Just heard the sad news of the death of Mitch Mitchell the only surviving member of the "Jimi Hendrix Experience". Mitch was a hard working drummer of great talent and versatility. Slight of build he nevertheless could play with great energy and power when needed. A real "tour de force". When they put the band together to support Hendrix they couldn't have picked a better guy to fill the drum stool. Coming from a more jazzy background, having previously been with Georgie Fame's Blue Flames, Mitch's fluent flowing style suited and complimented Hendrix's mercurial guitar playing perfectly and he certainly added something to the template of style and performance that "The Experinence" became famous for. I was always envious of the freedom Mitch was able to have at his disposal in the free flowing improvisational aspects of The Experience performance. In that set up as a power trio Mitch was often required to fill in the holes which he did in a controlled and brilliantly technical manner often employing rolling triplets to great effect. Mitch brought jazz sensitivities into the rock format and was able to enhance as well as drive and push arrangements in different directions. Mitch’s critical asset was his explosive, intuitive responsiveness to Jimi. He could lay down a strong, light groove but then instantly react as Hendrix shifted gears or moved off in another direction. His style is in stark contrast to Buddy Miles, who Hendrix used in the latter stages of his career in "The Band Of Gypsys". Buddy laid down a relentless groove which, when combined with the solid groove bass playing of Billy Cox, stultified Hendrix. I recall being bowled over by Mitch's fluid and expansive technique as much as I was also knocked out with Jimi's electrifying playing when they first exploded onto the scene. They couldn't fail to make a great impact. Certainly left their mark with me.
In the later part of the 60's, along with Ginger Baker, Mitch revolutionised rock drumming forever influencing countless others. I was lucky enough to see The Jimi Hendrix Experience a couple of times in their heyday I would say that in many ways Mitch was a much more sensitive, inventive and dynamic player than Ginger. It speaks volumes that Hendrix drafted him back into his band after experimenting with others...a testament to how well respected Mitch was, and how Jimi realised that in Mitch Mitchell he really did have the best man for the job. Another hero passes away. A very sad day indeed.