Rock and Roll Memoire #15

Jimi Hendrix

    We, the Rahgoos (later to become Gandalf ), played at the Club Car in Greenwood Lake NY, right over the New York/ New Jersey state line where 18 year old kids went to drink legally (NJ was 21). There were many clubs there and we once saw Little Richard and his band at the Long Pond Inn, it must have been between '65 & '67. He had a big band with horns and two lead guitarists. Richard was great (he is always great)! All the way to the right was a rather straight looking cat, who could definitely play the blues! To the left was Jimi, with sort of a processed beatle haircut and beatle boots (as we called them at the time). Right away I knew there was something special about this guy- his playing was unique, so fluid and thematic. And then he did his "playing with teeth"!

I went one time to the Cheetah discoteque in NYC and saw Curtis Knight. Jimi was his lead man also.

And when we later played at the Night Owl Cafe in Greenwich Village, all the musicians were buzzing about this cat who was around the Corner at the Cafe Wha?, Jimmy James and the Blue Flame. I thought I had seen him sitting at the Night Owl a few days earlier, and from the descriptions, I had a feeling he was the same guy I saw with Little Richard. I tried to coerce my bandmates to go with me on our break to see the show, but no one would spring for the two dollar cover charge. So I went alone. Wow! He was now playing with only two sidemen (I don't think it was Chad and Mitch- this was before he went to England) and was totally freaky. It was a sparse crowd in a dinky club, but he did the whole thing anyway- played with his teeth, and burned his guitar on Wild Thing! Amazing. There was another club uptown called Steve Paul's Scene, that would have very hip blues cats and some of the great bands (I saw Traffic as a three piece there- Wow!). One night a late jam developed with Buddy Guy and Jimi and I forget who else- Jimi set up with a small amp and drove the hell out of it- no fuzztone here- just raw honest distortion! He remains my favorite guitarist from that era, and he really influenced my music at the time.

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