Jim McCarty :
RNRU : You have an association with Jimi Hendrix, going back to when you were with The Buddy Miles Express, whom Jimi produced, and you also participated in the jams that were recorded in '69, some of which were released on the now out of print 'Nine To The Universe' album*...
JM : That was Alan Douglas's thing. There was so much of that Sh*t, that in my opinion should never have been released. That was stuff that was never intended to be on an album. But, after Jimi died, you had all these people scrambling to make a buck off of his name. Just releasing all this Sh*t that should've never been released. The 'Nine To The Universe' thing was one of them. The first 3 albums, that's his legacy. There were a lot of great guitar players back then. Clapton, Beck, Page, Michael Bloomfield...I knew all these guys. But Hendrix was in a class by himself my man. And everybody knew it. He was the best there ever was. Period.
RNRU : What do you remember about those recording sessions? What was it like playing with Jimi?
JM : Jimi loved to play. He was one of those guys who continuously would play. When The Scene would close, everybody'd pile over to The Record Plant and play until 7 or 8 in the morning. He loved to jam. So he was always doing that. He was constantly coming around talking to Buddy Miles, so I was always bumping into him, since he was talking to him about putting a band together, which he eventually did with The Band Of Gypsies. So we were always running into each other. We even shared a few women. (Laughs)
RNRU : Speaking of going to Steve Paul's The Scene and jamming with Jimi, you're sometimes credited as being as part of the jam that was recorded there that reportedly had you, Buddy Miles, and a very drunken Jim Morrison getting on stage and rambling incoherently. What do you recall about that? That was kind of bizarre...
JM : What jam was that? That was at The Scene? Are you sure I was there? What album was that?
RNRU : You're credited on the album, at least on some versions that have come out, so supposedly you were...it's been released many times throughout the years, the most common title is 'I Woke Up This Morning And Found Myself Dead' ...
JM : I don't remember anything about the night that you're talking about. I could very well have been there, but I don't remember a damn thing about it. (Laughs) One thing I do remember, and it'd be interesting if there was a tape of it somewhere. I remember a session in L.A. in a recording studio, there was Hendrix, Buddy Miles, Mitch Mitchell, Jack Bruce, Me and John McLaughlin. That would be an interesting evening. I know it was recorded, and hearing Jack and Jimi play together made it a really special evening. That was a trip. I would love to have that tape. I remember seeing the Mahavishnu Orchestra when they just had formed down at The Cafe Wha? in the Village, and having like the top of my head blown off.
RNRU : Did you ever pick up anything from him, technique wise in terms of guitar playing?
JM : No, I mean, I remember one conversation I had with him over at a girl's place who both of us were seeing, her name was Carmen. He came by, and this was after 'Electric Ladyland' had come out. I told him how I was knocked out by the one tune he did, "Crosstown Traffic", and also "House Burning Down". The one though that really knocked me out was "1983...(A Merman I Should Turn To Be)". I told him "You really captured the feel of the water and the ocean. And on "House Burning Down" all of a sudden the guitar is like fire". And he said that he kind of saw sound as colors, something to that effect is what he told me. If he had a song with a certain theme like that, he would approach the guitar in terms of the colors of that particular theme. He was one of those guys, who you have every once in awhile, who for some strange reason they don't seem to stick around that long. These are guys who aren't just really good at what they do, but they come in and re-invent the rules of the game. Then they're gone. Whether it's Robert Johnson, or Coltrane, or Hendrix. To me it's all the same spirit, just different bodies. These are guys who are innovators, and completely establish new boundaries from what it is that everybody else has been doing. Then they're gone. A good portion of them, they don't stick around that long.
RNRU : Do you ever foresee someone else coming along again and having the impact such as Hendrix, Robert Johnson or John Coltrane had in terms of breaking boundaries like that?
JM : Sure, it'll happen again. I'm not exactly sure when. People like that, they have to pop in every now and then, to kick start things. Break the old mold, and re-establish things. Whether it's Picasso, Hendrix or Louis Armstrong. It's the same thing, same spirit.
RNRU : There doesn't seem to be as much innovation these days though...
JM : Well, I'm 61, and for a 61 year old to be talking about a 22 year old's generation, I'm so far removed from that world I really don't know if I have the right to comment, to tell you the truth. As strange as that might sound. Like I said, each generation has its good stuff and its Sh*t. If you don't understand what this generation is saying and doing...it may seem like bullSh*t to us, but they don't really care. It doesn't make any difference to them what a 50 or 60 year old thinks of what they like. They love it, it's important to them, and it's part of their life at 22 years of age, just like when we were 22. All that music was an important part of our lives.Each generation has it's artistic spokesman. I don't think there's a generation that's void of real artists.There's a lot of good artists in the 20-30 year old range. In terms of rock n roll, yeah, you don't have a lot of the lead guitar players like I mentioned earlier. I can't think of a lot of guys like in the old days who had a real command on making a guitar talk.But the whole musical scene, when you listen to the songs these days, doesn't center around lead guitar so much anymore. It's structured differently.
*Il s'agit du titre "Jimi/Jimmy Jam", que l'on retrouve dans une version non éditée sur l'album "Hear My Music".