Olympic Studios, London, January 1967. As soon as he walks into the room, Jimi Hendrix stands in his corner, his mouth hanging open. “Then once we finished setting up the amps,” recalls English sound engineer Eddie Kramer, “he took off his raincoat, plugged it in, played a chord, and I’ve never heard such a thing in my life. My life changed in a nanosecond. . »
Eddie Kramer will have rubbed shoulders with Jimi Hendrix for only four short years, but it is his entire existence that will influence this atomic nanosecond. After having collaborated on the recording of all the albums by the American guitarist who would have turned 80 this Sunday, since the mid-1990s the shadow man has been the main architect of the restoration of his extensive archive, of which he has already been unearthed from pyrite, but from which real nuggets sometimes emerge as well.
Last example: Los Angeles Forum: April 26, 1969, a new one (premiered last Friday) that obviously testifies to the bubbly inventiveness of the virtuoso, but also to his humor. For almost 80 minutes, for just 11 pieces, Hendrix improvises until he’s thirsty and plays one of the first rereadings of the starry bannerthat he would subvert for posterity four months later at Woodstock.
“Here is a song with which we have all been brainwashed,” he launches in an undeniably provocative tone during this show in which he will be seen both multiplying the calls for calm, addressed to a rowdy crowd, and joking with the police , which was probably salivating. at the idea of touching the baton. The phrase “Excuse me while I kiss the sky” in purple haze thus becomes “Excuse me while I kiss that cop”!
“His level of communication with the crowd is incredible, symbiotic. There was an intimacy between Jimi and his audience,” observes Kramer, who has worked on some of the most memorable live albums in rock history, including Live! of KISS and Frampton comes to life! by Peter Frampton.
The octogenarian -born seven months before Hendrix- recalls that the stage was becoming at that time more than a place of strict performance, but also of discovery and creation. At the LA Forum, the Jimi Hendrix Experience sets the evening on fire with a 15-minute rendition of Tax freean instrumental piece by the obscure Swedish duo Hansson & Karlsson, whose paths had crossed on a tour of Stockholm.
Giving a show was always a great opportunity for Jimi to explore, to push the limits of his guitar, but also of his mind.
Great guitarist, shy singer.
If the crazy expressiveness of Jimi Hendrix’s performance isn’t headline-grabbing news, the flexibility of his voice is still too little celebrated, thinks Eddie Kramer. “He was a singer who was not sure of himself, he regrets it. He always told me to hide his voice in the mix. I used to set up a small booth for him in the studio, so that he would have his back to the control room. I turned off the light and only left him a lamp so he could read the lyrics. »
I was cheering him on, but he never stopped thinking that he had the worst voice in the world.
Los Angeles Forum: April 26, 1969 it also immortalizes the imperturbable cohesion that united the members of Jimi Hendrix’s group, which did not have a single exuberant instrumentalist, but two, with drummer Mitch Mitchell. How did these torrential musicians know how to anchor each other, without diverting them?
“Mitch was actually a completely wild drummer, coming from jazz and Elvin Jones. [batteur de John Coltrane, notamment]says Kramer. In the studio, every time Mitch was looking for a great pass, Jimi would look at me and want to say, “I don’t know how he’s going to get his rhythm back.” But still he landed on his feet and Jimi laughed. I think the solidity of Noel [Redding] on bass allowed Jimi and Mitch to spin. »
Following Jimi Hendrix to the United States in 1968, Eddie Kramer became one of his top advisers. It was he who had the brilliant, and cheap, idea to build his own studio in 1970, the Electric Lady, in Greenwich Village, which continued to host the biggest artists of its time, including Taylor Swift, Daft Punk and Lana. King.
“Before, Jimi spent about $250,000 a year in studio fees. He said, “We’re going to build him the best studio we can.” And he appreciated it: when he had a session scheduled at 7:00 p.m., he always arrived at 7:00 p.m., ”he recalls about the one whose punctuality was not the main quality. “At the Electric Lady I was never late. »
But unfortunately he was only able to record there for ten weeks.
Los Angeles Forum: April 26, 1969
Jimi Hendrix Experience
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