Karl J. Geisler...
Delerium's Psychedelic Web
An Interview With
By Richard Allen.
In 1966 the Jimi Hendrix Experience changed the face of popular music
forever. Up until that first aural assault, pop had
undergone a gradual change under the guidance of the Beatles and the
Rolling Stones, however, the changes which they
introduced were nowhere near as dramatic as the single stride taken by the
Jimi Hendrix Experience. Suddenly the guitar was
no longer the precise melodic pace setter that it had been since the
1950's. It had become a spluttering, distorted wailing, mind
- - numbing instrument of expression, that didn't need sing - along choruses
and predetermined verses in order to communicate
with the listener. With the advent of mind expanding drugs, Rock
expressionism was free to break loose. Music would never
be the same again.
It must have been quite an experience to hear the first few moments of "Hey
Joe'' in 1967. Even more amazing, must have
been the Jimi Hendrix Experience's first television appearance on the
penultimate edition of Ready Steady Go; Hendrix the
perfect Acid dandy, laid -back freaked - out and slicing the airwaves with
his languid guitar runs, Mitch Mitchell, wildly
bashing his drum kit under a mop of hair and Noel Redding with equally wild
hair, underpinning Hendrix's complex, audio
gesticulations with a firm booming bass line. The archetypical Acid Rock
Trio and a format that many pretenders have tried
unsuccessfully to emulate. The 'Experience made three albums "Are You
Experienced?'', "Axis Bold As Love'' and "Electric
Ladyland'', certainly the finest LP's of Jimi Hendrix's career. After the
'Experience split up Hendrix tried, unsuccessfully, to
re-define the formula. As the recently released 'Radio One' album , all too
clearly demonstrates, most of Hendrix's best
material came from his days with the 'Experience.
Noel Redding wasn't just the bass player in the 'Experience. He also put
together the superb Fat Mattress, who contrary to
popular belief, made two excellent albums. He was also involved with Road
and The Noel Redding Band.
Currently living in a small village in Ireland, Noel has been adding the
finishing touches to his forthcoming book, and it was here
that the following Freakbeat interview took place on the 19th of May, this
FB:- How did you first become interested in music?
NR:- At the age of nine, playing the violin at school, and then onto the
mandolin. I took up violin because my best mate had
taken it up, so I did likewise. I went onto the Mandolin at about twelve
years old and then I went on to the guitar when I was
about fourteen years old.
FB:- What was the first band you were in?
NR:- The first band I was in, I think was called The Strangers. I got the
sack because I was too small!
FB:- Was that the first time in front of an audience?
NR:- Well, I suppose my first public situation was when I was about
fourteen or fifteen at Hythe Youth Club, with two of my
mates. We did a couple of Eddie Cochran songs. We also did a performance at
the Grammar School that I went to, at the end
of term, and we went down a storm, but the next day we were summoned to the
Headmasters room, where we were told
"alright lads it was all very nice yesterday but forget all that crap, you
have to concentrate on your G.C.E.'s''!
FB:- Musically who was influencing you in those days?
NR:- At that point I was listening to Radio Luxembourg and obviously stuff
like Lonnie Donnegan, Elvis Presley, Gene
Vincent, Eddie Cochran, Booker T and the MG's, Cliff Richard & The Shadows,
you know, that sort of stuff.
FB:- What were you doing before you joined the Jimi Hendrix Experience?
NR:- I'd gone professional when I was about seventeen. I'd been playing in
Scotland and Germany, mainly - in clubs in
Germany, which was very hard work, as you played a long round of hours and
you learn't things very quickly, professionally
and personally. I played there for a couple of years with The Burnettes and
The Loving Kind. I came to join the Experience by
going for an audition for Eric Burdon who was just forming the New Animals
at that point, after the original Animals had
broken up. It was my last ditch audition and I was just about to give up. I
was going to flog my guitar and my amp and get a
set of drums because there were no drummers in Kent, so I went to London,
went to this audition with Eric Burdon, who I'd
met briefly at some point earlier and auditioned for him on the guitar.
Chas Chandler came up and said "Can you play bass''
and I said "No'' and he said "Would you give it a go'' and I gave it a go &
I got the job for some reason.
FB:- What were your first impressions of Jimi Hendrix?
NR:- Funny overcoat and weird shoes!
FB:- Had you met him before you'd joined the band?
NR:- No. I was the first guy to join the band with Hendrix.
FB:- What happened during the first few weeks of the 'Experience?
NR:- Well, the first day we went through three songs, very basically. There
were no vocals etcetera. After we'd been through
those, I went down the pub with Hendrix and he was asking me about English
music and I was asking him about American
music, because I'd never been there, and we had a nice chat & he basically
said, would you like to join my group, and I said
well, give us the old train fare and I'll come back tomorrow! Within two
days, I was in.
FB:- You got straight into rehearsals then?
NR:- There were no rehearsals until later. Hendrix rehearsed different
drummers, before we met Mitch Mitchell.
FB:- What was the psychedelic scene like at that point (1966)?
NR:- In London, there wasn't really a psychedelic "thing'' until '67. It
all came, obviously from San Francisco. In London in
those days, you might have the occasional joint or a few beers but then in
'67 the mind thing started coming into Britain, but we
found it more in America, than in Britain, until we came back.
FB:- Was the scene as crazy as people have made it out to be in London?
NR:- The whole scene wasn't that crazy. Everyone was very well behaved.
Everybody was starting to grow long hair and
wear pink suits and purple glasses and stuff and then, I suppose, some
people thought we were crazy, but we weren't really
crazy because we're all still here!
FB:- So what was your first encounter with psychedelics?
NR:- The first time was on an airplane going from London to New York. I was
sitting beside Brian Jones and he gave me this
little tablet and he said "Take it''. So I took it because like he was
Brian Jones, you know! The next thing I basically remember
was that I was on some boat in New York and I said "Well it doesn't affect
me'' and the next thing I knew was I was in San
Francisco (laughter). It did affect me actually!
FB:- What do you have to say about psychedelics? Would you do it again?
NR:- I wouldn't do it again, ever. I suppose the old natural stuff would be
ok, the old mushroom, but I wouldn't advise anyone
to do it. Then again, I've taken a lot. I took a lot of LSD over many
years. I wouldn't advise anyone to do it unless they know
what they're doing. If I was sitting beside Brian Jones again and he gave
me a tablet, I suppose I'd still take it (laughter).
FB:- Would you change it if you did it all over?
NR:- I wouldn't think so, I'm still here, thankfully.
FB:- Do you think LSD is of any use?
NR:- I personally think that a lot of people who have mental problems etc.
could be helped with something like that under
supervision. It would help them. The LSD situation is only a catalyst to
the brain, as the brain has all that stuff anyway, because
it's the subconscious that comes out. It opens the same channels as those
opened by yoga etc, but one has to be careful.
FB:- What did you think of Leary and the rest?
NR:- Well, I think we met him once. They started out in Yale - Leary &
Richard Alpert - because they'd discovered smoking
dope etc but they wanted to get higher, and being psychologists, they
started experimenting with LSD. I had this record at one
point where they described when they went into some house for a weekend and
they were taking something like 250
micrograms of pure LSD every hour and they were there for three days and no
- - one knows what happened in that house,
because they couldn't remember it. They were elsewhere. I still say keep
away from LSD.
FB:- What was Jimi's attitude towards Acid?
NR:- He loved it.
FB:- Do you think that his music would have been different without it?
NR:- I think it helped the old lyrics. He enjoyed it so, therefore, the guy
could write some good stuff.
FB:- What is your most treasured memory of your time with the Experience?
NR:- Maybe the last gig we did in London at the Albert Hall. Monterey
obviously. The fact of being with the band and the ups
and downs of it. So it's all a good memory basically. I wished I'd got paid!
FB:- Some people tend to forget that the Jimi Hendrix Experience was a
group and not just one person. Does this
NR:- Yes! But people are now realising why I was playing bass with Hendrix.
FB:- So how did the Experience work in the studio?
NR:- We'd go in the studio late, normally. Hendrix would say "I've got this
song''. I'd say "What key is it in''. Mitch would ask
"What tempo is it in''. We'd quickly learn it in the studio, because we
didn't rehearse that much anyway, and we'd put it down.
There were times when Jimi showed me little licks but there again I showed
him licks as well, on his songs, which I never got
credit for. So it was basically very free form. It was rehearsing in the
studio, at which point they were setting up the sound, and
once we'd got the thing together they'd actually record it, without us
FB:- Did you know Mitch Mitchell before you were in the Experience?
NR:- No, not at all.
FB:- What involvement did you have with the Underground if any?
NR:- There was some place in Covent Garden, the Arts Lab I think, and I
went there a few times. We did one gig at the
Olympia place in London and that's when it was all happening in '67 with
strobes, coloured lights and all of that stuff that had
just come into Britain.
FB:- How well did you know the Beatles?
NR:- Well the first encounter I had with the Beatles was in '66 at a press
reception at a place called the Bag'O'Nails, a pub in
London. We did our gig and afterwards in the dressing room, which was like
a closet, Lennon walked in, which freaked me
out. He was saying "Fuckin' grand!'', he loved it, but I was like 20 years
old, John Lennon had just walked into our dressing
room and said "That's grand lads'' and then McCartney walked in and that
freaked me out even more. Later on in '67 we
played at the Saville theatre in London, which was owned by Brian Epstein,
and the same sort of thing happened. We played
one gig there and we were invited to some party afterwards. I had my motor
so I took Mitch & Hendrix and we arrived at this
place near the Irish Embassy. I knocked on the door & McCartney opened it,
which freaked me out yet again. We went
upstairs and they had a professional joint roller there as well!
FB:- What about the Stones?
NR:- Well I used to hang out with Brian at the Speakeasy and he used to
take me home in his Rolls and drop me off at my £6
a week flat. He was very nice. Brian was a very nice person.
FB:- So what split the 'Experience?
NR:- The band had been working for two & a half years solid, on the road,
travelling all the time. We had no sleep or days off
or anything like that and then, when the band became big, Hendrix became a
star and looked down at us lot. It just fell apart
around October 1968.
FB:- Do you think the 'Experience could have stayed together?
NR:- Well, we stayed together for another six months after the band broke
up, but then I left.
FB:- What would the fourth 'Experience album have been like?
NR:- The fourth LP is probably coming out very soon.
FB:- Do you think that Jimi was being manipulated by the music industry
when the 'Experience broke up?
NR:- I think he was under pressure, because there were all these contracts
going down that no-one knew nothing about.
Hendrix wasn't coming up with the same quality material because the record
company was saying that he had to come up with
stuff "comparable" to his previous stuff. I do think the guy was a bit lost
and I do think he was getting manipulated business
wise. The poor guy, bless him, just needed some time off. He should have
come to Ireland for a year!
FB:- Do you think the music industry has changed much over the years?
NR:- Not really, I still don't get paid.
FB:- After you left the 'Experience what did you do?
NR:- Well, I'd had the Fat Mattress earlier as a writing outlet for songs
and that. When I left the 'Experience, the Fat Mattress
did a German tour and an American tour, then that all collapsed as well and
I was living in Los Angeles. I had another band
called Road. A three piece Heavy Metal type thing, and in 1972 I moved to
FB:- Tell us about the Fat Mattress.
NR:- The Fat Mattress consisted of people I'd played with before joining
the 'Experience and it was put together as a song
writing situation. There was Neil Landon on vocals (who's now in Hamburg),
Jimmy Leverton on vocals, from Dover, who
played bass and flute and sang and wrote - he's now playing with Steve
Marriott I gather - and Eric Dillon, the drummer, who
came from Swindon and is now a barman in LA, I think.
FB:- Who formed the band?
NR:- I did.
FB:- Why do you think the band was never successful in the UK?
NR:- I don't know!
FB:- Which of the two LP's is your favourite?
NR:- The first one.
FB:- Any favourite tracks?
NR:- Well, there was one song that I wrote called "Highway'' which I wrote
in America, and Neil Landon came back to
Europe, after I'd left Fat Mattress, and he recorded it on Fat Mattress II.
He couldn't remember how it went so he put in
different lyrics and the wrong chords, so I wouldn't like that track at all.
FB:- Why did you leave the band?
NR:- They brought a guy on stage in Long Island to jam and they hadn't
asked me about it. Attitude.
FB:- Do you think the LP's will be reissued?
NR:- I hope so! I could get some writing royalties couldn't I! After the
recent interest in America generated by last months
tour, I think that possibly Polydor might issue a best of CD or something.
FB:- Was there any material that was recorded and not released?
NR:- A couple of things. I've got the tapes here somewhere.
FB:- What bands were you in after 1972?
NR:- Well, I put a band together with Eric Bell from Thin Lizzy, with Dave
Clark on keyboards and Leslie Samson on drums,
and they called it The Noel Redding Band which I hated, because I wanted to
call it The Clonakilty Cowboys. We did two
albums for RCA, we did three tours of Holland, two tours of England, one
tour of Ireland and a ten week tour in America and
then we sued our management because they were ripping us off. Robert
Patterson & John Brewer.
FB:- So do you still have much involvement in the music industry?
NR:- Well, I still play!
FB:- So why did you move to Ireland?
NR:- It's a wonderful place to live!
FB:- Do you ever yearn for the hectic life on the road again, the women,
NR:- No. No. I've got a woman. I don't do drugs any longer. For the 'Lear
Jet Limo', I might go on a tour, if I got paid for it!
FB:- What do you think would have saved Jimi Hendrix?
NR:- If he'd moved to Ireland.... No, I think the person there who went out
to buy cigarettes when someone was spewing up
in bed. I mean, you don't go out and buy cigarettes do you? You know? You
take 'em to the toilet & put your finger down
their throat. That would have saved Jimi Hendrix. There again, it could
have been something put in his body by somebody else,
one never knows.
FB:- What do you think of most of the releases that have come out after
NR:- They're a load of crap. A load of shit to be quite precise. We only
did three good albums.
FB:- Were you involved in the McGough & McGear album?
NR:- Yeah, I went down and played a tambourine I think, or sang along, at
Kingsway studio in London. I've never heard the
That's it! Those who wish to know more may be interested to know that Noel
has written a book with his lady Carol Appelby,
which has been compiled over the last ten years from diaries and legal
files. It was published recently by a small London firm
called Fourth Estate Books, and includes some unpublished photographs. It's
entitled "Are You Experienced?'' and Noel
describes it as "the first proper insight into the Experience''. Look out
by Richard Allen.
NOEL REDDING DISCOGRAPHY
The Jimi Hendrix Experience (Selected LP's only)
1.Are You Experienced? (1967) Polydor
2.Axis Bold As Love (1967) Polydor
3.Electric Ladyland (1968) Polydor (Dble)
4.Singles (198?) Polydor (Dble)
5.Radio One (1989) Castle Communications
1.Fat Mattress (1969) Polydor
2.Fat Matress II (1970) Polydor
1.Road (1972) Kama Sutra
Noel Redding Band
1.Clonakilty Cowboys (1975) RCA
2.Blowin (1976) RCA
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