No, a reputation like Donnerhall did not precede Jimi Hendrix when he climbed out of the plane on 24 September 1966 in London at the side of his new manager, the ex-animal bassist Chas Chandler. But only a few months after his arrival the man from Seattle was on everyone's lips. And by the end of 1967 he had not only taken guitar playing, but rock music as a whole into a new dimension. "Suddenly this stranger comes running along, and all hell breaks loose," said Jack Bruce. We follow Hendrix' numerous stations in this year, which was so decisive for him, when the incomparable jumped off the Rainbow Bridge.
In the USA James Marshall Hendrix had mainly been on the road as an accompanist to greats like Rock'n'Roller Little Richard or soul singers like Curtis Knight. The Englishman Chas Chandler had seen him as front man of Jimmy James & The Blue Flames in the New York Cafe Wha? on August 3, 1966 at the insistence of Hendrix promoter Linda Keith and had immediately concluded a management deal with him. To the music fans in England his name said nothing, to those on the European mainland certainly not. Renowned colleagues in the British capital had also never heard of a guitarist named Jimi Hendrix.
Fan of the Beatles - the Beatles as fans
On January 11, Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr attended an experience concert for the first time, and they left the club The Bag O'Nails deeply impressed. After that, members of the Beatles in different line-ups were repeatedly guests at Hendrix appearances, and it was above all McCartney who admired the dexterity of the American and his abilities as a songwriter. For the "Melody Maker" the Beatle weeks later wrote an enthusiastic pre-critique to the single "Purple Haze": "Hendrix and his fingers. An absolute ace on the guitar. This is another incredible Hendrix plate with the flashing teeth." McCartney was all the more off his rocker when on June 4, three days after the release of "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band", he joined George Harrison for an experience performance in Brian Epstein's Saville Theatre: Hendrix came out behind the curtain and played his version of the title track of the most famous of all Beatles albums. McCartney saw this as the "ultimate compliment" and one of the greatest awards of his entire career: "It will always remain a great memory because I adore him in every way; he was so perfect". McCartney also tried to put Hendrix's band on Magical Mystery Tour. Hendrix: "We were not known when McCartney asked us. He wanted to help us in this way, but we had the breakthrough before they had the film together."
The worship was based on reciprocity. Hendrix also recorded two versions of the Lennon/McCartney song "Day Tripper", one of which appeared on the album "BBC Sessions", the other had already been written with Curtis Knight and served as the title track of a Canadian LP released on Quality Records in the spring of 1967 under the number SV 1814 - one of the productions Hendrix was signed to under his contract with Ed Chalpin (PPX Enterprises). And in Ringo Starr's London apartment, 34 Montagu Square, where Hendrix and Chandler lived with their girlfriends at times, the 24-year-old from faraway Seattle wrote "The Wind Cries Mary".
So McCartney came too late with his planned relief action, the trio around the charismatic guitarist of Afro-Indian descent had already taken off to the heights, had put the music scene in excitement with the singles "Hey Joe", "Purple Haze" and "The Wind Cries Mary" - and then came "Are You Experienced". "Original and exciting", the "New Musical Express" judged relatively cool, but was in line with all other contemporary and later critics. Almost everybody! The US magazine "Rolling Stone" praised Hendrix as a "great guitarist and brilliant arranger", but nagged about his vocals, lyrics and compositions. The newly founded magazine, however, had this assessment exclusively in 1967 and corrected itself frequently in the decades that followed by ranking "Are You Experienced" at the top of all possible best lists (including 3rd place among the best debut albums and 15th place among the 500 biggest albums of all time).