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  Frank's Restaurant: Harlem, New York City 1969

BILL LORDAN 1997: Drummer For Robin Trower
From The Book: Eyewitness: The Illustrated Jimi Hendrix Concerts 1969-1970 By Ben Valkhoff.

'I was living in Minneapolis and playing in a band with Willie Weeks.
The band, The Amazers, was a gospel soul group from Dallas, Texas.
We met a friend, Joey Davis Suthern, who was a friend of Buddy Miles,
and through Buddy Miles, Joey knew Jimi Hendrix. One day Willy and I,
kind of a bet or a dare, said to Joey that we were tired of what we
were doing and can you get us a jam with Jimi Hendrix, because we
were big fans. Joey didn't say much, didn't say anything, then
went away and came back with a limo in front of our door about a week
or two later. Joey said, we are going to New York. Joey made the call
to Jimi, through Buddy Miles. We were off to New York. Willy Weeks,
Joey Davis Suthern, and I flew to New York, Manhattan,
and stayed at the Penn Garden Hotel. I think it was at 34th and 7th
Street across from the Madison Square Garden. That is where Buddy Miles
stayed. We proceeded to go down to the Cafe Au Go Go in Greenwich
Village where it was all set up through Joey and Jimi for us to come
down and jam. It was like a jam audition. Jimi was looking for members
to be in this new Gypsy, Suns and Rainbows band that he told us about at
dinner after the first night we jammed. We jammed three days in a row,
Willy Weeks on bass and myself on drums. There was more than one day
of an audition. Because he liked us he asked us to come back the next
day and wanted to hear us again. Kind of like a call back [laughs].
The amps were Elliot Randall's amplifiers that he jammed on from a band
called Seatrain [withmembers of the defunct Blues Project]. At the Cafe
Au Go Go Jimi ran us through the full gambit of his roots when we
auditioned. He would play up tempo R&B to slow blues. He was trying to
see if we could keep up with him. He would start the song and not tell
us anything and then just say 'follow this,' or 'what would you play to
this?' These were all new ideas he was working on, as far as I knew. I
thought it was like what came out later on Cry Of Love. The jam led to
the dinner that night. We were at the table with a lot of celebrity people.
One person was Floyd Rose who designed the first locking tremolo system
for guitars. He was inventing pedals even back then. We were at the
dinner table with a lot of music-related people. Jimi turned to me and
said, 'I want you to play drums.' This was after the third day. Then Jimi
said that he had this bass player, Billy Cox, an oldfriend from the army,
so it caused a problem. Jimi turned to Willie Weeks and asked him if he
could play effects bass or rhythm guitar. Willie was very proud and we
were a package deal ... we wanted to stick together and we were young.
I was 19 years old at the time and Willie was a couple of years older than
I was. So Willy said to Jimi, if I can't play the main bass I don't want
to play at all [laughs]. We had dinner, went up to his suite, and partied
a little bit. Then Jimi went off to some girlfriend on the other side of town.
He had two apartments, one where he could get away from everybody,
you know. As it went, Willie and I went back and Jimi asked us what
we wanted to do. I said, Willie and I will stick together. Billy Cox
wasn't going anywhere. Willie was better technically; a better bass
player, but Jimi and Billy were friends. A friendship in the
business sometimes does not mix but Jimi was going to be loyal to
Billy Cox. I met Billy and went to Michael Jeffery's office
[Jimi's manager] to talk about this. Jimi really liked my drumming
and he thought Willie was a fine bass player too. He needed somebody
and had tried different people. Until I came along I don't think he
had found anyone new who had a style complimentary to his. The
roots were blues, R&B, and a little jazz. I grew up listening to
jazz first, and blues/R&B; then rock came along in that
evolution. Willie and I went back to the hotel and talked
with Joey. Joey said if you guys want to stick together
and it's a package deal we will just go back and tell Jimi
that if you want Bill you have to take Willie too. I was
young and naive about the whole thing. It was my first time
in New York, out of Minneapolis. So, I called Jimi at his
apartment and he said to have Joey call him and they would
talk. As it turned out we did finally fly back to Minneapolis.
Overall, it was a great experience for a 19-year-old kid to
play with one of the greats. He was a big idol of mine. I had
serious butterflies in my stomach when we went to jam. Luckily
we got the call back on the second and third day. We got to
have dinner with him and went to his hotel suite. We drove
around in the limo, and he was shouting at women out the window
[laughs]. He was quite a lady's man, as we all know. When we
went up to the suite he pulled up both sleeves. I don't know, he
didn't have to do this to prove it.
He said, 'I don't shoot. I've never used needles.' He showed
us his arms. It was Willie, Joey, and myself - We were just
sitting around in his hotel room. He wanted to dispel the
rumours. We did do an assortment of goodies that he had there
that were nothing too heavy. You know, smoke a little bit. We
left there to go down to the Scene in New York to see a band
that nobody ever heard of. They had an album out. It was
Sha-Na-Na. So in other words, we hungout, had dinner, we jammed,
went to his hotel, drove around in the limo, went to a club, I
got a chance not only to play with him but also to hang out.
Everybody asks me, what was he like? Very soft-spoken, very
caring and a little bit effeminate, not gay, but let's
just say sweet on himself. He had those artistic hands
and mannerisms that were not like a construction worker's
or a labourer's. He was a true artist. Of course, he liked
his clothes. I remember he had suitcases full of clothes
and in the closet it was quite awardrobe. Later on I got a
call to the agency that booked my band. They were a booking
agency that had a policy of not giving out band members'
home numbers. I found out later, that was an actual call for
me to come and play at Woodstock ... because he still had not
found a new drummer. Then, of course, they ended up flying
Mitch back over. I saw Woodstock later and was kind of glad I
didn't go. It was just a loose jam and Mitch could do the best
job of holding it all together. He knew the songs, and they
were tight. I went back to New York another time and he was
in the studio with Buddy Miles. It wasn't quite Band Of Gypsys
time yet. They were working on something. It was a mass of
people everywhere in the studio you know how he couldn't say
no to anyone. He was doing the vocals behind the screen. Eddie
Kramer was there, whom I worked with later with Willie Weeks
and Eric Mercury. Eric was the singer from New York
who wrote with Bobby Bloom, the guy who wrote'Montego Bay.
I saw Buddy again in New York when it got into the Band Of
Gypsys thing. Buddy Milees said to me, 'I know why you are
there, Bill.' His meaning was like you are more technically
closer to what Jimi would have needed... 'but we are doing
this Band Of Gypsys thing'. I said, 'Hey Buddy, good luck
to you man, go for it.' I never felt disappointed or had a
grudge, or thought what if I had just dumped on Willie Weeks.'

Return To Part 2

Return To Part 1

Madison Square Garden, New York City 1970

Electric Lady Studios With Eddie Kramer 1970

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