View Full Version : Marsha on the trail of Hendrix

09-25-08, 05:04 AM
The Journal

Sep 24 2008 by Barbara Hodgson,

"Marsha on the trail of Hendrix"

As her iconic photograph goes on show in a new exhibition, Sixties model
Marsha Hunt tells Barbara Hodgson about her rock ’n’ roll life.
IT becomes clear from the start that there’s little you could tell Marsha
Hunt about Jimi Hendrix that she doesn’t already know. The petite
American-born model turned writer can quote dates, times and places
concerning the musician famously managed by The Animals’ Chas Chandler.
She was in Newcastle yesterday to re-trace the footsteps of Hendrix, about
whom she’s written a book. “Jimi came to stay with Chas’s family in
December 1966,” she tells me, ahead of her visit to Chandler’s former home
in Heaton. She adds: “A literary agent told me I was born to write Jimi
Hendrix’s biography.” Marsha, mother of Mick Jagger’s first child, Karis,
reckons her mix of American roots and rock ’n’ roll life means she is
uniquely placed to write about the guitarist, as many aspects of his life
mirror her own. “There have been many books written about Jimi,” she
says, “but nobody’s writing what I’m writing; nobody can.”
She had already written several books, including novels and her own life
story, when she was asked to write the biography. “But when I researched it
I found coincidences in our lives that were extraordinary and bizarre.
“He came to Britain in 1966, six months after I did. The first place he put
foot into was an apartment I’d lived in. And he died in the house next door
to the house which had been my first home in London.” She says Hendrix
had also lived in Berkeley, California, where she’s from.
Marsha’s first novel featured a character called Celestine, based on a real
person. Researching the book, she discovered Hendrix had lived in Berkeley
at one time with a woman called Celestine, though she hasn’t established if
it’s the same person. “Now this is not a biography,” she says. “When I was
looking, what I found was a history of our race and a history of sexuality,
racism and rock ’n’ roll. It’s taken eight years but I don’t think one of them
was wasted.” She hopes the book will be published next year but won’t reveal
its title. Before coming to England, she’d had plans for an academic career
“but I got into rock ’n’ roll”. Now she feels her writing has brought her to the
point she should have been at. “It’s like I’m back on track. The book required
serious research about modern history and knowledge about the rock ’n’ roll
business between the US and UK in the 60s of which I was a part.”
During that time she also became a singer and was signed to the Track
Records label, home to The Jimi Hendrix Experience and, like Jimi, she’s been
to Newcastle, performing at its famous Club A Go Go. Did she meet him?
“Oh, yeah,” she says but adds they were very different people.
Martha’s career has also taken in acting and radio presenting but she sees
motherhood as her greatest achievement, suggesting that having a child
protected her from rock ’n’ roll excesses. She had Karis when she was 24
during her relationship with Jagger who is said to have written his hit Brown
Sugar about Marsha. This new responsibility limited what she could get up to
and, she says: “A lot of people did drugs and I didn’t do drugs; I was a parent.”
Karis, now 37, works for a charity in Los Angeles which collects and distributes
baby clothes and equipment to needy mothers. Of Jagger, she says: “We won’t
talk about it.” But she confirms Karis does see her famous father: “Oh, sure.”
Karis is a mother herself, with a daughter and son, making Marsha,
a youthful-looking 62, a grandmother to a seven and a three-year-old. Marsha
lives between Ireland and France. She has flown in from Paris on a fleeting visit,
firstly to attend the opening of a retrospective of work by Lord Patrick
Lichfield at Nunnington Hall, the National Trust property in North Yorkshire.
It’s there that the late photographer’s famous naked image of her is being
displayed. It’s now 40 years since it was taken but Marsha recalls the day
clearly. At the time she’d been in the cast of the musical Hair. She says: “It was
1968 and Patrick Lichfield (who’d been commissioned by American Vogue)
had a reputation not only as a good photographer but as photographer to the
Royal Family. “For me to get a call from Patrick Lichfield to do a fashion shoot,
you think I’m going to say no?” she laughs. “I was a chorus girl getting £35 a
week!” She posed with and without clothes. “In those days models did their
own make-up and hair so I was expected to do all that. “You can see bangles on
my ankles and wrists – they were just from my Hair costume.” It was a pose she
recreated for Lichfield in 2004, following surgery to remove her right breast
and lymph glands after she contracted cancer. It’s an experience she’s written
about but she tells me the disease neither traumatised nor stressed her: “A lot
of people get it and I did. I just thought, how do I deal with it? “I’d been filming
a documentary about it when Patrick asked me to do that picture again. It was
six weeks after my mastectomy. I think he really felt he was doing me a kindness,
taking this picture of me. He was trustworthy and I felt totally secure. I was sure
nothing would be seen that I didn’t want seen.” Three months after taking the
second picture, Lichfield was dead. “That was in the November and he died in
January, 2005,” says Marsha. “He was not even sick. It was just unbelievable.”
Over his 40-year career, Patrick Lichfield photographed every Royal Family in
Europe and many of the world’s most beautiful women. The exhibition of his
photographs, on show at Nunnington Hall, near Helmsley, North Yorkshire,
contains about 50 images, many rarely-seen. The exhibition runs until
November 2. For details call (01439) 748283.


09-25-08, 11:49 AM
“Jimi came to stay with Chas’s family in
December 1966,”

Where does she get that date from ? Jimi had the opportunity to visit Newcastle earlier than that but there's nothing to say that he did. February 1967 is the earliest definate date I can come up with (Jimi and Chas stayed there after the Cellar Club and Darlington gigs on 1st and 2nd Feb , confirmed by a quote from Chas Chandler).

09-25-08, 12:20 PM
“Jimi came to stay with Chas’s family in
December 1966,”She says 'Heaton', not 'Newcastle' (see the comma after 1966?).

Now, if 'Chas' family' means Chas and his wife, then Hendrix did indeed move in on 1966.12.06.

12-17-09, 10:21 AM
Heaton and Newcastle are the same thing. Newcastle Upon Tyne is the city and Heaton is a district of it which sits between the districts of Jesmond and Byker.

The flat in Heaton is where Chas lived with his mother until he moved to London when the local band he was in (the Animals) became famous in 1964.


The date you have for Jimi moving into Chas' flat in Heaton is incorrect - 6th December 1966 was the date Jimi moved to 34 Montagu Square, London.


www.hendrixnortheast.co.uk (http://www.hendrixnortheast.co.uk)