Published on August 31st, 2023 | by AlexandreG.0
The Genuine Friendship Between Jimi Hendrix and Eric Burdon
In the transformative 1960s, when genres and boundaries were shifting, Jimi Hendrix and Eric Burdon, kindled a friendship that resonated as deeply as their stage performances. In Greenwich Village’s Cheetah Club, Linda Keith was captivated by Hendrix’s mesmerizing guitar play. Despite her introductions, the significant breakthrough came when Linda introduced Jimi to The Animals’ bassist, Chas Chandler.
The beginning of the Hendrix-Burdon connection wasn’t far behind.
Moved by Hendrix’s “Hey Joe”, Chandler invited him to London. A consequential partnership was born as Hendrix signed a management deal with Chandler and former Animals manager, Michael Jeffery.
Jimi Hendrix and Eric Burdon: A Historic Encounter in London
Arriving in the UK in September 1966, the hunt for bandmates began. Chandler’s selections, Noel Redding and Mitch Mitchell, soon began mirroring Hendrix’s signature style. While his psychedelic blues drew skepticism in New York, in London, Hendrix became an instant sensation.
1967 saw Burdon making a home in the music haven of Laurel Canyon. Amongst neighbors like Joni Mitchell and Frank Zappa, Burdon created a niche for himself. Amidst this, Hendrix was a frequent visitor. They shared laughs, like a memorable evening in September 1968 after Hendrix’s Hollywood Bowl concert, where a comedic incident involving a human skull left both legends chuckling. Burdon fondly remembers, “That’s probably the one thing people don’t realize about Jimi – he was hilarious.”
Within this burgeoning scene, Eric Burdon’s bond with Hendrix took root. They frequently shared the stage, and their camaraderie was evident to all. As Burdon detailed in his autobiography, “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood,” a backstage conversation with Hendrix influenced his decision to relocate to California. Hendrix’s words, “‘L.A.’s the place, man’,” clearly left an impact.
Hendrix, alongside his band The Experience, left an indelible mark across Europe. Eric Burdon’s admiration was evident when he proclaimed Hendrix as the “Black Elvis”. This title was cemented during Hendrix’s performance at the Monterey International Pop Festival, thanks in part to a recommendation from Paul McCartney.
As Hendrix and Burdon’s bond grew, the duo spent considerable time in Burdon’s Bel Air mansion, immersing themselves in the world of music.
The Last Live Performance Of Jimi Hendrix
On September 16th, 1970, a remarkable musical event took place at Ronnie Scott’s Club in London. The world watched in awe as Jimi Hendrix, Eric Burdon, and War united to produce an unforgettable performance. This poignant gathering marked Hendrix’s final public appearance. Mere days after, the world grieved the loss of this musical genius.
Their collaboration was not just a testament to their individual talents but a reflection of their mutual admiration and passion for music. During that memorable night, Hendrix joined Eric Burdon & War towards the end of their set, lending his virtuosity to two tracks: “Blues For Memphis Slim” and “Tobacco Road.”
“Hendrix made his entrance during the second set. There was a crack in the air. I introduced Jimi to the audience … the typical London jazz crowd tried to show indifference as he took the stage, but a ripple of applause greeted the greatest guitar player in the world.” He continued, “The guys in War held their ground as we launched into a triple-time version of ‘Tobacco Road.’ Having Hendrix onstage made [War guitarist Howard Scott] play better than he ever had before. We slid into ‘Mother Earth,’ a beautiful blues written by Memphis Slim. We ended the set with a burning jam. Jimi was flying. And then it was over.”
Eric Burdon Finds Jimi Hendrix Dead
Just two days later, on Seprember 17th, Jimi was with Monika Dannemann, his latest partner. She took him to her apartment in Notting Hill. On the tragic morning of the 18th, she alerted Eric Burdon about Jimi’s condition. When Burdon arrived, he found his friend had passed away.
Worried about the potential discovery of drugs in the apartment, Burdon began gathering anything that could be seen as evidence. During this process, he stumbled upon a poem penned by Hendrix just hours before, titled “The Story of Life”.
Having previously had discussions with Hendrix about death and suicide, Burdon misinterpreted the poem as a suicide note. Consequently, he shared his belief with the media, suggesting that Hendrix might have taken his own life. He later regretted this, saying: “I made false statements … I simply didn’t understand what the situation was. I misread the note … I thought it was a goodbye“. However, Dannemann, recalling a conversation with Hendrix, mentioned that he told her: “I want you to keep this poem forever and I don’t want you to forget anything that is written. It’s a story about you and me“.