When Jimi Hendrix arrived in London, he immediately made every other guitarist in the city quake in their boots. Singer Terry Reid, who was then working with Peter Jay’s Jaywalkers, became a confidante to Hendrix during those early days, standing shoulder to shoulder on the frontline of a bursting counterculture as he left his mark on the English capital.
Aged 15, Reid left school to join Peter Jay’s Jaywalkers and thrust himself into a lifelong love affair with rock ‘n’ roll, one that is still burning bright today. In 1966, Chas Chandler introduced him to Hendrix after he arrived in the UK, and the two sparked up a close friendship. Together, they often jammed at The Revolution Club, and Hendrix regularly sought sanctuary at Reid’s home when he wanted to escape the constant partying at his abode.
Reid was there on the night that Hendrix made his debut performance on British soil, an event taking place in 1966 at the Scotch of St. James, and the guest list was a who’s who of music royalty. Although the two met before the performance, seeing Hendrix in his element on-stage made Reid see him in a whole new light.
Coincidentally, Reid had visited the Scotch with the singer of his band, Peter Jay, to enjoy some drinks somewhere they wouldn’t get hassled, and unbeknown to them, the two were about to witness history. “We’re sitting there this one night,” Terry Reid enthusiastically tells Far Out. “All of a sudden, about halfway through the evening at about nine o’clock, all these people came in. Paul McCartney, Keith Richards, Brian Jones, you name it, they were there.”
Adding: “So, Brian Jones comes over, and he said, Terry, ‘That fella is going to play, you know, that friend of yours? Jimi Hendrix’. The band playing there said, ‘We’re going to have a guy get up here and play a couple of songs. He’s new in town, and we just wanted to introduce him.'”
Jones was one of the only people inside the cramped room that knew what to expect from Hendrix. However, soon enough, the entire ruling class of British music would join him in awe of the young American.
Hendrix only performed two songs that evening. He began with ‘Red House’ followed by a cover of ‘Wild Thing’ by The Troggs. For the entirety of the set, Reid explained that you could hear a pin drop as Hendrix hypnotised the crowd into silence.
“He gets up, plays that. I’m telling you; honestly, me and Peter are just sitting at the back, and I’m sort of observing just the expression on the back of people’s heads,” Reid said. “Pete Townshend was there, everybody was there, and everybody was riveted. It was just like cardboard cut-outs. Nobody moved”.
Following the performance, The Rolling Stones’ Brian Jones came hurtling over to Reid and epitomised the deflated mood among the guitarists union in the room. He remembers: “Then Brian Jones comes running over to me, he said, ‘Oh Terry, it’s terrible down the front. You should come down and have a look.’
“I said, ‘What’s the matter?’, and he said, ‘There’s a flood at the front of the stage. It’s absolutely terrible’. I say, ‘A flood?’, and he said, ‘Yeah, all the guitar players are crying,'” Reid says while bursting into a fit of uncontrollable laughter.
After his two-song set, the landscape of the London scene changed in an instant. Suddenly, the secret was out about Hendrix, and he’d shortly gain international notoriety while becoming the envy of guitarists everywhere.
For tickets to see Terry Reid at The Jazz Cafe in London on January 25th, 2022, visit here.