It’s often quite a shock to fans when their hero on stage turns out to be so dissimilar behind closed doors. Although, when you think about it in more depth, it is actually very understandable; our beloved artists are only human and while they may seem lively and gregarious on stage, most won’t maintain that energy or charisma when they’re off stage – in a sense, they are actors. In the wise words of Neil Young in his classic song ‘On The Beach’: “I need a crowd of people, but I can’t face them day to day”. Neil Young perhaps isn’t a great example of someone who has a surprising off-stage personality however – he is an openly introverted creative. But what about those who have a certain energy to their performance that gives an impression of otherworldly confidence and charm?
Well, of course sometimes what you see is what you get, but often, the most intensely creative minds can be rather introspective and need time away from the world to let their cogs turn. Sometimes performers will tend to require a drop of the old pot-valiance to get into the mood to perform, thus projecting an altered image of themselves to the world. Perhaps a partial explanation as to why addiction issues are so rife within the demographic of performing artists.
In a recent publication, Dave Davies, the ex-lead guitarist of The Kinks, described his experiences with the musical elite of the 1960s and ‘70s. One interesting revelation was the true depiction of Jimi Hendrix, a man who was widely seen as a wild stage performer with a classic rock ‘n’ roll demeanour of charisma, glamour and excess. However, as Dave Davies recounts his acquaintance with the guitar hero, perhaps looks can be deceiving: “In real life, Jimi Hendrix was nothing like the wild guy that he portrayed on stage. He was a quiet, introverted guy like Ray was. He was explosive on stage, but very softly spoken off it. I’d see him from time to time at the Scotch of St James or at parties. We used to exchange the odd word to each other, but it was never like we were close.”
Dave Davies was often overshadowed by the creative songwriting genius of his elder brother Ray, but his eye for a classic guitar hook was undeniable. Once, it appears, even the greatest guitarist of all time applauded his talents. Dave Davies also recalled a conversation between himself and Hendrix in the late ‘60s: “I remember once sitting next to him on a plane bound for Stockholm. After a while, we got talking a little and he suddenly said to me: ‘Y’know, that guitar riff you did on ‘You Really Got Me’ was a real landmark.’ You can imagine how I felt. To be endorsed by Hendrix was really something. It was a great compliment.”
Stream ‘You Really Got Me’ by The Kinks below to hear the classic, Jimi Hendrix endorsed, guitar hook.