Jimi Hendrix had a litany of famous friends during his short career. A sociable and approachable figure, Hendrix established a rapport with legendary figures like Ronnie Spector, Steve Winwood, and a somewhat contentious friendship with Pete Townshend, among others. It seemed like anyone who was in or around the rock scene in the mid-to-late-’60s wanted to befriend the Experience leader.
One of his earliest friends in the London scene was future Faces and Rolling Stones guitarist Ronnie Wood, back when Wood was about to leave mod-styled band The Birds (not to be confused with American folk-rockers The Byrds) and join the Jeff Beck Group. “Jimi was a really sweet, well-mannered boy, and I’m very honoured to have shared a little space of time with him back in the late 1960s,” Wood told Absolute Radio UK in 2012.
“I used to say, ‘How was the gig tonight?’ and he’d go, ‘Oh, the guitar was okay, man, but my voice… I really can’t sing.’,” Wood recalled. “I said, ‘Look, you’re not doing a bad job, man, don’t worry about it.’ I’d say, ‘Look, it’s all part of the side-effect. I think it goes great with the way you strum and play amazing guitar’.”
Wood and Hendrix remained pals as they both found success in the British rock world, but as Hendrix’s addictions began to take a toll on his health, Wood was able to see first-hand the deterioration in his once vibrant and vivacious friend. On the final nights of Hendrix’s life, Wood was right there with him.
“I was with him at Ronnie Scott’s the night he died,” Wood explains. “He was walking down the stairs with his arm around this girl and I said to him, ‘Jimi, say goodnight’ – and he didn’t turn round, I said, ‘Jimi, say goodnight!’ and he turned round really slowly, out of his brain, and just gave me a little stoned wave. And that was the last the world saw of him. Very sad, very sad departure.”
When compared to the timeline of Hendrix’s final days, this would likely have come after Hendrix sat in with Eric Burdon & War at Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club in Soho on September 16, 1970. The night before Hendrix attempted to play with the band but was too intoxicated to adequately contribute.
The “girl” in Wood’s recollection was Monika Dannemann, his final girlfriend. It’s possible that this could also have been the party that Hendrix attended in the early hours of September 18, his final day, but is unlikely considering Wood’s specific mention of Ronnie Scott.