ROLLING STONE COLUMN #76
‘SCUSE ME WHILE I KISS THE SKY
I was a seventeen year-old flower child learning how to be free when I met a chubby curly-haired photographer at a freaky Los Angeles love-in. He was shooting pictures of all the frolicking half-naked hippies and took a shine to the prancing blonde dolly in the antique blue velvet dress cut dangerously close to her ruffled panties. He soon approached me and asked if I’d like to do some of that flashy frolicking in a ‘short film’ with a new band arriving from the UK the following week. Already madly entranced with several British groups, I asked excitedly who the band was. “The Jimi Hendrix Experience,” he said, “They’re already huge in England, and supposed to be pretty wild. You’ll be dancing to a song called “Foxey Lady.” Of course I quickly agreed and on the appointed afternoon I climbed a hundred rock steps to a fading Hollywood mansion high in the hills, and entered a huge, round, crumbling room painted with vivid, swirly, psychedelic colors. As I stood nervously at the door, watching folks running around, getting ready to film the trio of frizzy-headed ultra-mod, vibrant rock gods lounging on a hot pink sofa, the obvious star of the show spotted me and beckoned me to him. ‘Come over here little girl…” Suddenly he was in front of me, the man who would change music and guitar playing forever, grinning in a sexy come-hither way, and my insides started quivering. This virgin teenager was literally struck speechless. His hand-painted jacket was emblazoned with a giant glaring eyeball that seemed to be winking at me, he had on a big felt hat with a feather that bobbed as he swayed back and forth, gazing at me like I was a big plate of something juicy and delicious. Just then, I was rescued as my photographer friend, Allen Daviau, introduced me to Jimi, drummer Mitch Mitchell and bassist Noel Redding. Then Allen helped me up to a tall white pedestal were I danced wildly all day long behind Jimi while “Foxey Lady” played over and over again. The rest of the afternoon, Allen filmed the four of us running around the massive overgrown mansion grounds like we were completely insane.
That ‘short film’ turned out to be the very first ‘rock video,’ and as always, Hendrix was ahead of the pack. (Allen went on to be an Oscar winning cinematographer, working with Steven Spielberg). By that evening, Noel Redding had glommed on to me; and even though I began a long, joyous, tumultuous relationship with him that day, one of my only regrets in life is something that I didn’t do – Say YES to that formidable man on fire, Jimi Hendrix.
My first perfect ‘groupie moment’ was spent on stage with the Jimi Hendrix Experience at the Hollywood Bowl as Noel’s L.A. doll. The Bowl is a stunning outdoor venue, and as I gazed up at the shimmering stars, I counted them all as lucky ones. The music Hendrix made was stellar and cosmic; taking me to places I didn’t even know existed. Incredibly sensual and as pure as a baby’s breath, it was spiritually transcendent and sticky wicked all at once.
Being with Noel, I did get to spend quality time in Jimi’s presence, and soon realized that he was probably not from this earth. He seemed to always be reaching for something not quite attainable, full of hope and expectation, creating sounds and even musical notes that haven’t been played before or since. He was rarely without a knowing little smile – as if he had a precious secret he just might share. I was with the band at a party in New York when a mutual friend announced that he was going to call all four of the archangels out of the corners in the opulent room, so they could hang out with us. Jimi was the first to look up at the high gold-gilt ceiling, rapt with anticipation, certain that angels Michael, Raphael, Gabriel and Azriel would join us in our merry-making. I tried to believe the angels had accepted our invitation, but from the way Hendrix laughed out loud, I was sure he could see them perfectly. Of course, he also had a penchant for getting very high on various substances, seemingly unafraid of consequences. I watched in amazement one night, as we all walked through a perilous party – Noel, Mitch and Jimi with their palms upturned, accepting every pill presented to them, swallowing them on the spot.
It was too many of those multi-colored pills that ended Jimi’s brief, brilliant life 40 years ago this year. He took way too many, drank way too much red wine, and didn’t wake up the next day. There was a lot of blame cast. A few years ago, I interviewed the sorrowful sad girl, Monika Danneman who gave Jimi the fatal accidental overdose so long ago. She spent the rest of her life creating hundreds of exquisite celestial paintings of Hendrix, still very much alive in cosmic eternity. A few months later, Monika closed her garage door, got into her Mercedes and let it run until she stopped breathing. But Hendrix never blamed her for his death. He was ready to go.
Jimi appeared to me in a dream a few years back. He played a heart-cleansing chord, unheard by human ears, a universal note, combining all musical notes, that still reverberates within me. That perfect divine sound opened a place within my solar plexus that will always shine like the fiery sun. “This is what I came to do,” he told me assuredly, “With my music I got as deeply inside people as I possibly could, and then it was time for me to go back home.”
“When the power of love overcomes the love of power the world will know peace.”
Tags: Jimi Hendrix