I lost a sweet friend this week. Cancer Sucks. Marilyn was a music junkie. She lived and breathed music; it was everything to her. When she was a small child, she saw Hendrix live. She told me the details of that amazing night.
Hendrix did 7 shows opening for The Monkees. Seriously, what was that promoter smoking? Marilyn’s father took her to the concert with two of her sisters. 20,000 screaming 8 year olds wanting Davy Jones. Being so young, Marilyn was wide eyed just by being in the stadium surrounded by insanely pumped up children totally out of control with excitement. The lights dimmed and out into the spotlight stepped this unearthly creature in an orange and purple tie-dyed outfit. Fringe everywhere, bell-bottoms, a headband, he just seemed to “glitter.” It was a spectacle she would never forget. Spellbound, she couldn’t take her eyes off Jimi or the psychedelic backdrop swirling around him. It was so bright and the colors so vivid against his dark skin that it almost seemed like a cartoon. Then he started to play the National Anthem. Or…so she thought. What was this? The guitar was wailing and screaming and sounds she had never heard before were filling the stadium while this superhuman contorted his body with every note. Madness. Then, he went into foxy Lady. At this point the crowd was in a frenzy booing and screaming, Foxy, Davy, Foxy, they were furious. All those little girls wanted Davy Jones and hated this madman that was keeping them from him. But Marilyn felt differently. There was an innocence and riveting power about this man that she liked. She knew she was witnessing history, even at such a young age, but it was hazy. Since she had been born, music had filled her house but nothing even remotely like this. This man was special. Was he human?…she wasn’t sure. He went into Purple Haze and then it got very ugly. The booing turned into an angry mob throwing things at Jimi and demanding he leave the stage. The more the crowd protested the further Marilyn was drawn into the amazing tone, the blinding speed and the power that he had over the guitar. It became another appendage, another arm, another leg. She was hypnotized and couldn’t ever forget that sound. Jimi made it through four songs that night before he threw his guitar down and stormed off the stage.
As Mickey Dolenz later recalled, “Jimi would amble out onto the stage, fire up the amps and break out into ‘Purple Haze,’ and the kids in the audience would instantly drown him out with ‘We want Daaavy!’ God, was it embarrassing.”
Mike Nesmith observed, “The night he opened in front of us, he walked into the beast. There were 20,000 pink waving arms…He would sing, “Foxy” and they would shout, “Davy”“Foxy” Davy”…oh man, it was a seriously twisted moment…he lasted seven dates.”
Marilyn loved The Monkees but she felt cheated and really sad that her superman had disappeared. That moment in history changed her life, and as a result changed mine. She said no one talked in the car on the way home from the concert. Marilyn and her sisters were in shock. Finally, her father asked, “What did you think of Hendrix?” It was quiet and then Marilyn said, “he glittered.” Her father replied, “That man will be very famous, and there will never be another.”
Hendrix has been a huge influence on my music and I always wondered if hearing that story when I was young influenced my career path. Yes, I come from a family of musicians and my dad was a well known guitarist. But something about the details of that night have always stayed with me. My dad always told me to listen to instrumentalists to learn about phrasing and not other vocalists. Hendrix was usually my choice. The phrasing of every guitar line is like breathing and even with all the guitar greats out there, no one else to me comes close. I wonder what Jimi would be doing now? We lost a superhuman of a genius artist that can never be replicated or replaced. Oh we try to recreate the magic, but we always fall short. I listen to Hendrix almost every day. I feel like I knew him well. Much peace and comfort to you Jimi, and thank you for your amazing gift…and goodbye Marilyn.