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article imageJimi Hendrix 'Experience' Drummer, Mitch Mitchell, Dead at 61

By Stephen Dohnberg     Nov 13, 2008 in Entertainment
Mitch Mitchell, last surviving member of the Experience,was found dead in his Portland, Oregon hotel room Wed.He was 61.
Half of a powerful rhythm section,he provided grounding for Hendrix's guitar.Mitchell's jazz style aided Hendrix in pushing himself.
Mitch Mitchell, the last surviving member of the Jimi Hendrix Experience, the genre smashing group of the 1960's, was found dead in his hotel room in Portland, Oregon Wednesday a.m. He was 61.
The talented drummer and one half of the powerful rhythm section, along with bass player Noel Redding, provided the ground for Jimi Hendrix's soaring guitar work. His jazz inspired style assisted Hendrix to push his talents further and further.
Few bands have had such a lasting legacy. Especially for such a short period of actually putting records out. From 1967's debut album "Are You Experienced?", the follow up, "Electric Ladyland" (1967) and "Axis: Bold As Love." (1968), the three records have inspired generations of musicians from underground acts the Butthole Surfers and the Flaming Lips, to any number of mainstream artists. Their reach spans every genre and every epoch in the rock pantheon.
Influenced by such jazz greats as John Coltrane's drummer Elvin Jones, whom Mitchell credited for his syncopated. polyrythmic style, as well as Gene Krupa and Max Roach, many critics and fans considered him as powerful a drummer as Keith Moon (the Who), as driving as John Bonham (Led Zeppelin) and possessing the finesse of contemporary Ginger Baker (Cream).
Matt Cameron (Soundgarden), and Scott Asheton (The Stooges), also cite Mitchell as an influence on their styles.
I had the chance to speak with Mitch Mitchell in 1997. I asked him about how he came to work with Hendrix. "I was just lucky that Chas knew me. He had left the Animals and decided to get into managing groups and was very excited about this guitar player from America. Looking back - for all of us - it was some kind of chance and the time, a very exciting time in music."
After leaving work with Hendrix briefly while Hendrix worked on the Band Of Gypsys with Billy Cox (bass) and Buddy Miles (drums), Mitchell returned and was Hendrix's drummer in 1970 when Hendrix passed away from an accidental death.
Holding their first rehearsals in October of 1966 at the urging of Chas Chandler, Hendrix manager and former Animals bass player, the Jimi Hendrix Experience was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1992.
Jimi Hendrix died in 1970 at the age of 27, while bass player Noel Redding died in 2003 in his home at the age of 57.
Mitchell penned a book about his work with the band, "Jimi Hendrix: Inside the Experience".Noel Redding also produced a book on his time in the Experience, "Are You Experienced?''
According to AP reports, Deputy medical examiner Erin Patrick, said "Mitchell apparently died of natural causes." An autopsy will be performed.
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