition. "Hendrix was the greatest rock and roll / blues singer there was," said John Lee. "You could tell he'd listened to me and a lot of other blues singers, but everything he did sounded like Jimi Hendrix. He's a genius. He was a monster. That Red House, that'll make you grab your mother and choke her! Man, that's really hard, that tears you apart. He could get down, he could mash it, yeah, Lord! He had so many blues. I did Red House as a tribute to him, it's my favorite. He could play the hard blues. Anybody can put the clothes on, but everyone can't produce it. It's got to come from the soul. He was the greatest guitar player that was ever born. I can't say enough about him. He could play deep blues."

"When you heard Jimi Hendrix you knew it was Jimi Hendrix," noted B.B. King, "he introduced himself with his instrument. His attack to a guitar, man, was, oh, something else. You think of one of the great American pitchers or ball players or one of the great fighters of the world, you know, that's the way he would attack any note on his guitar. Jimi played blues and played it well and he played good blues."

"I met him again in 1968 in California at Filmore West," recalled Albert Collins. "He changed his style, got psychedelic. The last festival I played with him was at Devonshire Downs, but he was the highest paid entertainer of us. I'm going to tell you the truth, number one, he played his own shit. Jimi was original, he had his own original style. Cop your own style, that's what I say. When him and Buddy Miles had that Band Of Gypsys he wanted me to go on tour with them. Just before he came to England, the last time, he called me in the early hours of the morning and told me, 'When I get back I want us to tour together.' That was the last thing he said to me. I nearly run off the road when I heard he died - goddamn."

At another festival Col. Bruce Hampton of The Hampton Grease Band was on the bill and remembers, "I met Jimi once, we talked for maybe three minutes at the 1970 Atlanta Pop Festival, it was a real quick conversation. He asked me where I was from. I said 'Atlanta'. He said, 'Blind Wille McTell.' And we talked about him, since he was from Atlanta. I think we hit upon Barbecue Bob also, a very obscure blues player. Jimi was quite an amazing cat, really shy."

Atlanta Pop Festival

"The last time he played in this area before he died was at the racetrack up there in Peach County, the Atlanta Rock Festival," said Eddie Kirkland, "and he never forgot me, because he came up to my hotel looking for me. I owned a hotel at that time, but I was always on the road, I didn't get a chance to see him. Then right after that he left and the next I heard he was dead." Thinking back to their encounter in '56, Eddie said, "He was a young kid, but he was crazy about the blues, the sound of the blues."

"He put a certain fire into his music," acknowledged Buddy Guy. "Hendrix basically played the blues, but he added to it; he put that something in, which made people want to listen, and which eventually brought a lot of attention to a lot of us blues guys. So my respect for him extends way beyond his music, to what he did for all of us, the attention he called to what we were doing."

Jimi in Louisiana

New Orleans bluesman Earl King received a lot of attention, and royalties, when Jimi included his Come On on the 1968 Electric Ladyland album. "Jimi really had the feel for that song," King said, "He played it just like I did, using the cycle of fifths. I'd have to say that of all the covers of my tunes, I like that one the best."

"Blues was part of our being," concluded Billy Cox. "I feel Jimi would be bluesier than ever if he were alive today. His licks would be stinging and his guitar would be crying the blues. Jimi was my favorite bluesman."

"I think he was one of the greatest," states Hubert Sumlin. "He could have been the greatest. There was something about the guy, he was a miracle, man. But I don't think he was doing what he wanted to do. I believe he wanted just a little more blues. I believe if he'd have played more it would have been the modern blues."