PETE TOWNSHEND TAKES CREDIT FOR JIM HENDRIX'S SUCCESS
Pete Townshend probably doesn't need any more clout in the eyes of most fans of rock music. As a founding member of British legends The Who - a band that started in the 1960s and still occasionally performs today - he was involved in the creation o timeless classics like ''My Generation,' 'Pinball Wizard,' and 'Baba O'Riley.' That doesn't seem to be enough recognition for Pete, though - because now the iconic lead guitarist wants to be credited with helping Jimi Hendrix on the road to worldwide fame.
Most of you are probably familiar with Hendrix's stint in the United Kingdom in 1966. He came into the country as a relative unknown and left the country nine months later as one of the biggest stars in the world. According to Townshend, things may have gone very differently if he hadn't given the young Hendrix a key piece of advice right at the start of the tour.
In an interview he recently gave to Ultimate Classic Rock, Townshend claims that Hendrix was brought by his manager to meet him in a London recording studio right at the start of his stay for advice on equipment. Townshend, who clearly knew a thing or two about guitars and amplifiers, sent him away with instructions to buy a device made by a company called Sound City rather than the standard Marshall that everyone else was buying at that time.
Two weeks later, The Who played the Saville Theater in Camden, with Hendrix there to support them. In the time between their first meeting and their second, Hendrix had clearly been experimenting with the capabilities of his new toy. When he took to the stage, he'd come up with what Townshend described as a 'slabby' sound played at incredibly high volume, and he blew the headliners out of the water. Nobody was talking about The Who when the night came to an end. Instead, everybody was talking about the newly-discovered American guitarist who'd stolen the show and perforated a few eardrums in the process of doing so.
While Townshend's recent words are probably tongue-in-cheek, there was definitely an issue between the Who and Hendrix at one point during the 1960s. They found themselves on the same bill at the Monterey Pop Festival a year later and disagreed about who should take the stage first. Hendrix didn't want to go on after the Who because they were notorious for exhausting the crowd and destroying the stage after finishing their sets with 'My Generation.' The Who didn't want to go on after Hendrix because they feared his extravagant showmanship would leave them looking second-best by comparison.
Instead of wanting to headline themselves, each wanted the other to headline. Legend has it that they tried to settle it with a head-to-head guitar battle backstage, but when no winner could be decided, the matter was decided by the toss of a coin.
The Who took to the stage first that night, and did everything they were expected to do. The crowd was provoked to the point of a near-riot by ‘My Generation,’ and Hendrix walked out onto a stage that was covered in the shattered remains of broken instruments. Townshend winked at him as he walked off as if to say ‘top that.’ Hendrix did.
Famously, he ended his set by setting his guitar on fire and allowing it to burn in his hands. It was one of the most striking and defining visuals of the era, and even The Who had to admit that they’d been beaten at their own game.
As career-enhancing as Hendrix's time in the UK proved to be, it wasn't the happiest time of his career. Hendrix liked playing new music and writing new songs. British crowds preferred hearing songs that they already knew, and would heckle Hendrix if he got too far into a performance without playing enough of his prior hits to keep them satisfied. 'Foxy Lady' became a particular bugbear, with the artist having tired of playing the song long before audiences had tired of hearing it.
Fellow rock legend Alice Cooper once recounted a tale of Hendrix swearing never to play the song again because he was bored of it, with Cooper able to talk him around and remind him that fans pay for tickets to hear songs that they know and love. This wasn’t just a problem that plagued artists of the 1960s - Kurt Cobain famously loathed playing ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ live with Nirvana during the 1990s, and any live performance by Radiohead from the past ten years is unlikely to include the biggest hits from their first two albums.
Ultimately, whether he was assisted by Pete Townshend's safe advice or not, Hendrix became one of the biggest stars in world music and left a legacy that still endures to this day. That's demonstrated by the fact that you can even find his music playing at online slots websites.
There's an official Jimi Hendrix slots UK that features the star's likeness and a collection of his best-known works, and it's proven to be a big hit with players. Coincidentally, having his own online slots game is something that Hendrix has in common with Alice Cooper, who's also a big hit at virtual casinos. If Hendrix was bored of playing 'Foxy Lady' fifty years ago when the song was still relatively new, we hate to imagine what he'd think of it still being on rotation so regularly now. He'd probably wish that he'd never written it at all!
Hendrix was such a unique and talented musician that he’d almost certainly have risen to the top whether or not a fellow performer had given him some hints and tips about basic equipment. Different types of guitar and amp can change a performer’s sound, but they don’t define their style. If you could play like Hendrix, you’d still come across like a masterful performer even if you were using the cheapest amp and instrument that money could buy. We can’t say for sure whether or not Townshend gave Hendrix a nudge up the ladder- but it’s a ladder he’d have eventually climbed on his own anyway.