The last few months of Jimi Hendrix’s life were heavily centred around the expansion of his work. The now-iconic musician, who died at the age of 27, spent the majority of final his days creating magic in the studio, wielding his guitar like a crazed artist destined to etch his name into the annals of history. Hendrix was in the form of his life when he passed, and his final recording came just a month before his untimely death.
As one of his lasting and most daring projects, Hendrix commissioned a state of the art recording studio in the heart of Greenwich Village, and Electric Lady Studios was supposed to be his new home. Tragically, however, by the time the studio was finally complete in 1970, the guitarist was only able to spend ten weeks in the facility before his death. Despite being such a short period of time spent working in the new space, Hendrix was firing off all cylinders, delivering mind-blowing material at a prolific pace.
Hendrix’s long-time studio engineer Eddie Kramer, who had worked with the virtuoso guitarist since Are You Experienced, later discussed those final studio sessions, remembering how he’d never seen the guitarist so focused on his work before. “We had two closets full of Jimi Hendrix tapes, floor to ceiling, with all of the jams and stuff we had done,” Kramer recalled to Rolling Stone. “He would say, ‘Pull that take over there.’ Or ‘Go to this section, yeah, stop. That’s what we need'”.
The sessions would start at 8pm, and would usually run long through the night before doing it all over again the following day. Kramer also noted how he’d noticed a “huge change” in Jimi, and his work had almost become an obsession. He continued: “In the past, we would call for sessions at the Record Plant for seven, and he wouldn’t come until midnight, because he was jamming somewhere. At Electric Lady, we’d call a session for seven, and he was often there early. And if he saw a lady standing in the control room, he would get her a chair. The guy was so polite – and proud of the place”.
However, his time in the studio was cut short after his booking agent scheduled dates for him across Europe, and Hendrix’s plans to work on the album were shelved.
Many rock music historians argue that the final session took place on August 22nd, with Hendrix cutting a demo for ‘Belly Button Window’. However, the musician wasn’t due to fly to London for five more days and returned to Electric Lady to lay down the instrumental track ‘Slow Blues’. That said, as with many aspects of the somewhat blurry facts of a rock and roll heydey, the specific date is questioned. The liner notes, for example, state that it was, in fact, recorded on August 20th.
For many decades, the song wasn’t heard by the public until the compilation, The Jimi Hendrix Experience, was released in 2000 with ‘Slow Blues’ closing out the box set. It’s a raw recording, and clearly of an impromptu nature, but it still manages to mesmerise.
Less than a month later, Hendrix tragically passed away shortly after his heroic headline set at the Isle of Wight Festival, and ‘Slow Blues’ represents the final time Hendrix ever stepped foot in a recording studio.