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Thread: Noel Redding: I Dream Of Jimi 1976

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    Noel Redding: I Dream Of Jimi 1976

    MELODY MAKER MAY 1976

    NOEL REDDING: "I DREAM OF JIMI"

    Chris Welch Travels To Ireland And Finds Noel Redding Enthusing About His New Band...
    And Beset With Strange Dreams Of Hendrix

    "They've got a name for you people." Eric Bell settled back in a speeding Volkswagen as we wound through the West Cork countryside, and addressed the back of Noel Redding's head. "They call you Culchies."

    "What does that mean?" wondered Noel as he wrestled with the wheel to avoid donkeys and car wrecks on the road to the airport. "Country hicks.......that's what they'd call yer in Dublin." Eric, one of the great gitar players, ex-Van Morrison, ex-Thin Lizzy, and now a mainstay of the Noel Redding Band, chuckled deeply through his beard.

    Noel Redding, 30 year old veteran of the Golden Age Of Rock could see the joke. For The fuzzy-haired and bespectacled bass player had led a rake's progress through the pitfalls of the music business before he finally settled, exhausted and shattered by his experience. THE Experience, in a country farmhouse on the west coast of Ireland.

    Like many musicians who tasted fame and fortune during the madness of psychedelia, Noel was a shell shocked victim for several years after.....silently heart-broken by the death of has friend Jimi Hendrix . . unable to cope with the pressures that followed. A broken marriage, huge tax demands, the mystery of missing millions, and more shocks like the death of Mike Jeffery, who had managed Ilendrix and the Experience during their heyday.

    Noel is beset by doubts and worries, and in his cup, nursing a drink by the cold embers of his fireside at 3 AM in the lonely farmhouse near the rolling Atlantic, he talks of premonitions, and strange dreams, when Jimi Hendrix returns.

    "Jimi was a very strong personality and I'm sure that his soul is still there. But its cool, his soul is cool. "When he died, I was in New York. Somebody came in the room and just said "hey, Jimi Hendrix is dead." I'm not religious, but I went out to a church, and just sat and thought about J. H. So much had happened, so many things you wouldn't believe, and I can't even tell you about. Did you know they stole his gravestone in Seattle? They even stole his gravestone"

    Redding joined the Expenence almost by chance back in 1966. He had auditioned as a guitar player with Eric Burdon and the New Animals when ex-Animal Chas Chandler introduced him to an unknown American guitarist and offered him a gig as bass player to work alongside Mitch Mitchell on drums

    The Jimi Hendrix Experience changed rock history. But after the initial success and musical triumphs, the Experience turned sour and Noel left Jimi in 1969 to start his own band Fat Mattress. It did not last long, and in 1970 Noel was hoping to rejoin Jimi when the life flickered out of the guitar player in a London basement, as he choked on vomit while asleep.

    Four years ago, Noel tried to form another band, which released one album, called Road. It featured a bright new drum talent, Leslie Sampson, and they were beginning to make headway in America when they ran out of steam and gigs. Les went off to join Stray Dog, a three-piece backed by ELP's company, Manticore, and Noel moved to his girlfriend's house in Ireland.

    As he straightend out his head and quit drinkinga bottle of gin a day, he matured enough to feel capable back on the road again, with his own band. The clans gathered ----- Leslie came back from the ruins of Stray Dog. Eric Bell came from Dublin, and they invited a lecturer in dimensional mathmatics, Dave Clarke, to play keyboards. Last week, they added a rhythm guitar player and singer. They have released their first album, named after the nearby town, "The Clonakilty Cowboys," and have already toured the States, supporting Patti Smith. Now the band are in the throes of their first British tour, working their way around the country by van, from the West Country to Scotland.

    Was Noel disillusioned by his run of bad luck?

    "Yeah, well I was going through a bad time when I last saw you, when was it, four years ago, down in Dymchurch. I had tax problems and my divorce situation was upsetting me, but being older, I can handle problems easier now.

    "Like on our last tour of America. We arrived in Austin, Texas, and there was no equipment for us. A lot of people would have freaked out, but we just hired some and got it together. Then we had our gear stolen in L.A. We lost three and half thousand dollars worth of drums and guitars, amplifiers and speakers. So I turned 'round to ....... whoever was handling us at that time and said, "of course its insured!" Doom. It wasn't."

    "But we recorded an album and it's the first thing I've been satisfied with on record. And we've done some new tracks for another album, which are 600 percent better. That's why I'm going to strive hard and keep working. We want to get some gigs, but I've been informed that nobody has heard of me in England, Germany or America." Noel spoke with gentle irony, and stared into his pint. "I find that really weird."

    Apart from Noel's arrangements and Dave's lyrics, the band plays rock standards like The Move's "I Can Hear The Grass Grow," a version of "Lady Madonna," and the blues which goes down really well in the South.

    Was Noel finding it a strain, ....... running his own band after a long lay-off?

    "Oh it's all a bit mad. A lot of things go wrong, but I have friends I can ask for advice. And it's great working from Ireland because there are no distractions apart from this," and Noel tapped his glass. I'd like to build a small studio here. There's plenty of room at the house. And all the guys could stay there and work on the music. Last year we hired a local hall and we could set up the gear and play as loud as we liked."

    "To be honest, I didn't really want to get back into a group again. I've been around a long time and it is a nasty business ------ right? I just wasn't interested anymore. I always wanted to play music, but I was sick of the business. Now we've got a good band, and there's no idiots to fuck us up."

    Did the band get on well together?

    Said Noel: "Everybody has resigned. I've fired everybody. I resigned. They fired me, and I fired myself. You see, we've got a good thing going. I'm in charge, and that's it. The rest of the band raised their fists in a menacing fashion and threatened to withhold their services.

    "Well, I think I'm a better player now. We did t some good stuff with the Experience, but I didn't know what I was doing half the time. "But they were the early days and I remember when they first said we could record on eight track. Wow....... we could overdub a tambourine."

    Noel has seemed to come out of the dark end of the tunnel and is a much more together person "Well, there's no acid man. I gave all that up. The old doperooney. I had withdrawals of course, but I was never into really heavy stuff. "We were all taking pills constantly, and I've discovered since, it is the most dangerous thing to take. Downers are the worst in the world. I was drinking a lot, smoking a lot, and the general LSD thing. "The whole Experience was involved in that. But after seeing a lot of people I'd known for eight years and didn't recognize them, I got very wary.

    To be quite honest, it's taken me THIS long to recover from being with the Experience, and I left them in 1969. " I was only 20 when I joined Jimi Hendrix, in 1966. But I feel fortunate I'm still here, and came out of it. It's weird when I think about it. When I think of Hendrix. I get very sad. At least I can carry on and be a musician.

    What was Mitch Mitchell doing now?

    "Ah, Mitchell only plays drums for hobby. He came to visit me last year. I still like Mitch, but it's a pity that he's not playing, cos' musicians should PLAY.

    There're all sorts of things I'd like to do. I'd like to write screenplays. And I've been advised to write a book. "I'd like to write the truth about Hendrix and get into the legalities. I've been told I lost about two million dollars, which is pretty cool?"

    "I remember standing at Toronto Airport when Mr. H got busted, right? I don't know what happened, whether it was hit or it got put there. I don't know. But I was the only one let out of prison. "So I dashed Into a taxi, went to the hotel, and immediately called the office to get the management. "I'm sorry we don't know where the manager is. We think he may be in Hawaii" "Now that's what I call nice. If Tom Jones or someone got busted, he'd be out like a shot.

    "I was the one who always wanted to know where the money had gone after a gig. We used to have all these meetings with lawyers. "And they'd say, 'have some of this chaps,' or 'take one of these..... oh, you want some money?' And they'd give you a couple of grand. They were keeping you happy.

    "And I really despise them, and I despised the fact this goes on in this business. 'Where's all the bread?' 'Oh give 'em a grand, it'll keep 'em happy.' I'm really angry about all that." "Everybody got ripped off the Stones, the Beatles. It's hard to believe, but its true, and they wrote all those songs. "It's just very sickening. I can't see why people can't be honest, because I'm a very honest person. I used to get pissed and be a raver and all that rubbish, but I'm honest. "I don't like liars and con men. It still goes on, and what's it all about? It's such a big business now if you do make it, you can earn a lot of money. And artists are tempermental and moody and get ripped off.'

    What did Noel remember of your first trip to America with Hendrix?

    "Oh, I was completely disillusioned with America at first. We went over for the Monterey Pop Festival with Brian Jones on the plane." Noel pulled a long face of despair. "But I got to know him very well and he was a very nice person. It was 1967 and I was coming out of the airport, when I saw a big fat bald guy with Bermuda shorts on, laughing at me. I wondered if my flies were open or my trousers had fallen down, or someone had put a sign on me. Then I realized he was laughing at ME! And he wouldn't answer. It was because of long hair, and he was just a dumb, ignorant American. And that completely disillusioned me, because until then I thought America was groovy. And you'd go into bars and get really nasty remarks. What can you do? You can't beat up some big Texan. They'd shoot you. But now its much more relaxed and long hair is accepted. Jimi was cool because he was American"

    "But we were in Louisiana, and we stopped for beer and cheese. Mitch and I got out of the car in the heart of redneck country with pink suits on and hair. And we said, 'Do you wanna come in Hendrix?', and he said 'Aw no, its cool.' And, of course, we didn't appreciate the colour bar thing. And Jimi said: 'They won't like me in there.' We dragged him in and the whole place stopped. And there was us English idiots in pink suits, and Jimi, black in a pink suit, with hair and all his beads. 'Six packs of beer and some cheese. 'Ow much is that mate?' The redneck's chins nearly fell off."

    After ten years in the music business, does Noel feel anything got better?

    "Nah, I don't think so. Nothing at all. But I want to play still and we've got a good band. Leslie is very good on stage. Everybody loves him and he's very outgoing as a personality. Eric moves around a lot on stage, whereas before he was a stick." The "Stick" appeared and it was time for a game of darts before a meal and a rehearsal.

    The band steamed into action with the minimum of equipment, Eric hurling fast runs and lines that owed as much to Django as B.B. King, while Les hammered his kit with eager enthusiasm. The next 24 hours became one of those famous blurs that Noel remembered. We visited the neighbors down at the cove and a country pub where the locals watched the strange townees loon around the pool table. In the evening a jam had been arranged at pub in Clonakilty, appropriately named Mickey Finn's, where a local combo known as Southern Comfort rocked and reeled to the delight of the town's young folk and an elderly clarinettist sat in to play "In The Mood." The jamming and boozing went on longer than the (Garda) police might have approved, and adjourned to a nearby hotel where the guests, Dave and Les, roused up the sleepy night staff to carry on boozing until 3 AM.

    " I never used to dream about Jimi," said Noel suddenly, when we got back to the farmhouse. "But one night I had a dream and Jimi came into the room. I said: 'But you're dead.' And he said. 'It's cool. I lust want to see you.' The next day I had a phone call, and my mother told me Mike Jeffery had been killed in a plane crash. Then I had another dream, and Jim appeared in my room, and I said 'You're dead.' The next day I heard that one of Slade's girlfriend's had been killed in a car crash. Then I had my third dream when Jimi appeared and David Bowie got busted In New York. The weird thing was, his roadie is Eric Barrett, who used to work for Jimi."

    Noel made no comment on these strange dreams, but swore they were true. It was time to sleep in that strange, half finished rambling farmhouse with the two foot thick walls, haunted by the ghosts of the horses whose skulls Noel found beneath the kitchen floor. I wished Noel good luck with his band, and went to bed leaving the light on.

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