Mitch Mitchell, R.I.P.

Nov 13th, 2008 // 11 Comments

The final living member of the Jimi Hendrix Experience, drummer John “Mitch” Mitchell, has passed on at the age of 61. To call him influential would be an understatement: The work that the Jimi Hendrix Experience did over their brief existence and three proper albums is fairly unimpeachable, mostly killer with little filler. Forget the stuff they’ve scavenged off Jimi’s bones in the nearly forty years since his death–the Experience stuff is where it’s at, an astounding blend of blues and psychedelic rock that still sounds avant to these ears.

Mitchell, who had previously worked with Georgie Fame and the Blue Flames and The Pretty Things, brought a jazz touch to the proceedings and, subsequently, has been tagged a progenitor of the fusion crowd, which does him a disservice. Unlike a lot fusion jazzbos to follow in his footsteps, he adhered to tasteful melodicism. He had to work around some “playerly” players in Hendrix and guitarist-cum-bassist Noel Redding, following their leads and darting in and out of what little rhythmic space they left him. He was loose but never ramshackle, and he could wield a light touch that remained emphatic. As a drummer, I’ve always respected him for his ability to move around inside of a song and still rock the shit out of it. He could barrel through a tune with the best of them, but I think it’s the quieter and weirder moments like “The Wind Cries Mary” or “The Burning of the Midnight Lamp” where he really showed his creativity. If it sounds like he was one of my favorite drummers, well, he was, and I’m sad to see him go.

Mitch Mitchell, drummer for Hendrix, found dead [AP]

  1. Oldboy

    I particularly like his touch on “Stone Free.” Sad to die in a lonely hotel room in Portland…

  2. Anonymous

    Now there is nobody left from The Experience…perhaps one of the greatest meetings of minds, hearts and musicianship.

    R.I.P. Mitch….I will be playing your music as I always have…but it will just sting that much more…

  3. Anonymous

    R.I.P. Mitch Mitchell

  4. Michaelangelo Matos

    Great obit, Lucas. Good to hear from a drummer on this.

  5. KristaJulieva

    Well, I’m an occasional drummer, a hobbyist drummer, a casual drummer and Mitch Mitchell to me was always sorely underrated. He’s in my pantheon of top three classic rock drummer along with Keith Moon and John Bonham.

  6. CaptainPeacockSuit

    He was also in the Riot Squad…check them out.

  7. Anonymous

    Roger Ebert said that he envied anyone who hadn’t seen “Casablanca” because such a great pleasure awaited her. I feel the same way about “Are You Experienced?” except that the album is a greater artistic achievement than the movie. Mitch not only kept up with the most inventive guitarist who ever drew a breath, he actually propelled him. We love you, man. Thank you.

  8. DaeSu

    For me, it’s all about “Manic Depression” and that swirling, soulful drum sound. Monumental.

  9. Poet001

    I totally agree with these comments and appreciate that there are a lot of people out there going through the same thing as I am. To this day, I have never gotten over the death of Jimi Hendrix let alone Noel and now Mitch. Whenever I watch a documentary on Hendrix, I am a wreck for at least a week. At the age of 10 or 11 I strapped on a guitar and put on Are You Experienced and started playing. Before I knew it, I had formed many bands and was very fortunate to have seen Hendrix several times The first time being in 1967 when I was 14 yrs. old. Then, Jack Cassady played bass so that Noel Redding could play guitar and back Jimi up. Cream was the first band to play and what a show. So as the rest of you, I will constantly have this on my mind and at some points, struggling with it, having a difficult time accepting that an era has been laid to rest. As for Manic Depression… that use to be one of my favorite songs to play and the drumming is insne. I absolutely love when Hendrix starts to break into his solo with the touching of several strings on the guitar neck as Mitch Mitchell begins to fill in even more.

  10. Poet001

    I forgot to mention… for those of you that would like to, I’ve created a little Hendix page on one of my web sites and you can find the link on this page; []
    One of the songs I have on the Jimi’s Death page, is one written by John Mayall-Accidental Suicide. It has Eric Clapton, Mick Taylor and Harvey Mandell playing in that song. Harvey Mandell was also and still is a great guitarist and I was glad that I got to see him as many times as I did and was able to talk extensively with him on several occasions back in the 60′s and 70′s. Ok, I hope you like the page!

  11. Poet001

    I need to correct an error. It wasn’t until age 13 that I put on the album, “Are You Experienced” as that would have been 1966.

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