Friday, April 9, 2010

The Last Days Of Jimi Hendrix Friday 03-26-2010

We had John Dioso, deputy managing editor of Rolling Stone Magazine on the show today to discuss Jimi Hendrix, who, it turns out, is on the cover of next week's issue. His new album is Valley's Of Neptune and it's in the top ten of the Billboard Charts this week- and the man's been dead for 40 years! Wow! Now, that's staying power!

The last hours of Jimi Hendrix life is still disputed. I have interviewed or read accounts of several of Jimi's friends about that night. According to Eric Burden, lead singer of the Animals and friend of his manager Chas Chandler (former member of the Animals) things were chaotic that last night and official accounts don't exactly add up.

Here's Jimi with Monika Dannenmann.

Eric told me that the woman Jimi was staying with that night, Monika Dannenmann, called him when she couldn't wake Jimi. He told her to call an ambulance immediately, which she DID NOT DO, fearing that it might make Jimi mad. She was probably afraid that the cops might find other drugs in the apartment when showed up. Who knows? This woman's bizarre behavior on the night of his death is still baffling. It was reported that she left the apartment to go buy cigarettes while Jimi was unconscious! That's sounds pretty strange to me, considering that he had already vomited all over himself and was obviously in distress.

Ginger Baker, the drummer for Cream, alleges that he and Eric Clapton were looking all over town for Jimi to go jamming at a local club. They had a big bag of cocaine with them and they were looking to party with Jimi that night.

They found out that Jimi was staying with Monika Dannemann at the time, a woman that Ginger said was unstable and they feared the worst. His usual girlfriend during that period was Kathy Etchingham. For some reason, they weren't together anymore. Jimi had lots of women and it wasn't unusual for him to sleep around. Eric said that if he'd been with Kathy that night, he wouldn't have died. I guess we'll never know.

Here's Jimi with his other girlfriend, Kathy Etchingham.

Here's the account of that last night from WIKIPEDIA:

Early on September 18, 1970, Jimi Hendrix died in London under circumstances which have never been fully explained. He had spent the latter part of the previous evening at a party and was picked up by girlfriend Monika Dannemannand driven to her flat at the Samarkand Hotel, 22 Lansdowne Crescent, Notting Hill. According to the estimated time of death, from autopsy data and statements by friends about the evening of September 17, he would have died within a few hours after midnight, though no precise estimate was made at the original inquest.

Here is the Samarkand Hotel, where Jimi died.

WIKIPEDIA'S account continues:
Dannemann claimed in her original testimony that after they returned to her lodgings the evening before, Hendrix, unknown to her, had taken nine of her prescribed Vesperax sleeping pills. The normal medical dose was half a tablet, but Hendrix was unfamiliar with this very strong German brand. According to surgeon John Bannister, the doctor who initially attended to him, Hendrix had asphyxiated in his own vomit, mainly red wine which had filled his airways, as the autopsy was to show.

Was he still alive when the ambulance arrived? There are conflicting reports on that too. Monika said he was, and that the medics tried to sit him up and retrain him with straps. What's that all about? In another account it said that he was already dead and cold. Who do you believe?

By the way, in 1996 Kathy Etchingman sued Monika Dannenmann about remarks that she made following Jimi's death. She called Kathy an "inverate liar" and the court ordered Monika to shut up, which she didn't, and got in trouble again. She was fined by the court. Two days later she committed suicide by inhaling the exhaust fumes of her Mercedes in a closed garage in Sussex, England.

It is believed the Jimi's black Fender Stratocaster was purloined by Monika after he died, and that she held onto it over all these years. Where is that Strat now? It is owned by Monika's later boyfriend Uli Jon Roth (former member of the Scorpions) and is believed to be in storage somewhere in Germany.

Some people are convinced that Jimi was murdered. There have even been books written about it. This is a book review of one of those conspiracy books:

See what I mean? The events if that night are all screwed up. It makes me wonder what really happened. Could the death of Hendrix have been avoided? Damn right it could!

As far as I'm concerned, "all the other guitar players in the world would have to stand on a chair just to kiss Jimi's ass." And you can quote me on that!

Jim Marshall Thursday 03-25-2010

Rock photographer Jim Marshall has died. You may not know the name but you know the pictures. He took many of the iconic photographs that appeared in Rolling Stone and many other publications.

I knew Jim Marshall, and I had interviewed him on the morning show several times over the years. He was a good guy and a great photographer. We will miss him.

He had published several books of photos which are still available. I recommend them wholeheartedly. Jim had a real eye for composition. Rock stars liked him and let him get close enough to take the kinds of pictures nobody else could. Also, Jim didn't look like a photographer, he looked like a musician, which made him blend in backstage. I'd often see Jim backstage at Winterland or the Fillmore, blending effortlessly with the bands. Jim was an all-access guy in a restricted world. He was a giant among photographers. He did several sessions with the Greg Kihn Band back in the day. I remember that he worked fast, something we appreciated.

Here are some famous Jim Marshall photos:

Spizzerinctum Wednesday 03-24-2010

My father used the word “spizzerinctum” and it stuck with me. One usually heard the term on the ball field, as in, “Put a little spizzerinctum on the ball!” My father was the only one I heard use it, so it could have been a made up word in his vocabulary, I don’t know, but it sure is a great word. We knew exactly what it meant. It meant put a little extra oomph, a little extra mustard, a little extra zing on the ball.

I played second base for the Gardenville Lions Little League baseball team. Since the Lions played in “Pony League” all the players had to be between 12-14 years of age. Our star pitcher was a guy named Frank Hamburger (one of the great names of my youth, the other being Vernon Peppersack, a guy in my Boy Scout troop). Frank Hamburger was clearly older than the rest of us. Rumor had it he was sixteen, an egregious violation of league rules, but nobody said anything about it. He also hit cleanup and was the best athlete on the field. If you looked real close you could see he was cultivating the first shavings of a moustache. Sometimes I’d catch him sneaking a cigarette behind the backstop. There was a rumor he could already drive and had a hot girlfriend. Frank Hamburger was literally a man playing among children. We won the championship that year, behind the pitching and power hitting of Frank Hamburger.

Our coach was a gnarly old coot with a crew cut and squinty eyes named Mr. Bob. I think he worked with my father in the Housing Department for the City of Baltimore. He usually clenched a fat cigar between his yellow, crooked teeth. Mr. Bob wanted to win at all costs. He’d hit fungos to us until the light was gone.

I wasn’t the worst player on the team. I was the third worst. Mitchell Chambliss was the worst. He always carried a big ring of keys in his pocket that jingled loudly when he ran. Mr. Bob would yell at him, “Damn it, Chambliss! Your problem is you got too many keys! They’re weighin’ you down!”

Chris Stern, who lived across the alley from us, was second worst because he was too afraid of the ball to try and actually catch it. When the ball was hit he covered up and got the hell out of the way. In his case, that was probably a smart thing to do. Then came me.

The way it goes in Little League is like this; you’re lousy the first year, decent the second year, and almost reasonably good the third year. By the third year I had gotten pretty good at fielding grounders, and I could make some great diving stops like my hero Brooks Robinson, I just couldn’t throw very well. I had an arm like a rubber band. That’s why second base suited me; it was a short throw to first from there.

I never hit a home run or a triple. The best I could muster was a “seeing eye” double through the hole. My usual strategy was to just hit it on the ground and let the other team flub it. That worked most of the time. I dinked a lot of singles around the infield. I never got beyond second base unless Frank Hamburger was coming up. Then, I got to romp around the base paths after he launched one into the stratosphere. We looked so good coming in to score in our white uniforms with blue trim. I lost that precious team photo years ago, but I remember how great it felt. I had just turned thirteen. That was a wonderful time.

The field we played on was rutted and pock marked, and bad hops were part of the game. It made me a better fielder for life. Years later, at celebrity softball games, I occasionally flash a little glove just to show I still got it; can’t run, can’t throw, but I still got some leather left.

I still have the cheap trophy we got at the championship ceremony. I’ve kept it all these years. I was so proud to win it. Somewhere along the line, the bat snapped off the little plastic guy on the trophy, so now he just swings a stump, but it doesn’t matter. That trophy will always rank up there among the best awards I ever got or ever will get. It sits on my desk. I like to read the inscription from time to time. “GARDENVILLE REC. CHAMPIONS 1962”

So, put a little spizzerinctum on the ball!