Mitch Mitchell, Pulse of the Jimi Hendrix Experience, Dies at 61

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’.

For Those About to Rock, Stay in School

For some, “Guitar Hero” is not just a game, but a career. And, for sixteen year old Blake Peebles it is just that. He has dropped out of high school to pursue his career as a guitar hero with the full support of his parents. When Blake is not playing for his friends, family and locals of North Raleigh, he is winning gift certificates, gaming equipment and other prizes at “Guitar Hero” tournaments.

guitar hero

To date, Blake has won about $1,000 in prizes. It is hard to believe that parents would allow their teenager to drop out of school to concentrate on gaming. It is even harder to believe that anyone could actually earn a living playing video games. Of course, Blake’s parents have hired tutors does not fall behind. Even so, Blake aspires to be part of the few professional gamers in existence.

Although it seems so unbelievable that this could be a profitable career choice, Major League Gaming, a company that has over 125 gamers signed to management deal, holds tournaments all across the country. These gamers can earn over $80,000 per year, however the average income typically only ranges from $20,000 to $30,000 per year. Blake estimates that he is among the top 15 or 20 in the online world for his country, which has qualified him for the World Cyber Games in California this month. If Blake wins, he will then represent the US at the “Guitar Hero III” world tournament in Germany.

Another gamer, Terry Lindle has been in the competitive gaming profession for 8 years now and he estimates having earned only $25,000 in that entire period; a mere $3,125 per year. He also admits that to earn any real revenue, a gamer must win tournaments and rank among the top 1% to be noticed by sponsors. Also, “Guitar Hero” is not currently one of the big money games either.

With all this in mind, have Blake and his parents made the right choice? My guess is, probably not. Is this any different than quitting school and devoting your life to sports or is this just every kid’s dream come true? After all, Blake stays up well past a normal bedtime playing video games and alters his bedroom to accommodate his gaming career. My opinion is that Blake might have been better off picking up a real guitar and taking a stab at becoming a true guitar hero like Jimi Hendrix, Jimmy Page or Tony Iommi.

This day in classic rock:
1967 – Columbia Records re-sign Bob Dylan, despite opposition from MGM, for whom he appeared to have already signed. MGM never countersigned the contract and subsequently went out of business.