You didn’t question who ran the show in the Duke Ellington Orchestra, and the same principle applied to the Jimi Hendrix Experience. Though Mitch Mitchell and Noel Redding brought a great deal to Hendrix recordings and performances, both were sidemen in Hendrix’s band, and their contracts reflected that.
Yet Hendrix by no means discouraged Redding and Mitchell from bringing their own songs into sessions — quite the opposite, in fact. Hendrix wanted both to write songs for Experience records. And Redding got his first track on the second Experience LP, Axis: Bold as Love (1967).
By all accounts, the group had a blast recording Redding’s debut Experience composition. And the band tackled another Redding original on their double album, Electric Ladyland (1968). But though Hendrix wanted a song from Mitchell, Redding’s two tracks were the only two penned by Hendrix’s Experience bandmates.
Noel Redding’s ‘Little Miss Strange’ appeared on the 2nd Jimi Hendrix Experience LP
Hendrix definitely doesn’t get enough credit for his songwriting. On his debut Are You Experienced (1967), he trotted out 11 originals that comprised the entire tracklist. The set included his sparkling blues “Red House” in addition to the title track and “Foxy Lady.”
On Axis: Bold as Love, Hendrix showcased another impressive crop of songs. That tracklist included “Spanish Castle Magic,” “If Six Was Nine,” and “Little Wing.” On side 2, Experience fans got a taste of Redding’s writing on “She’s So Fine.”
The session sounded like a party. “Nobody could keep a straight face,” Experience manager Chas Chandler recalled in Hendrix: Setting the Record Straight. “Every time Noel opened his mouth, Hendrix would burst out laughing.”
Somehow, they managed to get the song down. And Hendrix made sure it went on Axis: Bold as Love. “Jimi insisted that Noel’s song be allowed on the album,” Chandler said. And so it was: “She’s So Fine” went out as the third track of the album’s second side.
Redding got ‘Little Miss Strange’ on ‘Electric Ladyland’
The Axis: Bold as Love sessions were the last stand in many ways for the Experience. During the session for “Spanish Castle Magic,” Hendrix insisted on recording so many takes of the basic track that Redding left halfway through. (Hendrix recorded the bass part for it.)
By Electric Ladyland, Hendrix was inviting other musicians to play on tracks. That’s Buddy Miles, the future member of the Band of Gypsys, you hear on “Rainy Day, Dream Away” and “Still Raining, Still Dreaming.” Mitchell didn’t protest when Miles sat in the drummer’s chair on that one.
Meanwhile, Hendrix was playing bass on other tracks. Yet Redding got his second of his two Experience songs on Electric Ladyland. “Little Miss Strange,” which kicks off the second of the four sides, is a Redding composition.
So what about Mitchell? “Jimi wanted Mitch to [a song] on as well because he felt he would get more commitment from them,” Chandler recalled in Setting the Record Straight. But though they worked on a song that Mitchell sang, it never got released. In the end, only two tracks by Hendrix’s Experience bandmates went out on the group’s records.