View Full Version : 05. VOODOO CHILE SESSION

01-18-18, 11:51 AM






Eddie: Wanna have a listen to that?
Jimi : Yeah, that one right there
Eddie: Have a listen?
Jimi : Will I get some ripped off?

VOODOO CHILE [practise]

I'm a Vooodoo chi-ile
Something like that, you know,
Lord, huh, testing
Lord, I'm a Voodoo chi-i-ile

Whoa, wait, wait. Whoa, wait. Whoa, wait, yeah

Three. Yeah, something like that
A-are we in toon with you though-uh? I don’t think I am [tuning] Oh [tuning] Yeah [tuning]
Okay, okay we’re gonna take-just try one. We’ll play real quiet at first it’ll be nice and so-soft, if you want to...


I’m a Voodoo-oo chi-ile
Lord, I'm a Voodoo chi-i-ile



Well, the night I was born
Lord, then The Moon turned a fire red
I said uh….


I’m a Voodoo-oo chi-ile
Lo-ord, I'm a Voodoo chi-i-ile


Have mercy

Oh, yeah

The night I was born
Lord, The Moon’s lit up fire red
That’s all right
Said the night I was bo-orn
The Moon turned a fire red
Have mercy

My poor mothe-er cri-ied
She said: “The Gypsy was right!”
And she fell right dead
Right on the floor there

Fuckin’ hell I broke a string, heh
I broke a guitar straightener, damn!

Eddie: Anybody got a string?

[Group jams til Jimi returns]

Jimi : Oh, yeah, one more time, one more time. Have a ch’, have a chord already started,
it goes rea’, real, real soft chord, that you d’-all by yourself though…nice n’….Okay, one more time, yeah, nice slow one, yeah, that’s right Stevie. Eddie!
Eddie: Yeah, I’ve started it
Jimi : Is it recording?
Eddie: Yes
Jimi : Hah-huh, yay


I’m a Voodoo chi-i-ile
Lo-ord, I'm a Voodoo chi-ile


The night I was born
I swear The Moon turned a fire re-ed
I said the moment I was born, babe…

Okay, one more time, that was my fault, I’m sorry

VOODOO CHILE (7) [Master take with raw overdubs]

Well, I’m a Voodoo chi-i-ile
Lo-ord, I'm a Voodoo chi-ile


Well, the night I was born
Lord, I swear The Moon turned a fire re-ed
The night I was born I swear The Moon turned a fire re-ed
Well, my poor mother cried out:
“Lord, the Gypsy was right!”
And I seen her fell down right dead
Have mercy

Well, mountain lions found me there waiting
And set me on a eagle’s ba-ack, oh Lord have mercy
Well, mountain lions found me there
And set me on a eagle’s wi-ing, (Yeah)
It’s the eagle’s wing, baby, what’d I say
Well-ah, he took me past to the outskirts of infinity (Go ahead on)
And when he brought me back he gave me Venus’ witch’s ri-ing
Hey! (Yeah)
And he said fly-y o-on, fly on
‘Cause I’m a Voodoo chi-ile, baby
Voodoo chi-ile, hey yeah

VOODOO CHILE BLUES [:blues, composite: part of takes 4 + 2 + vocal o/d from 7]

Inside Electric Ladyland with Jack Casady

*Interview for ‘Blues’ magazine:
If you’re here then you already know Jack.
I first saw Jack on stage in l968 with the Jefferson Airplane at the Fillmore East in New York City. In front of the box office, Bill Graham had installed a biplane, mirroring the jacket of the band’s album, “After Bathing at Baxter’s.” It was as big as a Buick. The show started at 11:30 PM. When it ended, the sun was up. In between was Utopia and as the new day broke, a ragged band of ecstatic concert-goers was pushing the biplane up Second Avenue against four-lanes of horn-honking, one-way traffic. I had heard Jack before that – on vinyl and on the radio. Seeing him in person was measurably different and that experience, and the many others that followed it, have been jewels in my memory ever since. Jack’s music is at once technically accomplished, but it lives in the moment, that split-second between breathing in and breathing out. What I hear is heartbeat true, as new and nurturing as the first encounter. And it’s still a blast -- champagne-grade boogie. As a reporter by avocation and training, I have been witness to the evolution from Airplane to Hot Tuna and taken note of the solo and side projects, experiments, and spinoff bands that make Jack’s history all the more rich. Part of that history has been Jack’s relationship with the audience, back-and-forth banter between the stage and us in the seats, which invariably summons forth from the crowd at least one voice who speaks these words, “Say something, Jack!” Jack has something to say and says it quite well in the interview that follows. Conducted in 2010, the focus is on Jack’s work with Jimi Hendrix. The interview was done for the magazine, Blues Revue, where an abbreviated version of the exchange appeared in print. The extended interview was posted at http://www.bluesrevue.com/editor/editorpg.html. It is culled from virtually an hour-long conversation while Jack was making dinner for his wife, Diana. Until and if Jack writes his memoirs, this will likely stand as the definitive record of Jack and Jimi’s collaboration.
Bill Vitka

Vitka: OK, so you hear Stevie Winwood is in town and he's at Steve Paul's Scene.

Casady: Actually, he wasn't Stevie Winwood then. We went to see Traffic. And so we just went over to hang out and while we there listening, Jimi Hendrix came in. I learned that he had taken a break from recording nearby -- at the Record Plant -- and after the show he invited basically everyone who was hanging out in the club to come back to the studio with him.

Jimi had recently taken over the production duties from Chas Chandler so I believe he wanted somewhat of a party atmosphere in his studio. We went over between two and three in the morning and listened to him work on a couple of tracks. There was a great party atmosphere and then about 6 or 6:30 in the morning Jimi said, ‘Listen, let's play a blues.’ He asked me and he asked Steve. So Steve got on the Hammond organ, and Mitch Mitchell got on the drums, and he went over a song called "Voodoo Chile." He'd already done a short quick-tempo version that was not in a traditional blues style called "Voodoo Chile (Slight Return)."
“We recorded early in the morning -- 7:30 in the morning I think, and it was basically a long blues jam. We had fun. He was a very gracious musician to work with. When we got into the playing atmosphere -- sitting across from him -- everybody looked each other in the eye and played music -- and it was a ball! I think he broke a string half-way through the first take and then we did a complete full take after that.
“When it was over, Jorma and I and the rest of our crew got into our station wagon and drove off to our next show, I believe, Washington DC. We were on tour.
“Jimi continued recording for a couple of weeks back in New York and about a month later I got a call from Jimi saying, ‘Do you mind if we put this jam on the record?’ And I said, ‘Great!’ because we had no idea it would be on the record, we just thought it was a jam. So it became a part of the album, which I'm very proud of, and, of course, it's a good little interesting chunk of history.

V: That night at Steve Paul's -- the night you went to see Traffic -- was that the first time you'd met Jimi?

C: No. I'd met Jimi right after he came over from England. We (the Jefferson Airplane) were among the first bands to play the Fillmore Auditorium. And when Bill Graham became our manager about a year later, we had the advantage of being in-the-know about all the bands that were coming through the Fillmore. We had a practice facility next door so whenever any of the bands would come through we would hang out and jam and do various things together. It was back then that I struck up a great friendship with Mitch Mitchell and Jimi Hendrix and I really loved just playing with them. I loved where the band was headed. It was a good jolting shock to me -- and to the other San Francisco bands -- to hear a great, tight, professional outfit like that -- a trio. Same deal with Cream when Eric Clapton came over. It really woke up everybody about their playing skills. Now there was some competition and it (made all of us) get our stuff together.

V: I know Jimi played the Chitlin' Circuit before he went over to England -- but I thought the first time The Experience played the U.S. was at the Monterey Pop Festival.

C: Soon after he did his first shows over here -- particularly the first time he played the Fillmore --we were home (in San Francisco) and that's where I met the guys.
(Editor’s note: The Monterey Pop Festival was held June 16 to June 18, l967. Jimi Hendrix was booked to play the Fillmore West on June 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, and two shows on the 25th, l967)
C: Each time he would come through, we got together whenever we could. Back in those days you weren't constantly on the road, and by being in San Francisco you had a chance to meet musicians from all over the world. A lot of bands were coming from Chicago, the blues bands. We met quite a few musicians then and did a lot of hanging out.

V: So back around that time you were doing a lot of playing together with Jimi?

C: I think the first really concerted effort to play together was that album (Electric Ladyland) and the reason we did that was because we knew each other. When we went back to the studio it was just a natural thing to play together. I think at the time Noel Redding was either doing something else or working on something else -- so I was the bass player there who Jimi and Mitch knew. Later, when he came through San Francisco and played larger places, like Winterland and the Oakland Coliseum -- and I was in town both of those nights -- he called me onstage to play "Voodoo Chile" and a couple of other songs that were blues-based. Back in those days we did things like that. You know, the format wasn’t closed and rigid. It was a lot of fun and it was great for the audience too.

V: Can we go back to Steve Paul's Scene? It's 2 o'clock in the morning. Were you guys getting -- loose? Having a little fun? Maybe something to drink, something to smoke?

C: Absolutely. Don't forget we were musicians in our early twenties and our bands were all young, with an excess of energy in all directions. That's how Hot Tuna started. Jorma (Kaukonen) and I started working on material together in hotel rooms -- material that didn't fit into the Airplane format. Then, after Airplane concerts, we'd go off to clubs and find places to jam and hang out. Chicago, New York, DC, Texas, everywhere. We did that all the time -- and that's how we worked up material for Hot Tuna.

V: When you say "excess of energy" that's a state of mind -- as well as a physical state?

C: Yes, what you say is true. But the main factor is when you're young -- you have a lot of energy. You stay up all night on the natch, aside from not on the natch.

V: Thanks for being candid.

C: After years of hearing stories that go on and on about how people were blasted all the time, well, it really wasn't like that. It wasn't a toga party all night long. (Laughs!) The great thing about being a musician is that you have things you have to do and you have things you want to do. You've got to be functional enough to hit the chord change right. I would say, yes -- the musicians partook in all that was going on in the sixties drug culture. But still, you had gigs to get to, you had to show up and play. There was a certain amount of structure built into your life.

V: I had a conversation with Mike Finnigan who plays organ on two songs on Electric Ladyland, and he describes those two tracks, "Rainy Day Dream Away" and "Still Raining, Still Dreaming," as just him -- no bass player -- Buddy Miles and Jimi. I believe they had a sax player and a horn player. There was no one else in the studio. Eddie Kramer was there and there was no crowd, no audience. Finnigan said it was very quiet. They were playing for themselves and not for an audience. That's why I ask about the night at Steve Paul's because it seems the club-party atmosphere was intentional. And I have to tell you, that track is incredible. It really sounds like a conversation between you, Jimi, Mitch and Steve -- a four-way conversation.

C: That's the nature of that kind of tune. Also, the approach at that time, compared to what could have been more traditional blues and R&B, was loosened up by the way things were getting played. Jimi wasn't playing a specific guitar part to a specific vocal. (He was not) trying to keep it within the confines of a particular style. So that's what made it a new sound and of course it ran 15 minutes which allowed Mitch to use all his jazz sensibilities and Steve Winwood to play really great organ parts. Jimi solidified the focus. We all hunkered down and it felt like we were in a huddle -- and it was very much, as you say, like having a conversation together.

V: So, you were in the studio watching Jimi working on other stuff for a couple of hours and you're jamming, and getting to know Jimi better musically -- but then Jimi says, "Let's lay this down?"

C: Well, he was working on other songs and we were hanging out either in the studio or the control booth. Actually people were stuffed into a vocal booth while Jimi was working on other songs.

V: How many people are we talking about?

C: I would guess ... about 20 people? They were people you either knew, or sort of knew -- people with Jorma and me, the guys from Traffic -- not all of them but some of them. The evening evolved in a very natural way in that after he finished the set he was working on -- or it got to the point where he couldn't work on it anymore -- that's when he said "I got an idea and let's play this blues." That's how it was and afterwards everybody went off to do what they had to do.

V: You're there watching Jimi record an album that would eventually become "Electric Ladyland." And there's conversation -- but Jimi's working, right?

C: He's working.

V: So Jimi wants to work on something else. Then, he has this song, "Voodoo Chile"…

C: I didn't know anything at that point. It was his album. We were there just hanging out. It was that simple. There was none of this history. We knew nothing. We had finished a gig, gone to see Traffic, then come over to hang out with Jimi. We were watching him work and hearing some of his new stuff and everyone was very excited.

V: So there's no sheet music?

C: (long pause ...) I beg your pardon? (Laughs)

V: So, how is it that YOU start the song? You've got these great bass notes that you start with, and there's just this very interesting tension at the beginning of the song.

C: Well that's just laying down the groove. You know it's got to start somewhere.

V: Hey, don't be too modest here.

C: I'm not! I'm not! I'm just going ba-boom, ba-boom, ba-bam. Come on, it's just the blues!

V: I'm trying to tell you that your stuff sounds great and you're saying it's just elementary blues.

C: Well there's a little melody I throw in later on ... but...

V: I have never had such a hard time trying to give someone a compliment!

C: (after he stops laughing) Well, you know, in retrospect, believe me -- it was thrilling to play.

V: Because you could feel it was something special?

C: Absolutely! I was playing with Jimi Hendrix and Mitch Mitchell and Steve Winwood -- all great musicians. And from a musicians point of view that's what you look for, players you communicate well with and then seeing what that unique combination in that moment will bring.

V: Do you remember which bass you were playing that night?

C: It was a Guild Starfire bass that I had customized with the guys over at Alembic. Ron Wickersham and Owsley Stanley helped me put in the...

B: Owsley????

C: Yes.

V: And Owsley did what with the guitar?

C: Well, actually the first version of that guitar -- I can't remember if that was the version that got stolen or not -- that first version of the Guild...
(But) “Owsley knew Ron Wickersham (the design engineer who co-founded Alembic, manufacturer of high-end electric basses, guitars and preamps) and Owsley was very knowledgeable about electronics -- and my father was knowledgeable about electronics and we built amplifiers together ...
(Editor’s note: Augustus Owsley Stanley III was the Robin Hood of LSD. He seeded San Francisco during the Summer of Love, by some estimates, with 5 million hits of high-quality low-cost acid. He became the principal source of LSD for Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters. He was also an accomplished sound geek -- later responsible for the Grateful Dead's Wall of Sound).

V: You said your father was knowledgeable about electronics? Your father, the dentist?

C: Yes, my father the dentist, William Robert Casady, DDS. Owsley and I talked about how to expand the fidelity of the low end of the bass and how to get the instruments themselves to have a wider dynamic range. He talked to me about putting a pre-amp into the bass itself with a 9-volt battery. And that was the bass I played that night with Jimi -- the modified Guild Starfire bass.

V: Do you remember what Jimi was playing?

C: It would have been one of his Stratocasters.

V: And Steve was on a Hammond B3?

C: Correct.

V: And Mitch's drum kit? Was it a big kit?

C: No, he didn't have a large kit. By today's standards it was pretty basic.

V: I get the impression that in the studio with Jimi you could hear each other very clearly.

C: Actually, that was part of a sound problem. We did it so off-handed that I'm sure Mr. Kramer (Eddie Kramer) would have liked to have had a little more input when it came to setting up the amplifiers and other gear. My bass amp, which was actually Noel Redding's amp, was just on the floor with almost no baffling. Jimi's amp was right next to it and the drums and the Hammond organ. So we played to each other in a more-or-less "live leakage format." I think that's why Jimi asked all the people to come back in the studio to overdub an audience track -- as if we really had played live in a club -- because that's the kind of atmosphere he felt we had created on that track.

V: So you're saying the track was so spontaneous that the instruments were bleeding into each other?

C: Absolutely. But you'd have to check with Eddie (Kramer) about that.

V: So the people who were applauding at the end of the track were there while the track was being recorded.

C: Well they were there then, but they weren't applauding then. They applauded later (Laughs). That was the idea. There were people there, but there wasn't any way physically to get them all in the studio with us. So Jimi looked around and thought, ‘We've got all these people -- let's mix in some audience.’ So all the people who were in the control booth and the vocal booth were trooped into the studio where there was a microphone. As they continued to socialize, they played the track we had just recorded while they chatted and talked like they were in a club. The whole idea was to create an atmosphere that was club-like. And everyone knows that's the
way he recorded it -- don't they?

V: So it was that same night?

C: It was technically that following morning. I think it was around 7:30 in the morning when we finally locked up that track and then beat it out of the studio. I believe it was only about ten minutes after we finished recording the music that Jimi marched the people into the studio. They babbled, talked, and yucked it up -- and then they mixed the two recordings together -- and we were out the door.

V: While you were recording the song -- you, Jimi, Mitch and Steve ... was there any conversation? Were you talking to each other?

C: While we were recording? No. If you mean in between takes or something ... well, I remember Jimi saying, ‘It goes like this, ‘ Doo-doo-doo-doo,’ and then he played a couple of riffs. And we said, "OK" and started playing.

V: That's it?

C: That's it! It's a blues, man! It's not re-writing the U.S. Constitution! (Laughing) Don't make it so complicated! On the album there were quite a few sophisticated and complicated tracks -- which I'm sure required some real forethought and arrangement -- but this wasn't one of them. I mean Jimi had an idea for the basic arrangement -- and once we got the feel after half a take -- we had the gist of where we were going. Jimi broke a string, and while he was putting a new string on, the rest of us noodled around. And when Jimi finished putting on a new string, then we started the track in earnest. I think the timing was very good. We captured it while we had an idea of what to do, but at the same time we hadn't played it to death. It really had the raw, first-time feel to it -- because it really was.

V: But only a few words were exchanged?

C: I guess but I don't remember.

V: Even if you don't remember what Jimi said, was he in a good mood?

C: Everybody was in a good mood. We wouldn't have done it otherwise. We weren't fighting. We weren't in the band together. (Laughs) Don't forget I had the Jefferson Airplane. I had plenty of that. It was a ton of fun for me to go over to Jimi's studio and just play music with people -- without all the politics. Now, they (The Experience) were going through politics of their own because, I believe, Jimi and Noel were at loggerheads -- and I think that's probably the only reason that track happened and the only reason that I, as a bass player, got to play on the album.

V: You said you didn't know the track was going to be on an album?

C: We were just goofing around. I mean it was a great track and all, but we figured Jimi's making an album. At that point nobody knew he was making the double album. I don't even think even he knew that's what it would become. Also, this was the first time he produced himself -- and he had a much more open format and spent a lot more time in the studio making that album than anything before. It was not unlike what the Jefferson Airplane did with “After Bathing at Baxter’s." We spent three months making that album -- which was unheard of then.
“At that point (in time) Jimi had had the success of his previous album which gave him the cache to go in the studio and call some of the shots. That's what a lot of bands were doing, or starting to do. That had never happened in the business before. You'd always had a producer. You always had some guy that would come in and say, ‘We need a three minute song’ and ‘We need another three minute song’ and ‘You can't have a seven minute song here!’ But everything started to open up that year -- and I believe one of the reasons was that albums started to sell (not because of a single but) for all the music that was on them.

V: Meaning -- albums sales weren't driven by just hit singles anymore.

C: Exactly. I think the reason it worked was because you now had FM radio playing 15-minute cuts on shows that AM radio would never play. You had DJs that were doing all-night shows for the people who stayed up all night...

V: Alison Steele, Scott Muni, KSAN...

C: So you finally had a place for it to happen, and to be heard.

V: Then, Jimi calls you -- about a month after you recorded "Voodoo Chile" and asked if he could put it on the album?

C: Yes. I remember I was in San Francisco at our office at 2400 Fulton Street when I got a phone call and it was Jimi. He said, ‘Do you mind if we put that track on the album?’ Of course I didn't mind. So he sent out some release papers, which I signed, and there it was on the album.

V: Was there conversation then between you and Jimi?

J: You know that's a good question. Yeah, I think it was actually him who called. I was going to say it was someone who spoke for him who called ... but I think I remember he called himself.

V: I know you're proud of this. Many people think it's a landmark. What do you think of the song? What do you think of the album?

C: When the album came out I thought it was a brilliant for many reasons -- not the least of which was the sonic quality and atmosphere that, even by today's standards, is really special. To me, that was part of the key -- when you heard it you were in the world of Electric Ladyland. I know this going to make me sound like an old geezer, but when you put the needle down on (that) record you were just transported to that world. That's what I thought was so great and naturally I was proud to be a part of it. Every track was, you know, like Bob Dylan's "Blonde on Blonde." It was that great. It stood up to repeated playing and it had a certain atmosphere and a musical quality that hadn't been heard up to that point.

V: It does seem to have its own individual identity, right?

C: Absolutely. And that was the thing about albums. Up until that time, albums were just a collection of singles. (This was a new) era where, when a band or artist recorded an album, you would get an idea about where that artist was on his musical journey of development. You would get a real slice of where he was and where he wanted to go. That's why, quite often, albums would change pretty drastically from time to time.

V: Like a marker of an evolution. I think that's why, for people like me, I grew up with The Beatles -- you can feel them growing up musically -- evolving musically.

C: Absolutely.

V: Back to “Voodoo Chile.” Did Jimi have lyrics when you recorded?

C: Yeah, he sang.

V: So as you guys play, as you're making it up, he's singing those lyrics at the same time?

J: Yeah, we played it like we were onstage.

V: When you say that, it makes that moment all the more amazing to me. He wasn't reading lyrics, right? He was just making them up, as far as you know.

C: No I don't know that. I would imagine he had the lyrics done and, you know, people are not really as disorganized as you make out. (Laughs). Yes, in this case, I had the feeling that in this case he had his lyric content pretty well together.

V: The reason I asked was because Finnegan said when they did "Rainy Day Dream Away" and the other track there were no lyrics. They just recorded the instrumentals.

C: It happens quite often, but in this case there were lyrics and he sang the lyrics as we played.

V: Do you remember the way Jimi was dressed?

C: No. (Pause) Clothes. (Laughs) You know we were just a bunch of guys -- nothing kinky going on here.

V: That's not what I meant!

C: It was all the way back to 1968! I think he was just wearing jeans and a tee-shirt. It wasn't the stage outfit you'd wear out on the street.
It's funny. You know, we were just going to run in, play a little blues and that was it. It didn't have all this history to it. It was like, play a quick blues, have some fun, and call it a night. I didn't go over there to play on his album. I just went over there to hang out and see what he was up to. I didn't say (drops voice and sounds very businesslike) "Let's play because I want to get on your album, man." It was the furthest thing from my mind and everyone else’s.

V: Am I right? They misspell your name on the album.

C: I don't know.

V: I believe they have an "i" in there -- instead of "ady," it's "idy."

C: It's a common occurrence. It's happened with others.

V: After the album comes out, The Experience plays Winterland, and when he does "Voodoo Chile," you come out onstage and perform along with the band. I’ve heard the bootleg. Do you remember that?

C: Yeah, Noel went on guitar -- he had a Gibson, double cutaway, a 345 I think, and Noel switched to guitar and I played bass. I think we did a couple of songs at Winterland then later on -- when they played the Oakland Coliseum, I played there too. The hook was that I was on the album. I think we did some other songs like "Red House" and a couple of others. And actually, Jimi got my name mixed up with Jack Bruce on one show and introduced me as "Jack Bruce." But, hey, it was OK. Jack-this. Jack-that. At least he got the "Jack" right.