The final member of the original Jimi Hendrix Experience trio, drummer Mitch Mitchell, was found dead in a downtown Portland, Oregon hotel on Wednesday, November 12th. According to the Multnomah Country Medical Examiner’s office, Mitchell, who was 61, apparently died in his sleep of what is believed to be natural causes. Dr. Christopher Young conjectured that Mitchell simply did not know how sick he was at the time. He had just completed the last stop on the West Coast Experience Hendrix tribute tour, and had been described as looking tired after playing just one song. Mitchell, along with bass players Noel Redding and later Billy Cox, backed Hendrix during his rise to stardom in the world of electrified, psychedelic rock in the 1960s. The Jimi Hendrix Experience played a number of high profile festivals, including both the Isle of Wight and Woodstock, where Hendrix introduced the world to his over-the-top version of “The Star Spangled Banner.” Hendrix died of a suspected drug overdose in 1970 and Redding passed away in 2003 at his home in County Cork, Ireland.
Both Mitchell and Redding were recruited in a rush in 1966 by the former bass player for the influential British group, The Animals, Chas Chandler, who had just discovered Hendrix playing in relative anonymity in a New York club. Hendrix’s guitar pyrotechnics caused an immediate sensation in Britain, and a backup band was desperately needed for a last-minute French tour. Considering how hastily the group was formed, the chemistry was there right from the start. Led by Hendrix’s explosive style of guitar playing, the Jimi Hendrix Experience quickly came to define the sound of the rock power trio. The trio released three hugely influential albums in a very short amount of time: “Are You Experienced” (1967), “Axis: Bold as Love” (1967), and the two-LP set, “Electric Ladyland” (1968).