Revisiting a handwritten letter that a pre-fame Jimi Hendrix sent to his father from his new life in London
1966 would be the year that Jimi Hendrix’s life would change forever. On the cusp of greatness after he wowed Linda Keith, the then-girlfriend of The Rolling Stones’ Keith Richards in a New York nightspot, Hendrix would later be recommended to Chas Chandler and the rest, as they say, is history.
Here, as we explore the Far Out archives, we are revisiting a letter he sent to his father just weeks after he moved to Europe for the new adventure that would change his destiny forever.
On September 24th, 1966, Hendrix took up the offer from The Animals’ bassist, Chas Chandler, and moved to London where he would sign a management and production contract with him and Animals manager Michael Jeffery. Chandler immediately began recruiting members for a band that would get the best out of Hendrix’s insane ability and the Jimi Hendrix Experience was born.
Hendrix then met guitarist Noel Redding at an audition for the New Animals, where Redding’s knowledge of blues progressions impressed Hendrix, and, following their meeting, Redding agreed to play bass in the new band. Drummer Mitch Mitchell was Chandler’s next recruit who he contacted through a mutual friend and alas, Hendrix had his perfect group.
On October 1, 1966, Chandler brought Hendrix to the London Polytechnic at Regent Street where Cream was due to take to the stage but, more importantly, it was the night that Hendrix and guitarist Eric Clapton first met. Clapton later recalled how Hendrix wasn’t shy upon their first meeting: “He asked if he could play a couple of numbers. I said, ‘Of course’, but I had a funny feeling about him.”
Halfway through Cream’s set, Hendrix took the stage and performed a manic version of the Howlin’ Wolf song ‘Killing Floor’. In 1989, Clapton described the performance: “He played just about every style you could think of, and not in a flashy way. I mean he did a few of his tricks, like playing with his teeth and behind his back, but it wasn’t in an upstaging sense at all, and that was it… He walked off, and my life was never the same again.”
In mid-October of 1966, Chandler arranged for the Experience to open up for Johnny Hallyday’s tour of Europe which would see them perform their very first show at the Novelty in Evreux. As part of an enthusiastically received 15-minute performance at the Olympia theatre in Paris, this show marked the earliest known recording of the band.
Following this tour, Hendrix would write a poignant letter to his father who was back home in the United States. Brimming with joy, he would let his father now just how well things are going for him and how things look to be on the change.