Watching the end of Jimi Hendrix at Monterey and amid the smoking wreckage Mitch Mitchell rockets his sticks into the stunned stoned freaked and tripping crowd and every time I see it and (and I’ve seen it a hundred times) I think that I would have given anything to have been in that crowd and caught one of those sticks, it would still be my most treasured possession, that stick, even now, that half a century before had rolled across those toms with absolute abandon and bounced with loose wristed splats off the snare and set the cymbals roiling and splashing and crashing with Jimi’s every move and sound and look and thought. Airborne for only a second or two, the sticks disappear into offstage darkness, first the one, then the other and Mitch, laughing, steps out of view. I turn off the TV right then, before the interviews begin and reduce the music to history, and I wonder again about those sticks.
RIP Mitch Mitchell. Jimi Hendrix’s drummer. The dude wailed like nobody. Tiny little English bastard doing his best Elvin Jones. Cool. And man could he get up a shambolic shuffle. Listen to “Hey Baby”…the one from “Rainbow Bridge”. Hip hippie jazzness at it’s best. Wasn’t another rock drummer that could play just like that. Dropping in Max Roach snare snaps and rim smacks and riffling popping toms, some heavy tom shit like Joe Morello in “Take Five” (remember that one? Mitchell apparently dug Morello’s thunder rolls) and all that Elvin that Jimi wanted–like when they come out at Monterey and light into “Killing Floor” and Mitch’s rolls are so all over and so in there (or close enough) and man, it’s frigging glorious. Crazy crazy rock’n’roll, man. Just like god intended it to be, if god smoked a lot of dope and didn’t worry too much about meter….
Did he and Keith Moon ever play together? Can you imagine?
Nice guy, too. It was a dinner party somewhere in Silver Lake, eons ago. All these miserable guitar players wanted to play “Red House” with him, like he hadn’t been there and done that like sooooooooooooooo much better…. Incredibly, he smiled and put up with them all. They raise ’em polite over there in England, apparently. When at last freed from his throne there was a dinner party inside. Someone put on Mingus. Two, three notes into it and Mitchell flipped. I love this!!! Who put this on!!!!!! Outside some guitar players were brutalizing Red House, and inside Mitch Mitchell is hovering over the phonograph, hearing nothing but Mingus. Yeah, alright. They can’t live forever.