Les années Before | Soft Machine | Matching Mole | Solo | With Friends | Samples | Compilations | V.A. | Bootlegs | Reprises|
Interviews & articles
     
 Jimi & Soft Machine - Univibes N° 8 - Novembre 1992


JIMI & SOFT MACHINE






PART ONE - INTERVIEW WITH ROBERT WYATT


by Caesar Glebbeek



UniVibes: How did Soft Machine get hooked up with Michael Jeffery?

Robert Wyatt: Kevin Ayers who had written quite a bunch of songs did come to London and looked around and gone up to various people's offices... Jeffery said: "Mickey Most will do a single for you, that means you've made it." We said, "Oh, that's nice". He said, "The only thing is that he decides what material you do and how you are doing it. So you put yourself in his hands and he will make you successful" and we thought "what's the point in that?" I think that they lost interest in us after that.. [Management] had another bloke there Tony something...

UV: Garland?

RW: That's right. And he used to worry about our dress-sense and say, 'look, you don't have to go mad, I don't wear a white shirt" He was very nice... and very smart... There was an amount of bad feeling with us from the start because a couple of people were interested in producing us and helping us because they were sympathetic to the more innovatory side of what we were doing. Where as far as I understood it the Anim office were more concerned with the route of turning a group into a proper professional pop group. And trying to get us disciplined to make [and] do proper songs...wear proper clothes and then we could make an LP and freak out a bit... They weren't interested in that...

UV: And what about Kim Foyley as Soft Machine producer?

RW: There was Kim Fowley certainly. He was interested in us. He wasn't a bit interested if we had a hit or not, he just thought, "oh, this is a group that I can make funny noises with."

UV: What were your impressions when you saw the Jimi Hendrix Experience rehearsing?

RW: The sound totally filled the room I couldn't even tell you where it was coming from. It was like a Science Fiction film where you were in an enormous place and you open a door and suddenly you are in a vortex, you know, without a bottom and a top and a ceiling, it was almost choking. I didn't in fact identify immediately particular tunes or instruments, [it was] just a sort of orchestral effect... this was something like total guitar, a total group actually. I think that people underestimated the importance of say Mitch on drums. Mitch his reputation preceded him, he was already a heavy weight... He was very fluid, he would just kind of 'swoop and dive' along with Hendrix, so that it all helped to make this kind of swirly atmosphere instead of that kind of ploddy atmosphere that most rock bands have...

UV: What about Mitch and Noel?

RW: They both had their role. I always compare it with the John Coltrane Quartet - if is very important that the bass player and the pianist stepped into these very simple anchor points... I don't think Noel's interested in improvising and aIl that. And I think that three improvisers wouldn't have worked... Noel and Mitch, if anything, suffered in reputation 'cause they were so good at being that one sound, getting the effect that Hendrix was after and allowing him to be the spectacle, the front of it...

UV: What did you think of Mitch as a drummer?

RW: I didn't expect it. You don't expect it in pop groups. You don't have to be a very good musician to be a good rock musician [!]. Mitch was holding the sticks right! In the end I start holding them wrong - you can break rules when you know them - and a lot of people thought, "weIl you can't if you play rock 'cause it's too loud', but he did... Jimi didn't actually display himself as a working musician the way a lot of the musicians do... If you listen to his records they were really the heavier side of the black funk of that period. He was interested in getting those rhythm's right. I do remember that he would work with Mitch on the drum parts. As the composer of the pieces he would have an idea of what everybody would be doing, or at least what the basis would be. Like he wouldn't just compose his own bit. Having said that, once they got the feel then they [Mitch and Noel] were as free as the wind... If we got flack for playing incomprehensible music, or for not playing hits, Hendrix was always [saying], "don't pressure them." He was very keen on people experimenting, I think he liked the fact that we were trying out unusual things more then the results.


   
"He was a master of organising a dramatic event... he couldn't stand boring bits and he would keep things moving or changing or tighten them up to get the boring bits out. He was ruthless like that with his own material. Don't let himself get away with anything...

   


UV: What about Jimi's character?

RW: He was so cool and so shy. Spoke quietly. I mean he had his act but apart from his act you didn't feel like invading his privacy in the same room, at least I didn't. I can see people did and it was very embarrassing. Sort of an illusion that because you admire somebody they want to have you breathing down... When he wasn't working he was usually protected by sort of a praetorian guard of leggy women... obviously rather more interesting than [talking to] some fucking drummer!

UV: How did Soft Machine come onto the 1968 tour?

RW: I don't remember a single conversation about it! It's more like being a private in the army, you're not at the generals discussions of strategy...

UV: Did you see much of Michael Jeffery?

RW: When we did see him every once a year or whatever it was, he seemed to be much more sun tanned every time! The management take on aIl the kind of hustling qualities off the musicians, so he can appear like a fucking saint, you know what I mean? Whereas lesser mortals have to do their own hassling... Yeah, you'd see more of Chas [Chandler]... I never worked out what they [managers in general] were for!

UV: How did Vanilla Fudge come onto the tour?

RW: Michael Jeffery was a bit sheepish about this - he said, "I know you got your time sorted out for your act, whatever you do, you know, 35, 40 minutes, 'but we got a fourth group on, so you got to cut it down to 20, 25 minutes." He said, "we didn't really want them but anyaoy don't make a fuss." And then the Vanilla Fudge arrived, and accompanied, I kid you notl, by two geezers straight out of the Godfather. You know, sort of scars down their cheeks, kind of looking around at everybody watching the equipment... and everybody including Michael Jeffery was frightened. That was the only word for it. And apparentIy according to, it may even have been Neville [Chesters], maybe Chas, Mike Jeffery got a phone call saying, "The Fudge haven't made it on the West Coast, they'd like to join your little tour." And they said, "no, we got our package tour." And they said, "you don't understand what I'm saying, the Fudge would like to join your tour, you don't want any trouble, the Fudge join your tour." And big and powerful though they were, everybody made a gap, even Hendrix played shorter. It was frightening... it looked like a straight Godfather phone call...

UV: Mafia?

RW: Oh, absolutely! They decided, they invested in this band and that this band hadn't done weIl on the West Coast yet... and they decided the way to do it [was to] stick them in just before Hendrix... And me and Mitch used to sit in the back doing little satirical routines behind the stage - every time the organist [Mark Stein] got down really awkwardly, playing with one hand, getting down on his knee, for I think a bit of [sings] 'People get readyyyyyy', we all would get down on our knees and behind backstage with our hands up in the air [sings] "readyyyyyy." And you saw scar-face looking and you would say, "oh, sorry sir" There was this really frightening atmosphere when they were on. We were all very glad when they were taken off. It was a failure...they certainly were spectacular, but their routine was actually so tight and slick that it didn't go down that weIl, because the rest of it... there was a kind of real wildness about it, the music there was a kind of looseness, a freedom about it, that you can't manufacture. You can't manufacture excitement like that... I think Eire Apparent's roadie [Dave Robinson] complained about their equipment being shuffled off stage in a heap once instead of taken off, and was beaten up and complained to management and they said, "don't make a fuss", you know...

UV: How were the guys in Vanilla Fudge themselves?

RW: They were allright, they tried to be friendly...the only one I actually remember being unpleasant was the drummer [Carmine Appice]...[like] he was the thing and Mitch was shit... he [Carmine] had one af these kits that sort of looked like an antique shop...

UV: Back to Jimi again, would he pop in during Soft Machine studio recordings?

RW: I seem to remember him during studio work mainly on the West coast... but I remember him actually in there more towards the end of the year [1968] and then being in and out...

UV: Tell us about your demo, 'Slow Walkin' Talk', with Jimi.

RW: I recorded the song on the West Coast [at TTG, late October 1968] which I didn't use until years later [note: re-recorded with the new title 'Soup Song' and released in 1975 on Robert's solo LP Ruth Is Stranger Than Richard]. The vocal wasn't very good, which is why I think we didn't make anything of it... Hendrix came in and played bass on it. 'Cause I just did vocals, keyboards and drums. It was a kind of a Mose Allison kind of thing... he came in and listened and whispered something... He would retire to the corner and be a shadow and say, you know, "I could try the bass line an that, you wouldn't have to use it." And he got Noel's bass and you have to remember he's left handed, so he's playing bass the wrong way around, puts down a first take, a fucking Larry Graham bass line. He heard it once including the changes, the breaks and aIl that, and it was staggering.



> Zoom

UV: What about Jimi's ability to play rhythm and solo at the same time?

RW: Even the good ones, they'd have their rhythm guitar and then they switch a button and then they can play [the solo]... then switch a button and they'd have two things they did. I don't remember that sort of crude division with Hendrix at all... the effect of what I calI picking guitar 'cause what he reminded me of in his singing and his playing was actually more like acoustic blues picking people, who of course would do that. Like Spanish guitarists, they're using their fingers, they're not just trashing with the plectrum. WeIl you can pick a few notes at once whilst doing a sort of bit of a bass-line or you can do something at the bottom whilst moving a top-line.... There's lots of places on the guitar where you can get the same note but of course you can do different things with it. And his work on that, on actually finding different ways to get to the same note, so the effect to move from one to the other could be exciting. I mean of course this is what every musician tries to do but I just remember him being very conscientiously trying, always working the best in [the] most exciting way of doing that...

UV: He used his thumb as a kind of 5th finger on the guitar.

RW: Yes that's right. But also you'd have to have the imagination to hear it...

UV: What about ladies during the 1968 tour?

RW: It was sort of open season!

UV: Would you watch the JHE performances during that tour?

RW: Oh yeah! I mean, that's the funny thing 'cause I've been on the road with other people and you would absolutely not bother. I mean you found out what they were doing and you'd go and get drunk. Of course not every night but on the whole I would, partIy because it would never be quite the same and partIy because as a drummer... Sitting behind Mitch was ways on education... After aIl the psychedelic and roar there comes a moment in the evening when he'd [Jimi] take it right down, as they say, and do "Red House"... and your heart would be in your mouth. I mean your hair would stand on end, that was so beautiful. These hushed opening moments and the way that was played. I wouldn't have missed that, I mean every night you would see, you'd think God, this is a great moment of music concerts you've seen here, and even on the 20th night in Wisconsin you would realise that. But that would be the very simple thing, Hendrix playing the blues. It was so intimate.He brought that intimate blues to the masses in a way that the rhythm and blues movement didn't on a whole. They sacrificed that intimacy to be rock bands, so they used the shouting blues as the basis for the English rhythm and blues movement... This is actually an intimate quiet blues, that you wouldn't dream of doing in front of a rock audience. And that's it, they heard the blues sung like it ought to be sung. Because he was a great blues singer... Apart from being a musical gig, the going to a gig is also going to the theatre. And that's the thing with Hendrix - it was a theatre piece. And there again I don't mean this like a circus act. I mean everything you'd expect from a theatre, the drama, and the pace and the variety and the build-ups and the drops. I think he was a master at organising a dramatic event. He wasn't indulgent actually, he hated the boring bits, he couldn't stand boring bits and he would keep things moving or changing or tighten them up to get the boring bits out. He was ruthless like that with his own material. Didn't let himself get away with anything.... He wouldn't want to break the spell. He'd get on stage and there would be a spell and he had to keep that spell. And things can break a spell. We aIl know those gigs and you see three numbers and you think, "well fuck, I'm going to the bar"... but that's partly because Jimi wrote interesting songs that were aIl different from each other. They weren't just different versions from the same song...



PART TWO - SWAP-OVER- RECORDINGS


by Caesar Glebbeek


For many years there's been this rumour that Jimi played on the first Soft Machine single ("Love Makes Sweet Music" produced by Chas Chandler b/w "Feelin' Reelin' Squeelin" produced by Kim Fowley) - released 17 February 1967 on Polydor. Ian MacDonald wrote in his article on the Soft Machine in New Musical Express, 25 January 1975: "... The first mix of the A-side featured rhythm guitar by Jimi Hendrix... who happened to be down the corridor in the next studio doing his debut single, Hey Joe. The two groups dropped in on each other's sessions and became friendly - to the point where Hendrix invited Wyatt, Ayers and Allen to do back-up vocals on "Stone Free". Finally, however, both swap-over appearances were rejected in favour of alternative takes." The song which MacDonald is actually referring to is "Feelin' Reelin' Squeelin" which was the original A-side of the single until one week after its release Polydor switched the order around by making "Love Makes Sweet Music" the new A-side. In a recent interview with Kevin Ayers in Record Collector (June 1992) he answered the question whether Jimi had 'been at the session for the first single' with: "He was, but I don't think he was actually recorded. I remember him scratching around and I remember him liking the Iyrics to "Feelin' Reeling' Squeelin". Going back to MacDonald's article, he states that "Feelin' Reelin' Squeelin" was recorded at De Lane Lea Music studio in London. However, according to the Soft Machine release Triple Echo the song was recorded at CBS Recording Studios, also in London. But during January 1967. As far as could be determined, the JHE recorded at CBS on 13 and 21 December 1966. If Jimi was 'down the corridor' it could only have been in December 1966 at CBS, but not as MacDonald claims doing "Hey Joe" (recorded 23 October 1966 at De Lane Leal or 'Stone Free' (recorded 2 Nollember 1966, also at De Lane Lea). Unfortunately it's impossible to pin down where the Soft Machine recorded at any given period between late 1966 and early 1967 as they (just like the JHE) were booked into any studio that was available at any given time: Advision, De Lane Lea Music Ltd. and CBS. Also, to make things even more complicated, as late as 4 February 1967 the Soft Machine were doing a final overdub session for their first single at Olympic Sound Studios (just 13 days before its release!) - and who were in the same studio recording until 09.30 of that very same morning? Indeed, Jimi, Mitch and Noel... As "Feeling Reelin' Squeelin" was almost certainly recorded during several sessions spread out over several studios it's anybody's guess when the 'swap-over appearances' actually took place.

Robert Wyatt: I don't remember any of that really except that he did play some guitar... It [has been] suggested that that's how we met Jimi [but] we met him because we were already signed to that management and then they signed Hendrix shortIy after we had been signed to them... and using the same rehearsal rooms. So that's how we met... and they would book us into the same studio...

UV: So it is in fact possible that Jimi did play on some stuff?

RW: Certainly if he is, it's an academic point, because if he is on it it's in a very sort of low key way. He might actually [be] backing up Kevin's rhythm [guitar], I don't know, or David's. I just can't remember, I remember that yeah he would come into the studio...

UV: So which studio was it, Advison, CBS, De lane Lea?

RW: I don't remember...

Another claim about Jimi playing during or on a Soft Machine session comes from Kim Fowley, the producer of "Feelin' Reelin' Squeelin". He has stated that Jimi recorded his song "Fluffy Turkeys"(released on The Incredible Kim Fowley LP in the U.S.A. on the Original Sound label - year of release unknown) with a Soft Machine member. Years ago I decided to write to Kim Fowley but not really expecting a reply. Surprise! About nine months later he mailed me a postcard stating that Robert Wyatt was present at the 'Fluffy' session with Jimi.

Robert Wyatt: Thanks Kim! I don't remember that...



PART THREE - HUGH HOPPER INTERVIEW


by Caesar Glebbeek


Univibes: Were you a roodmanager prior to the 1968 Hendrix/Soft Machine tour in the States?

Hugh Hopper: No, not really. WeIl, only in England with the Soft Machine... I was in school with Robert Wyatt and I was in a band here in Canterbury with Robert, which then split up into Soft Machine...

UV: Wilde Flowers?

HH: Yeah, the Wilde Flowers was originally the band yes, right. So that continued in Canterbury slightly different. And Robert left with Kevin [Ayers]. But they were actually doing music of mine anyway, songs of mine anyway which I had written, that we played as Wilde Flowers... and then about a year after they've been in London, I think, Robert asked me if I wanted to be a Soft Machine eh, roadie, because their roadie had left or wasn't happy or whatever [but] I was involved with them anyway, musically and as friends.

UV: What did you do during the 1968 tour?

HH: Hendrix had one roadie who was Neville Chesters. And Soft Machine had one roadie, which was me... I had to set Soft Machine's gear and also both of us loaded aIl the gear. To start, there was only one load of gear, there was only one lot of Fender amps...

UV: Only Fenders, no Marshalls?

HH: No. At the beginning of the tour Fender actually provided, I think, something like three or four amps. Which had to be used for both bands, which was not a good situation. And in fact Neville wasn't told [about] this 'til we were getting on the plane, that another band was using his gear as weIl.... It could have been disastrous. In fact it was fairly disastrous anyway because it wasn't the right gear for Hendrix. It was too clean and not enough orbit... Neville did most of the driving... he wouldn't let me drive because he was the chief roadie... He was a nice guy in some ways but he was also very kind of obsessed by some things... he was very conscientious. He really sort of cared... we always got to a gig late but I mean he cared whereas I didn't really care. I only [was] just doing it 'cause I was working for friend...

UV: So as soon as one gig was over you tore down the gear and hit the road again?

HH: We started off, first of all, flying the gear. But this was before the flightcase stage. So in fact a lot of the things got broken, amplifiers got smashed, so in the end it wasn't worth flying. So we had to drive. So it meant driving overnight to the next gig... but he [Neville] was very conscientious and it really hurt him if something went wrong. But we were always late, every gig. I think we never were on time at all. Because it was such long distances...

UV: Would you stay in the same hotel as the groups?

HH: Oh yeah. Sometimes. There was no real kind of separation... more times than not we were in the same hotel. But sometimes we had to stay en route somewhere else, like in a Holiday Inn, because it was easier for us to go on...

UV: Kevin Ayers once claimed that the only reason he thinks the Soft Machine was on the tour was because Jimi liked the Soft Machine.

HH: I don't know. The basic reason was because it was part of the same management... There was no way you would be on it. Because that tour consisted of about six bands... Hendrix and us, there was the Animals and Eire Apparent, Alan Price... I mean it was an Anim agency tour... Most of the time it was just Hendrix and Soft Machine going around. And there was the Animals and Eire Apparent going on another circuit. Sure, obvious if Hendrix hadn't liked the band then there was no way he would have allowed it, or he would have made it heavy... Robert, and Noel and Mitch were quite matey...

UV: So what kind of problems did you have on the tour?

HH: It wasn't technically very difficult. It was just very hard long hours... and also during the tour more and more equipment got added. I mean, we started with very little equipment. Not enough. We ended up with about three times that. And various people would actually give us equipment on the way... By the end of the tour it meant that we had a truck full of stuf whereas before we had sort of a small truck half empty... There were times when I'd been actually loading this gear that I had taken out of the truck only a couple of hours before, loading in at 1 o'clock in the morning in this strange place, in the middle of nowhere in America, you know, to go somewhere else. Some nights we checked into the hotel maybe for on hour just to get a shower... So I was really starting to get disorientated and feeling strange...

UV: What did you get paid? Per week?

HH: Yeah, and it was not very much. I started off on 100 dollars a week. There weren't many expenses.... and Neville was very generous. He liked to pay for my hamburgers! It was part of his thing, you know... We were always complaining 'cause it was so hard, so difficult to get actuolly to the gig and set it up... the two of us... so eventually the management put it up to 150 dollars a week...

UV: Who would get things together if Chas Chandler wasn't there?

HH: Gerry Stickells. He was really the guy. Gerry was actually the guy that kept that tour together... in fact if it hadn't been for him, well... that could easily have been a real disaster for the tour. As it was, it was kind of limping along the whole thing. Because it was very thrown together. And we started off with a few gigs and most of them were changed. But then more and more [were] added as Hendrix became more and more known... but I always thought, compared with today when you have a roadcrew, thirty at least, three trucks, lighting. I mean it's a joke, two people! One person for Hendrix, one person for Soft Machine...

UV: Wasn't Roger Mayer around?

HH: Yeah, weIl, yes and no. He was supposed to be the electronic wizard, so he showed up at a couple of big gigs and then cleared off and didn't do a thing [aport from] having a good time... he didn't do anything. He just came over on the strength of having built Hendrix's Octavia...

UV: But didn't he do repairs to gear?

HH: No, no...

UV: Who took care of that then?

HH: WeIl in fact, nothing much really went wrong with the gear. Except that things would be completely smashed in an airplane, so that was gone...so, no, in fact a lot of things kept going and finally Hendrix sent for Sound City and Marshall amps from London, his favourite ones and ended up with aIl the odd gear anyway...

UV: Did they take off the Sunn gear at that moment?

HH: I think Soft Machine got that eventually if I remember... well everyone was using the Fender, right. And then Jimi got Sunn gear and I think he got a Marshall amp and Soft Machine had the Fender gear and so that should make things a lot better...

UV: Remember anything about the press conference in New York, 30 January 1968?

HH: There was a guy, who was this publicist [Michael Goldstein]... He was great, he was like the typical New York, Jewish PR guy... with this little revolving badge or something lighting up. Completely in the park... It was like the usual stories, like The British Are Coming, or they trot out every year...

UV: Were there other people helping out during the tour?

HH: Occasionally in a big theatre there would be a sound person or a lighting officer... It was nothing like today...

UV: Columbus, 3 March...

HH: One of Hendrix's guitars got stolen. I think it was in Columbus because we got there really late. I mean really, really late and we needed some help to carry the gear in, so one guy picked up... everybody was sort of taking stuff in... and some guy walked away with it... I think Fender gave him about three or four during that tour...

UV: Any after-gig jam sessions you went to?

HH: I remember the Shrine, in L.A. [10 February]. Before the gig we had the sound check and various people kept turning up, Dave Crosby and Micky Dolenz and aIl these people. There was a jam with Buddy Miles on drums... Electric Flag. 'Cause I remember they were actually on stage, they actually had a little American flag in a spotlight... I seem to remember he had a blow with Hendrix in the afternoon. L.A. was like that... we would put an amplifier down and someone would plug in immediately...

UV: Texas gigs...

HH: There was a guy who did the Texas gigs called Bob Cope, the promoter. And he was really on the ball... he was like an old-time promoter... he was a real Texas guy and he was really in charge of everything. Like if anything went wrong, that guy was fired... and very nice to the musicians... When we first met Bob Cope's crew, they met us at the airport... we picked up the gear from the airport and we came to unload at the theatre and there was this sack... it had Bank Of Texas on it... [us thinking] like a billion of dollars in the sack. And the American said, "don't dare open it", so we went back to the airport... We suddenly realised that Mike Ratledge's organ wasn't in the van... this had been loaded, the sack, instead of the organ, which was left in the airport. In fact aIl it was were returned checks!


UV: Smashing Up Time...

HH: It was usually very controlled anyway, it was aIl part of the last number. And Gerry Stickells was at the back holding the amp. There were times when Hendrix was pissed off in the middle of the tour, he wasn't happy, you know, because the sound wasn't very good...

UV: Chicago, 25 February, afternoon gig...

HH: There was a slope down into the theatre in Chicago, [Neville had] forgotten that he had already opened the back of the truck...

UV: So all the gear went out?

HH: The only thing that was smashed was a suitcase of mine... it was just like one of those sort of comic film moments, rumble, rumble, rumble, imagine aIl this priceless gear...

UV: Madison, 27 February 1968...

HH: The sound was fantastic. It was a fairly small place and a shitty little club, terrible, no room for gear but in fact it was a great sound...

UV: Mark Boyle...

HH: Mark Boyle was very pro Mike Jeffery. Because Mike Jeffery supported him a lot... you never heard a word against Mike Jeffery. He thought he was a great guy...

UV: Teamsters in Cleveland, 26 March...

HH: Neville and I got to the theatre and they asked us if we were members of the Teamsters, which was the drivers Union... we just sat in the truck while they were sorting it out... first thing they didn't want [to have] anything to do with the band at all... eventually something was sorted out and we had to tell them exactIy where to put things. We weren't allowed to lift anything which is really annoying, it takes you twice as long to tell someone where to put it...

UV: Chicago, 29 March...

HH: That's the only one which Hendrix didn't play... he was picking up radio on aIl the amps and I think it's because there was actually kind of a steel building...

UV: SofI Machine did play, though.

HH: We did play, yeah, that's right... it was just the radio and buzzing. I think that was the only one that was actually cancelled on the tour...

UV: Yeah, apart from being a bit late.

HH: Not a bit late, a lot late!

UV: Newark, 5 April...

HH: I was loading at the back of the theatre and every thing had gone in except one microphone standard and I just went out to get it and the door was shut and locked, you know, I couldn't get in, so I had to walk around several blocks to get to the front of the theatre holding this mike stand which could have looked like a gun or something. That was the only time I really felt, you know, I could actually be shot at this moment. The second show was cancelled...I just felt, you know, such a strange feeling... feeling very uncomfortable, just wanted to get it out of the way as quickly as possible... In fact there weren't any problems, it was just very, very quiet, almost kind of stunned...

UV: End of tour - 1st leg...

HH: That's when Soft Machine were recording here [New York]... Neville split there in fact. We parked the van with aIl the stuff in and we parked it outside our hotel and then Neville split...it was just sitting outside and it finally got towed away. I had to go and get it from a very spooky place somewhere out in New York by the cemetery, and most of the sluff was still in it... There was a picture of Hendrix somebody had given us on the road when he painted a picture of him and the radio was gone but aIl the gear was safe in the back. I remember I had to contact U-haul, the people who owned the van and this very nervous guy came to the hotel in New Yark 'cause a great deal of money was owed because we took the van over three months before and it was supposed to be for a couple of weeks but in fact because of the tour we kept driving around. So anyway, several thousand pounds or dollars was owed... he thought first of aIl I was not gonna pay him or secondIy that I was gonna attack him, or whatever, I had the cash there... that made him even more nervous...

UV: Would Jimi pop in during the Soft Machine recordings?

HH: [When] he was [also] recording, I think they did. I think they aIl popped in from time to time... because it was all part of family anyway...

UV: Would you see much of Jimi besides at the concerts?

HH: As much as I saw Hendrix, Hendrix wasn't out to partying... because on the road it usually was hotel, hotel, hotel, so during the day Hendrix wouldn't get up until Gerry Stickells woke him up. Neville used to say that on the first tour [1967] he [Jimi] was known as the bat, 'cause he was always in his dark room and had his clothes on. I wouldn't really see Hendrix until half an hour before he was due to go on, you know. Gerry Stickells was the guy who's had the problem of waking them all up... I don't know how he did it... he was certainly the guy who held that tour together...

UV: How much drugs were there around?



HH: Everybody was smoking obviously, that was normal. I think things like speed, acid. I think that's as much as there was. I certainly don't think there was any heroin... I could not even remember if I ever saw Hendrix smoking but l'm sure he must have done, everybody did... I remember Mitch always seemed to be awake during the night and asleep during the day and he always said he was an downers during the day and uppers during the night, which I don't know if it's true... in fact the best time we saw Noel play was when he had obviously drunk a bit more than usual but was not incapable and he played like a dream and he was sort of fluid and all that... There wasn't any kind of crazy, sort of 'over the top' things. Certainly not before a concert...

UV: Do you recall seeing Jimi ever writing down Iyrics during the travelling?

HH: The few times I actually travelled with him and flying he'd be kind of distantly, sort of obviously thinking about things like that... Once going up the steps to a plane, there used to be an airline called Braniff from Texas and aIl their planes were [in] different colours, really bright colours, red, orange, yellow, green. And he was actually standing next to me sort of saying, "Wowl The colours!"... always feeling, sort of digging things... he was really kind of a quiet guy actually in public in most occasions. He was very kind of within himself and digging things from a distance... He was never kind of raving party-goer like Noel and Mitch... Noel always seemed to be like a kid. He liked jokes and he liked sort of practical jokes and playing tricks on you... but Mitch is a sharp guy, he is really kind of intelligent and witty and sharp, sardonic, so I can see that Noel would actually get on his [Jimi's] nerves... I remember one gig [Fort Worth, 17 February] where after the gig Neville and I were packing up the gear and Noel came out to talk to Neville, 'cause he was quite friendly with Neville, in tears, because Hendrix hadn't liked the gig and Noel had gone into the dressingroom to say something and Hendrix said sort of, "I don't wanna speak to any fucker tonight" and it may have been because of Noel or maybe just his general feeling but Noel took it really as a personal thing and he came out and he was actually in tears... I remember a period in the middle of the tour when Hendrix was really pissed off a lot of the time, just with sound problems, I mean it was difficult music. It would be easier now but then it was just like big amps behind and then a microphone and that was it. It wasn't easy to produce. Hendrix was having problems probably getting across and I don't how much of that was because he wasn't happy with the music, he seemed to be happy enough playing most of the time...

UV: How would Gerry Stickells deal with Hendrix babies during the tour?

HH: He would probably just refer it to the lawyers... there must have been a lot of Hendrix babies around but I am sure there are quite a few phantoms as weIl...

UV: There were also bills for damaging theatre equipment?

HH: Yeah, I remember the one period when Hendrix was pissed off and at the end he did "Wild Thing" - the last number. At the end he didn't do the business with the guitar on the amplifier, what he did [instead] was get the head of the guitar and ride along the footlights at the bottom of the stage and popped them all. It was really impressive. It looked good but the theatre did not like it at alI...

UV: Do you remember where this was?

HH: It could have been something like Wisconsin, it was a smallish town and I remember the guys, sort of stagehands, all sort of straight stagehands sort of shaking their heads... the audience loved it, but I mean it wasn't planned I think...

UV: Would Jimi ever make comments like 'weIl done' after a show?

HH: Not to me... I only remember Hendrix saying very few things to me. I mean it was things like, "hey, hey, where's my guitar?" because often he wouldn't have a guitar with him, he'd just arrived from the hotel, 'hey, where's my guitar?"...