In 1967 Jimi Hendrix posed as jolly Old Saint Nick for the Record Mirror newspaper to promote his then newest album, Axis: Bold as Love. The cover date of that issue was December 23, 1967 … and a video was shot on December 22nd, at one of the last truly “underground” events of the 60s held in London, the all-night “Christmas on Earth Continued” festival, which Hendrix headlined and also featured The Who, Traffic, Pink Floyd (Syd Barrett’s last gig with the group), Eric Burdon and the New Animals, The Move and Soft Machine.
Two years later, in December of 1969, Hendrix, bassist Billy Cox and drummer Buddy Miles, The Band of Gypsys, were rehearsing at Baggy Studios in New York prior to their New Year’s concerts at the Fillmore East, where they recorded a Christmas medley of “Little Drummer Boy/Silent Night/Auld Lang Syne.”
A bitchin' little Yuletide medley:
Wherein Hendrix' True Believers Set the Record Straight … Again
OK, so now we come to the "author's message," as Firesign Theater used to tongue-in-cheekedly say, or was it Roy Lichtenstein? The author I am referring to is Jimi Hendrix himself, in this new book by my friend and former employer when I was Editorial Director of the Hendrix estate before it was shepherded by its eponymous half-sister.
Starting At Zero: His Own Story is compiled by Alan Douglas, the former honcho of the Hendrix Estate with Peter Neal, a filmmaker who made "Hendrix" in 1967, the only documentary to be shown in Jimi's lifetime.
Take a look at
this picture for a good way in to Jimi's head.
The book was first shown to me by my good friend and collaborator Roger Mayer, shown here with a Little Steven Rack System he designed.
Photo by Jonnie Miles
As he had been for Jimmy Page and Jeff Beck before, and as he would become with Stevie Wonder, the Isley Brothers, George Clinton and Bob Marley, Roger was the "secret sauce," the mystery man behind the scenes of The Sound.
Here is what Roger has to say about Alan Douglas' book, which, by the way was produced after much legal jousting for the rights to do the book and soon, a film based on it …
… which presents the guitar legend's story in his own words, his vocal cadence, and really caught Jimi's soul:
After reading "Starting at Zero" you will have experienced a valuable insight into Jimi's love of people and music written in his own words. The upcoming biopic "All is By My Side" has already come into criticism by people close to Jimi for inaccuracy and fabrication of events that never happened. So please read the book first.
Another pundit, Yogi Berra, once said, "You can observe a lot just by watching." He could have been talking about the ISBN information page frontispiece, which says, tellingly that … "No part of this book has been published with cooperation from Experienced Ltd., Al Hendrix or Janie Hendrix. It goes on to give "Special thanks to Nicky Page for design assistance."
Coincidentally, Nicky is no relation to Nick Page, the husband of another Hendrix friend, Kathy Etchingham, Jimi's former girlfriend whose "Through Gypsy Eyes"
… will be quoted in Part Deux of this essay. Kathy just told me that her book, which has been available in recent years as an e-book, will once again be brought out in a hard-cover edition.
See you in the next installment. Don't be late.