Lotus Cars with Celebrity Owners or in promotional Imagery:
The Elan and Jimi Hendrix: Fenders, Cars, Stars and Guitars
Jimi Hendrix and The Experience is a significant piece in our celebrities and Lotus cars series. Subscribers are invited to see our item on Peter Sellers/Britt Ekland in order to gain the broadest appreciation of how celebrities and cars interact.
We have already studied the seismic Swinging sixties in some depth with the knowledge that Chapman and Lotus were at the cutting edge of technology and fashion.
The events that link Hendrix The Experience contain lives full of myth, scandal, sex, drugs and rock and roll. They along with Chapman were: –
Redding and Appleby:-
“from 1967 –70 the band enjoyed one of the most dazzling and sensational careers in the history of rock music , with a roller –coaster ride through a schedule of sell out tours and frantic recording sessions that left the band crazed with drugs ,stardom and exhaustion ,but still capable of producing some of the most explosive ,inventive and inspirational music ever heard “
The entwined story of Chapman, Lotus and Hendric /The Experience possibly best illustrates the power of imagery and association and how this enters the cultural landscape along with the collective psyche.
Subscribers might like to see the directly relevant and integrated A&R pieces that complement and help structure this article:-
- Carnaby Street
- Lotus Elan and marketing materials
- Lotus Design decades :1960’s
- Lotus and Celebrities series :-Peter Sellers /Brit Ekland, George Best, Francoise Sagan, Steve McQueen
- London and The Racing Car Show
Jimi Hendrix the Experience
“James Marshall “Jimi” Hendrix (born Johnny Allen Hendrix; November 27, 1942 – September 18, 1970) was an American rock guitarist, singer, and songwriter. Although his mainstream career spanned only four years, he is widely regarded as one of the most influential electric guitarists in the history of popular music, and one of the most celebrated musicians of the 20th century. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame describes him as “arguably the greatest instrumentalist in the history of rock music”.
The Jimi Hendrix Experience was an American-English rock band that formed in Westminster, London, in September 1966. Singer, songwriter, and guitarist Jimi Hendrix, bassist Noel Redding, and drummer Mitch Mitchell comprised the group, which was active until June 1969. During this time, they released three studio albums and became one of the most popular acts in rock. In April 1970, Hendrix, Mitchell, and bassist Billy Cox performed and recorded until Hendrix’s death on September 18, 1970. This later trio was sometimes billed as the “Jimi Hendrix Experience”, but the title was never formalized.
Highly influential in the popularization of hard rock and psychedelic rock,  the Experience was best known for the skill, style, and charisma of their frontman, Jimi Hendrix. All three of the band’s studio albums, Are You Experienced (1967), Axis: Bold as Love (1967) and Electric Ladyland (1968), were featured in the top 100 of the Rolling Stone list of The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time, at positions 15, 82 and 54 respectively. In 1992, the Jimi Hendrix Experience was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
In mid-October 1966, Chandler arranged an engagement for the Experience as Johnny Hallyday‘s supporting act during a brief tour of France. Thus, the Jimi Hendrix Experience performed their very first show on October 13, 1966, at the Novelty in Evreux. Their enthusiastically received 15-minute performance at the Olympia theatre in Paris on October 18 marks the earliest known recording of the band. In late October, Kit Lambert and Chris Stamp, managers of the Who, signed the Experience to their newly formed label, Track Records, and the group recorded their first song, “Hey Joe”, on October 23. “Stone Free“, which was Hendrix’s first songwriting effort after arriving in England, was recorded on November 2.
Hendrix on stage in 1967
In mid-November, they performed at the Bag O’Nails nightclub in London, with Clapton, John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Jeff Beck, Pete Townshend, Brian Jones, Mick Jagger, and Kevin Ayers in attendance. Ayers described the crowd’s reaction as stunned disbelief: “All the stars were there, and I heard serious comments, you know ‘shit’, ‘Jesus’, ‘damn’ and other words worse than that.” The successful performance earned Hendrix his first interview, published in Record Mirror with the headline: “Mr. Phenomenon”. “Now hear this … we predict that [Hendrix] is going to whirl around the business like a tornado”, wrote Bill Harry, who asked the rhetorical question: “Is that full, big, swinging sound really being created by only three people?” Hendrix commented: “We don’t want to be classed in any category … If it must have a tag, I’d like it to be called, ‘Free Feeling’. It’s a mixture of rock, freak-out, rave and blues”. Through a distribution deal with Polydor Records, the Experience’s first single, “Hey Joe”, backed with “Stone Free”, was released on December 16, 1966. After appearances on the UK television shows Ready Steady Go! and the Top of the Pops, “Hey Joe” entered the UK charts on December 29 and peaked at number six. Further success came in March 1967 with the UK number three hit “Purple Haze“, and in May with “The Wind Cries Mary“, which remained on the UK charts for eleven weeks, peaking at number six.
On March 31, 1967, while the Experience waited to perform at the London Astoria, Hendrix and Chandler discussed ways in which they could increase the band’s media exposure. When Chandler asked journalist Keith Altham for advice, Altham suggested that they needed to do something more dramatic than the stage show of the Who, which involved the smashing of instruments. Hendrix joked: “Maybe I can smash up an elephant”, to which Altham replied: “Well, it’s a pity you can’t set fire to your guitar”. Chandler then asked road manager Gerry Stickells to procure some lighter fluid. During the show, Hendrix gave an especially dynamic performance before setting his guitar on fire at the end of a 45-minute set. In the wake of the stunt, members of London’s press labeled Hendrix the “Black Elvis” and the “Wild Man of Borneo“.[nb 18]”
Noel Redding: Autobiography
All the reference works listed below have made some contribution to our appreciation of Hendrix and The Experience but Noel Redding’s autobiography is particularly important as it: –
- Provides first-hand experience
- Details accurately from his dairy the venues, photo shoots /PR events and recording work undertaken
- Significantly it also records earnings [ see A&R Price relativities]
In this work we have not seen reference to Noel owning the Elan which is the subject of discussion but we feel we can provide some insights –see below]
In previous articles we have established the cultural and fashion influence Chapman and Lotus were having in Swinging Sixties, London [see list articles above]. The Elan was already featuring in The Avengers.
Jimi Hendrix and his band were fashion conscious and many of his clothes it’s believed were bought in Carnaby Street or in Dandie [see A&R Tara Browne]
Other significant London locations associated with Jimi Hendrix and his band are: –
- BBC radio and TV e.g. Top of the Pops, Ready, Steady, Go
- Saville Theatre
- Olympic Studios
- West Hampstead
- St. Georges Club
- Band members homes e.g. Hendrix lived at Montagu Sq.; Marylebone , c 1967
- Round House
The Racing Car Show, London, 1967
The yellow Elan used in the photoshoot does not clearly indicate a registration numbers. Therefore, it’s both difficult to establish either owner or date manufactured. The photoshoot does not have an exact date. However Noel Redding records attendance [internet reference confirms 12th.Jan.1967 at the Racing Car Show] and that: –
“The Jimi Hendrix Experience appear at Radio London’s booth at the International Racing Car show held at the Olympia in London.”
By a series of deductions, we believe from the evidence contained in Redding’s autobiography that this is likely to have been around the time [possibly even at the Racing Car Show]
From net: –
FAMOUS LOTUS ELAN OWNERS: JIMI HENDRIX
“Jimi Hendrix is widely considered to be one of the most influential electric guitarists of popular music. What we care about at LotusElan.net is the great photos he took with the Lotus Elan. And…. Well…. um…. actually the Lotus Elan S3 fixed head coupe belonged to Jimi Hendrix’s bassist Noel Redding. Noel Redding is the person standing on the left side of the car.
Jimi Hendrix did not own a Lotus Elan, but did take a great photograph with one. Jimi had a limited mainstream music career of only 4 years. Jimi is recognized for developing the technique of using guitar amplifier feedback and incorporating it into the music.
Noel Redding was an English rock bassists best known for his work on The Jimi Hendrix Experience. With his purchase of a Lotus Elan, he is much more famous on LotusElan.net. Noel Redding was born in Folkestone, Kent. Noel played in several bands, Fat Mattress, Road and the Noel Redding Band. His most famous work was part of the Jimi Hendrix Experience. Noel Redding passed away in 2003 while living in Cork, Ireland.”
Our learning /educational opportunities are intended to be challenging thought provoking and requiring additional research and/or analysis.
These opportunities are particularly designed for a museum/education centre location where visitors would be able to enjoy access to all the structured resources available in conjunction with any concurrent exhibition.
In this instance we suggest the following might be appropriate: –
- See our series Track Records and Record Tracks –how have Lotus cars been used in conjunction with music publicity
- What made 1960’s London special in the creative arts?
- How does Lotus design and marketing influence the times? Examine the hippy era of late 1960’s
- List significant black musicians / artists who have come to Britain and made significant contributions to culture
- What music icons are identified respectively with DECCA and EMI?
- What is the Jimi Hendrix legacy?
- Critically read reference works does hype match reality? How do celebrities suffer from their fame?
- To what extent was Colin Chapman a man of this time and era?
- During the mid –late 1960’s what pop icons are identified with Woodstock and Monterey? In overlapping time frame what was Lotus success in America?
- To what extent did fashion and pop music collide in 1960’s
- Research the net and study Racing Car Show. In 1967 what was Lotus offer and what were their competition
- Examine Jimi Hendrix tourist London sight seeing map how might the Lotus Elan be incorporated and interpreted with educational opps?
Exhibitions, Education and Economics
In the museum context the editors believe that commercial considerations are both necessary and complementary with its educational objectives.
For these reasons our suggested outline Business Plan includes provision for promoting products and services which share Chapman’s ideals of mechanical efficiency and sustainability. In addition we propose merchandising that explain and interprets the social and cultural context of Chapman’s designs in period. It’s suggested there will be catalogue for on line purchasing.
Specific to this topic we believe the following broad events are attractive and educational including talks: –
- Live music nights
- Jimi Hendrix Experience Interactive
- Fashion and Music
- Civil Rights Movement and Music
In this instance we suggest the following exhibitions might be appropriate:-
- Sights and Sounds of the Psychedelic Sixties
- Sound Tracks
- Eclectic Electric :Jimi Hendrix and Lotus
- Purple Haze
- Fenders: Cars , Stars and Guitars
- “Little Wing”
- Jimi Hendrix: Pedal to the Metal and Heavy Metal
- “Machine Gun”
- Psychedelic Rock
- Room full of Mirrors
- Jimi Hendrix: The Stories behind the Song
“Super pop is mass media, it is teen music always, it has to hit. Ideally, it has to do what Bogart and Brando and Munroe have done in films, Gable and Fred Astride-it has to be intelligent and simple both, it has to carry its implications lightly, and it has to be fast, funny, sexy, obsessive, a bit epic”
Jimi Hendrix: Starting at Zero:-
“Despite spending just four years in the spotlight, the sheer impact and originality of Jimi Hendrix’s music placed him forever among the musical giants .modest and intensely private, he was shrouded in intrigue from the moment he came into the public eye and the mystery has only grown with time.”
From the net: –
“Widely recognized as one of the most creative and influential musicians of the 20th century, Jimi Hendrix pioneered the explosive possibilities of the electric guitar. Hendrix’s innovative style of combining fuzz, feedback and controlled distortion created a new musical form. Because he was unable to read or write music, it is nothing short of remarkable that Jimi Hendrix’s meteoric rise in the music took place in just four short years. His musical language continues to influence a host of modern musicians, from George Clinton to Miles Davis, and Steve Vai to Jonny Lang.
Switching gears from bass player to manager, Chandler’s first task was to change Hendrix’s name to “Jimi.” Featuring drummer Mitch Mitchell and bassist Noel Redding, the newly formed Jimi Hendrix Experience quickly became the talk of London in the fall of 1966.
The Experience’s first single, “Hey Joe,” spent ten weeks on the UK charts, topping out at spot No. 6 in early 1967. The debut single was quickly followed by the release of a full-length album Are You Experienced, a psychedelic musical compilation featuring anthems of a generation. Are You Experienced has remained one of the most popular rock albums of all time, featuring tracks like “Purple Haze,” “The Wind Cries Mary,” “Foxey Lady,” “Fire,” and “Are You Experienced?”
“From demo recordings to finished masters, Jimi Hendrix generated an amazing collection of songs over the course of his short career. The music of Jimi Hendrix embraced the influences of blues, ballads, rock, R&B, and jazz a collection of styles that continue to make Hendrix one of the most popular figures in the history of rock music.”
When Jimi Hendrix’s debut album, Are You Experienced? was released in 1967, it turned the music world upside down. With its crackling feedback and ground-breaking guitar playing, Are You Experienced? fused the psychedelic sounds of the late ’60s with the classic traditions of rock, blues and soul.
Released first in the United Kingdom and a few months later in the United States, the album propelled Hendrix to international fame.
Today Are You Experienced? is regarded as one of the greatest and most influential debut releases in rock and roll.
“It’s still a landmark recording because it is of the rock, R&B, blues… musical tradition,” notes Smithsonian musicologist Reuben Jackson. “It altered the syntax of the music, if you will, in a way I compare to, say, James Joyce’s Ulysses. You read a page or two of Ulysses and then you listen to just “Purple Haze,” and you think, my goodness, what is this?”
The recording introduced the world to the guitar virtuosity of Jimi Hendrix. A master at the instrument, he pioneered new techniques in distortion, echo and volume.
“We were experimenting,” says Eddie Kramer, the audio engineer for the album. “That was the exciting part. Whatever he did in the studio we had to just keep up and try to figure out how to record it in a halfway decent fashion.”
But musician Vernon Reid says that Hendrix’s guitar skills have often obscured his other gifts: “I think Jimi’s singing, I think his lyrics have often been given short shrift in consideration of his guitar playing, because his guitar playing is so overwhelmingly powerful. See, there was no dividing line in Hendrix between a song, the improvisation, the singing. It was all one thing.”
Our summary deductions are: –
- Hendrix is considered a brilliant and innovative musician, not without criticism some considered him dysfunctional and apocalyptic
- He stormed into Swinging Sixties London as a “frenzied psychedelic and kaleidoscopic Dandy
- He contributed to Woodstock alongside Joan Baez, Sly and the Family Stone, Credence Clearwater, Grateful Dead, Janis Joplin, Jefferson Airplane, The Who etc.
- He was showman but also possessed a modest side and good be poetic
- The music industry is about novelty as much as originality and commercialism .Hendrix captured the mood with some exceptional gifts and fusion of styles
The presence of the Elan in a photoshoot was not coincidence. It was deliberate placement. It functioned as prop: –
“The term “theatrical property” originated to describe an object used in a stage play and similar entertainments to further the action. Technically, a prop is any object that gives the scenery, actors, or performance space specific period, place, or character.[inconsistent] The term comes from live-performance practice, especially theatrical methods, but its modern use extends beyond the traditional plays and musical, circus, novelty, comedy, and even public-speaking performances, to film, television, and electronic media.”
The Elan’s role was part talisman part totem. It had significant presence and drama
Pop music has to be of the moment along with fashion , manners , language and modes. Objects introduced alongside pop stars /groups reflect and reinforce that envelope.
The Elan fitted the bill exactly .Introduced in 1962 it was in many respects extraordinarily advanced. By 1966 its adoption in the Avengers sealed its cultural status.
It was perfect backdrop /prop extension for Hendrix and the Experience.
It encapsulated image, content , message , intention , aspiration .Lotus cars possessed the dynamic that alternated from race to road and back again. They personified the era in success , competition, speed , drama, style kudos, credibility, cool, excitement , glamour , sex appeal , technology and fashion.
Bang on .They were “with it”
We suggest Colin Chapman and Lotus ought be viewed through a prism of popular culture so the man and his cars can be evaluated in a more holistic and influential envelope that embraced them.
The cultural dimension of Chapman and Lotus although not as great as International F1 constitutes the marques mystique like view others.
The Elan like Hendrix have provided an enduring legend. How this comes into existence and is perpetuated is worthy of thought.
“Just call me helium, the lightest gas known to man”
Stars and Cars.Braunstein.Arum.2017.
Are You Experienced.Redding&Appleby.Fourth Estate.1990?
Small Town Talk.Hoskyns.Faber.2016.
Jimi Hendrix: Starting at Zero…Bloomsbury.2014.
Please note the editors of the A&R attempt to give the broadest spectrum of references but not all are available for consultation in an article. However by noting their existence it may assist students in their research.
*Items in italics non A&R library books.