Jimi and Keith are two of the most notorious people ever to exist in the rock world. Both the hitmakers in the music scene had a rich history together. Jimi Hendrix changed the way the guitar was played back in the late 60s, and The Rolling Stones were already a big thing back then.
There are not that many documents that reveal their friendship. But despite that, it is a known fact that they were good friends. Back in the 1960s, Hendrix had just come to London, whereas Richards was already a star. Hendrix was also building his way up and was starting to make his name in the blues scene in London.
Most musicians got hold of Jimi Hendrix after he was a solo artist. But Keith knew about the guitarist when he was still playing in Curtis Knight band. Keith revealed, “I first heard him on the road with Curtis Knight, and then I used to see him play at a club called Ondine’s in New York. I thought I was watching someone just about to break. But as far as his being a guitar player, I mean, I was disappointed when the records started comin’ out.”
“Although, given the time and that period, and given the fact that he was forced into an “English psychedelic bag” and then had to live with it because that’s what made him . . . one of the reasons that he was so down at the period when he died was because he couldn’t find a way out of that. He wanted to just go back and start playing some funky music, and when he did, nobody wanted to know.”
Keith also talked about how that wave of success made Jimi do things he shouldn’t have done. He also revealed that he knew Hendrix well in person. “Everybody got sort of carried on this tidal wave of success for doing outlandish things until what they were really known for was the outlandishness of what they were doing, and not really what they were doing. I mean, even with Satanic Majesties, I was never hot on psychedelic music.”
“By the period of his demise — to put it politely — he was at the point of totally putting down and negating everything that had made him what he was. I mean all the psychedelic stuff. He felt like he’d been forced to do it over and over again so many times, just because that’s what he was known for. When I first heard him, he was playing straight-ahead R&B.”
Before all this, one who discovered him was Linda, Keith Richards’ then-partner. In an interview with The Observer in 2013, she said, “My initial thought, of course, was Keith must see this. I was determined that he should be noticed, get a record deal, and blow everybody’s mind. I knew it was all there so I went for it.”
Keith Richards has also commented about Hendrix in a way no one else has. Back in 2010 during an interview with San Diego Tribune, he disclosed how Hendrix ruined the guitar. He said, “One guy can ruin an instrument. Jimi Hendrix, bless his heart – how I wish he was still around – almost inadvertently ruined guitar.”
“Because he was the only cat who could do it like that. Everybody else just screwed it up, and thought wailing away (on the guitar) is the answer. But it ain’t; you’ve got to be a Jimi to do that, you’ve got to be one of the special cats.”
Seems like Linda also lend Hendrix a guitar before his stardom. Lina spent most of her time living in New York and that’s when she discovered Jimi. She also helped him by introducing him to Chas Chandler. One time, she also lend him Richard’s guitar as he couldn’t afford one. She disclosed, “It was the night he smashed up a white guitar. I was beside myself. I’d lent him a guitar belonging to my boyfriend and there he was smashing one up on stage! I was absolutely livid with Jimi because to me that’s the most un-cool thing to do.”