The Drive And Ambition of Tommy Emmanuel and The Famous Meeting of Jimi Hendrix And Steve Cropper.
I’ve read several biographies and books on Jimi Hendrix.
They contain so many great stories and anecdotes that give us insight into a great musical mind.
These stories and anecdotes illustrate what made Hendrix one of the most innovative and exciting musicians of his generation.
I remember Nadia Boulanger (one of the worlds great music teachers who taught several generations of the 20th century’s great composers) saying “if I have to push a student then that student isn’t going to do anything”.
Being pushed by someone was never something that Hendrix needed. He was completely self motivated and driven, a real force of nature.
Here in Australia I’ve met that level of drive and ambition in Tommy Emmanuel.
When I interviewed Tommy I was curious about the time he joined the pop band “Dragon”.
It seemed something of an odd coupling to me so I asked him why he joined Dragon. We’d expect an answer like “they paid well” but his answer surprised and impressed me.
Tommy said “they were great songwriters and I wanted to learn from them”.
I then asked why he left them and his answered equally surprised and impressed me. Tommy said he wanted to get his solo career going.
He went on to say that he had to start all over again, at the bottom doing the local corner pubs building an audience from scratch. He left a comfortable situation but Tommy was always about quality and reaching his musical goals.
Patience And Persistence Pays Off For The Young Hendrix
The story I love that illustrates Jimi Hendrix’s determination and ambition involves a meeting with Steve Cropper.
After Hendrix left the army he was playing as a backing guitarist in touring bands and on one occasion he was on tour with a singer called “Gorgeous George”.
They were in Memphis and Jimi had the day off so he found “Stax” Recording Studio“. Hendrix announced to the receptionist that he’d like to meet Steve Cropper. Mind you, Steve Cropper was an enormously successful session guitarist, record producer and songwriter with hits like “Midnight Hour” and “Dock of the Bay”.
The receptionist said “I’ll see if Mr Cropper is available”. She then told Steve Cropper that there was a young guitarist from New York that wanted to meet him.
Cropper responded “Jimi Hendrix, never heard of him, send him away”. The receptionist relayed that Mr Cropper was too busy and couldn’t meet him.
Six hours later when Steve Cropper finished his session and was leaving the studio the young Jimi Hendrix jumped in front of him and introduced himself.
Cropper was so surprised to find that Hendrix had waited 6 hours to meet him that he said that he had to get something to eat so he invited Hendrix to join him.
Steve Cropper later said that he was shocked at how much Hendrix knew about him.
He seemed to know every record that Cropper had played on and that was before Wikipedia!
Steve Cropper then invited Hendrix back to his home where they jammed into the wee small hours. If that had been recorded that would be gold!
I’ve filmed my “unplugged” arrangement of Hendrix’s “Have You Ever Been To Electric Ladyland” with an improvisation for you to hear.
It’s full of Hendrix’s trademark riffs and is a lot of fun for me to play.