Jimi Hendrix and his British trio the Experience created a landmark double album in 1968 called Electric Ladyland, and fifty years after its release it may be difficult for many to fully understand the context in which it was made and the world into which it was subsequently released. When Hendrix had been “discovered” by Animals bass player Chas Chandler only two years earlier in a New York City Greenwich Village club on the equivalent of “open mic night”, Jimi was fresh off the chitlin circuit purely as an anonymous sideman. After relocating to London with the veteran Chandler as mentor/co-manager/producer, Hendrix released two game-changing albums before returning back to America.
But as you will hear in the conclusion of this classic rock interview with biographer/ reissue producer John McDermott plus one of the last interviews with Jimi Hendrix Experience drummer Mitch Mitchell, neither Chandler nor Experience bass player Noel Redding were on board with the change. Hendrix’s joy to be back is apparent in his embrace of many formative musical influences including soul, rhythm and blues, and jazz, but the fact that the April 1968 assassination of the leader of the American civil rights movement, the Rev. Dr.Martin Luther King jr, which had touched off violent race riots across many major U.S. cities, shattered any naivete that here was an African-American leading an otherwise all white band on tour across the U.S., including the heavily segregated South, during the most violent year in America since World War II. – Redbeard