Remembering The Jimi Hendrix Experience's Mitch Mitchell

(Gibson) On this day in 2008, the music world lost one of its great drummers. Mitch Mitchell, best known for his work with The Jimi Hendrix Experience, passed away on a tour ironically celebrating his finest moments in music, on the 2008 Experience Hendrix Tour. But as heavy hitting as the music he played with Hendrix was, Mitchell actually approached the instrument from a most un-rock-and-roll direction.

Influenced early on by the likes of Elvin Jones and Max Roach, the former child actor born John Mitchell in Ealing, England on July 9th, 1947 took a jazz fusion approach to the instrument. That is to say, he approached the drums like a lead instrument, dictating much more than just tempo. His back-and-forth with the other players often affected the melody and direction of the songs (give a quick listen to "Manic Depression" for case in point).

Mitchell developed this style in a myriad of bands during the 1960s, with colorful names like Frankie Reid and the Casuals and Bill Knight and the Sceptres. Eventually, he started sitting in with higher profile acts, starting with a brief tenure in The Tornados (of "Telstar" fame). He then backed TV star Chris Sandford's group, the Coronets (later The Lively Set), during which time he auditioned for The Who (a gig he lost to the great Keith Moon). - more on this story

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