Thursday, November 13, 2008

Jimi's band is complete now

Drummer Mitchell at left with Hendrix and bassist Redding

Some of you are either too old or too young to know who Mitch Mitchell was. If bassist Noel Redding's death in 2003 didn't affect you, then most likely Mitch Mitchell's passing in a Portland, Oregon hotel room yesterday morning won't make any impression either. But for those of us who grew up in the Sixties and Seventies -- those flower children and rockers who were defined by Woodstock, Haight Ashbury and the sexual revolution -- his death is significant. Mitch Mitchell, born in Ealing, England some seven years before me, achieved fame as the jazz tinged drummer for the Jimi Hendrix Experience. Noel Redding was the bassist and Jimi, of course, provided the left-handed lead guitar and lead vocals. It was one of the few trios in rock history that achieved any lasting effect. Most bands have always had a lead and a rhythm guitar who played against one another. That was the genius of Jimi Hendrix. No one could ever play rhythm against him, so he decided there was no need for one. Recently, Mitchell had attempted to capture lightning in a bottle for the second time, when he headed up the Experience Hendrix Tour. That tour ended last week and the 61-year-0ld performer was taking it easy over the course of a four-day vacation when he suddenly and unexpectedly died. If you ever saw a picture of Mitch Mitchell, you would say he was the perfect counterpart to Hendrix. Mitchell's wildly teased mane and colorful clothing was a complement to the leader of the band and his playing was termed by many as explosive and frenetic. He was a vital part of what made Jimi Hendrix the star he became and his passing would be considered a bigger deal had the Seattle-born guitarist lived longer than 1970. We all miss Jimi, but with Mitchell's passing yesterday and Redding's passing five years ago, the band has finally reunited. If I close my eyes, I can swear I can hear "Voodoo Chile" being played one more time....

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