Through Gypsy Eyes

I’m delighted to announce that my book has been released in eBook format by Amazon.

It’s my story about my life in the 60s with Jimi Hendrix, and contains some unique insights into the way things were in swinging London, the rock ‘n roll lifestyle and the close knit community of musicians at the time. It describes the highs and lows of being involved with Jimi’s life and covers what occurred during the 1990s when the UK police investigated Jimi’s death.

It was previously published only in the UK, Canada and Australia but now has worldwide availability.

Please click on the picture below for further information.

Through Gypsy Eyes by Kathy Etchingham and Andrew Crofts

 

Jimi Hendrix and Send my Love to Linda. Original lyrics.

This picture of a scrumpled up piece of paper is one of the many scribblings that Jimi had a habit of making when he was working on new songs.

This one is from our time in Brook Street in 1969 and I remember he showed it to me and asked me what I thought of it.

The simple answer was “Not much – and it didn’t seem to rhyme.”

The other thing was that I was a bit unhappy about the Send My Love to Kathy bit. It was bad enough Katherina and me walking into the sea (I told him he better go on his own) but I really didn’t like being named in songs and he should change it to another name.

Just then my friend Linda came up to the flat. Linda was called Linda Baxter, or maybe Buxton (I never knew her by her surname). She was Rocky Dzidzournou the conga player’s girlfriend and she was feeling very sick and asking for something to be sick into. I found her a wastepaper bin like a small bucket.

I suggested to Jimi to change the name to Linda instead of Kathy.

Changing the name from mine to Linda seemed to cheer her up a bit.

So that is how Send my Love to Linda got started. It’s a pity it never got finished.

 

 

Forming the Jimi Hendrix Experience

Just after Jimi arrived, when we were staying in the Hyde Park Towers Hotel, there were long conversations about what the Jimi Hendrix band should be like. Originally Chas was thinking along the lines of something like the Animals with five people – Jimi and a rhythm guitarist, a bass guitarist, keyboard and drums. Jimi wasn’t sure about the keyboard but was willing to go along with Chas’ expertise. He still thought that another guitar and a bass guitar were needed like his old band the Blue Flame.

The first audition was for the rhythm guitarist and it was held at Birdland in the daytime. Birdland was a small club in Duke Street, St. James. Noel Redding was being auditioned for rhythm guitar and there was a piano player and a drummer. I can’t remember the piano player but I think the drummer might have been Tommy Brown of Nero And The Gladiators. Chas played bass guitar and they all did a few numbers together.

Noel Redding

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It became obvious that Jimi didn’t really need another guitar. He was virtually a solo player. Chas asked Noel if he could play bass guitar instead, to which Noel said that he didn’t know bass but he’d give it a go. Noel could play nearly any sort of stringed instrument, even violin, and had been a professional musician since school. I don’t think he had ever played bass guitar before but he knew what was needed and just took Chas’ guitar and played an absolutely steady bass line. That was it – Jimi had a bass guitarist and the deal was made in the pub next door. I think it was that evening that we met Johnny Halliday and Chas agreed to a tour in France even though he hadn’t got a band together yet and didn’t even know what form it would take.

The next audition was arranged for a drummer the next week. Again there would be a keyboard player and Noel would play bass guitar this time. Chas knew that Aynsley Dunbar was free but he wanted to try another drummer as well. Tommy Brown had gone off with Johnny Halliday so he was out.

In the meantime we went to the Cream gig at the Polytechnic and gave Eric a nasty turn and then a few days after that there were the auditions for the drummer. Chas had offered the job to Hugh Flint of the Alexis Korner trio – “Free at Last” but Hugh turned it down because he was going to replace Mitch Mitchell in Georgie Fame’s group. That was how Chas heard that Georgie Fame’s drummer, Mitch Mitchell, was free so two drummers could be auditioned separately one after the other.

Noel with Jimi in Paris. Jimi is wearing the suit Chas bought at Burton’s

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The auditions were at a small dark club in Soho. I think it was at Die Fledermaus up at the top end of Dean Street. Chas had arranged a keyboard player and I think Noel was using a six string which might have belonged to Chas. During the audition the penny dropped with Chas. Jimi didn’t need a keyboard player. They could form a power trio like Cream who we had seen just a couple of days previously. I think he also realised it would be cheaper to have just three people on tour.

In the taxi back to the hotel we debated which drummer to have. They were both very good. Chas wanted to know what Lotta and I thought and I suggested Aynsley because he was good looking and I’d seen him play with the Mojos. Chas didn’t know what to do so he decided to toss a coin. The first flip fell on the cab floor so he did it again and Mitch Mitchell won the toss. The Jimi Hendrix Experience was formed on the toss of a coin.

Mitch Mitchell

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This has been based on my book.

 

To get a copy of my book click here

 

Jimi Hendrix and Eric Clapton

When Jimi arrived in London the other guitarists were immediately very impressed. Jimi played “Killing Floor” at a Cream gig and Eric was stunned.

This is an extract from my book.

Eric nearly fainted,’ Chas told us later. ‘He said, ‘Give us a cigarette, man! Is he really this good, or can he just do the one piece?’ When I told him Jimi was for real he just said, ‘Oh my God!’ That night we all went home feeling pretty smug.

Jimi, Eric, Brandy and me at the Bag O’ Nails after a Cream concert

Not long afterwards we met Eric in a club and he invited us back to his flat in Park Road, near Regent’s Park – quite close to Ivor Court, where he was living with his girlfriend, Brandy. The four of us sat around making polite conversation. Eric and Jimi hardly knew each other and were making an effort but it was very stilted. They both wanted to be friendly but Eric was well known for not having the gift of the gab and Jimi could be a reticent character.

God,’ Jimi muttered as we came out, ‘that was hard work.’

Eric and Jimi

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This photo is a posed one from the Bag O’ Nails outing when we had got to know each other better.

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The Cromwellian Club

3 Cromwell Road, South Kensington

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Cromwellian started off as an illegal gambling den used by John Aspinall but after gambling was legalised it became a gambling club owned by a group of wrestlers who also dabbled in rock and pop promotion.

They had to move the casino upstairs after rivals threw a firebomb through the window. The bar was on the ground floor and the discotheque was in the basement.

There were in effect two shifts in the disco. The first shift was for the everyday punters who came to gamble, drink, dance and get home by midnight.

RSG! Dancers

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This picture is of the Ready Steady Go! dancers monopolising the dance floor during the early shift. They were tremendously fit and athletic. RSG! was a very popular music programme on TV and Jimi was on the second from last programme before it finished. Here he is doing the recording for the show wearing the shirt I bought him for his 24th birthday.

RSG! recording

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is the same shirt he wore on the first Jimi Hendrix Experience album cover.

First album cover

Later on, after they had finished their gigs, musicians and the late night crowd would come and relax and I was the late night DJ playing slower more relaxing numbers that they requested. I was employed because I already knew the musicians. Sometimes people would jam if they were feeling energetic.

There was a house band consisting of Brian Auger, Julie Driscoll, Vic Briggs, Rick Brown, and Clive Thacker. Then Long John Baldry, Elton Dean, Caleb Quaye and Reg Dwight were involved. I think Rod Stewart was involved at some time as well. Not long after this Dwight changed his name using the first names of two of his fellow band members and became Elton John.

Chris Farlowe, Eric Burdon, Georgie Fame, The Kinks and Eric Clapton were all regulars sometimes getting up to jam.

The first times Jimi jammed in London were at the Scotch of St. James on the day he arrived and then again a couple of days later. Then on the 29th September he jammed with Brian Auger at the Cromwellian when Johnny Hallyday saw him and decided to have him on a French tour.

I took Jimi down there a few times after that including after we had visited Little Richard and been stopped by the Special Patrol Group. Chas used to come along sometimes.

Eric Burdon and Peter Noone

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This picture is of Eric Burdon and Peter Noone of Herman’s Hermits at the entrance to the Cromwellian. Keith Moon used to tease poor Peter mercilessly for no reason whatsoever but Peter was very patient and tolerant. I describe it in my book.

Things moved on and the places for musicians to go to changed to the Scotch of St. James, The Bag O’ Nails and The Speakeasy (I had DJed at the Scotch as well for a while). The Cromwellian carried on for a number of years very successfully but it never regained the reputation with musicians it had in ’66 and ’67.

To obtain my eBook click here

Jimi Hendrix and Send My Love to Linda

This picture of a scrumpled up piece of paper is one of the many scribblings that Jimi had a habit of making when he was working on new songs.

 

This one is from our time in Brook Street in 1969 and I remember he showed it to me and asked me what I thought of it.

The simple answer was “Not much – and it didn’t seem to rhyme.”

The other thing was that I was a bit unhappy about the Send My Love to Kathy bit. It was bad enough Katherina and me walking into the sea (I told him he better go on his own) but I really didn’t like being named in songs and he should change it to another name.

Just then my friend Linda came up to the flat. Linda was called Linda Baxter, or maybe Buxton (I never knew her by her surname). She was Rocky Dzidzournou the conga player’s girlfriend and she was feeling very sick and asking for something to be sick into. I found her a wastepaper bin like a small bucket.

I suggested to Jimi to change the name to Linda instead of Kathy.

Changing the name from mine to Linda seemed to cheer her up a bit.

So that is how Send my Love to Linda got started. It’s a pity it never got finished.

 

Jimi Hendrix and his vintage army jacket

Jimi had decided to visit Little Richard at his hotel to claim the $50 that Little Richard owed him. I had dressed up specially in a powder-blue dress I was very proud of, with pearl buttons and long tight sleeves. Jimi wore his vintage army jacket.

Vintage army jacket

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

People think that British police are fairly harmless, unarmed, wear comical helmets, and ride around on horses and old bicycles.

The police that threatened us were completely different. They were Special Patrol Group who were riot police that were tasked to patrol trouble spots. They poured out of an anonymous unmarked green van and charged at us in South Kensington after we had been visiting Little Richard’s hotel. They wore flat peaked caps and blue shirts and carried weighted batons.

Later the SPG was disbanded after an anti-racism demonstrator was beaten to death in Southall and an internal police enquiry found the officers owned illegal weapons and some may have been members of neo-nazi groups.

Below is an excerpt from my book.

As we came out of the hotel we decided to go to the Cromwellian where I had been DJing, which was just down the road. It was a chilly night and Jimi was wearing the military dress jacket which was soon to become part of his trademark. A police van came screeching to a halt beside us and seven officers leapt out, firing questions at Jimi. He replied as calmly as possible, although we were both pretty rattled.

Do you realise that our soldiers died in the uniform?’

What?’ Jimi looked down at the jacket, suddenly understanding. ‘In a Royal Veterinary Corps dress jacket?’

Take it off!’ the first policeman ordered.

I felt embarrassed and intimidated but Jimi just quietly removed his jacket. The policeman calmed down when they saw Jimi was going to be polite whatever they said to him and began to mutter among themselves, perhaps realising that we were harmless and that they had gone a bit over the top. I think one of the younger ones might have recognised Jimi from the few television appearances Chas was beginning to get for him.

Well, don’t let us catch you wearing it again!’ he said rather sheepishly, and off they went (back to the van).

(Special Patrol Group was replaced by Territorial Support Group which has more extensive training but performs the same functions. There are still many complaints about them although they are better than before.)

Territorial Support Group in action

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To access my book please click here

Jimi Hendrix and Chas Chandler

This is a passage from my book.

Chas, with all the sensitivity of a northern working-class boy who had grown up in the fifties, wasn’t always (as) patient. One night in London he snapped. There were two Glaswegian guys giving Jimi a hard time in a pub down a small side street off Tottenham Court Road, where we had stopped for a drink on the way to the Hundred Club in Oxford Street. I think we were going to see Brian Auger or John Mayall.

Jimi and Chas at the Speakeasy

Are yer a man or a girl?’ they taunted, one of them prodding (Jimi) with his finger and tugging at his hair. We tried to ignore them in the hope that they would get bored and give up but it didn’t work. The last thing Jimi needed at that stage was to get into a pub brawl which might end up in the press.

Come on,’ Chas said, draining his glass, ‘let’s drink up and go.’

We followed his example and went out into the street, but the two drunks followed us. As we walked away one of them came after us along the road, still shouting taunts, while his friend hung back a bit. I guess they thought they were in for a diverting evening of queer-bashing.

Yer fuckin’ chicken,’ he yelled, ‘why doncha stick up for yerself? Are yer a fuckin’ pansy then?’

Just walk on ahead,’ Chas muttered to me. He turned sharply and went back to the man, pushing his face close. ‘Fuck off man, before I lay yer out.’

We couldn’t resist turning back to see what was happening. The man poked Chas with his finger, an unwise thing for a drunk to do to a six-foot-three Newcastle ex-docker. Chas took a step back and then swung his leg up, kicking the man hard, bringing him down on to the pavement in one movement. He continued to kick him with startling speed and ferocity as the other drunk hurried back to the pub. Chas kept kicking until the man wouldn’t be getting up for a while.

Goddamit,’ Jimi breathed as we hurried away towards Oxford Street, ‘remind me not to mess with Chas.’

All evening Jimi was unable to get over what he’d seen, stunned by the sight of his giant protector at work.

Jimi and Chas at normal work

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Jimi Hendrix Record Collection

These photos are from Montagu Square when we were just beginning the collection. The record player belonged to Ringo Starr


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Later on we built up a bigger collection.

 

This is an extract from an article in Guitar Player magazine (1 Apr 1996)

Listening Experience — Jimi Hendrix’ Personal Record Collection

Author: James Rotondi (The article was based on his interview with me)

Etchingham and Hendrix shared several apartments together, including one at 23 Brook Street, Mayfair, next door to a house once occupied by Handel. There they amassed close to 100 albums, ranging from Chicago blues to folk to classical to complete obscura. (The entire collection was sold a few years ago to the Experience Music Project in Seattle, the brainchild of Microsoft cofounder Paul Allen.) “A lot of our albums would have been bought at a place called One Stop Records on South Molton Street, W1, just opposite Brook Street,” Etchingham recalls, “and many were given to Jimi by other bands or sent through the post.” For classical records, they headed to tonier Oxford Street to the HMV (“His Master’s Voice”) record shop, where Jimi bought copies of Holst’s The Planets and Handel’s Messiah.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jimi’s buying habits were, not surprisingly, impulsive. “Jimi would buy out of curiosity,” Etchingham remembers. “Often he’d go through the record racks, look at something for a moment, and buy it. Then he’d listen to it once and never play it again.” He bought John & Yoko’s controversial Two Virgins album on a whim, mostly because of the nude cover shot, which was made “decent” by packaging it in brown paper. “It was considered obscene,” Etchingham laughs, “and I remember all the giggling that went down at One Stop Records when they had to put it in the brown paper bag!”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Many of Jimi’s discs were blues records. Kathy remembers Elmore James as a staple, and, judging from the records he collected, Muddy Waters and Lightnin’ Hopkins were also big favorites. Testament Records’ Down On Stovall’s Plantation reissued Muddy’s 1941 and ’42 Library of Congress 78s. Etchingham clearly recalls Jimi going out of his way to get a copy of Electric Mud. (Muddy himself regarded Electric Mud as an experiment in psychedelia gone awry, proclaiming, “If you’ve got to have big amplifiers and wah-wahs and equipment to make your guitar say different things, well, hell, you can’t play no blues.”)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jimi’s copy of Waters’ The Real Folk Blues, though, more than delivered the goods, with classic renditions of “Mannish Boy,” “Screamin’ And Cryin’,” and “Little Geneva,” as did his copy of More Real Folk Blues, released the following year. Jimi’s passion for Lightnin’ Hopkins is revealed by his collecting the Texas blues great’s Soul Blues, Lightnin’ Strikes, Something Blue, The Roots Of Lightnin’ Hopkins, and Earth Blues.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jimi’s only John Lee Hooker album, Live At Cafe Au Go-Go, was recorded live in ’66 with the full Waters band, including Muddy on guitar and Otis Spann on piano. Jimi also owned copies of The Best Of Elmore James, The New Jimmy Reed Album, Stand Back–Here Comes Charlie Musselwhite’s South Side Band, The Driving Blues Of Smokey Smothers, Sonny Boy Williamson II’s Down And Out Blues and More Real Folk Blues, Howlin’ Wolf’s More Real Folk Blues, Guitar Slim and Jelly Belly’s Carolina Blues, and the Arhoolie label’s Lowell Fulson. Junior Wells’ It’s My Life, Baby could give him a good dose of primal Buddy Guy whenever needed.

Oddly enough, there were no B.B. King titles among Jimi’s remaining albums–though Etchingham reports that many were permanently borrowed–but he did own Albert King’s utterly essential Live Wire/Blues Power, as well as John Mayall’s Blues Breakers with Eric Clapton, Crusade with Mick Taylor, and A Hard Road with Peter Green. Besides Muddy’s Stovall LP, Hendrix’ other prewar blues records were the hard-to-find Bootleg Rum Dum Blues by Blind Blake, Washboard Sam’s Classic Blues, Sonny Boy Williamson I’s Classic Blues, and Lead Belly’s Take This Hammer, which was Folkways’ first ten-inch album. Jimi’s blues anthologies were Delmark’s essential Chicago/The Blues/Today! set, as well as American Folk Blues Festival, We Sing The Blues, and Original Golden Hits Of The Great Blues Singers, Vol. II.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“People will argue with me, but I tell you, that guy was a bluesman,” Kathy insists. “That’s what really got him. That’s where his heart really lay. Anybody who tells me he would have become a jazz musician–well, balls to them. The way Jimi was, if he was with a jazz musician he liked jazz, if he was with a folk singer, he liked folk. But what he really liked and what he really played at home was the blues.” Their collection also boasted one of the Columbia Robert Johnson albums, given to Jimi by Yardbirds manager Giorgio Gomelsky when the pair visited him at Polydor’s Oxford Street offices.

Jimi had a number of interesting and progressive folk albums, such as Sophisticated Beggar by Roy Harper, whose sidemen frequently included Jimmy Page and John Bonham. (Familiar with “Hats Off To Roy Harper” from Led Zeppelin III?) He also owned Tim Buckley’s 1967 second album, Goodbye And Hello, which began Buckley’s foray into jazz-tinged, vocally gymnastic folk-rock, and old Greenwich Village buddy Richie Havens’ Electric Havens and Mixed Bag. Dylan, of course, was a perennial favorite of Jimi’s, and he wore out copies of Bob’s Highway 61 Revisited, Greatest Hits, Nashville Skyline, and John Wesley Harding.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The latter, notes Etchingham, was brought over from the U.S. and yielded Hendrix’ most famous cover tune, “All Along The Watchtower.” “He’d listen to it time and time again,” she recalls. Jimi considered covering “I Dreamed I Saw St. Augustine,” but according to Kathy, deemed it “too personal.” John Wesley Harding was also the source of another Hendrix cover, “Drifter’s Escape.” Speaking of Dylan covers, he also owned The Byrds’ Fifth Dimension and Younger Than Yesterday, Joan Baez’s 1968 album of Dylan covers, Any Day Now, and The Hollies’ The Hollies Sing Dylan.

The few jazz records that remain in Jimi’s collection include Jimmy Smith & Wes Montgomery’s classic The Dynamic Duo and The Charles Lloyd Quartet’s Journey Within, which featured the warm, adventurous tenor sax and flute excursions that made Lloyd popular among both jazz and pop sets in the late ’60s. Jimi was also hip to Boston-based jazz pianist Jaki Byard’s Freedom Together and Sunshine Of My Soul. Byard frequently worked with another of Jimi’s favorite jazz artists, the late saxophone iconoclast Rahsaan Roland Kirk.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hendrix loved a great vocalist as much as sterling players. He listened to Nina Simone’s Nuff Said, gospel diva Clara Ward’s Hang Your Tears Out To Dry, Otis Redding’s The Immortal, and Johnny Cash’s At Folsom Prison. Though he wasn’t a huge fan himself, Hendrix bought Etchingham a copy of The Best Of Ray Charles. Jimi was an Elvis fan since his youth, and his early rock LPs included Eddie Cochran and Little Richard titles. Hendrix’ supply of fellow pop and rock acts was relatively limited, although he had copies of the Beatles’ Magical Mystery Tour and Abbey Road, the Rolling Stones’ Their Satanic Majesties Request, Joe Cocker’s With A Little Help From My Friends, and Vanilla Fudge’s eponymous debut featuring their remake of “You Keep Me Hanging On,” which was a huge hit in the U.K. in 1967. He owned albums featuring past and future jam partners as well, notably Delaney & Bonnie’s Home and the Spencer Davis Group’s Autumn ’66, which featured a young Steve Winwood, who’d play organ on Electric Ladyland‘s “Voodoo Child.” The Bonzo Dog Band’s 1968 satirical gem Doughnuts In Granny’s Greenhouse was probably given to him by the Bonzo Band’s Viv Stanshall, and his buddy Eric Burdon probably gave him the copy of the Animals’ The Twain Shall Meet. The Temptations’ 1969 release Puzzle People–which featured the smash “I Can’t Get Next To You”–was filed near James Brown’s aptly titled Ain’t It Funky, Dr. John’s second album Babylon, Canned Heat’s self-titled 1967 debut, and the Bee Gees’ first album, which Etchingham describes 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.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The more esoteric titles in Hendrix’ collection included George Harrison’s 1968 solo album Wonderwall Music, a bit of proto-ambient soundtrack music with some Indian instrumentation. An early supporter of Indian classical music, Rolling Stone Brian Jones, a close pal, gave Jimi copies of Ravi Shankar’s Sounds Of The Sitar and Karnatak vocalist Subbulakshmi’s The Sounds Of . . . The collection also included some amazingly oddball artifacts, such The Zodiac/Cosmic Sounds, a gem of the emerging psychedelia featuring keyboard synthesist Paul Beaver playing original music for each of the astrological signs, “composed, arranged and conducted by Mort Garson,” with words by Jacques Wilson. Elektra Records’ instructions on the album jacket: “Must be played in the dark.” Bach On The Pedal Harpsichord was the work of E. Power Biggs, a renowned classical pipe organist, and French electronic music pioneer Pierre Henry was represented by Le Voyage. Even more obscure were Friar Tuck And His Psychedelic Guitar and The Red Crayola With The Familiar Ugly.  (I think Jimi liked the artwork of Red Crayola because it had a similar style to his own. KE.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kathy remembers that she and Hendrix played records on a Bang & Olufsen turntable, but he had to “stick a ha’penny with cellotape onto the turntable arm, because the balance wasn’t quite right. Otherwise it would jump up and down the louder it got.” And it got loud. The turntable was hooked up to a Leak-70 amplifier, a Bang & Olufsen reel-to-reel, and two Lowther speakers with 30-watt output on each side, which needed frequent repair to fix blown cones. “When the cones in the speakers blew, I used to put them in the back of a taxi and go down to a place in Bromley, Kent, where Lowther had a small workshop,” Etchingham explains. “They would mend them while I waited because they knew the terrible withdrawals we’d have if they took a week to repair! They even tried to reinforce the cones for us. We didn’t have any neighbors in Brook Street, so we blew them quite often.” The pair also used a Decca portable stereo with flip-up speakers that collapsed to make a little suitcase.

Hendrix was no anal-retentive audiophile. “He was terrible– never put the records back in the sleeves,” laughs Etchingham. “They were all over the floor, and that’s why they were all so damaged. If he particularly treasured an album, he’d put it away, but otherwise . . .”

 

Many thanks to Jas Obrecht for his contributions to this article.

 

To get a copy of my book click here