Home » The Time Jimi Hendrix and Tommy Chong Shared a Band

The Time Jimi Hendrix and Tommy Chong Shared a Band

It’s 1967, and a haze of marijuana smoke envelops a small club in England. Jimi Hendrix, drawn by the scent, makes his way to the venue. Onstage, Tommy Chong, later of Cheech & Chong fame, witnesses what appears to be a divine apparition as the guitar maestro enters, trailed by around 300 people. The two have crossed paths before, operating in similar circles—or perhaps more accurately, similar clouds.

At the time, Chong was part of Bobby Taylor and the Vancouvers. Motown Records founder had sent this ensemble to England for a function, which seemed to be turning into an unsuccessful tour. Everything changed in an instant. “Hey, Tommy,” Hendrix said to the familiar performer onstage, “How are you doing, man? Mind if I sit in?” Naturally, Chong was taken aback, wondering if he had been indulging in some peculiar hallucinatory British strain of smoke.

“In my comedic mindset, I wanted to say, ‘Sorry, man, but maybe the last set,'” Chong recalled to KLPX Radio. “But I said, ‘Yeah, come on!’ And I handed him my guitar, and he goes ‘No no, I want to play bass.’ So he played bass, and he played for the whole set.” Stranger still, he wasn’t improvising in a typical jam capacity; he already knew the parts!

“Hendrix told me that he was stationed in Seattle, and we had a club in Vancouver, Canada, and he used to come up almost every weekend and sit in our club and listen to us play,” Chong reminisced. The virtuoso had been a fan of Bobby Taylor and the Vancouvers all along. With great modesty, he opted not to overshadow the lead guitarist and joined the rhythm section instead.

This eagerness to ‘sit in’ showcased Hendrix’s love for music. A year earlier, the premier blues band of the era, Cream, took the stage. Hendrix, an unknown entity at the time, requested to jam with them, prompting the band to question whether he could keep up.

“In those days, anybody could get up with anybody,” Eric Clapton told Planet Rock, “If you were convincing enough that you could play. He got up and blew everyone’s mind.” While most were too intimidated to risk jamming with Cream, Hendrix’s confidence hinted that he might be up to the challenge.

“You never told me he was that fucking good,” Clapton famously exclaimed to someone who had vouched for Hendrix after the show.

<iframe width=”786″ height=”442″ src=”https://www.youtube.com/embed/aft7EepsQtQ” title=”Day By Day Or Never” frameborder=”0″ allow=”accelerometer; autoplay; clipboard-write; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture; web-share” allowfullscreen></iframe>

Related Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *