Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Jimi Hendrix and Cafe Wha?

Jimi Hendrix when he was still known as Maurice James.
Had he lived, today would have been rocker Jimi Hendrix's 70th birthday (he died in 1970). Though his recording career was very short -- he released just four albums between 1967 and 1970 -- he had an incredible impact on popular music.

Hendrix arrived in New York in 1966 to try his hand at the Greenwich Village music scene. He had been performing under the name Maurice James, which he soon changed to Jimmy James. After busking on the sidewalks of the Village -- wouldn't that have been a thing to see? -- Hendrix formed the Blue Flame, which served as the house band at Cafe Wha? on Macdougal Street. This was the same cafe where Bob Dylan had first performed when he'd arrived in New York in January 1961.

Chas Chandler, the bassist for the Animals, came to see the Blue Flame perform at Cafe Wha?. Impressed with the guitarist and the song "Hey Joe," Chandler invited Hendrix to come to London. The Blue Flame broke up, the Jimi Hendrix Experience was formed, and Hendrix's meteoric career took off.

So, if you find yourself in the Village today, stop by Cafe Wha? to pay tribute to its place in rock and roll history.


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Read more about the Greenwich Village music scene in 



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