Credit: Bent Rej

When Mick Jagger met Jimi Hendrix

The cause of Jimi Hendrix’s death was never fully determined. Coroner Gavin Thurston at the time said there was insufficient evidence to prove that Hendrix committed suicide. Although, according to reports on the scene of his death, it certainly seemed that way. Coroner Thurston had released a statement that said, “the question why Hendrix took so many sleeping tablets cannot be safely answered.”

The German model and lover of the late great experimental blues guitar player, Monika Danneman, said that the two were hanging out at her apartment, and the pair were drinking a lot of wine. Danneman acknowledged that Hendrix was drinking more than usual at the time, but she had said that Hendrix was “not a careless man with drugs.” 

“I couldn’t sleep anymore. I wanted some cigarettes, but as Jimi didn’t like me going out without me telling him, I looked to see if he was awake. He was sleeping normally. Just before I was about to go out, I looked at him again, and there was sick on his nose and mouth. I tried to wake him up but couldn’t. I then saw that he had taken some of my sleeping pills. They are German and called Vesperax,” Danneman had stated according to Rolling Stone. 

The coroner’s office also ruled out accidental death as there was no evidence even to prove that. This mystery, coupled with the age at which Hendrix died (27), has created even more myth surrounding the legendary musician.

Although, it wasn’t all a case of post-mortem mythification — when Hendrix came bursting onto the London scene, he truly blew everyone away.

Paul McCartney recalled going to see the young musician perform at the Saville in London, where Pete Townshend and Eric Clapton watched from the shadows. They had heard a lot about this young, up and coming performer and wanted to catch the hype themselves and see if he was for real. As McCartney retold the story, he was blown away when Hendrix did a rendition of the title track off The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper album, only a few days after it initially came out.

There was another hot, new performer who was stealing hearts away at the time, and this hip-shaking singer thinks he knows why Hendrix left us too soon. Mick Jagger first saw Hendrix perform on May 4th in 1967 — the summer of love. They met after Hendrix’s taping for the Top of the Pops at BBC studios and chatted for a bit. Successful photographer Alec Byrne, as was the case throughout the sixties, was able to be at the right place at the right time. Byrne took an iconic photo of the two: they both were dressed as bohemian space pirates or 19th-century dandies — it was a mixture of the two. 

When Jagger saw Hendrix perform, he called it “exciting, sexy, and interesting.” In an interview with Rolling Stone, Jagger also called Hendrix a “really sweet guy.” Jagger, in his usual self-reflective and analytical way, proving that there’s a whole lot more than just his hips and voice, said that Hendrix was “a bit confused.

It’s the same old story: Jimi Hendrix played all over the place with all these bands. He’d been a background guitar player for donkey years.  “And suddenly he gets what he wants, then has to play ‘Purple Haze’ every night,” Jagger added, hinting that Hendrix may have become run down with the lifestyle too early in the game. 

Jagger concludes his astute observations, “he goes, ‘Uh, I don’t want to play ‘Purple Haze’ every night. I don’t want to burn the guitar.’ And then when everyone went off the deep end, he had to go off the deep end. He became a heroin addict.” That final claim has been hotly disputed around music circles, with those close to Hendrix suggesting he was only ever a casual drug user.

Whether Jagger was right or not, it’s clear that Hendrix and his powerful aura as well as his performance left an indelible mark on the music industry, and one of its major players too.

Jimi Hendrix and Mick Jagger meeting for the first time at the BBC Studios, May 4, 1967. Hendrix was there to do a…

Posted by Alec Byrne Archive on Sunday, July 29, 2018

Listen to Jimi Hendrix’s live rendition of his iconic song, ‘Purple Haze’.