This page collects together some information on the legendary meeting of John McLaughlin and Jimi Hendrix for a jam at the Record Plant studios in 1970. There is so much confusion and speculation about this meeting that bootleg recordings carry different cuts called the same thing and the same cuts which are called something different. Can anyone shed light on all this?...
Guitar Player Magazine, September 1975
I first met Jimi in New York, through Mitch Mitchell, who had been with Georgie Fame and the Blue Flames. I used to play with Georgie years and years ago, but at that time I was with Tony Williams' Lifetime. Mitch was just really nutty about Lifetime. He came over and said, "You better come down to the Record Plant because we're recording tonight; just come on down."
When I got there, Mitch wasn't actually there at all. There was a guy called Buddy Miles playing drums. I didn't know Buddy at the time; I just saw this guy who was playing some boogaloo. So I played, and then Jimi came and joined in. Dave Holland [Miles Davis' bassist] was there, and we played all night -- it was really nice.
Jimi used Marshall amps and would vary between a white custom Gibson Les Paul and a Fender Stratocaster. I was using a flat-top Gibson with a pickup on it. We worked some chords out but nothing complicated. We were just jamming.
How familiar he was with me, I have no idea. Because Mitch was really crazy about what Lifetime was doing, I imagine that Jimi was aware of us. Generally, Jimi was just a blues guitarist. I was into a completely different thing than he, though there was no conflict between our styles whatsoever. It's not styles that clash; it's people that clash. You can get the most completely opposite styles, but if people have harmony, it doesn't matter because it's all music. You can get Stravinsky to play with Miles Davis, because if they're harmonious, they're going to find something that's above them both. It's not like, "Don't play too heavy, man."
I just saw Jimi about two or three times after that jam at the Record Plant, but we didn't play together then. Every time we met we were in a rehearsal studio, and it just happened; I have no secret disclosures. Listen, they tell me they found tapes of Jimi and me. There's a whole hoo-ha about it, and it's such a lot of bull. When I asked them to send something I'd want to hear, they sent me something which had two or three minutes on it -- that's all. But if there *is* something, enough to make an album or two or whatever, then I want to hear it. And if it's good, I want it out; I want people to share it. But if it's not good, it's a ripoff. Jimi's been ripped off artistically since he died, just for the sake of money, and that's a ripoff of the people as well. So I won't put anything out until I feel there's something good, because I feel responsible for his and my own policy, no matter who says what. I know what's good, and I'm not going to do it for money. I'm going to do it because the *music* is happening; that's all. But believe me, if it's good, it's going to be out there.
Jimi was a beautiful guitar player. He wasn't very schooled; he had a limited knowledge as far as musical harmony is concerned. But he had such an imagination that he made up for it. And that's what makes things happen, because if you get a guy with all knowledge and no imagination, he doesn't play anything. Knowledge helps, but I'm not saying knowledge is it.
I don't know what all this talk is, like Jimi's some kind of god. He's just an ordinary guy. I mean, he's just like a nice, loving, sweet person -- that's all. He's just like one of your friends, you know? He wasn't pretentious or anything. He was just a guitar player; that's all he was. That's all he ever wanted to be. I mean, he got spaced, you know, but we all were spaced in our own way. But he was still into the blues.
My impression of Jimi was of strength really. He was strong, and that meant something. To me he was soulful. There must have been a better word for it. What I mean is that he was dynamic. He could do things with the guitar that nobody had done before. In other words, he was a revolutionary, but he still had a lot of soul, and that's what makes things work. If you don't have that, you can't make anything work. I think Jimi has had an effect on most contemporary guitar players. My influence on him is for him to say. I have no idea.
There has been this mystic status given to him, but I don't think he ever wanted it. All he ever wanted to do was just play. But he had this *thing* around him. I feel that he had it projected on him by the people who surrounded him. I feel he was murdered, frankly. Somebody gave him something. Somebody gave him something that they shouldn't have. I don't think it was intentional or premeditated. Well, I don't know, maybe it was, but I doubt it. Even so, it was like someone's going to incur some bad karma.
I don't know what happened to all his equipment and stuff after he died.The vultures probably came in and pecked him dry, pecked his bones clean. There's been a lot of bad stuff around his name, not the least of it being people who have been releasing his music. You see, he wouldn't like it without his having quality control, though Alan Douglas' is one of the best that's been out since Jimi died.
All in all, Jimi was a really sweet person and a beautiful guitar player
Extract from :
Black Gold: The Lost Archives of Jimi Hendrix
Noel Redding (Foreword), Steven Roby
Paperback 288 pages (1 March, 2002)
Billboard Books; ISBN: 082307854X
"In 1969, guitarist JM, who had just signed with Alan Douglas, began working at the Record Plant on the album 'Devotion'. Joining JM on the album were Buddy Miles on drums and Lasrry Young on Keyboards. While this album was being recorded in the Record Plant's lower level, Hendrix worked in the studio upstairs.
On one fortunate occasion, the two guitarists met. A few days after his arrival in theUS, JM recorded with Miles Davis for his 1969 album 'In a Silent Way'. He later jammed with Hendrix at NY's Record Plant, where Hendrix was playing with Buddy Miles, bassist Roland Robinson, and guitarist Jim McCarty (of BM Express). At the request of Mitch Mitchell, JM went to the Record Plant with the intention of jamming with Hendrix, not recording.
In 1996, I interviewed JM and asked him how the jam with Hendrix took place.
'It was through Mitch Mitchell. Mitch and I go back to working with Georgie Fame in the early 60's. In 1969, I was playing with Tony Williams. Mitch was a big fan of his and would come to see us play at the Vanguard. One night Mitch invited us to the Record Plant. I came down with Larry Young and Dave Holland (MD's bassist 68-70). Basically, we played, but it was difficult because at the time I was using a hollow-bodied acoustic.....like a country guitar. The volume on it was so low and Buddy Miles was playing drums so loud. Dave Holland was there and Jimi played electric. It wasn't really a playing session....it was just hanging out....having a good time. I've only heard a little bit of tape, about two or three minutes, that's all they sent me. It sounded terrible to me.' An energized Hendrix and Buddy Miles dominated the three jams based on blues riffs, and JM's guitar static was too distracting to make this a great moment in rock history.
In 1974, Alan Douglas discovered the tape of of JM and Hendrix jamming and was ecstatic: 'the tape we have of them together is not only a historical thing, it's very exciting. It's going to have a heavy impact on the musical audience. It's Jimi playing in a bag that's never been released before'. Douglas quickly drew up a promotion campaign and started feeding the press teasers about the jazz-fusion material he had on tape between JM and Hendrix. Oui magazine reported in Feb1975 that Reprise would release one album of this material and Nemperor Records (JM's manager's label) would come out with an alternate one. Afetr hearing a sample of these jams, rock critic Dave Marsh wrote in Penhouse Magazine: 'The JM/Hendrix tapes are reportedly ten hours long.....once they got started, JM and Hendrix achieve the sort of interplay that producers of supersessions always seek but rarely discover'.
Mysteriously, neither record was released and the boasts about hours of recordings full of non-stop jamming were silenced when archivist John McDermott explained in his book "Sessions": 'All that remains of this special summit (March 25 1969) is one thrity-minute reel of recording tape.' No one seems to know what happened to the recordings that inspired Douglas to say, 'I felt like I had been to Tibet.'
JM was happy that this project was aborted. 'They were looking to squeeze as much money as possible out of what to me was a scam', he later explained. 'Jimi had already been scammed by these people, because most people will want to buy something on the strength of the name.. Jimi's name and my name, and who ever else was there - it was just a scam. For me, I would have been delighted to see something good to have resulted from it, but it wasn't a recording session. I didn't play very long. There were other guitar players down there. They were all playing good and Jimi sounded great. Jimi was a revolutionary like Coltrane. He could do things with the guitar that nobody has ever done before. We all owe him a great deal'.
FOOTNOTE: When the much anticipated jazz influenced Nine to the Universe LP was released in 1980, the fabled JM/Hendrix jams were not included. The thirty minutes of the JM/Hendrix jams have surfaced in the collector's network and apparently this is all that remains of the loosely organised jam that JM said 'lasted from two til eight in the morning'. If other reels exist from the 6-hour session, they have not surfaced. Since JM was not too thrilled with the short sample tape that Alan Douglas gave him, it is unlikely he would ever approve a future release. The songs that appear on the thrity minute tape are "Drivin' South", "Everything's Gonna be Alright", and some experimental improvisation jams."
Bulletin board entries from Experience Hendrix - "The Official Online Jimi Hendrix Magazine"
The following is a reprint from the JIMI newletter (winter'94/'95 issue 36). This review was about a Hendrix bootleg CD -
THE McLAUGHLIN SESSIONS
During the spring of 1969, John McLaughlin joined Hendrix, Buddy Miles and Dave Holland at the Record Plant for an informal instrumental jam. About 20 minutes of this workout is available on collectors tapes. The recording features Jimi's jazz-rock interpretation of the 'Drivin' South' theme followed by a spirited blues arrangement. The McLaughlin Sessions is a 76-minute release that delivers only the first 12-minutes of the jam, with additional material taken from the 5/14/69 studio session with Larry Young, plus three other "Nine To The Universe" tracks.
Looking at the unfamiliar titles on the liner sheet, the listener may believe he has stumbled onto a treasure trove of "lost" Hendrix recordings. However, the titles are simply the result of a producer's vivid imagination. Shamelessly inacccurate liner notes cite the participation of John McLaughlin on four additional tracks. In fact, the liner notes are almost uniformly incorrect. The source material is derived from multiple generation copies that suffer from inexplicable edits and fadeouts. Another criticism is the arrangement of the 10 selections on just four CD tracks so that quick access of each individual performance is impossible.
The CD begins with 'Livin' at the Burwood', part of the 'Young/Hendrix' jam featured on "Nine To The Universe". This jazz-fusion piece provides some intense interplay between Jimi and keyboardist Larry Young from Tony Williams' Lifetime. Other tracks from the session include 'World Traveller' (two takes, with the second being a continuation of the first); and the 11-minute 'My Brother's Dead' aka 'It's Too Bad', a slow blues highlighted by Jimi's heartfelt vocal.
The second CD track consists of 'Tribute To Donna', which is most of the uncut 'Message Nine To The Universe' jam with Buddy Miles and Billy Cox from May 1969. The beginning and end of this 17-minute performance are deleted on this release.
The third CD track begins with 'Tarnia', the actual Hendrix/McLauglin jam which also features Dave Holland on bass and Buddy Miles on drums. Hendrix dominates the take as he improvises creative runs that demonstrate his ability to play in a jazz context. Playing an amplified acoustic guitar, McLaughlin sounds almost emasculated next to Hendrix as he provides merely background support. In fairness, this track is a loose jam. Neither guitarist had prepared for the session. It came about at the time Alan Douglas was producing Mclaughlin, and organized the session so Jimi could explore the jazz realms and interplay with other artists of stature.
That's followed up by 'Doin' Gern', actually 'Drone Blues', the complete version that was edited for release on "Nine To The Universe". 'You Wouldn't Understand' is an instrumental version of 'Valleys Of Neptune' from 1969 with Jimi, Mitch mitchell, Billy Cox and Larry Lee. 'Uncommon Ground' offers the first 6 1/2-minutes of the 'Jimi/Jimmy Jam' from "Nine To The Universe" before ending abruptly.
The fourth CD track is, inexplicably, the first 40 seconds of the 'Young /Hendrix' jam, here titled 'Tarot Mistress'.
Various track listings from bootleg releases purporting
to feature John McLaughlin jamming with Jimi Hendrix:
(1-4) Jimi and Larry Young 1969 Record Plant, NYC, NY