Hendrix In Detroit: Voodoo Child Rocks F1 Garage

Cuz I'm a Voodoo Chile...

I was blessed—or so you may think—to be one of those who heard/saw Jimi play live. It was back in—what, 1968?—at Detroit's Masonic Temple. I'm indifferent about having heard Jimi that particular evening, though, for two reasons.

First, Soft Machine, playing a warm-up role to Hendrix, completely stole the evening, between an incomparable light show and music that matched. If you've never heard Slightly All the Time from their Third release, reading this blog just paid off for you in spades. For me, this is one of those "desert island" recordings. Need I say any more? CONDITIONS: You should not be interrupted nor distracted in any way while listening to this piece for the first time, so maybe "lay back 'n groove on a (sunny) day" with this on your MP3 player, away from the Frisbee players, or wait until you know you have the house/apartment/yurt to yourself.

Back to the concert. Hendrix not only came on stage very late, but proceeded to put on one of the worst shows of his brief career with the Experience. In either Charles Cross' Room Full of Mirrors: A Biography of Jimi Hendrix or Kramer and McDermott's Hendrix: Setting the Record Straight (I don't remember which, but both are great reads), the author(s) point to Jimi's Cherokee blood vis a vis his reaction to alcohol as the culprit. Some 39 years later (!), I surmise this probably accounted for the exhibit we saw at Masonic that evening.

But I'm still very much a fan. So if you've got a moment, I'd like to relate another Hendrix, uh, "experience." The scene again is downtown Detroit, this time hosting its first Formula 1 Grand Prix event, with the Renaissance Center garage being given over to the likes of Team Lotus, Renault, McLaren, Ferrari, and the like. After checking out some decent bands playing in Hart Plaza and hoisting a few, fellow F1 fanatic Dave Collie (RIP) and I started indiscriminately yanking on RenCen garage doors until, voila, our "Open, Sezme" command was magically acknowledged!

Strutting in like we belonged, what was that we heard? Getting louder as we approached Team Lotus? You betcha...those famous opening bass lines to Voodoo Child eminating from a pair of very sizeable speakers. It was fabulous. And LOUD—reverberating off of that massive concrete structure where another "Jimmy"—he of the Teamsters—is reported to be forever entombed. (A Pillar of Esteemed Citizenship?) Anyway, I don't think I've ever heard that track (no pun intended) sound so good. And yes, a rubber frog hung from the ceiling of the Renault garage.

What I didn't know—until last year—is who was responsible for those fabulous bass lines. I just assumed it was Noel Redding and let it go at that. But then I rented Classic Albums: Jimi Hendrix: Electric Ladyland from Netflix. You should, too. For the Hendrix fan, the DVD is so interesting, and so well produced, it very well may end up as a purchase for my library. Heck...it's an EXPERIENCE!

So who is our mythical bass player? I'm not going to tell you, but you may click here if you'd like to spoil the surprise with a hint.