Mitch Mitchell, the last surviving member of the original line up of the Jimi Hendrix Experience died November 12, 2008 of what was reported to be natural causes. Mitchell, who got his start as a touring and session musician with a handful of bands that included The Pretty Things, hit his groove when he joined the Jimi Hendrix Experience. Not expecting much of the gig at the time, the jazzy style that Mitch brought to the band was the perfect counterpart to Jimi’s guitar playing, often playing off each other both in recording sessions and especially in concert.
Mitchell’s sound on such tracks as Manic Depression, Third Stone from the Sun, Voodoo Chile (slight return) and many more are unforgettable. Are You Experienced?, Axis: Bold As Love and Electric Ladyland have always had a special place in my heart and mind, brilliant, classic albums. Mitchell is also credited with pushing Eddie Kramer to finish and release the Cry of Love album. Without Mitchell’s insistence, it may have never seen the light of day.
After the Jimi Hendrix Experience broke up in 1969, Mitchell stuck around and played Woodstock with Jimi and the Isle of Wright concert. Following Jimi’s death, Mitchell stayed under the radar for the most part, working with Eddie Kramer on Hendrix’s unfinished material as well as Hendrix videos and interviews. More recently he played in a couple of tribute bands, Gypsy Sun Experience and the most recent, the Experience Hendrix, which in addition to Mitchell, featured other such artists including Buddy Guy, Jonny Lang, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Eric Johnson, Cesar Rosas, David Hidalgo, Aerosmith’s Brad Whitford, Hubert Sumlin, Chris Layton, Eric Gales and Mato Nanji.
Mitchell’s final days were filled with touring with the Experience Hendrix band celebrating the music Jimi and Mitchell created together. Five days after finishing their tour in Portland, Oregon, Mitchell was found dead in his hotel room at 3AM on November 12th. That same day he was to return to England. Noel Redding, bassist for The Jimi Hendrix Experience died in 2003. Throw on your favorite Jimi Hendrix Experience album and have a listen for ole’ Mitch. He was one helluva drummer.
This day in classic rock:
1970: For the second time in a year, Ray Davies flies to London to record one word in a new Kinks single. Last time it was ‘cherry cola’ to replace ‘Coca-Cola’ in ‘Lola’; this time it’s to change ‘The air pollution is a-fucking up my mind’ to ‘foggin’ up my mind’ for new single ‘Apeman’.