Chapter Forty 1968-20 Voodoo Chile (Slight Return) Tuesday February 24th 1969 Well I'm standing next to a Mountain

Phew made it! Yeah what a day! At least we'll get back to Archies tonight. We'll have to walk from the station though. Who cares! I do that all the time; easier than walking back from London! Yeah, yeah, and we didn't have to wait for the milk train either. See? I told you we didn't have to miss a great concert ever again! It was true! Bunch had been standing in the middle of Coney Street on Saturday October 22nd 1968, when he suddenly turned to me and said. Do you realise that Cream will be doing the sound check for their final concert right now and we aren't going to be there tonight? Right now? Yes, right now! We’re gonna miss Cream, who will never play together again,;ever! And we’ve already missed The Doors and Captain Beefheart, And his Magic Band! Yeah, we’ve missed all that magic and we could have seen them if we'd really made the effort. And Big Brother and the Holding Company; we missed Big Brother and the Holding Company… With Janis Joplin; that's just completely unacceptable. We are never going to miss another great concert ever again. Bunch was right; it was getting to be unacceptable that when the big American groups came over to England we remained trapped in Archies. The British bands all played York of course, but not the American ones, and as British bands started doing well in the USA, like Cream, they only played big UK concerts, usually in London, when they came back. We were starting to find it hard to keep up as the music scene developed. The only problem was we were locked up seven days a week in boarding school. But something had to be done and Bunch was determined to make sure we did it. And I chop it down with the edge of my hand Hendrix, man! Yeah, Hendrix!

I mean just how good is he? Well I would say that he could "stand next to a mountain" And he could "chop it down with the edge of his hand” Yeah! Easily and then some; blues, pop, jazz, psychedelic, and astro-travelling all the while, just so we'll never have to hear surf music again... And that's just the styles, Yeah! Solo, group, jamming, studio wizardry And that's just the context, Move over Rover and let my two hands, one hand, no hands take over! And then he'll bite your head off with his teeth. And pick up all the pieces and make islands out of the sand He’s a wizard, a true magician! Bunch and I had somehow escaped from Archies and got tickets to see the last official concert of the Jimi Hendrix Experience at the Royal Albert Hall. Sensitive, showboating, mellow, virtuosic, flamboyant; melodically grinding out his unique soul-blues psychedelia Hendrix gently fed all of our fantasies back to us and then bluesily found some new notes to deepen our understanding of Hendrix music, in the greatest concert we'd ever seen. It was also the greatest escape trick we had ever worked on our old school. We had magicked it so completely that we were OFFICIALLY out late on a Tuesday night, a regular school night, and we were not expected to be back for "lights out" at 10.45 either, so we could come back at any time in the near future. cause I’m a voodoo chile, Lord knows I’m a voodoo chile, baby. Even the maniacally masturbating pubescent teens we had to look after night after night couldn't get us into trouble on this very night. Our operation had been planned meticulously and Operation Voodoo Chile had worked in all phases of its execution; pretty cool! We'd managed to cover all the bases by setting up fake University interviews at the other end of country so that we could return to school late, and so stay until the end of the concert. Bunch was supposed to be coming back from Bath University and I was supposed to be coming back from the University of Kent at Canterbury, and the train times meant that we could justify our late return. I didn’t mean to take up all your sweet time, I'll give it right back to you one of these days. Well we had missed Cream four months earlier, although we did catch

Hendrix's unauthorized tribute to them on Lulu's show; they ended the programme with Hendrix just playing on because it was live and they couldn’t drag him off; magic! But when James Marshall Hendrix said he'd had enough of the Experience and that they were splitting up Bunch was primed to go and we hatched our plan pretty quickly. The trickiest part was the tickets. We got some money together (don’t ask), bought postal orders and mailed off our ticket request, but without holding out much hope of success. Fortunately for us the demand was so great that they had to put on a second show, and we got tickets to go to that, which they filmed. So suddenly there we were oop north in the Cittie of York, locked up in our boarding school but with our Jimi Hendrix tickets, bona-fide tickets to freedom (boy were we cool for fifteen minutes then) and just 200 miles of travel and a mid-week concert date to get to left for us to sort out. I said I didn’t mean to take up all your sweet time, I'll give it right back one of these days. With University entry coming up the following year and our UCAS forms to fill in we made sure we picked one place at a far distant University that we didn't really want to go to, but for which we would have to travel through London to visit; Bunch picked Bath and I picked Kent and we invented invitations for interviews on the very date of the concert. This was because the only time we could get round the lack of pocket money we were given was if we had an official visit to a university for an interview. In which case the school would buy our train tickets AND give us money (ten bob) for food. So it would be the school that would find the money for us to go and see Hendrix in London; that’s what I call a plan. And if I don’t meet you no more in this world Then I'll, I'll meet you in the next one and don’t be late, don’t be late. We had even managed to work a trick on that, by somehow getting the money from the school in CASH so we could buy the train tickets ourselves; we hitched down to London instead. We got a cheap local bus out of York to Tadcaster and so it was that at 10.30 in the morning we walked on to the A1 slip road and started hitching; in school uniforms. Being winter we had coats on, but we knew we still looked like distinctly uncool school kids. Fortunately a very young man in a two-seater MG sports car he wanted to show off stopped and took us down to Leicester East service station on the M1 where he planned to have lunch. But we couldn’t afford to waste time on food, we had to get to London, that mythically swinging domain ruled by a Voodoo Chile. We got out and walked right over to the exit where an amiable Londoner in a Cortina picked us up straight away and drove with great confidence but very fast. So we got all the way to London in less than four hours from York, all the way in fact to the

unbelievably exotic Arnos Grove. Neither Bunch nor I had ever heard of it, we had only heard of cool London places, but we were reassured that it really was in London (Arnos Grove are you sure?) so he took us to the Tube Station (QED) to prove it. On his advice we leapt on a tube, which took us directly into central London. We got giddier and giddier as we honed in on Piccadilly Circus, and Eros. Cause I’m a voodoo Chile, voodoo Chile, I say central London, but it was in fact just Soho that we headed for, home of the Marquee Club, which I had to show to Bunch as I had been there once already. Ten Years After were playing but we didn’t care as we were seeing Jimi. More importantly for us today it was home to the one and only legendary One Stop Records, on Dean Street, where we would lay some bread out on an imported album from the source of all things psychedelic, San Francisco. Bless Its Pointed Little Head by Jefferson Airplane please Are you sure Fred? I've not even heard of it! Yeah, of course not Bunch, it’s an import! It's the follow up to Crown of Creation which that student in Derwent College, was it Andy? Alan! Yeah, Alan, he played it for us. Remember we thought it was brilliant? Oh yeah, I think so, maybe. I do remember really liking something he played. Yeah, it was Crown of Creation, and it's bound to have some tracks from that on it, and… it’s not out in England yet; case dismissed! Lord knows I'm a voodoo Chile, hey hey hey. After buying the Airplane album the day suddenly felt long, as we had no money left to spend. We needed the money to get the train back to school so we walked through Hyde Park all the way to Knightsbridge and got into the Royal Albert Hall at the earliest possible opportunity. Shelter and a warm seat are always appreciated when you have been out in the cold all day in a strange city in February. If Clapton has formed Blind Faith, who will Hendrix play with next? Whoa that’s a good question! Could be anyone? Pity they are splitting up, I think Mitch Mitchell is the perfect drummer for him. Yeah, but he needs a bass player Hmm, Jack Casady?

Ssshhh, here he is And so he was I'm a voodoo Chile, baby No Jimi was the Voodoo Chile, our Voodoo Chile and Operation Voodoo Chile had worked like a dream, or a voodoo hoodoo on the school come true, and it would feed our slumbers for weeks. Hendrix played everything we wanted him to play and he played it neckwrenchingly well. As Bunch and I walked back to school across York after midnight we were still operating according to a much better plan than the flawed one we would eventually prepare for passing our A-levels, and we were singing “You got me floating…” NOTE; This is Chapter 40 from the 41 Chapter “63/68 A Visceral History” that you can read in full on Scribd, or download it if you prefer. All stories about hearing music in the 60s and how it changed my life. Enjoy! fred

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