Interview: PP Arnold on her experiences with Jimi Hendrix in London
Much like Jimi Hendrix, it was London where American soul singer PP Arnold came to make her name. Having left the Ike & Tina Turner Revue whilst on tour in the UK, Arnold went on to have a number of hits in the UK such as The First Cut is the Deepest and Angel of the Morning, as well as collaborating with the likes of Eric Clapton, Mick Jagger and the Small Faces. When her record label folded in 1969, her third album The Turning Tide was thrown into jeopardy. Despite being independently produced by first Barry Gibb then Eric Clapton, the album was shelved. After a long campaign, Arnold has managed to reclaim the recordings and the album has finally been released this October.
We got the chance to catch up with PP and asked her a few questions about her friendship with Hendrix.
When did you first meet Jimi Hendrix?
I first met Jimi one night at The Bag O’Nails club near Carnaby Street where I was performing.
What was it like to see Hendrix perform and did he ever perform with you?
That same night, Jimi asked my guitarist Roger Dean if he could jam with my band. I didn’t know who he was but told Roger to tell him that he could jam at the end of the second set. I never let people jam on the first set in case they blew me away. He came on at the end of that second set and blew everybody’s mind. We became fast friends from that very night. I always went to his Sunday evening shows at The Saville Theatre and I would go with him to his gigs when I wasn’t gigging. He was absolutely amazing, totally mesmerising. He and the ‘Experience’ were definitely the talk of the town.
Did you ever visit where Jimi lived? Do you remember what it was like and how he was living?
When I knew Jimi, he lived with his manager Chas Chandler in Montagu Square just off Gloucester Road and just by chance I lived right behind the square in a lovely little Mews Cottage in Bryanston Mews East. There was always a party going on at Montagu Square, so Jimi would spend a lot of time at my flat, which was a lot more peaceful and relaxing.
How important was London to you and Jimi?
London was extremely important to the both of us. There is no way that either of us would’ve been able to project in a cross-over environment like we did in London as a result of the racist attitudes in America.
Is there anything you remember about Jimi as a person that people might not expect?
Jimi was very kind and although he had a very wild image and persona he was quite shy himself, very self conscious about his hair and very insecure about his singing voice.
Did Jimi ever give you any advice?
I was quite shy back then and being shy in the music industry is not a good thing. I had never planned on being in show business and definitely never imagined that I would find myself living in London, England in the middle of the Rock & Roll revolution of the sixties. Jimi was on a mission and although destiny had also brought him to London he was ready and knew what he wanted to do. He would always encourage me to not worry and just go with the experience and this helped me to go with the flow.