Exclusive Interview: Jimi Hendrix Early Live Recording Releasedby Best Classic Bands Staff
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.”
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
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.