November 13, 2008

Legendary drummer Mitch Mitchell dead at 61

Mitch Mitchell, the Afro-sporting skinny little white dude who sat behind the skins for the Jimi Hendrix Experience, was found dead yesterday in a Portland, OR hotel room. Not much detail is yet available as to the circumstances of his death, other than he appeared to be in poor health earlier that night at a show.

All three members of the Jimi Hendrix Experience have now passed. Here's an obit from the Guardian UK.

Most people, even a lot of Hendrix fans, probably don't know a whole lot about Mitchell. He was a former child actor turned jazz musician who was selected in 1966, along with bassist Noel Redding, to back up Hendrix. Unlike Redding, he continued to record and perform with Hendrix late into his career, even when Hendrix's style changed from psychedelic pop to a more soul kind of a feel. He was one of Hendrix's closest confidants and most important collaborators. 

He was an awesome drummer and a true innovator. He mixed furious jazz fills around Hendrix's blues and psychedelic songs, playing an "around the beat" style that was the perfect compliment to the genius frontman. I've never heard a drummer quite like Mitch Mitchell. I've always though he was underrated and I think he deserves to be remembered as one of the great rock drummers of all time.

He'll be missed.