The detailed handwritten letter Jimi Hendrix used to sketch his album cover
Jimi Hendrix was much more than just a guitar God. The musician, during his career, tried to involve himself in every minutia of his creative outlet as this hugely detailed handwritten sketch of his album cover which is testament to his incredible mind which was constantly working at lightspeed.
The letter in question was penned by Hendrix in September 1968, just a month before the release of the seminal Electric Ladyland LP and he outlined very specifically what he wanted to be on the cover which was refused by his label which marred the relationship between them.
The cover that his label Reprise chose in the UK was extremely controversial for the 1960s, it depicting countless nude women—an aspect which wasn’t Hendrix’s idea at all. The guitarist even later disgruntedly admitted in an interview regarding the artwork: “Folks in Britain are kicking against the cover. Man, I don’t blame them. I wouldn’t have put this picture on the sleeve myself but it wasn’t my decision. It’s mostly all bullshit.”
This was the polar opposite from the image that he had in mind for the LP and in his letter, he does apologise for being late in sending over the brief for what he wanted the record cover to look like. This is likely to be why his request was duly ignored because the record had already gone to press but Hendrix’s idea was much more tasteful and iconic than what his fans were given in the end.
The album was the last record to be released during Hendrix’s lifetime before his tragically premature passing less than two years later, but it did mark his first number one record in the States and elevated him into his own lane as the world’s most complete rockstar who could do just about everything.
Read his powerful plea to the executives to have Linda McCartney’s poetic image of the band surrounded by kids in Central Park, which he wanted to feature on the front cover with various other black and white shots by Eddie Kramer which he also wanted to grace the packaging along with a poem entitled ‘Letter to the room full of mirrors’.
See the attached photograph of Hendrix’s letter also underneath the transcript.
Dear Sirs, Here are the pictures we would like for you to use anywhere on the L.P. cover – preferably inside and back, without the white frames around some of the B/W ones, and with most of them next to each other in different sizes and mixing the color prints at different points, for instance. [Sketch] Please use cover picture with us and the kids on the statue for front or BACK COVER (OUTSIDE COVER) and the other back or front side, (outside cover) Please use three good pictures of us in B/W or color. We would like to make an apology for taking so very long to send this but we have been working very hard indeed, doing shows AND recording. And please send the pictures back to Jimi Hendrix Personal & Private c/o Jeffrey & Chandler 27 EAST 37th ST. N.Y. N.Y. After you finish with them. Please, if you can, find a nice place and lettering for the few words I wrote named… “Letter of the room full of mirrors.” on the L.P. cover. The sketch on the other page is a rough idea of course…But please use ALL the pictures and the words – Any other drastic change from these directions would not be appropriate according to the music and our group’s present stage – And the music is most important. And we have enough personal problems without having to worry about this simple yet effective layout. Thank you. Jimi Hendrix ———————————- Use on L.P. Jimi Hendrix electric lady land – TITLE: Letter to the room full of mirrors. 4:30 – 6:00 am Denver Cdo. Sept 2. 1968…alone Let’s see now… “It wasn’t too long ago, but it feels like, years ago, since I’ve felt the warm hello of the Sun…lately things…” and then he was interrupted by the slow motion speeded up sound that sometimes cut so deep, that sound was from those chellophane typewriters…Exactly. Constantly from the south side of those carpets and but anyway Sweet Rome was on my mind. “She gave so sweetly…” And on he walked until after crowning Ethel the dog the Only Queen of ears, the sky cracked wide open and split many of his Brothers and Sisters heads all over the world apart at the approximately same… “That’s law and order”, said the Border Guard as his hard head weighted something like wet bread — which to explain through brain rain as that’s…well…Bro, is this here country all what much ahead? And said the owner of the velvet horse who heard all this… “I just know that I’m going to get involved here” and slams the machine in Reverse, splitting both suns apart in doing so, probably. He got to Fantasy Fjords on the hurry up side and also can you dig… Oh Oh! watch that stick and judge your distance from that Blue Suede kick!!… (SWISSHHH KNOCK…!?!!..) Anyway…can you dig that something came by here not too terrible long at all…I was bathing my eye…just a 1000 foot above those same old tired skies and…you know, that sound there and after that, everywhere, Bathed me to a physical. And he Blurted out the sound burnt the side of his inner wall also passing by and the liquid rainbow melted EROS all through his rooms and rooms of ears that he was hiding from Ethel the Queeny. And he thumbed a lift from his head and heads straight to anywhere to tell his woman, the world; that it was physical…GASP. And (the chellophane begins to crattle and crake) His old lady Terra Mama, Jumps in his face and says… “What’s physical?!” and he stutters, smiles, and retaliates with…well…er, ah…what is music m’love? PUFF PUFF. And they probably found out that it was. by this time.