How Cream and Paul McCartney helped Jimi Hendrix in his early career

Jimi Hendrix
Jimi Hendrix / Avalon/GettyImages

Jimi Hendrix entered his career with grand plans. He wanted to bring something new to music. However, he had trouble kick-starting it all. Thankfully, he had some assistance. In 1966, he traveled to the U.K., where Cream helped him. Later, Paul McCartney secured a famous gig for the Jimi Hendrix Experience.

Jimi Hendrix moved to the U.K. in 1966

Hendrix had trouble when he first entered the U.K. Border authorities kept him waiting for hours because he didn't have a work permit. They talked about sending him back to New York until it was sorted out. Hendrix said (per the Guardian), "They carried on like I was going to make all the money in England and take it back to the States!"

The guitarist moved into a flat with Chas Chandler. It used to belong to The Beatles' Ringo Starr. "There's stereo all over the place and a very kinky bathroom with lots of mirrors," Hendrix said. "Immediately complaints started to pour in. We used to get complaints about loud, late parties when we were out of town! We'd come back next morning and hear all the complaints. Chas got real mad about it, but I didn't let it bug me."

Hendrix said that he often thought of America while he lived in the U.K. However, he wanted British people to see him. He also wanted to see whether he and his band could make it there.

"And we made it, man, because we did our own thing, and it really was our own thing and nobody else's," Hendrix said. "We had our beautiful rock-blues-country-funky-freaky sound, and it was really turning people on. I felt like we were turning the whole world on to this new thing, the best, most lovely new thing."

However, in order to show Britain and the world his "new thing," Hendrix needed the help of some famous friends.

Cream invited Jimi Hendrix to play

The first time Hendrix played guitar in England, he sat in with Cream. The "Foxy Lady" singer was a huge fan of Eric Clapton and his playing. Hendrix said Clapton's solos sounded like Albert King and Ginger Baker was like an octopus and a "real natural drummer."

To remedy his permit issues, Hendrix set up enough jobs to get a long permit. Eventually, he formed the Jimi Hendrix Experience. "It was very hard to find the right sidemen, people who were feeling the same as me," the guitarist said.

Paul McCartney helped Hendrix and his band get their gig at the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967

Hendrix and his band also had help from another famous artist, "the big bad Beatle" and "beautiful cat," Paul McCartney. According to Hendrix, Paul was kind enough to help him and his band secure their gig at the Monterey Pop Festival. Hendrix was happy but nervous.

"That was our start in America," Hendrix said. "Everything was perfect. I said: 'Wow! Everything's together! What am I gonna do?' In other words, I was scared at that, almost. I was scared to go up there and play in front of all those people. You really want to turn those people on."

Hendrix struggled with bad stage fright in his early career, but once he started playing, he forgot everything. All of his initial success was a great first step. However, Hendrix had grand plans for the future. He wanted to get into other things and take a six-month break to learn about music in school.

The guitarist envisioned having a big band full of competent musicians who he could conduct and write for. "I want to be part of a big new musical expansion," he said. "That's why I have to find a new outlet for my music.

"We are going to blend all the ideas that worked into a new form of classical music. It's going to be something that will open up a new sense in people's minds." Strauss and Wagner were going to form the background of his music, but "floating in the sky" above it all would be blues. That would then mix together with western sky music and "paint pictures of earth and space, so that the listener can be taken somewhere. You have to give people something to dream on."

Unfortunately, Hendrix died before he could show his true potential. Still, he accomplished many things in only a few short years and took the music scene by storm. Hendrix is still regarded as one of the best guitarists in music, and his legacy continues.

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