View Full Version : Gerry Stickells Interview

12-02-16, 11:57 PM
Gerry Stickells, the man who "roadied" the Jimi Hendrix in the beginning November 8, 1966 right up to Jimi's death, has been living since 1969 in Los Angeles. There he worked as a tour manager, project manager and production manager for a number of artists - including Bette Midler and Steve Miller. When FUZZ interviewed Gerry, he was deeply involved in the preparations a new tour with Steve Miller.

Gerry Stickells seldom speaks of the old days with Hendrix. He was a bit dismissive when I first contacted him for an interview, but changed his mind when I mentioned that I remember him from when I worked at a music store on Shaftesbury Avenue in London 1966-67. He thinks namely that it is hard to answer questions from journalists who are too young to remember how different the rock industry was then.

The Jimi Hendrix Experience was formed a month earlier and only had time for five concerts (four in France and one in England) and two recordings when Gerry Stickells, an already experienced "roadie", was hired to take the tape and equipment to Munich, where Hendrix would play on the club Big Apple in four nights. (Apart from these jobs had Jimi Hendrix only played the half-dozen "jam sessions" in London - including a highly acclaimed with such Cream at the Central London Polytechnic School) since arriving in England.

Q - What was your first reaction to Hendrix's music?

GS - My own reaction to the music at the time was that it was quite fun, but it is difficult to express it now, but then it was not, "This is absolutely fantastic." You learned to like the time ... I remember a gig Jimi where the organizers thought it was so bad that they gave us our Jack and said, "Go home!" ... But of course, his talent was quite obvious , there was the issue of teaching the audience to appreciate it. People's reactions were not just, "Wow, this is great" immediately, it was more like, "Who is this strange kid?" You know, with the clothes and everything. To walk in the street next to Jimi in London in 1966, they got a lot of strange looks, you know.

People find it very difficult to understand it today, but in the beginning we played in pubs, you know, for a few hundred persons. As described in rock history, Jimi was an instant hit, but it was not, it was a lot of work. I remember that we played at Scotch Of St James, for free, just to convince the agent that we were worthy to be booked ...

Q - I remember that I was a bit puzzled by Jimi myself the first time I saw him. But when I spoke with him, he was so polite and genuine, they liked him immediately.

GS - Yes, but it was the side of him that the audience did not see, that he was promoted as some kind of "savage". All promotional went out on how crazy he was. Those who were not around then can not understand it, for all that you are reading now written with today's perspective, not contemporary. And it was very different then.

Q - You drove all the equipment in a small van, then, right?

GS - Yes, it was part of my employment, I was standing in the car, I had a little Ford Thames van. On the first US tour, I had a station wagon, the whole equipment could fit in it easily. Then there where the first jobs in Munich. I took everything with me on the train! I got the help of a porter when we got there. When you talk to people today, they don't realize there were no road cases then, you had to bring all that luggage, amplifiers and they just went up the ramps into the aircraft as they were and you had to keep your fingers crossed ...

Q - What was your PA? -

GS - We had that kind of player, four tolvor: we had two pieces in the beginning, and then we bought two more. And ordinary Marshall amplifiers. (100W "PA" model with four dual inputs with individual volume controls for each, and a set of tone controls similar to those on guitar amplifiers, eds. Note.) We just put it on the floor, curled up until it became feedback, and backed off a little. And it was our backup guitar amplifier also, on the guitar amplifier and we just took the PA amplifier to guitar and drove the song through it with ... We had no other reserve gadgets either, just a few drivers, and a bunch of tubes. Sometimes we had to tell Jimi to keep talking to the crowd for a while, while we changed the tubes in guitar amplifier, because they did not last long, only one, or one and a half shows, perhaps, where they KT66 deuce. And then we had a routine when I got up on stage and helped him change a guitar string when he was struck by them, for we had no spare guitar either. He continued to play with the band he held the guitar up so that I could put on an E-string; it was always the one who went off, and he tuned up without stopping the song.

Q - Were there PA systems on the premises in the United States?

GS - Yes, sometimes, if you played the Fillmore there was a PA, of course. Otherwise, you know, you did not sound so great in some places, in which case, apart from the festivals. If at the Fillmore, for example, which was considered a great gig, it was a so-so 11-1200 pers! Later we played at larger venues, such as the Forum, of course ... and it is strange, when you're talking today with people who were there, they say - "It was so damn loud!" - And it may not have been so damn high , the drums were not even miked, damn! It was a small Altec Voice of the Theatre on the edge of the stage, and a guy there who mixed it, and it was not even mixed out there in the audience then! So it may not have been so damn loud. So everything is relative ... it's just that's what people remember.

Q - And when you go on tour now, you have 60-70 kilowatts with.

GS - Sure, when we go out now with Steve Miller, we have three 48-foot truck with, and it's just a man on the stage ... (laughs). I mean, he uses several more guitars in his show than Jimi ever used in his whole life!

Q - Another idea of ​​Hendrix, is he destroyed a bunch of guitars, but it is not true, right?

GS - No, we did not even have a spare instrument in the beginning, as I said, so he had to take care of it - but then we had one which he broke, I used to put back together every night, you know, nail a board on back - center section and the neck put together, but the body was in several pieces, so I nailed it together, it was hardly noticeable from the front, and he smashed it again next time!

Q - People are still discussing about his effects and how he linked them, you should know. because you switched everything up every time ...

GS - Well, in the beginning we had only the amplifier and the Fuzz Face - that was all. But otherwise, later, apart from the experiments with stuff like Roger (Mayer) was built, it was only a wah-wah and a Fuzz Face. We had not even a wah wah pedal until we came to New York and played Burning Of The Midnight Lamp. It was more or less the first time he used a wah-wah, in the studio. Apart from a couple of small things that Roger built, and used mostly in the studio, there were no more. Jimi got a lot of different sounds by removing the back plate and turn on the springs and stuff, but otherwise it was he who personally created all the effects.

It is completely different today, people today do not remember what it was like then. I did an interview last year with a young BBC guy, and I happened to say that the best gig for me was the very first public performance, and he asked me, "Was there no one who was going to record a tape, then?" This guy was too young to know that tape machines were not available then ... they were only in space rockets, they were invented after for use in space! That is why I find it hard to talk about it with some people, because you sit there like a great-grandfather that tells them how things were then, and what was not then, and so on ...

Q - They where the first US tour where it was not planned, right ...

GS - Oh yeah, planning was non-existent. I remember we came to a gig and found that it had been canceled a week before ... But it was like that, at the time. There were no concerts in each city. They did not even have one in some cities ... you did not stay at many hotels, because the men had long hair, and all. People forget all that.

Q - You said you liked the earliest gigs best.

GS - Yeah, I liked the first time the best, when we played in the clubs. Later it became very impersonal. When you are closer to the audience, they become much more involved in some way, it all feels more alive. There is a certain feeling of a great show, but it is not at all the same voltage as on a sweaty pubgig, when everyone is proximity to each other. They were fun days. We played on RamJam in Brixton with John Mayall, or Clapton or someone, and then that night they would travel on to the Flamingo and played all night ...
The pubgigs were fun.

And then other jobs Saville Theatre was good. When he played at the Saville Theatre they all came - you know, The Beatles, The Who, Clapton - you know, everyone. And it was different then, when there were no big bodyguards to take care of them, they were just like the guys in the audience. But the best way to see Jimi Hendrix was to go to some of the clubs, he was always out there somewhere and jammed. And that is one thing that you never see nowadays, a great star jamming out at a club. It would never work without bodyguards, and without anyone to check the rig, and so on. But Jimi never went anywhere without his guitar. A guitar, a cord and a Fuzz Face, and he was on the way. As soon as the gig was over, he began to look up someone to jam with. In New York you could always find him at The Scene jamming with Janis Joplin and Jim Morrison, etc. they were all there. But those were different times when....

Q - Nowadays, everything like that organized and repeated in advance.

GS - And not only that, it must be published and marketed, and disposed of, there a lot of people and TV cameras. Then it was just a bunch who got together to have fun. The entire industry is all about money today. That's probably why today's music seems to lack direction, it has wrong vibes. But we will not go into ...

Q - Did you have someone who helped you on tour?

GS - Neville Chesters came by later, and Eric Barrett, and then John Downing, all at different times - first it was Neville, and then Neville and Eric, and then John and Eric. John Downing, he was killed on the ferry, a bus driver went there to have thrown him into the drink. Eric lives in California today, and Neville lives in New York and hangs out with Noel.

Q - Speaking of Noel seems he right bitter today.

GS - Yes, I think he is. But I do not dislike him, or the other guy either. I must live in the present, not the old memories. And with all the fights and controversies surrounding Hendrix and money and who did what, I have chosen to lie low, that is why I have hardly done any interviews and stuff with people like yourself. I do not want to get involved.

LINK - https://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=sv&tl=en&u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.fuzz.se%2Fartikel%2Fhendrix-special-gerry-stickells

http://i118.photobucket.com/albums/o93/Grapost/Jimi%20Hendrix%20CTT/Tumblr_m2mujoZN5z1rqn0oeo1_500_zps256mrk3v.jpg (http://s118.photobucket.com/user/Grapost/media/Jimi%20Hendrix%20CTT/Tumblr_m2mujoZN5z1rqn0oeo1_500_zps256mrk3v.jpg.htm l)http://i118.photobucket.com/albums/o93/Grapost/Jimi%20Hendrix%20CTT/hendrix_stickells001_zpswodm5pby.jpg (http://s118.photobucket.com/user/Grapost/media/Jimi%20Hendrix%20CTT/hendrix_stickells001_zpswodm5pby.jpg.html)http://i118.photobucket.com/albums/o93/Grapost/Jimi%20Hendrix%20CTT/7340193_orig_zpsahqhxgdm.jpg (http://s118.photobucket.com/user/Grapost/media/Jimi%20Hendrix%20CTT/7340193_orig_zpsahqhxgdm.jpg.html)http://i118.photobucket.com/albums/o93/Grapost/Jimi%20Hendrix%20CTT/6316501_orig_zpstvzr195q.jpg (http://s118.photobucket.com/user/Grapost/media/Jimi%20Hendrix%20CTT/6316501_orig_zpstvzr195q.jpg.html)

uncle carmi
12-03-16, 03:53 PM
The interviewer mentions Noel. If this is from 2014, wouldn't they be aware Noel had passed away in 2003?

12-03-16, 06:07 PM
It was obviously recorded sometime before 2003. Gerry Stickells had suffered a stroke or something like it by 2014 and could barely speak and couldn't walk?
It would be nice to get the original interview which was in English obviously.

12-06-16, 09:21 AM
http://i118.photobucket.com/albums/o93/Grapost/Jimi Hendrix CTT/6316501_orig_zpstvzr195q.jpg (http://s118.photobucket.com/user/Grapost/media/Jimi Hendrix CTT/6316501_orig_zpstvzr195q.jpg.html)

Thanks for the photo Robbie, it has '2011' - Gerry was, sadly, definitely not "going out now [ie on the road] with Steve Millar" at this point.

12-06-16, 10:06 PM
sure is a nice interview, with good thoughts from someone who was there in the beginning. Very cool.

01-07-18, 01:35 PM
Yes, Gerry has had a stroke and is limited in his ability to travel now per his wife.