The world lost another legendary live musician and rock pioneer on November 12, 2008 when Jimi Hendrix Experience drummer Mitch Mitchell was found deceased in his room at the Benson Hotel in downtown Portland, Oregon. He was 62 years old which still seems far too young to die. It’s a sad day indeed as Mitchell was an integral part of the music behind the great Jimi Hendrix.
Mitch Mitchell was one third of the great rock trio that made up the Jimi Hendrix Experience. His drumming style was a great example of jazz/rock fusion. He would switch between a traditional jazz drum grip and a matched rock style grip when he played. His playing was very active and he had a great feel for filling the space around Jimi’s lead guitar and vocal work. When Jimi would take a guitar solo Mitch would have a very active interplay with the guitar on the drums. It’s really a pleasure to listen to Mitch and Jimi play music together.
It’s been said that Mitch Mitchell would have been mentioned in the same sentence as Keith Moon and John Bonham if the band wouldn’t have been named after Jimi Hendrix. The fact that Jimi was such a groundbreaking guitarist didn’t help Mitch get his share of the spotlight either. I personally feel like Mitch’s style is a combination of Keith Moon’s frenetic energy and John Bonhams slamming big beat style. Although I have to say that Mitch could beat both of them in the dynamic control category. Mitch could actually make his drums whisper which is a very difficult skill for drummers to learn.
It’s been said that Jimi’s manager relegated Mitch and Noel Redding to the role of mere sidemen in the way he promoted Jimi’s career. But any musician can tell you when listening to the Jimi Hendrix Experience that it’s 3 guys creating music together. Jimi and Mitch Mitchell really knew how to play with each others styles and you can tell that they’re playing off of each other. Mitch’s contribution to the music of the Jimi Hendrix Experience is essential and his playing made Jimi’s even greater.
That’s why today’s post on Live Musician Central is dedicated to the memory of the great and legendary Mr. Mitch Mitchell. He’s jammin’ with Jimi now!
Jimi Hendrix Experience – Hey Joe