July 17, 1967 – After making the decision to quit (after only seven dates) as the opening act for the Monkees on their U.S. tour, Jimi Hendrix got together with his old bandmate and friend, Curtis Knight, ostensibly to jam “off the record” at Ed Chalpin’s PPX Studios. This decision would prove to be both fateful and controversial, since he was in the middle of a lawsuit filed against him by Chalpin at the time. The basis of the lawsuit stemmed from a three year contract Hendrix signed prior to his success with the Experience, covering October 1965 to October 1968. Signed while still just a session player, it offered only a 1% royalty. When Chas Chandler, bassist of The Animals, decided to manage Jimi, one of his first orders of business was to buy out all of his existing contracts. Unfortunately, Jimi neglected to tell him about the contract signed with PPX. In 1967, when Chalpin discovered Hendrix was suddenly a major recording star following the success of his first single, “Hey Joe”, multiple lawsuits were filed in an attempt to cash in on this newfound success. In Chalpin’s mind, which he would contend for decades, he had given Hendrix an opportunity to develop his sound. Responding to the lawsuit, Hendrix’s management contended that PPX were trying to market older recordings as new releases. But in jamming with Knight at PPX studios with mics recording, PPX subsequently could make the claim that they in fact were in possession of new recordings with the artists’ full knowledge and approval. Even further, Hendrix would go back to PPX and record AGAIN in August of 1967, much to the dismay of his lawyers and management.
Although hundreds of bootlegs have appeared from the limited amount of legitimate recordings made with Hendrix and Curtis Knight and the Squires, many contain looped samples and vocals overdubbed at a much later date. In the last few years, the Hendrix estate has acquired the rights to the PPX recordings, and in 2015 released You Can’t Use My Name, an official release that mostly covers the pre-Experience recordings, as well as some of the August ‘67 material. But the recordings made on July 17th are still unofficially released, perhaps because it may be impossible to fully know who did what at the sessions. What seems to be undisputed is that Hendrix arrived with an 8-string bass and a wah-wah pedal (a new gadget at the time). Three songs are confirmed to feature Hendrix’s distinctive wah-wah infused guitar playing – “Happy Birthday” (famously sampled by the Beastie Boys on “Jimmy James”), “Love, Love, and Hush Now”, while a “4th, Flashing” is in dispute. In deposition, Hendrix claimed that only the introductory notes of the song feature his playing, but other sources claim his playing can be heard throughout. All songs were recorded on an “outmoded” 10-track, predating the 12-track by a year, and possibly accounting for what is considered the relatively poor sound quality heard on the recordings, by professional standards anyway. Despite this, the songs recorded at this session offer a unique perspective into Jimi Hendrix, session man, after having already achieved superstar status. words / z biggs