Eddie Kramer, South African producer and engineer, is celebrating his 77th birthday today. Regarded as a true rock icon, Kramer is known for working with some of music history’s biggest names including The Rolling Stones, Eric Clapton, David Bowie, Bad Company, The Beatles to name but a few. He is also celebrated for his long-term associations with Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin and Kiss. The South African moved to London where he began his recording career at legendary studios including Pye Studios, Regent Sound and Olympic Studios. Kramer engineered Jimi Hendrix’s “Electric Lady Land” LP in 1968 at the Record Plant in NYC where he also worked with Joe Cocker, NRBQ and The Vanilla Fudge. Kramer and his crew are also famous for recording the whole 1969 Woodstock festival. The studio became known as one of the world’s most popular recording studios. In 1969 he went independent where he produced Johnny Winter’s first LP and engineered “Led Zeppelin II”. In the same year, Hendrix hired Eddie to build an exquisite art studio, Electric Lady Studios, where he served as Director of Engineering from 1970 -1974. He has also worked on live recordings by Kiss, Led Zeppelin, The Rolling Stones, Joe Cocker, Curtis Mayfield, David Bowie and Peter Frampton. Kramer has won several Grammys for his audio production of the video Jimi Hendrix live album The Band of Gypsies, “The Game of Love”, with Carlos Santana and vocals by Michelle Branch, Martin Scorcese presents- Jimi Hendrix –“The Blues” which Eddie produced and engineered, Jimi Hendrix –“Live at Berkley,” Led Zeppelin- “How the West was Won”. Jeff Beck, Eric Clapton, The Cure, Buddy Guy and the Pixies also owe their thanks to Kramer for producing and engineering some of their best-selling albums. He is currently working on Acoustic Experience- a contemporary acoustic remake of Hendrix’s songs with artists Jason Mraz/Crosby and Nash, Mike Mc Cready and Brandi Carlisle, Grace Potter, Rafael Saadiq, Heart, Shinedown, etc. As a skilled photographer, his work is regarded as a highly valued collector’s items that have been exhibited in some of the world’s most prestigious galleries and museums.
Today, 50 years ago, The Jimi Hendrix Experience appeared live on The Lulu Show in the UK. The band was booked to perform two songs, ‘Voodoo Child’ and ‘Hey Joe’, but Hendrix stopped in the middle of their second song to launch into a version of ‘Sunshine Of Your Love’ from Cream to pay tribute to the band who broke up just days earlier. With Hendrix proceeding with his performance, the band exceeded their allocated time slot on the live show. This prevented Lulu, the host of the show from closing properly.
Bassist, Noel Redding, wrote in his memoir, “We cringed.” He described Hendrix, and drummer Mitch Mitchell walked into that day as being “so straight it was only natural that we would try to combat that atmosphere by having a smoke in our dressing room. In our haste, the lump of hash got away and slipped down the sink drainpipe. Panic! We just couldn’t do this show straight–Lulu didn’t approve of smoking! She was then married to Maurice Gibb of the Bee Gees, whom I’d visited and shared a smoke with. I could always tell Lulu was due home when Maurice started throwing open all the windows. Anyway, I found a maintenance man and begged tools from him with the story of a lost ring. He was too helpful, offering to dismantle the drain for us. It took ages to dissuade him, but we succeeded in our task and had a great smoke.”
Hendrix, although making rock and roll history, was reportedly banned from the BBC.
Today, 52 years ago, the first Jimi Hendrix Experience single, ‘Hey Joe’, was released. After being rejected by the Decca label, it was released in the UK on Polydor records and went on to reach a No. 6 position, although failing to chart in the US. This song is famous for kickstarting Hendrix’s career. After being discharged from the US Army in 1962, he took the role of a backing musician for The Isley Brothers and Little Richard. He then moved on performing under the name Jimmy James in the group Jimmy James and the Blue Flames in 1966 where he introduced ‘Hey Joe’ to their setlist. It was during a show at at the Greenwich Village club Cafe Wha? where a member of The Animals, Chas Chandler, heard the song and knew that Hendrix was the man to record the song. The single was written by Billy Roberts, a singer who was part of the Greenwich Village folk scene in the early ‘60s.
Today, 48 years ago, Jimi Hendrix made his final live appearance in Germany when he appears at the Isle Of Fehmarn. 12 days later, on September 18th, the guitarist died in Kensington, London. Hendrix is one of the most influential guitarists of the 60’s and described by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as “arguably the greatest instrumentalist in the history of rock music.” Hendrix struggled with poor health due to overworking, extreme lack of sleep and illness for some days before his death and also experienced frustration about his personal relationships and disillusionment with the music industry. Hendrix spent much of his last day with German figure skater and painter, Monika Dannemann.
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Today, 49 years ago, the Woodstock Festival was held outside New York on Max Yasgur’s 600-acre dairy farm in Bethel.
The Woodstock Festival was a three-day concert attended by over 400,000 people and involved a whole lot of sex, drugs and rock ’n roll. The event featured artists such as Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, The Band, Joe Cocker, Arlo Guthrie, Blood Sweat and Tears, Country Joe and the Fish, Ravi Shanker Crosby Stills Nash & Young, Santana, The Who, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Grateful Dead, Canned Heat, Joan Baez, Melanie, Ten Years After, Sly and the Family Stone, Johnny Winter, and Jefferson Airplane.
Organised by four young men, John Roberts, Joel Rosenman, Artie Kornfeld, and Mike Lang, the 1969 Woodstock Festival became an icon of the 60’s hippie counterculture. The oldest of the four at the time was only 27 years old.