Jimi Hendrix experimented freely on stage, using it as his canvas as he forged yet another real-life masterpiece. The guitarist provided people with unforgettable experiences which are still talked about superlatively today, etching his name into the annals of history in the process. However, for Hendrix personally, one band made him feel the same way.
In 1966, Hendrix arrived in London and didn’t know a soul, but it didn’t take long to initiate himself with the scene. Whispers spread like wildfire about his talent. His gigs were suddenly being attended by the likes of Eric Clapton, Roger Waters, Paul McCartney, and anybody who was a somebody in the capital.
Waters was particularly impressed with what he saw in Hendrix and later vividly remembered the first time he caught eyes with the ethereal American. It took place at the London Polytechnic when Hendrix made an impromptu appearance on-stage with Cream and made Eric Clapton look like an amateur in comparison. “In the middle of the show, they said, ‘We would like to introduce a friend of ours'”, Waters later remembered. “And this guy came on stage and started playing the guitar with his teeth and at a certain time, also playing with the guitar behind his head”.
Waters added: “I found myself thinking about it some time ago. And I remember that I had misunderstood his name. I thought he was called Junior Hendrix, but then I discovered that he was not ‘Junior’, it was Jimi Hendrix, and that was the first time that he performed in England, at a Cream show.”
Pink Floyd had only recently formed at this time, and the wide-eyed Waters was in absolute awe of what he had seen on stage at the Polytechnic. After Hendrix graduated onto bigger things, his band’s shows at The UFO Club began to recreate a similar buzz, and he was a fan of what they were doing.
In an interview with Melody Maker in 1970, Hendrix spoke about contemporary artists and how audience tastes had evolved in recent years. “The term blowing someone’s mind is valid,” Hendrix said. “People like you to blow their minds, but then we are going to give them something that will blow their mind, and while it’s blown there will be something there to fill the gap”.
Hendrix continued: “It’s going to be a complete form of music. It will be really druggy music. Yes, I agree it could be something on similar lines to what Pink Floyd are tackling. They don’t know it, you know, but people like Pink Floyd are the mad scientists of this day and age.”
Hendrix’s comments about Pink Floyd were beyond complimentary, and he appreciated they were doing something new rather than rehashing the work of others. Both were relentless innovators, who were open to experimentation, and despite their differences — their ethoses were remarkably similar.