Visit to Jimi’s grave

“The story of life is quicker than the wink of an eye. The history of love is hello and goodbye. Until we meet again”…..Jimi Hendrix

Yes, it’s been awhile since I’ve logged into this site — but I’m back for the New Year. Between my real job as a newspaper managing editor, playing guitar in a reggae band, and just living life in general, Caliblackrock has been pushed to the side.

Regardless, I will make a concerted effort in 2011 to drop in from time to time.

On another note, me and my girlfriend finally made the road trip from Cali to Renton, Wash., just outside Seattle, to pay our respects to the prophet, Jimi Hendrix.

Took about two days to drive up from NorCal, listening to “Valleys of Neptune.” “Band of Gypsys” and other goodies along the way. Drove several hours through heavy rainstorms all the way from the Oregon, Washington border to the site.

We took some wrong turns, so it took awhile to find the place. Stopped at a gas station for directions. The clerk, in his late 50s, says “We don’t really like outsiders comin’ round here and causing problems. So if you wanna find out where Jimi’s buried, I a’int the one to tell you.”

There was an awkward silence for about five seconds. “Okay,” I said, puzzled.

“Ha ha! I’m just joshin ya!” he laughed.

Gotta admit, he’d fooled me, but I was relieved it was a joke. “I bet you tell that to everyone who comes through here asking for directions!”

Clerk wrote the directions on the back of a piece of paper. “You do know, Jimi is dead, right?” he quipped.

“Well,” I replied. “I guess that depends on who you talk to.”

Arrived at the memorial, and other than a family leaving, hardly anyone else was in the cemetery, Greenwood Memorial Park. The memorial is a small stone dome, mounted on pillars with marvelously drawn etchings of Jimi, along with lyrics to songs like “Angel” and Voodoo Child.

I left a yellow Dunlop guitar pick at the site and laid my hands on the headstone for a few minutes, hoping to absorb some residual Hendrixian guitar playin’ power energy. Others had laid flowers at the site, and there was also a pack of Japanese Marlboros. Someone had obviously come far to pay their respects.

After saying our goodbyes, a flock of ravens descended upon the memorial. The contrast between the grey sky and multitude of birds was surreal and a tad macabre. “Do you think it’s an omen of some sort?” I asked my girlfriend.

She smiled. “I think they’re just birds.”

Jimi Hendrix – 1983….(A Merman I Should Be) Apartment 1968

Dez Dickerson, Modernaire redux

Anyone who’s seen Prince’s “1999” video probably remembers the brotha in the funky kamikaze headband, who also sang background vocals.  Dez Dickerson was the first guitarist in Prince’s backing band, remembered for his eviscerating guitar solos, including some impressive fingerwork on “Little Red Corvette,” which is ranked #64 on Guitar World’s list of the 100 Greatest Guitar Solos.

Despite a brief appearance in the film “Purple Rain,” by 1984 Dez had dropped out Prince’s band, the Revolution.  After leaving Prince’s band, he became a born-again Christian,  founded his own Christian rock label, but for the most part dropped out of the mainstream spotlight.

Regardless, as illustrated by this clip, Dez never lost his chops. Here’s a recent 2010 Minneapolis performance of his song,  “Modernaire,” which appeared in the film “Purple Rain.”

United Districtz, free downtown Merced show, Nov. 6, 9-11 pm Off the Shelf books

For all ya’ll reggae/lover’s rock heads out there, come check out my band, United Disrictz, 9-11 pm Saturday, Nov. 6 at Off the Shelf books, located at 315 West Main Street in downtown Merced. The show is our first in Merced, and we’re looking forward to seeing all the Central Valley reggae party people. Oh yeah — and it’s free. So come get some coffee, purchase some left wing propaganda and snuggle up to the reggae jams — ah-ight!.

ROLLING STONE: Unreleased songs included in new Hendrix box set, release date Nov. Nov. 16

By Daniel Kreps

Unreleased songs, alternate takes, rare live recordings and Jimi Hendrix’s early work as a session musician will all be unearthed for the upcoming four-disc box set West Coast Seattle Boy: The Jimi Hendrix Anthology. The collection charts Hendrix’s career from his time as guitarist for the Isley Brothers and Little Richard to the weeks before his death in 1970, when he was recording alone in his New York apartment. The 45 unreleased recordings will be paired with a new documentary, Jimi Hendrix Voodoo Child, a 90-minute film culled from Hendrix’s own words and read by Parliament’s Bootsy Collins. West Coast Seattle Boy is out November 16th. List: the 100 Greatest Guitarists. The anthology’s first disc will focus on Hendrix’s work as a sideman; the second and third discs, on alternate takes of classics like “Fire” and “May This Be Love,” plus a heap of unreleased tracks; and the fourth on Hendrix’s December 31st, 1969 concert at the Fillmore East, plus private recordings Jimi made in his Greenwich Village apartment in 1970. Notable tracks: A recording of “Everlasting First” that pairs Hendrix with Love’s Arthur Lee, and alternate versions of “1983 (A Merman I Shall Turn To Be)” and “The Star-Spangled Banner.” West Coast Seattle Boy will also feature a never-before-heard recording of Hendrix covering Bob Dylan’s “Tears of Rage.” (“All Along the Watchtower,” Hendrix’s cover of Bob Dylan’s John Wesley Harding track, is among Hendrix’s best-known songs.) Jimi Hendrix: classic photos. In a statement, Janie Hendrix, Jimi’s sister and president of Experience Hendrix, says: “This vast exploration of my brother’s musical and life experiences leaves no stone unturned and is sure to broaden our understanding of who Jimi really was, not only as a legendary musician, but also as a timeless messenger of love.” West Coast Seattle Boy will wrap up a year’s worth of Hendrix releases in which his entire discography was reissued.

Stew and the Negro Problem tour dates

Stew and his band the Negro Problem are black in Cali in late October/early November.

Beyond being the lead singer of The Negro Problem, Stew won a Tony Award for penning “Passing Strange,” an amazing rock musical about a brotha from South Central Los Angeles to find himself and “The Real.”

Spike Lee also filmed a performance of Passing Strage, which is now available on DVD.


Oct. 26-27 UC Davis Mondavi Center, Davis CA, Tickets $49 – regular | $24.50 – student

Nov. 2, Echoplex, Los Angeles, CA  — $25 advance | $28 day of show
Standing — $20 advance | $23 day of show

Vid of the day: “Blind” by Game Rebellion

New Tony MacAlpine album

Guitar virtuoso Tony MacAlpine has a new album and a new band,  Seven the Hardway.

MacAlpine is without on the the top guitar shredders in the world. Comparisons with Steve Vai and Joe Satriani are always made when his name is mentioned. Seeing him in action definitely deserves some Wayne’s World “We are not worthy” groveling of the highest order.

Preview the new album at

Exhibition looks at Jimi Hendrix’s London years

By JILL LAWLESS (AP) – Aug 24, 2010

LONDON — They were both immigrants in Britain who changed the face of music — one with a harpsichord and a composer’s pen, the other with an electric guitar.

George Frideric Handel and Jimi Hendrix also shared an address, living 200 years apart in adjoining 18th-century London houses. Now, 40 years after Hendrix’s death, a new exhibition about his London years brings these two unlikely neighbors together.

Hendrix, who came to London as an ambitious but little-known guitarist in 1966, was aware of his link to the musical past. He bought recordings of Handel’s “Messiah,” and obligingly gave tours of his apartment to music students who knocked on the door looking for traces of the composer.

“He once claimed to have seen a reflection of Handel’s face in his shaving mirror,” said Martin Wyatt, deputy director of the Handel House Museum, which is mounting an exhibition about Hendrix’s London years that opens to the public Wednesday.

“Hendrix was convinced he was living in Handel’s house — but actually he was living next door.”

Handel lived at 25 Brook Street — a Georgian house in the tony Mayfair area — for 36 years until his death in 1759. The museum devoted to his life uses the adjoining upstairs apartment where Hendrix lived as offices.

Museum curators hope to raise money to restore the apartment to its 1960s glory and open it as a permanent Hendrix exhibition.

For now, members of the public will be able to visit for 12 days next month. They will have to use their imaginations to picture the small, whitewashed rooms with their utilitarian desks as they were then, decorated in garish 60s style with red carpets and turquoise velvet curtains, chock-a-block with guitars, amps, rugs and knickknacks.

“All the photos look really classy until you see them in color,” said the museum’s learning and events officer, Claire Parker.

Handel had paid 60 pounds a year for the house, the equivalent of about 5,000 pounds ($7,700) today. Hendrix and his girlfriend Kathy Etchingham paid 30 pounds a week — a consierable sum for the 60s, equivalent to about 350 pounds a week today.

By all accounts Hendrix enjoyed the domestic side of London life — though the appliances were not always up to his modern American standards.

“When they first moved in, Hendrix was horrified to find a 1950s gas fridge, which he thought was the most old-fashioned thing he had ever seen.” Parker said. They bought an electric one, as well as a yellow Formica kitchen table.

Parker said Hendrix “was quite well known in John Lewis,” the venerable London department store.

“It’s this other side of him you don’t really think about — Jimi Hendrix shopping for carpets and soft furnishings.”

When he wasn’t at home, Hendrix was honing his sound and building his reputation through incendiary live shows. He came to London in 1966 after being spotted by producer Chas Chandler playing in a New York bar with his band Jimmy James and the Blue Flames.

He began gigging immediately — a list of his British shows in the exhibition has scores of entries, from pubs to provincial working men’s clubs to the vast Isle of Wight rock festival. In 1967 he released the acclaimed album “Are You Experienced?” and soon was touring internationally, gaining fame for his innovative, heavily distorted guitar style.

“He was an absolute revelation to everyone here,” Wyatt said. “It was like an earthquake rumbling through the music scene.”

“I think for Hendrix London was much more open — in America he was too white for black music and too black for white music. Here there was a burgeoning blues scene that wasn’t that categorized.”

The Hendrix exhibition, which runs to Nov. 7, is a bit of a shock next to the muted gray walls, oil paintings and harpsichords of the rooms devoted to Handel’s life.

Among the exhibits are the Gibson Flying V guitar that Hendrix played at the Isle of Wight festival in August 1970, handwritten lyrics and a splendid orange velvet jacket and black Westerner hat.

There is also a copy of Hendrix’s death certificate. He died in a London hotel on Sept. 18, 1970, aged 27. The certificate gives the archetypally rock ‘n’ roll causes as “inhalation of vomit” and barbiturate intoxication.

Wyatt said some of the museum’s supporters were skeptical at first about the Hendrix display. But he is struck by the similarities between the two musicians.

“They were both great improvisers,” he said — Handel on harpsichord, Hendrix on guitar.

He said that on the occasional past openings of Hendrix’s apartment, the guitarist’s fans have sometimes stayed to listen and learn about Handel.

“We’re hoping the exhibition will open the road the other way.”



Jason Luckett live in LA/OC

8:30 p.m. Sept. 11 @ Genghis Cohen, 740 Fairfax in Los Angeles. $10

8 pm Sept. 18 @ The Neighborhood Cup, 1 Journey in Aliso Viejo, Orange County