The Beatles, The Blues & Jimi Hendrix Experience
The Beatles Music
The Beatles music has been purchased by more people than that of any other musical artist in history. The Beatles introduced me to rock n roll. It was seeing the Beatles on the Ed Sullivan Show that made me want to be a musician.
The Beatles music was recorded from 1962 to 1970. The band stopped performing live after 1966, both because of the near riots at their concerts and because they couldn't hear themselves play over the screaming of their fans. They had done 1400 live shows in four years.
The Beatles music was heavily influenced by their manager, Brian Epstein, and even more so by their incredibly talented producer, George Martin. When Brian Epstein died in 1967 of a suicidal overdose of drugs, the Beatles slowly began to fall apart. Epstein was the glue that held them together.
The musicians who most influenced the Beatles music were Elvis Presley, Chuck Berry, and Little Richard. John Lennon and Paul McCartney composed and sang the vast majority of the Beatles songs. One of this pair would come up with the genesis of a song and the other would polish and finish it. Without question, these two are the most successful songwriting combination in history. Lennon was more edgy and surreal; McCartney more melodic and harmonic. Both married ugly women. (This always baffled me, since they could have had any woman they wanted.)
All four members of the band had a hand in writing and singing the Beatles music. Paul McCartney played the bass guitar; Ringo Starr played the drums. Both are still living. George Harrison, guitarist, died of cancer in 2001. John Lennon, guitars and keyboards, was assassinated by a crazy "fan" in 1980.
'Revolution' by the Beatles
'Revolution' by the Beatles started out as a John Lennon idea. Lennon was against the violence he was witnessing coming from the radical leftist students of that time, and 'Revolution' was meant to rebuke violence and communism.
'Revolution' was first released on the 'B' side of the single 'Hey Jude.' Student radicals branded 'Revolution' a betrayal, with one critic stating it is a "lamentable petty bourgeois cry of fear."
My rock n roll band, White Summer, was secretly recorded playing 'Revolution' on a simple cassette deck during a live performance. Below is a link to a video made of that performance.
Stormy Monday by T-Bone Walker
'Stormy Monday' is officially titled 'Call It Stormy Monday.' It is one of the greatest blues songs of all time. 'Stormy Monday' was written in 1947 by T-Bone Walker. It has been recorded by over 400 artists, most notably—besides T-Bone Walker—by the Allman Brothers.
T-Bone Walker (1910-1975) is the first blues musician to play the blues on an electric guitar. 'Stormy Monday' is the song B.B. King credits with making him want to play the guitar.
T-Bone Walker is also the first known guitar player to play with his teeth—later made famous by Jimi Hendrix. The parents of T-Bone Walker were both musicians from Texas. T-Bone Walker died of pneumonia after suffering two strokes.
My rock n roll band - White Summer - was recorded playing 'Stormy Monday' live. This is Steve Douglas from Cincinnati singing, Jimmy Schrader from Benton Harbor, Michigan on guitar, Danny Frye from Boston on the keys, and Donnie Brown from "the blues capital of the world" Greenville, Mississippi, plays the bass. Your author, Jim Watkins, provides the drums.
Jimi Hendrix is widely considered the greatest guitar player in the history of rock n roll music. He was from Seattle, born in 1942. When I met my long-time guitarist, Jimmy Schrader, he used the same instrument that Hendrix used most often: a 1957 Fender Stratocaster amplified by a 200 watt Marshall with six 10" Celestion speakers. Jimi Hendrix played his guitar left-handed, upside down, which produced a unique sound.
Jimi Hendrix was the inspiration for a generation of guitarists in rock n roll music, notably including Stevie Ray Vaughn and Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top. Hendrix cited Little Richard and Elvis Presley as his influences. Jimi Hendrix died in 1970, choking on his own vomit after taking nine sleeping pills and drinking red wine all night.
The Jimi Hendrix Experience
The Jimi Hendrix Experience was a power trio that included the awesome Mitch Mitchell on drums, and the solid Noel Redding on bass guitar. Mitchell and Redding were both treated and paid as sidemen, and therefore did not reap the lucrative benefits of the mammoth record sales by the Jimi Hendrix Experience. The band recorded and performed from 1966 to 1969.
Mitch Mitchell was the first to bring jazz swing to the drumming of rock n roll music, and was a lead player rather than simply a time-keeper. He died in 2008. Mitchell was voted the 23rd best drummer of all time of any genre.
Noel Redding never played bass in a band before he joined the Jimi Hendrix Experience. He was a guitar player by trade. Redding died in 2003 of cirrhosis of the liver.
Mitchell and Redding were fired from the Jimi Hendrix Experience after Jimi Hendrix was harshly criticized by blacks for having two white guys in his band instead of playing with "brothers." No such criticism was leveled at Hendrix for his long string of white women groupies and girlfriends.
Purple Haze by Jimi Hendrix
The song 'Purple Haze' was written by Jimi Hendrix and recorded by the Jimi Hendrix Experience in 1967. 'Purple Haze' refers to the LSD (Lysergic Acid Diethylamide) that was originally produced by Sandoz Laboratories from Switzerland in purple capsules. It is believed that Jimi Hendrix was on LSD when he wrote 'Purple Haze.' However, 'Purple Haze' also can refer to a type of marijuana, noted for is purple buds.
Regardless, 'Purple Haze' was named the 17th best song of all time in rock n roll music by Rolling Stone magazine. My band White Summer was recorded playing our version of 'Purple Haze' live.