Billy Cox met Jimi Hendrix in the army, together they formed the first musical group of the glorious guitarist, King Kasuals, and after various vicissitudes he ended up becoming the bassist of the legendary Band of Gypsys and, later, the Jimi Hendrix Experience. The mythical formation, when they went to offer a couple of concerts on the island of Maui, was completed by Mitch Mitchell on drums.
Since that distant 1970, the disappearance of Jimi Hendrix left a mark of admiration and respect in Cox, a musician who to his 81 years he is fully active, as evidenced by his continuous tours around the world. From his Nashville home He confesses that the coronavirus has disrupted precisely what he likes the most, playing live.
It has been more than sixty years since you knew Jimi Hendrix. What are the memories?
He was coming back from going to the movies at the military camp where he was enlisted in Kentucky and it was raining a lot. And when I got to Service Club 1, a club and assembly hall for soldiers, there were some colleagues who were playing music, and when I heard how the guitar sounded, I was amazed. I introduced myself to the one who was playing it, who happened to be Jimi, and told him that I played bass. And there it all began. We left the army practically the same time and started playing together in the clubs in the area. It was a blessing to meet you.
The figure of Hendrix has given rise and continues to give rise to multiple albums, films and documentaries practically since he died. This documentary Music, Money, Madness… Jimi Hendrix in Maui and the album that has just been published, what opinion do you deserve?
The music that comes out on the album can be heard at a level and quality far superior to that of the two concerts we did in Maui. And alongside this, for a long-time Jimi follower the setlist The concert will be fascinating because there was a bit of everything Jimi was doing and some very recent songs that were already pointing to where his music was going.
Billy Cox completed with drummer Mitch Mitchell the Jimi Hendrix Experience featured on the album ‘Live in Maui’ and in the documentary ‘Music, Money, Madness … Jimi Hendrix in Maui’
The most memorable thing about that Hawaiian stay?
The incredible energy that was given there and that I think the album is reflected in an excellent way. There was a communication between all those present: those who had come to enjoy it and those who offered it to them. The unusualness of the place where the two concerts were held, deep inside a volcano, helped a lot, as well as the attitude of the public.
Do you remember something in particular?
Especially the place where they put the stage; It is a place that they say has a power and a spirit that reaches people, and I can attest that this is what happened. Also, being on a volcano, when we were on stage we constantly noticed very magical vibrations. Look … everyone agrees that the best concert the Jimi Hendrix Experience ever did was at Woodstock, and I think so too, and for me I would tell you that the Maui ones were the second best. The energy that Jimi brought out of the guitar is something I have never seen again in my life.
In his opinion, Jimi Hendrix was much more than an exceptional guitarist.
Jimi was a cosmic messenger and he envisioned music as a means to bring people from all over the world together. Jimi was global before the rest of the world went global. His music was spiritual and as such it reached everyone and left no one indifferent. But the best thing about it is that in addition to this, his music with both the Jimi Hendrix Experience and the Band of Gypsys has left an enormous influence on rock, folk, r’n’b, hip hop, reggae, jazz and blues until the actuality.
You keep touring around the world playing the music they made then.
Yes, because in addition to being extraordinary and undated music, it is liked on all continents, and you also see that the audience that goes to concerts is absolutely intergenerational. And I think that’s quite exceptional in today’s times. Seeing very young people at our concerts is a source of pride for me because you see that some songs that were composed in the last century in very specific circumstances are still fully valid in the new generations.
After Hendrix, have you found a guitarist who has aroused a special interest in you?
Not really. For me there are two types of guitarists, those who have been influenced by Jimi Hendrix and those who have not.