Exclusive Interview: Jimi Hendrix Early Live Recording Released

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Dagger Records has released Curtis Knight featuring Jimi Hendrix: Live at George’s Club 20 1965 & 1966 on CD, to be followed by a double vinyl LP version for Record Store Day 2017 on April 22. Never officially released in the U.S. before, these recordings showcase Hendrix’s guitar work and lead vocal performances prior to the formation of the Jimi Hendrix Experience. Best Classic Bands is pleased to premiere an interview with Ace Hall, who performed with Hendrix as the bassist in The Lovelights and The Squires.

“Jimi was the show,” says Hall. “We would do instrumental songs… and then we would turn him loose. By the time we hit intermission… the whole club wanted to know who he was.” (See the interview below.)

New York area bandleader Knight met Hendrix, then known as Jimmy James, in October 1965 and recruited the budding guitarist for his pre-Squires band the Lovelights. At the cusp of turning 23, Hendrix was already somewhat of a veteran, having already toured and recorded with, among others, the Isley Brothers and Little Richard. These raw recordings, made at George’s Club 20 in Hackensack, N.J., on December 26, 1965, and January 22, 1966, capture the Lovelights (filled out with bassist Ace Hall, drummer Ditto Edwards and saxophonist Lonnie Youngblood) tearing through popular rock and roll, soul and blues songs of the day. Chris Kenner’s “Land of 1000 Dances,” Ray Charles’ “What’d I Say,” “Mercy Mercy” by Don Covay and “I’ll Be Doggone,” the Marvin Gaye hit, are featured in their repertoire, in addition to two songs Hendrix would go on to play with the Experience: “Driving South” by Albert Collins and Howlin’ Wolf’s “Killing Floor.”

Related: Remembering pre-fame Hendrix in his Greenwich Village days

By the spring of 1966, Hendrix and Knight had parted ways. Hendrix would soon resurface in Greenwich Village, occasionally fronting his own group the Blue Flames, as well as performing with artists such as John Hammond Jr. By the end of the year, he was in London with a fully formed Jimi Hendrix Experience.

Soon after Hendrix became a household name, these live Curtis Knight recordings began to surface on shoddily produced bootlegs. Longtime Hendrix recording engineer Eddie Kramer just recently restored the audio by removing all overdubs and effects. Bernie Grundman mastered Live At George’s Club 20 1965 & 1966.

Dagger Records, whose catalog now numbers 16 releases, was established as a resource for devotees who want to dig deeper than the standard Jimi Hendrix catalog available through Experience Hendrix/Legacy Recordings. Since 1998 Dagger has been releasing titles such as Morning Symphony Ideas, Hear My Music and Live In Ottawa. These “bootleg” releases, according to a press release, “are properly annotated, complete with photos, liner notes and the best possible sonic quality and offer additional insight into Hendrix’s musical mastery.”

Watch the interview with Ace Hall…

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Curtis Knight [featuring Jimi Hendrix]: Live At George’s Club 20 1965 & 1966
1) Introduction
2) Killing Floor
3) Last Night
4) Get Out Of My Life Woman
5) Ain’t That Peculiar
6) Mercy, Mercy
7) I’m A Man
8) Driving South
9) Baby What You Want Me To Do
10) I’ll Be Doggone
11) Sweet Little Angel
12) Let’s Go, Let’s Go, Let’s Go
13) Travelin’ To California
14) What I Say
15) Land Of 1000 Dances
16) Come On (Let The Good Times Roll)
17) Band Outtro

Curtis Knight featuring Jimi Hendrix: Live at George’s Club 20 1965 & 1966 will be available at the Jimi Hendrix store.

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6 Comments so far

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  1. PZ
    #1 PZ 27 February, 2017, 15:27

    John Hammond, does not want to be referred to as Jr. Just John Hammond.

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  2. Carl
    #2 Carl 27 February, 2017, 16:40

    Where’s Sugar Pie Honey Bunch and Satisfaction? It would have been better to have included all the tracks from Birth of Success! Also, Dagger should put out Midnight Lightning & crash Landing too, give Alan Douglas his due, he knew how to enhance an unfinished track!

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    • Diamondbackseye
      Diamondbackseye 27 February, 2017, 19:01

      Agreed…why not put out all the tracks in circulation…Bright Lights, Big City is one I’m disappointed not to see on this release.

      Reply this comment
  3. Mike
    #3 Mike 28 February, 2017, 11:11

    It wasn’t just the name of a band, it was a STATEMENT… THE JIMI HENDRIX “CEXPERIENCE”. Not “band” or “group”, etc., it was fore warning you that you were about to EXPERIENCE something that was INCREDIBLE! Mind-blowing, out of this world, unlike any other musical experience you’ve ever heard!
    I went to two HENDRIX concerts, the first one as second-billing to the Monkees, who lived up to thier title compared to the Experience! As JIMI was carrying his fans away to another world, it was constantly being interrupted by ignorant Monkee fans BOOING him and screening for their TV show band! No wonder he quit the tour after just 7 dates!
    The second time I went, it was just JIMI and his band, and I got to experience the full effectm..his performance WPULD take you away, to another realm, when it was over, after several seconds to several minutes, of mental awe, sort of a numbness of your your mind and emotions, you would come down from the Experience enough to MAYBE drive your car home, changed forever…

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  4. Ric
    #4 Ric 28 February, 2017, 14:13

    “Let the Good Times Roll” was on a Experience album as as well.
    I’ll bet if you took a poll, more people will say they were at the Monkees gig and the Woodstock show than actually were….

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