Here are our favourite stories behind some of the records in Jimi’s collection:
The Beatles – Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band
Of the Beatles albums in Hendrix’s collection, Sgt. Pepper is the most worn; he famously opened with a ‘killer’ arrangement of the title track at the Saville Theatre just three days after the album’s release and with the Beatles in the audience. Paul McCartney called the performance ‘one of the greatest honours of my career’.
Bob Dylan – Highway 61 Revisited
In 1965, as a struggling musician in New York, Hendrix was already enough of a Dylan fan to spend his last money on this album.
The Brook Street copy of this LP has Hendrix’s blood on its sleeve, after he cut his hand on a broken wine glass then picked up the album.
Ravi Shankar – Sound of the Sitar
Hendrix’s albums by Ravi Shankar were presents from Brian Jones of the Rolling Stones, a great supporter, who was a ‘World Music’ listener, and knew Hendrix would be open to the different scales and structures of Indian classical music.
Richie Havens – Mixed Bag
Richie Havens, an old friend from Hendrix’s Greenwich Village days, dropped by Hendrix’s flat in Brook Street to present Jimi with this record, his latest album. Havens then demonstrated his anti-war anthem Handsome Johnny to a small party in the flat on Hendrix’s Epiphone acoustic guitar.
Muddy Waters – Electric Mud
Electric Mud attempted to “modernise” Muddy Waters via the addition of wah wah and other voguish sounds. When he heard it in Mr Love, the café below his flat in Brook Street, Hendrix asked the waiter what it was. When told it was Muddy Waters’ latest, Hendrix at first refused to believe it, before smiling and saying “I used to follow him. Now he’s following me”.
Handel – Great Choruses from Handel’s Messiah
Hendrix owned two copies of Handel’s Messiah, both of which show signs of wear and tear. This rendition by the English Chamber Orchestra promised period sounds which would have been uncanny listening so near to where it was composed.
The Bee Gees – 1st
Kathy Etchingham describes this as “one of the first records in the collection. We used to listen to that quite a lot. Jimi thought their harmonies were really great.”
Otis Redding – The Immortal Otis Redding
During 1963 Hendrix toured with Solomon Burke in a five-act lineup which also included Otis Redding. Burke struggled with Hendrix’s flashy playing: “five dates would go beautifully, and then at the next show, he’d go into this wild stuff that wasn’t part of the song. I just couldn’t handle it anymore.” One night on the tour bus Burke traded Hendrix to Otis Redding, exchanging him for two horn players.
John Lennon and Yoko Ono – Unfinished Music No. 1: Two Virgins
Two Virgins had to be distributed in the UK by Track Records; EMI’s board declined to take the risk of an obscenity prosecution over the full frontal cover image. Even One Stop Records (Hendrix local record store when he lived at 23 Brook Street, Mayfair), where Jimi bought his copy, sold the album in a brown modesty bag. Kathy Etchingham remembers Hendrix bought it on a whim because of the cover.
Sam Gopal – Escalator
Released just as Hendrix left Brook Street, this LP features a young Lemmy on guitar (he also wrote several of the songs). Lemmy had roadied for the Jimi Hendrix Experience at their 1967 Royal Albert Hall show, getting the job from his flat mate, regular Jimi Hendrix Experience roadie Neville Chesters.
The Red Crayola – The Parable of Arable Land
Not all of Hendrix’s album selections imply significant musical influences; some were bought for very superficial reasons. For example, Kathy Etchingham believes that Hendrix picked up this album on an impulse because the cover artwork was similar in style to his own drawings.
Elmore James – Memorial Album
This album features Bleeding Heart, a track Hendrix first covered live in 1965 and which he popularised through recording multiple versions. It featured on the set list of Hendrix’s legendary Royal Albert Hall gig on the 24th February 1969 while he was living at 23 Brook Street.
Dr. John – Babylon
It’s possible that Hendrix’s ownership of this album has to do with the fact that he is name-checked in the final track, the bizarre The Lonesome Guitar Strangler, with Dr. John proclaiming how he’s going to murder Hendrix.
The Dream – Get Dreamy
Hendrix was gifted a copy of this rare album on tour; it was inscribed by Dream guitarist Terje Rypdal, who wrote “with all the respect we can give a fellow musician, we wrote “ Hey Jimi” as a tribute to you. We hope you like it and enjoy the rest of the LP too.”
Django Reinhardt – Django
Features the fast finger-picking style of a self -taught Romany master of the guitar. Hendrix named his group Band of Gypsys in Django’s honour.